A New Leaf


I still remember the time when I first saw J, the boy who would eventually become my boyfriend, and then eventually become my ex-boyfriend. I was getting into work on a Saturday morning and I passed him in the hallway. I remember seeing him & immediately being drawn to him – it was a cosmic energy.

J always remembers the first time he saw me as what was the second time for me. I passed by him at work and shouted something obnoxiously cheerful at him. The third time was at the end of a shift, and I actually properly introduced myself. We reflected on these moments constantly while we were together, and we both agreed that there was a deep energy that drew us together upon first sight. He moved something in me, and I in him.

I don’t mean to get all romantic and Nicholas Sparks-y with you but….isn’t that how it should be?

While J was in rehab for drug addiction, and using & disappearing when he was not in rehab, I had a list of affirmations and quotes that I read whenever I was loosing hope. Some of them were stupid little things like, “Stop thinking of all the reasons it won’t work and focus on the reasons it will (believe it or not, this was not a cute cat poster that I found in the back of a pre-teen magazine…but I shouldn’t trash the quote too much because it helped me keep my head straight, truly). But, my favourite one came in the form of a small bit from a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald – A New Leaf.

“…her heart sank into her shoes as she realized at last how much she wanted him. No matter what his past was, no matter what he had done. Which was not to say that she would ever let him know, but only that he moved her chemically more than anyone she had ever met, that all other men seemed pale beside him.”

(Amusingly enough, the character that she so speaks of is earlier identified with the line, “like so many alcoholics, he has a certain charm.”)

J had this certain energy – he moved me chemically. It was true that everyone else seemed pale and boring next to him. He got me.

This bit from A New Leaf comforted me for the half year+ that my boyfriend wasn’t there, both physically and mentally/emotionally. When he was high, I’d look at him and try so hard to see that boy walking into work on a busy Saturday morning. I’d think about this line and feel comfort in the character’s ability to know that she had these feelings, even if she will never let him know….even if those feelings don’t lead to anything big & marvelous.

A few months ago I went on a Tinder date on a Friday evening after work. It was wickedly cold and windy that day, and I was in a bad mood. I had my period and felt like doing nothing but crawling on the couch and watching sad movies. But instead, I went on this date.

As soon as I got over how much I didn’t want to be there, I felt good. I felt like I hadn’t felt since I met J more than 4 years ago. Something about the guy sitting next to me that night just felt right. There was that cosmic energy again.

We dated for a few months. I was happy. So fucking happy. I gushed about him to my friends and even my sister couldn’t find anything bad to say except, “He looks weird.”

I don’t want to mush about the whole thing too much. But, every time I saw him, there was that cosmic energy. He just got me.

I never got to tell him any of that. He was always too busy & I was always too reserved. I was going to tell him on my birthday date. We were going out to see one of my favourite movies – What Ever Happened to Baby Jane – playing as a special feature at a theater in town. I was planning on wearing my blue dress that I’ve been told makes me look like a Bond girl. In my mind, as I thought about the whole thing (which was a lot by the way, because when you meet someone who moves something in you like this, you get all stupid about everything – like the fact that dating a heroin addict is a good idea)….but anyways, in my imagination, I had cascading curls like Rita Hayworth and I was also like at least 4 inches taller and had boobs. And everyone was dressed like they were from a ’40s movie and it was just me & this guy against the world, underneath the theater marquee, totally in love and like nothing else could ever be more important than this moment right then & there.

I’ve watched too many film noir & Cary Grant movies. None of this happened. The guy forgot my birthday and didn’t show up for the birthday date. And that’s that. I sat at home on a Saturday night watching An Affair to Remember and When Harry Met Sally and crying.

And like the girl in A New Leaf, I’m realizing that you don’t always get to tell the other person how you feel. And even when you do, it doesn’t always make a difference. Not all loves are meant to be. But here’s hoping the next one doesn’t wait 4 years to come along again. Having another person in your life….one who moves you, chemically….is marvelous and fantastic and I’m not sure we’re meant to be living any other way.

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