The Boy Upstairs
I felt like perhaps I should ease into my Bumble adventures by telling you the simple stories…the funny stories…the stories with happier endings. This story is none of those things. It’s complicated. It’s confusing. It doesn’t have a happy ending…just an ending. It’s a story with pages filled less with words than they are blank space. Uncertainty. Lots of questions. Few answers.
In a moment ripped straight from a romantic comedy, a little over a month ago, Bumble matched me with my upstairs neighbor. It’s hilarious and ironic and so indicative of the world we live in that it took a dating app to match me with someone who had lived about 20 feet above me for almost a year. He knew who I was…I had no recollection of ever seeing him. I say that with no small amount of surprise, because when I met him in person for the first time, I was struck by how cute he was. And especially by how blue his eyes were. How had I managed to miss THIS guy in the parking lot for an entire year?! (Apparently I’m the most oblivious person on earth.)
Anyway…from pretty early on, I felt a connection with him. I was attracted to him, of course, but beyond that, I found him funny, witty, crazy smart, and entirely unique. His ability to banter especially impressed me. Nothing is more attractive to me than a man who can banter. Throw in a side of sarcastic humor and you’ve REALLY got my attention. This guy had both.
And it was good. I liked him. And “like” is hard for me. It just doesn’t happen very often for me.
We hung out a lot over that first three weeks…took walks, played Scrabble, watched movies…and for the first time in years, I could feel my guard start to slowly come down. My guard that had been firmly in place for two and a half years, ever since my heart was smashed into a million pieces by the last man I cared for. And honestly, I’d been pretty closed off for years before that. I had spent the greater part of seven years feeling like I was never quite “enough” for the man I loved more than anything to love me back. Never feeling loved or valued or desired by him had closed me off completely.
Until The Boy Upstairs (TBU) came along.
He was broken. He’d be the first one to tell you that. Not even a year out of a heartbreaking divorce, he was gun-shy. Emotionally guarded. Fearful of taking a chance on someone who might turn around and hurt him like he’d been hurt before. The whole story is wildly complicated…but suffice it to say that between the two of us, we had some serious baggage. I’d been keeping people at bay from a place of fear while he’d been serial dating from a place of pain. I guess in hindsight it didn’t exactly make for a perfect combination.
But in spite of that, or maybe even BECAUSE of that…there was a connection there. I liked him. I knew he liked me. I was comfortable with him. Didn’t worry about how “perfect” I looked around him. I could just be myself. My equally broken, baggage-laden, messy self. It was nice.
And then, about a month in, it started to crumble. A pebble or two at a time…then a rock or two at a time…then a couple of nights ago it collapsed completely. And I’m standing here in the rubble feeling confused about what just happened. Six weeks ago I met a man that I liked. I met a man who made me want to drop my walls a little. I met a man who made me laugh. And now he’s gone. Except not really gone because he lives right above me and the walls are so thin I can hear him sneeze. What. Is. Life.
I know I’ll move on with things. Probably fairly quickly. There are still other guys that I’m talking to and hanging out with. And hey, TBU and I will hopefully even move forward as friends. I know I should just chalk this up to a “live and learn” moment. But the thing that keeps nagging at me is the untapped potential. There was SOMETHING there. I know I didn’t imagine it. And I have a suspicion that maybe he felt it, too…and that’s why he did what he’s admitted to being guilty of in the past: Sabotaged the relationship.
Except it wasn’t really even a “relationship” and I don’t know that it ever would have been. He was terrified of commitment…I was less than two months into my return to the dating scene and far from ready for one. I didn’t know what the future held. But I sure enjoyed the present. For once, it was enough for me. Just spending time with him and laughing and watching Netflix and having him teach me all about geocaching (a blog for another day) and debating politics and discussing our zombie apocalypse preparedness was enough for me.
I guess it wasn’t enough for him. Or maybe it was too much.
Maybe I’ll never know.
And still: No regrets. I’m happy TBU was the one who re-introduced me to the dating world. It’s kinda perfect, really, that someone so close to home, literally one wall away from me, inspired me to drop my walls.
And isn’t that just the beauty and awkwardness and humor and irony of life that now I’m literally unable to put the wall back up because we live our lives 20 feet from one another?! HA! 🙂
Had I never joined Bumble, The Boy Upstairs would still be a stranger to me. My heart might feel a little less sad right now. But on the flip side of that, I might still be closed off and guarded and afraid of taking a chance.
I’m glad I chose to take a chance and make a mess rather than remain cold and closed off and tidy. That’s what life is all about, right? Making the mess. We’re all messy. People are messy. Dating and relationships are messy. Ending relationships is messy. Having a guy I like but am no longer seeing live 20 feet above me is super messy.
But it’s also LIVING rather than merely EXISTING. I spent two and a half years merely existing. I don’t ever want to do that again.
I choose the mess.
I hope you will, too.
…But maybe think twice about trying to date your neighbor! 🙂