January 13, 2017 — Three weeks and three days, or 576 hours, since I last saw Mario. Another week until I see him for the Women’s March. We are both going crazy with sexual frustration and anticipation. We have long dirty conversations on the phone. Pictures are exchanged. I start to feel like he’s not a real person, just some manufactured image on a phone screen. Long-distance is difficult, especially when you are still haunted by past relationship mistakes.
Trying to bridge the distance, Mario gives me the password and app to his security cameras at work. This way I can sneak a peak at him from time to time. It is the only Must-See-TV that I love to watch: the Real Lives of Winter Park Auto Spa. The leading star is so ridiculously hot. Mario confides that he’s watched my lawyer videos more than a few times.
Getting over heart-break is tough. But starting the dating adventure again is a huge challenge. First, how do you find someone? What do you have left to offer a new relationship? Where do you expect a new relationship to go, when your last one ended in a “dumpster fire” — ok, not literally, but you get what I mean. Then, once you have that new someone, how do you avoid the mistakes of your past? Mario and I constantly confront that last question by pushing ourselves to have bare, honest conversations. We spend so many hours talking. Sometimes we even fall asleep on FaceTime.
The only way out of our insecurities, we decide, is to tackle them head first. Whenever I’m thinking about something –anything — no matter how uncomfortable, I make myself talk to him about it. Otherwise, we both fear that unspoken worries, concerns and issues will fester or erode what we have built.
One day he’s in a reverie: “What’s wrong?” I ask. I can see on FaceTime that he’s contemplative. Mario confides that he lost a lot of confidence in bed after learning about his ex-wife’s affairs. (Obviously he’s wrong about the “in bed” part). “I really started to think ‘women are all the same, you can’t trust them,'” he says. “I figured I’d just be alone, take care of my kids, and then travel.”
He admits he’s fighting off some anxiety that I will lose interest in him, or want to date other people. “I get really nervous that you are going to change your mind about me — that I’m not enough for you,” he says. “I have to remind myself that I cannot punish you for what happened in my last relationship — because you didn’t have anything to do with my last relationship.”
I feel the same. My fear stems from how blindsided I felt by my last relationship. My ex-boyfriend seemed so healthy when we first met. He was going to yoga and meditation. He was introspective. Despite his more-recent antics, he is very smart (when he’s not being an idiot). Still, I intentionally ignored problems as he slid back into drinking heavily. Then I tried to hide the situation from family and friends, pretending like everything was ok. I was miserable.
Then one night last year, my ex- started to get physical. I realized I couldn’t live like that anymore — it was good for no one: not me, the kids or him. We tried couples counseling. He stormed out of the counseling, screaming that I was a “liar.” He needs personal therapy and his own will to change. Things haven’t got much better a year later, if the evidence of that clay statue in my oven is any indication.
But back to now: while I’m talking to Mario, he says “I want to marry you.” I look at his face on FaceTime. In his face I can see my future. I can see us being in our 40s and putting a wrap on this whole “kids” thing. I can see us collaborate on work and life. I can see us in our 50s and traveling, enjoying our time. I can see us in our 60s and sharing grandkids. I can see us in our 70s and 80s being all wrinkled, but still tender with one another. Well, I’ll be wrinkled, he’ll still be insanely good looking with no wrinkles because he’s half-Korean and half-Cuban and I have no extra collagen to spare. None. #sowhite
“Ok,” I stammer. Ugh, why am I so eloquent with the words? Face-palm!