Whenever I travel alone, I think about him. Especially when I get off of the plane and walk into the terminal where my fellow passengers meet and greet their awaiting companions. That's where he would be. And I would see him from far down the corridor, his buzzed blonde hair a few inches above everyone else's, bobbing up and down as he jumped with excitement to see me and sweep me up in his arms. This remains one of the most romantic memories of my life, so far.
It's been three years since he smashed my already bruised heart into pieces. Or is it four? I'm not sure and for some reason I have a mental block that won't let me do the math to trace back my failed relationships. It makes me feel old and I think it would hurt too much to face the cold, hard, clear facts. So I settle for a hazy timeline of heartbreak instead.
I don't want to think about him. And I've come a long way over the years in shaving down the amount of times he crosses my mind. From every minute, to every hour, to every other day and, for the last year, every month or so. Or whenever I get off of a plane alone.
But this trip - and the anticipation leading up to it -- has shoved my progress back. He's been on my mind every day, several times a day. And it's not a longing I'm feeling. Or sadness. Or self pity. It's anger. Still, after all this time, anger.
Why is this trip having such a strong affect? Well, first of all I'm in Portland, Oregon. It's not Seattle, the city where I flew every other weekend for almost a year to visit him - right up until he literally vanished from my life with no explanation. But it's the Pacific Northwest and I can't help but associate the entire region with him. The deep green trees, the rivers, the flannel.
I'm here for work but Wine Guy and I decided to transition my business trip into a mini vacation for the two of us. He arrives tonight and we will enjoy the city for the weekend, then head out to the Oregon coast for a few more days. Wine Guy and I haven't traveled together all that often so I've kind of built this trip up in my head, convinced that it will be a romantic little getaway - bed and breakfast and all.
Traveling. Boyfriend. Pacific Northwest. Romance.
This all adds up to painful memories of Naval A-hole.
Being typically self-destructive, I revived my stalkerish Google searching habit to see if I could find out where he might be. A few years ago I discovered that he was in Norfolk, probably gearing up to deploy on an aircraft carrier to the Middle East. I liked to think of him stuck on a cramped, gray ship with nothing to do but run on a treadmill and get teased by his fellow shipmates. Of course, that's the part of it he enjoyed, but to me it sounds like hell. And that's where I want him - in hell.
Up until this trip with Wine Guy popped up on the calendar, I hadn't Googled him in quite some time. So I was surprised when his name got a solid hit. It wasn't much, only a few words from a tiny local newspaper - and not even a complete sentence. But the impact of those few words was huge.
The headline: Marriage Licenses, January 11, 2009
Then a list of names, ages and hometowns. The end of the list included his - Naval A-hole, 34 - and hers - SmallTown Girl, 26.
There it was. He was back in bumfuck Washington state. He was married. To a 26 year old local girl.
At first I wanted to cry and throw my computer across the room."He's happy! He's married! He found a young, little chippy who'll go along with anything he says! Noooooooo!!!!!!"
But I tried not to let these thoughts escalate. Instead I sat on them, analyzed them. Tried to figure out what they were really about and, to quote annoying Dr. Phil, evaluate if they were "working for me."
Of course they weren't. On the surface, I was experiencing a petty, stupid jealousy, tinged by the fact that I remain unmarried. Wah, wah, wah. Look deeper.
Let's begin with my relationship with Wine Guy. We are happy. We have a future together - and a present that's doing great. He knows what I want and I trust that we will get there. And, of course, life is not a race. (I do finally believe that, but it took awhile).
Now let us examine Naval A-hole and try to picture what life would be like if he never dumped me and I got exactly what I wanted at the time. I would be the wife of a Naval Flight Officer, living in a shithole Navy town in the middle of a sunless nowhere, watching a bunch of straight-laced, testosterone heavy men play video games and drink beer every weekend. Or sit home alone while he was deployed far away on a ship.
No fucking way.
I'm thankful that I didn't get what I wanted. But still pissed off that he discarded me like a meaningless piece of trash.
So here I am in Portland, wandering the town in between conference sessions, still kind of stewing and not knowing exactly why.
If anyone can claim they were as wounded as I was by Naval A-hole's actions, it's my mom. I was nervous to tell her about this latest news and actually sat on the information for a few weeks, probably because I hate to see her upset when A-hole comes up. But when I keep things from my mom it feels like there is something "bad" about it all, so I decided I should tell her and hope that once I aired it out I might feel better. I called her on a break and left a message saying I have some gossip about Naval A-hole. She called back eager to hear the news.
She didn't react too strongly, probably terrified that she'd say something to upset me. (Yes, we walk on eggshells often when we speak to each other - gotta love the mother/daughter dynamic). But when I told her how I felt grateful for not being with him when I envision my life as his wife, she said something that nailed it down.
First she disregarded the notion that I missed out on anything not being with him, and then she said, "I just don't want him to be happy!"
I couldn't agree more. But here he is, married to a 26 year old and living in a little town that I know he kind of liked (a few miles away from crappy Navy town).
And then I remembered something I've been saying for years -- and even said to Naval A-hole a few times. Men have so much less to worry about when it comes to marriage. They can relax and wait as long as they want because there will always be a 26 year old girl for them to marry.
I'm sad to say that Naval A-hole proved my point. But who is this girl? From what little I could find about her on Google, I learned that she works for a small boat charter company and very likely has never left her hometown. I imagine (hope) that she's slightly docile, gullible, and won't challenge A-hole's existence in any way. Like I probably did (especially when I expressed that I wasn't eager to live the Navy wife life).
Whether he's happy or not with this kind of girl...well, I guess I can't concern myself with that. I could hope and pray that karma actually exists and that a person like A-hole will pay the price for the poor choices he's made. But what I really want to do is Stop. Thinking. About. Him. Forever.
That's why I'm writing about this today, hoping for some sort of purge. Especially before Wine Guy arrives tonight. He deserves all of my heartfelt attention. And I can't let Naval A-hole rob me of happiness for one more second.
I'm considering myself purged. Fuck him.