Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Last April, I Accidentally Wore the Scarlet Letter: Part Four



Scrabble boy and I planned a phone call shortly after I found out his wife didn’t know. He called from his car outside his local library, where he had a gig. He told me I was the first person he’d done anything with besides his wife since the Nineties. I painted the above painting while we talked. I was so touched by what he was telling me that I couldn’t stay mad. He choked up at the idea of not being my friend.

I feel like I want to apologize to everyone I know for the few weeks after that. I feel like I went kind of nuts. Sweetie tried to talk some sense into me, but I was desperate to believe he loved me. I’d always been afraid that I couldn’t be loved by a man, and I saw this as proof that I could be. “He doesn’t love you,” she said, “He screwed you over.” Adorkable was more sympathetic, listening to the songs he’d send and dissecting the poems over gelato. But still, I’m embarrassed for how I acted.

Whenever he mentioned a song, I’d put it in my iPod immediately and listen to it like a jillion times.  We had deep, romantic conversations on Scrabble chat, and my life started to revolve around that little chat box, around waiting for him to play his next word. He mailed me a poem (not his) about being trapped under a parachute. The migrating birds in the poem got tangled in the strings. He sent me his students’ poems and my delighted comments ended up in the introduction to their book. We took the Scrabble words and arranged them into poems. I combed his poems for clues he was still thinking of me, and they were always there. I was a window, a star.

Things continued with varying levels of angst until something fairly innocuous finally blew it all up. Scrabble Boy’s best fried is Feral Girl, a twenty-year-old former student of his. (He was 37) She was also a friend of mine from poetry. One day, they posted on facebook that they’d gone to a How Water Music show together and screamed along with the songs. The physicality of that image versus the computer-and-poems trapped feeling of my relationship with him sparked something and I texted him that I felt envious.

That’s when he kind of lost it on me. In that claustrophobic Scrabble chat box, he said “I don’t talk about this much, but I love my wife and kids. I don’t intend to abandon any part of my life here.”

I flipped out too—had I ASKED him to abandon anybody? He’s the monogamous one! I was so mad about the accusation that I did that impossible-to-feel-mature-about-but-still-necessary step of unfriending him. I made a lot of sarcastic jokes to my friends about being a homewrecker, but his accusation stung to the core of my love-loving heart. It still makes me scared, even in very very poly situations.

Our friendship was poisoned, as was my friendship with Feral Girl, somehow. I eventually did tell her why I unfriended her, and that probably wasn’t very nice.

Last fall, Scrabble Boy and I took another crack at being friends and planned a call. He and his wife had separated for reasons unrelated to me. It turned out, he’d never told her. He considered the fact that we “made out that one time” (Oh, crap, straight people have a different idea of what sex is!) to be “beside the point.” Which, in the grand scheme of things, I know it was, but still. What girl likes to be called beside the point?

We both spent a lot of that conversation apologizing, but I also realized he was never going to love me, and I was unreasonably angry about that. I mailed him back his poems and mix CDs. (The poems are still saved in the computer though. And the Scrabble games still live on, archived.)

I don’t know how I can be both the communicative and becoming-more-confident person I am not and the so-desperate-to-connect-with-a-man-that-I-helped-screw-seven-people-over mess that I was then. It’s almost April, I hope it’s time to forgive myself.

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