Thursday, August 12, 2010

Have I mentioned...

...that I love Becky? I think it may have come up every now and again, but I'm not sure. I often have a lapse in memory, which means I frequently forget what I have or haven't said.

Okay, I'm being a total goof on that one. OF COURSE I've mentioned my love for Becky. What I tend not to speak about is how utterly shocked I am that I love her. Oh, it comes up often enough during our conversations on Skype, but I don't speak of it at length here. So I thought I'd bring that up this early morning.

It would seem that I have every reason to flee from a deeply involved romance. I've lost count of how many times some woman has made promises to me, only to break her word on many different levels. I mean, when I become engaged to Becky, it will be the FOURTH time I've asked a woman to marry me. Four times! You'd think that by the third relationship sinking faster than the Titanic that I'd have given up completely. Instead, I'm taking the same risk of having my heart shattered as I have in the past.

The first was Perlin. As mentioned, I had mistaken lust for love. Still, I was very attached to her. I had convinced myself that she and I were doing just fine, with the lines of communication wide open. Old habits die hard, I guess, and she couldn't resist the urge to cheat on me, just as she had with the two guys before me. The result was me losing my mind for a while.

The second engagement was with Robin. Once again, I thought the lines of communication were wide open. But when she left me, there'd been no warning whatsoever. Have I even covered this one in detail? I may have, but I'll do so again.

Her parents had split many years before, but her father had come for a visit in Phoenix, AZ. My big plan for that particular weekend was to watch the football playoffs, so when she said she was going to her mother's place to spend time with her parents, I told her to have a good time and settled in to watch several games in a row.

Come 10:00 that evening, Robin hadn't returned. I hadn't heard from her and was concerned, so I called her mother and asked if everything was okay. Yes, everything was fine. Robin was unable to come to the phone. When asked if she would be coming home soon, I was told she was going to spend the night there. That was a little unusual, but not completely bizarre. I mean, her father was in town from NY, so I thought it natural enough to decide to spend more time with her parents rather than drive home exhausted.

The next day dawned, and with more playoff games to watch, I remained unconcerned about Robin and her parents. They were just visiting together, right?

Wrong. They arrived early afternoon with a rented van. As Robin and her parents came into the apartment, I noticed her mother had her hand inside her purse, where I later deduced she had her hammer-less .38 revolver waiting to take down the guy whom she knew to be a pacifist. Robin's father asked to talk to me outside. I went, utterly baffled as to what was going on. He sat me down and explained that the relationship was at an end. Robin was unhappy. Somehow, I was being blamed for Robin putting on weight. And the fact that I was having employment issues due to my failing health was a big problem.

I was in shock. I didn't see this coming at all. So when I was asked to go with them to the office to have Robin removed from the lease, I did so in a robotic state. I should have contested it later, since I was emotionally ambushed, but I just didn't care. And the next thing I knew, I was standing in the apartment, watching her father carry furniture out to a van they'd rented, while Robin's mother gathered up some of Robin's clothing.

Robin and I interacted directly all of three times during the breakup. The first was when she told me she wasn't doing this to hurt me. If that was the case, then why do it the way she did it? Why do it at all? Instead of talking to me about her problems, she was simply abandoning me. If she didn't want to hurt me, then I assume her goal was to actually KILL me emotionally.

Our next interaction was when she tried to take her wedding band. We were close enough to fulfilling our wedding plans that I'd already bought the rings. I told her to give it back, as she hadn't earned that one yet, and apparently wouldn't be earning it from me.

The final interaction was as she was leaving. This was one of those moments when being a writer paid off, as I was able to get of a painful zinger after she said, "Take care of yourself." My response was, "That is no longer any of your concern."

And then she was gone, leaving me with no food, no money, and a kitten to feed. Oh, her mother scribbled out a check for $25 as they were leaving, but that wasn't even enough to get me and the cat through a single week. So I took advantage of the fact that she'd removed herself from the lease. Doing so made everything in the apartment mine. That included all the furniture she said she wanted to come back for, as well as her jewelry. I sold what I could, including furniture and the jewelry she left behind, making about $300, which helped me survive ever so briefly. Then I moved to Las Vegas to be close to Stu...and that's a completely different story.

With engagement number two shot to hell, I thought I'd never get that close to another woman again. But when I got my new laptop after winning a lawsuit, I was in an AOL chat room when I met Ally. She was 17 rapidly going on 18, and I was 34 at the time. Age really was "just a number" to me, but I was also aware of the law. Nothing would happen between us until she turned 18 in November. So I waited. And once she crossed the line to being legal, there were plenty of "adult" conversations, online and on the phone. I was madly in love with her, and couldn't believe that such a young, intelligent, and beautiful woman would be willing to accept me for who and what I was: an older, disabled, perpetually poor man. (The picture of a stunning blonde that she sent was nothing to brag about, in that is was somewhat out of focus and she was not all that close to the camera. From there, I was successfully distracted from asking for more pics.)

And so the plan was made. During her Spring break, Ally was going to drive to NY with some friends. Because they were all relatively wealthy, they would get a hotel in Manhattan. I would take the train and meet them there. And if Ally and I hit it off as well in person as we had online and on the phone, she wanted to drag me down to City Hall and get married. She told me that her father, a successful lawyer, had tucked away several thousand dollars in her name, and now that she was 18 she could access what she wanted.

I was in heaven. And before anyone says, "Rob, it was too good to be true," it wasn't. Her father may have been wealthy and successful, but he was an emotionally abusive jerk. There was also the ex-boyfriend who had essentially coerced Ally into sex. Coercion = rape. Apparently Ally still felt guilty for the death of her younger sister, who'd died in a car accident. (Ally blamed herself for not making sure her sister was properly buckled in, to which I pointed out that that wasn't her responsibility at the age of eight to ensure her five-year-old sister was secured in the car.) There was Ally's best friend, who had a pregnancy scare, to which I spoke to the best friend AND her boyfriend to advise them on how to handle things. It wasn't non-stop happiness. There was plenty of drama to go around.

The day came when Ally was supposed to be on her way to me, and I popped online late in the day to see if there was a message from her. I was expecting something along the lines of, "We're on our way. See you tomorrow. I love you." Instead, I saw Ally was online.

What followed was a dramatic encounter with her father. Ally tried to explain that she tried to hide the trip from her father, but he found out, and was now keeping her from coming to me. He commandeered the computer. I tried to reason with him. He was exceptionally rude, despite me being oh so polite. He insulted me for a good 15 to 20 minutes, then walked away, leaving me to chat with Ally.

I couldn't understand how any of this had happened. And because I was trying to wrap my head around it, I started asking questions. Lots of questions. And before she knew it, Ally found herself painted into a verbal corner. Our chat then turned into something like this...

Ally: Ummm...Rob? There's something I have to tell you.
Me: (Oh, crap, I thought. Here it comes.) What?
Ally: I'm...I'm not 18.
Me: Excuse me?
Ally: I'm not 18.
Me: Uhhh...How old ARE you?
Ally: I'm 15.
Me: You're WHAT?!?
Ally: I'm 15. And when we started talking, I was only 14.
Me: I...I can't believe this.
Ally: And my name's not Ally. My real name is Tori.
Me: Why...? Why would you do this to me? Why would you lie to me like this for over six months straight?
Ally: I wanted to make myself seem more interesting to you. I liked you, and didn't want you to think I was just some kid.
Me: But you ARE a kid! Jeez, do you know how much trouble *I* would have gotten into if you'd actually made the trip here? As it is, there are all those conversations we had. I should turn myself into the cops now and get it over with.
Ally: But you didn't know any different. And none of it was against my will.
Me: Like that matters in the eyes of the law.
Ally: Besides, I really do love you.
Me: Well, isn't that just great, Ally...Or Tori...Or whoever you are. Because the entire world is going to smile on a relationship between a 15-year-old and a 34-year-old.
Ally: I'm so sorry.
Me: I just don't understand why you would do this to me? I've been open and honest with you every step of the way. I mean, who would advertise themselves as being disabled and on welfare? It's not exactly the greatest hook to find women. And you've been lying to me this whole time. Was ANY of it true?

No...It wasn't. None of it was. Not even when I thought I was talking to other people on her end. She would simply type differently so she would seem like a different person altogether. There wasn't a single drop of truth to any of her stories. No rape by an ex-boyfriend. No abusive father. No sister killed in a car accident. She was just a kid who ended up falling in love with a much older man, and didn't know how to stop lying once she'd started.

I was devastated. I contemplated turning myself over to the police, even though our "adult" conversations were a misdemeanor at the most. Still, I might've ended up with jail time, which meant some other prisoner might've killed me when they learned why I was there. And dying is what I wanted to do once I knew the truth I went from utter bliss to completely self-destructive. But she BEGGED me not to do anything, so I didn't. I had a healthy fear of jail, which is why I'd waited for her to become "legal" in the first place. I didn't know she was a child until that night, and it all ended once I knew the truth. Oh, she tried to keep the flame alive, but I firmly explained that she'd destroyed my trust, and promptly placed her on ignore for all chat venues.

That last one had some of the most powerful repercussions. To this day, I still feel like I committed a crime, despite the fact that I had no idea I was committing one at the time. "Ally" was 18. And once I learned "Tori" wasn't 18, everything came to a screeching halt. I've even spoken to several people about this, and NO ONE thinks I actually did anything wrong. If anything, she was the one who was at fault. Some even suggested I try to take legal action against her and her parents, but I wasn't about to start something from which I only wanted to gain distance. I simply sat back and decided that I would place my heart behind an emotional brick wall and never expose it again. And getting engaged...? Well, I'd asked Tori to marry me, she said yes, and then...and then...Oh, how could I let myself be fooled like that?

Well, if one could possibly put a positive spin on Tori's behavior, she was an extremely smart and imaginative writer. She maintained some fairly complex lies over a six month period. Her mistake was promising to come visit me in NY, which was something she was never capable of doing. She outwitted herself.

So here I was, seated behind my emotional wall. I was never going to let myself be suckered by another woman online. If ever I met a female online and she wanted to pursue me, she had to send me a very strange picture. "What kind of strange picture?" you ask. I demended the same one from any female I started chatting with. If she showed an interest, I would tell her to send me a picture of herself holding a roll of toilet paper in one hand and a pen in her ear with the other. When asked why I would ask for such a thing, I would reply, "Who in their right mind would have such a ridiculous picture lying around to share?" No one. In my head, unique = real.

And then there was Becky. Oh, my guard was up, my emotional defenses fully charged and ready to obliterate any possibility of her getting too close. We chatted and flirted on City of Heroes from time to time, but she was engaged, and nothing would come of my pursuing her. Then she was single, but off to meet her dream man in Puerto Rico. So she still wasn't available, and that was fine. I couldn't get close to someone who was spoken for, right?

Alas, my defenses started slipping. Becky would talk about things that didn't make her a great catch. But then I'd look at myself and ask, "What makes you so freakin' wonderful, Mr. I-have-so-much-baggage-that-I-come-with-a-valet?" She was painfully honest, as was I, and we soon found ourselves growing incredibly attached to one another. When the time came for me to ask for that strange picture, we found ourselves on Skype. Who needed a picture when we had video chat?

Then came her falling-out with Dan, the stud in Puerto Rico. I didn't have to do a blessed thing; he destroyed his chances of seeing Becky all on his own. And before I could catch my breath at finding myself emotionally closer to a woman that was now utterly single, Becky was telling me that she was coming to KS to see me.

Uh huh. Sure she was. It's not a tale I tell often, but there was a woman who said the same thing when I lived in Las Vegas. Then there was Ally. Now there was Becky, and I would believe it when I saw it. Becky knew my attitude about this, and simply told me to wait and see. Even when I spoke to her from the motel she stopped at on the way, I believe I expressed some skepticism because she could have rented a room in her own home town to make me think she was on her way. "Why would I do something like that?" she asked. Well, what did I know of human motivations? What would make a 15-year-old lie to a man in such dire straights for over six months, knowing there could only be heartache at the end?

Though I was ultimately hopeful, I maintained some degree of doubt, right up until that moment when Becky's car turned on to my street. Then I knew it was all true. And when I wrapped my arms around her, I whispered, "You're here. You're really here." And fought tears, because it was the first time that one of my big dreams had come true.

But have I truly found the one? Is Becky the end of my search for "happily ever after?" G-d, I certainly hope so. Because all of my defenses have been obliterated. The same applies to her. All we seem to do is discuss the present, the future, and all of the hopes we have of building that future hand in hand.

The absolute best are the "domesticated" fantasies we have. One that we share most is something that will occur after we've moved in together. She's had a long day at school, followed by a hectic day at her part-time job. It's not that the day was bad, just very busy. She's exhausted, and all she wants is for the day to end so that she can forget it. And when she walks in the door, I move to greet her, take her in my arms, give her a tender kiss, and simply hold her for a bit.

My further commentary about this particular fantasy to Becky was that I pray we will never lose that sense of love. My parents used to greet one another with a peck on the cheek when my father came home from work, as though they were good friends greeting one another. As time went on, that peck was abandoned, only to be replaced with my biological mother greeting him with a report on how horrible all of their children were that day. Even good news was made to be bad. "Rob got a B+ on a test instead of the A we both know he could've gotten." Mind you, there was once a time when that same report was, "Rob got an A on his report instead of the A+ he could've gotten." With encouragement like that, why bother?

No, Becky and I would like to forever be greeting one another at the door with a kiss and an embrace, with further kisses and embraces coming from our future offspring. We want there to be love in our home; love that is obvious to any and all who are present. And I pray that there will never be a time when we're separated forever, because that may well be the final shattering of my heart.

There's 37 days until I see my sweet, beautiful Becky. Just thought I'd mention it. =)

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