After I found out about the infidelity and after James was acting disinterested, I took relationship matters into my own hands and, embarrassingly, became a Myspace creeper (circa 2007). Browsing the hotties in nearby cities made me feel less empty. One completely lonely night, I ran across his profile.
The profile of interest portrayed a well-established businessman with his shit together. There was life in his eyes, money in his pockets, and confidence in his voice. There was also an email from me in his in-box.
There are times in my life when I wish I was able to pull a conversation from my memory. Unfortunately, this memory is sketchy and my email was deleted. I’m sure it looked something like this:
I stumbled across your profile tonight and I’m incredibly intrigued by what you’ve said. My name is Sarafina and I’m 25 years old. blah blah blah = I’m reeling your stupid ass in. I’m smarter than you think and I’m playing the ‘girl next door’ card combined with the ‘please take care of me daddy, I’m vulnerable’ card. You’re hooked already and you haven’t even seen my dimples in real life. Anyway, I just thought I’d send you an email. I hope you’re enjoying your evening.
Looking forward to hearing from you.
He replied within an hour. We exchanged emails for about a week before he asked for my phone number. I gave it to him.
We hadn’t met, but our phone calls lasted for hours. We discussed grandiose dreams and hopes for our futures. I spilled that I’d always secretly wanted to be a writer. He told me about his kids (he was 4 years older than me) and being a dad. We overexposed our flaws. For the first time in my life, I didn’t skip around with my past. Perhaps that was because his past was far more controversial than mine. Two kids with two different women? No, not a red flag at all.
In the earliest stage of our relationship, Ike did something for me that nobody else could in even later, meaningful stages of those relationships. He taught me how to forgive.
My previous relationship, as I’ve briefly mentioned, ended because my ex was unfaithful. I was devastated by this; my whole life revolved around helping my ex. I gave him money to start school (for which he never enrolled), I encouraged him to look for a new job (when his bosses were ready to give him the axe), and even though I wasn’t really in love with him, he was my favorite rescue mission.
My mothering pushed him into a warm hole named Stacy (who I not-so-lovingly refer to as ‘Racy’) and I was pretty heartbroken. My heart wasn’t sad that he was gone, it was sad that this relationship proved you could sacrifice so much of your happiness for someone else, in hopes of making them happy, and all you end up with are two miserable people. I still had a few pieces to pick up when I began interacting with Ike. He was eager to help.
Should I have taken his eagerness to help a girl he barely knew as a red flag? Probably. I didn’t.
Ike talked to me about peace, kindness, gentleness, self-control…you know, the boring stuff. He encouraged me to forgive my ex. He swore that by doing this my heart would open even more and I’d be free to love more deeply. He was great with relationship propaganda.
So I tried. Initially, I tried small things. I forgave people for making grammatical errors on Facebook. I forgave the guy in the car in front of me for driving like an asshole. Eventually, I moved on to bigger things. I forgave my best friend for making me waste $3,000 on a wedding for a marriage that lasted 3 months. Then, I pulled out the big guns. I tried forgiving my ex for his infidelity…and I did.
It was one day on my way home from work. I blared my favorite song, shed a few tears, called the ex and said, “I forgive you,” and left the animosity on the highway behind me. What I’d learned was that it wasn’t worth holding on to the anger. I would never date this man again. Why allow myself to remain hurt by someone who wasn’t going to mean anything to me in the long run? Ike taught me how to do that. For that, I’m thankful.
I called Ike to tell him that I’d forgiven my ex for being a cheating bastard. Forgiveness was more freeing than bitching him out or announcing to mutual friends that he’d cheated on me. Sitting on the front porch, I clamored, stuttered, and boasted of the events. In far more detail than you’ve received, he got the beginning of the story. And then I heard the train.
The tracks were a block away. They made it almost impossible to hear anything on the other end of the phone line when the train was ripping through town. To avoid making him repeat himself, I said, “Hang on a minute, a train is coming and it’s really hard to hear you.” But right before the whistle was upon me I heard him say, “Weird, me too.”
And then, right before I could say, “What?” the train came through.