“This story is going down like a kamikaze…”

He swallows; fingers his shiny knock-off watch. Pulls his pale blue polyester collar.

“I’m choking up here.”

But he’s not. He’s perfect in all his PTSD perspiration. I’m inhaling his secondary trauma and it’s making me high. I love this man. I must have him. 

My aesthetic is sad-girl newly sober. I wish I was wearing makeup, so he knew how hot I could be. This greasy hair, scrappy sweats, is not my vibe but you’re not supposed to date in your first year of A.A so I’m keeping myself on the down-low. All glamor and fabulosity are on strict pause. But there’s an exception to every rule. It’s possible that I’m looking at my future husband up there.

The more he stammers, the more solidified my future becomes. I seal my fate as he wraps his share and I’m off my chair in line to shake his hand… and start our love story. 

He looks at me, confused. I’m not confused, I’m dead certain. I should totally date this guy. 

That was the best story I’ve ever heard. I don’t think you realize how incredible you are.” I’m too confident for my outfit. It’s okay that he doesn’t get it. He will.

I tell my sponsor about the best speaker I’ve ever heard, and she knows him, says he’s a sweetheart, a solid citizen, and gives me his number. I text; I call; I ask to be friends and he agrees to go for coffee with me. It’s on.

There’s nothing as intoxicating as projecting an entire personality onto someone you don’t know. They become your absolute dream come true. Maybe I would change my mind and have children with him. Maybe I’d have three? The fantasy swims into view:

It’s me jumping in slow motion, up and down on his army-made bed. Messing up his sheets and making his life complete. 

Coffee is Wednesday. I’m early. He’s late. Is he annoyed with me? Is this meeting out of duty instead of desire? What’s that look? Is he attracted or afraid? Is it my accent? Maybe he didn’t like South Africans? 

I can’t tell if this is going great or really badly. It’s weird that he doesn’t even drink coffee. Would he start drinking coffee? Don’t think about that. More importantly, would I take his last name? Do I even want another wedding? Reality slips away and the fantasy swims into view:

It’s me jumping in slow motion, up and down on his army-made bed. Messing up his sheets and making his life complete. 

The parking meter’s up. He’s got to go. It’s over. Was he being of service to me? I cringe. There’s no, let me drive you home. I walk home, feeling empty, alone, and confused.

A few days later it’s a no, he doesn’t want to hike with me to help me clear my head. “I’m sorry Lauren, I can’t do that.” I know what the problem is. It’s a timing issue. It’s because it’s my first year of sobriety. He can simmer the fuck down and I’ll try again next year. I do.

Year two. Same coffee shop. Better outfit. Effortless chic. Reading a book. It’s totally okay, he’s 25 minutes late. This time I take notes. He seems insecure, so if I write what he says in my notebook, he’ll see how much I respect him. Some Tony Robbins shit. I hate that misogynistic, patriarchal, capitalist stuff. I told him it was helpful, and I loved it. My love turned me into a liar. Oh well. 

There’s this moment when he looks at me and I swear his eyes say, “What do you want to happen here, Lauren?” I can’t handle the sincerity. Is this flirtation? I excuse myself to go to the bathroom and when I’m back, the moment’s gone. Was it ever there?

The parking meter is up. He’s gone. I’m walking home, deflated. And highly caffeinated.

I’m a greeter at an evening meeting. Night blind without my glasses, I see this big man walking toward me. I’m attracted before I even see his face and suddenly, I realize it’s Toby. He’s changed from asylum skinny to a big, burly, bearded mountain man. Healing looks so good on him. “Do you know Toby?” I ask the guy standing outside with me. “Oh, Toby? He’s totally nuts.” Clearly, he does not know Toby at all. Reality slips away and the fantasy swims into view:

It’s me jumping in slow motion, up and down on his army-made bed. Messing up his sheets and making his life complete.

My heart beats so loudly during his share that I’m deaf to his words. I’m convinced everyone can hear it thumping. 

This time I’m too overwhelmed with attraction to congratulate him. I’ll text him later. My friend rushes to hold his hand as we all say the serenity prayer. I hate having a friend who moves in on men I love, but it’s a sick crew, so I take what I can get. “He’s weird,” she says. He didn’t flirt with her either. “Maybe he’s like me?” offers another past obsession/failed-husband-attempt. “He’s only into pre-op trans women?” Maybe. I saw him on a dating app. We did not match. 

He replies to my text, “Thank you, Lauren.” He obviously still has my number saved.

And then nothing… 

It’s year three and covid’s hit. I send him my last fragile attempt. It’s weak and ridiculous. Something about sending good vibes his way. I want to punch myself in the face for being such a loser. He doesn’t reply. I tried my best and besides; I don’t want to date an acting extra, anyway. I don’t even want kids. He’s probably a conservative Republican who only likes Southern blondes. He’s self-proclaimed suicidal. The man is sick. He can’t handle me. 

But what if he really is as great as I think he is and thinks I’m the sick one? What if he’s seeing straight through me into my need and desperation and love addiction? What if he knows and doesn’t want me? It’s a horrific thought. And it’s an incessant one that gnaws at me. He knows what I am. Of course, he doesn’t want that. 

So I say my little prayer for me. God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. And may you send me somebody better than Toby Savanna? Amen. 

P.S: Unless you’re Toby and you’re reading this, then hey, you probably think this about you, but it’s not. Anyway, let’s catch up! I’m so much better now. Call me?

P.P.S: If you enjoy these stories, buy me a coffee. I always want another one. Thanks x

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