May 25, 2011


by Veronica

I had decided to try online dating after seeing all the happy eHarmony commercials on television. My then-current relationship was ending and I was intrigued by the prospect of meeting a lot of men without trying on ten different outfits, dealing with mascara and trying to dehumidify my curly hair. Also, I was living in a small college town and had no real way of meeting men who would be able to look past all the twenty year old females to see the virtues of dating an over-forty woman.

My memory is vague on this, but I think I joined eHarmony in late January of 2008. Wow. Three years. Okay. So, within a short amount of time, say, six to eight weeks, I met a man named Brian. We emailed back and forth for a few weeks and then moved onto phone calls. Its interesting to watch relationships develop over emails. I don't have his anymore, but when I did and would read them from the beginning, it was better than keeping a journal. His emails, my responses, jokes that developed between us, revealing personal secrets because there is emotional safety in the faceless email; emails that nurtured our silent hopes that we were creating something sturdy from the delicate layering of our stories.

Brian lived about forty-five minutes away. We met halfway on our first date at a barbeque restaurant. You should know I'm not a big believer in "love at first sight." Lust? Yes. Love? No. Except for babies and kittens. Brain was handsome enough; tall, slim, blue eyes, blond hair. Great hands. I love muscular hands on a guy. We had dinner and then he asked if I'd like to sit at the bar for a nightcap. What I remember most is his ability to tell a story. He wasn't clever or loud or boastful, just truthful and unassuming. Eventually we left and said goodnight (hand shake) in the parking lot. I know, but I've turned into quite the germaphobe at this phase of my life and can't imagine kissing a stranger on the lips. Just ew. (I won't share a toothbrush with my husband, either.)

After a few dates it I learned he was only separated and that caused some delays until he had filed for divorce. He had two small children; he and his wife shared parenting - so the kids were with him for a week at a time plus he helped coach their sports leagues. Brian was quite busy being a father and sorting out his life post-divorce. Our dating became weekends at his place because he also had pets that couldn't be left unattended. I didn't mind driving over to his town and getting out of my little house. We went to ballgames, movies, dinner. I helped him move into a new house from his little apartment and we planned a vacation. We discovered we could leave messages for each other over and communicated several times a day. Then, something changed. I don't know what - to this day, I have no idea. We were at my friend's house for dinner and the next morning he showered early, and despite our plans for the day, left without any explanation. I tried not to text, call or email him to death. I had enough self control to be patient. But within a few weeks, he called a halt to the relationship via email.

I was devastated. I had no idea what I had done or didn't do or could have done or should have done. I was baffled and he wasn't going to budge and tell me. I finally gave in and sent the awful begging email that no woman/man should ever send. Its okay to write it, just send it to your best friend so they can stop you from making an ass of yourself. Of course, that just made him clam up and that was the end of that. I had a few other dates and those are noteworthy just for their hilarity - but that's another post. I ended up joining another dating website, and guess what? Within a few weeks I was matched with Brian, again. At this point some months had gone by. We actually got together and it fizzled as fast as it started. Again, I have no idea why. 

I met my husband on eHarmony some time after the last "what just happened here" date with Brian. Mr. Veronica and I met in April of 2009, were married in December, 2009 and moved to HK in September, 2010. Yeah. Wow.

I have promised to be honest on this anonymous blog so here is the deal: I never forgot about Brian. I thought of him often after our two tries. Mostly I wanted him to explain to me what IT was - why didn't things go further? What was the issue and why didn't I get a chance to solve it? Or change it? Make it better? Why was he so reluctant to be honest and straightforward? Here is the gift Brian gave me: I had to let it go. It didn't matter why or what or who. And now, from a distance, I can see all the things you do as a objective observer: he was newly divorced dad of two small kids, he wasn't emotionally ready for something serious and so committed, and - he had terrible communication skills. He could tell a story but he couldn't share his thoughts.

I never contacted him after the last date and he's never contacted me. If you read my last entry there is a brief sentence in which I tell you that I took my daughter shopping for an interview outfit. We happened to be driving from her college town to Cleveland and stopped at a mall halfway between the two places. This mall also happens to be near where Brian lives. As we left one of the stores, we passed two guys (one quite tall, the other clearly younger - my brain registered "son"). The "dad" was staring at me. I mean STARING. Staring like I had one giant eye in the middle of my forehead. I looked right at him, took in his hair, eyes and the very serious look on his face and kept right on walking and talking to my daughter. We got in the car, drove to Cleveland, I flew back to Hong Kong with my husband and it took another day or so for me to realize - it was Brian.

Here's the milestone: I didn't even recognize him and once it registered that it was him, I didn't really care, except to acknowledge I didn't really care

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