When I met R, I knew we were perfect for each other. I loved his sassy sense of humor, I loved his curly dark mop of hair, I loved that he only came up to my nose at 5’5”. The first time we hung out we laughed, we flirted, he even took my hand when we walked down the street.
Unfortunately, R made it clear from the beginning that he was not looking for a relationship, and even though I was, and could easily see myself being with him, I tried to ignore it.
Despite saying he didn’t want a relationship, everything we did was cutesy, coupley stuff: walks through the city; theater nights; drinks after work; and, of course, sleepovers that included amazing sex.
Somewhere along our time together, I realized that I’d stopped going on dates with other people, and I was only seeing him. Which, as he was not a relationship person, was not good.
Still, we continued. When he moved into a new apartment uptown, I stayed with him the first night. I met his best friend the next week. Were we actually dating, this is when I’d consider things getting serious.
One night, he invited me out with his aunt. She was visiting from the west, and he was taking her out for drinks. I was meeting the family. (Well, the aunt anyway.)
We went to Barrage for drinks. (I know I talk about margaritas all the time, but damn, I love their margarita special.) His aunt was a lesbian, and the sweetest woman ever, and hilarious. She kept asking R why he wasn’t dating me, and when he went to the bathroom whispered to me, “He’d be stupid to pass up a cutie like you.”
R mentioned my column, and his aunt wanted to see it. I brought up photos on my phone, letting her swipe through them. I should’ve stopped her, but she kept complimenting every picture, every selfie, and I didn’t want her to stop. R and I glanced over her shoulder.
She stopped in a picture of R: I’d forgotten I saved it from Facebook. He was smiling at the camera, holding a wicker basket full of rose petals in different shades of blue tulle draped over pillars behind him. It was taken at a wedding he attended the summer before.
I turned bright red; R didn’t say anything. “I really liked those colors for a wedding,” I tried to justify, but now I was talking about marriage and weddings to a guy who didn’t even want a boyfriend.
Suddenly R knew just how much I liked him, and he knew he didn’t reciprocate. He said he needed to get to bed for work the next day, and he didn’t invite me back with him.
On the subway ride home, I listened to Ellie Goulding’s “Love Me Like You Do,” thinking of all the men I’ve dated in this city, wondering, “What are you waiting for?”