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  • Writer's pictureNate Methot

It's Valentine's Day


It’s Valentine’s Day. Last year, in the little dirt parking lot of Geprags Park, I sat in my van with a woman I met on Tinder. We’d been chatting almost every night for more than a month, filling my otherwise lonely, empty evenings. We were supposed to have dinner, but the combination of “overscheduled divorced mom” and “guy who can’t drive” seemed to make that nearly impossible. As a wet snow fell in the headlights of passing cars, we sat in the near-dark talking and then making out. After about 90 minutes, it was time for her to drive me back home. Our conversations began to dwindle in the coming weeks as maybe the reality of my circumstances took hold. I never saw her again. I think she just wanted to meet me. Not the first time that has happened.


It seems like much more than a year ago. Maybe that’s a good sign. The time has been marked, at least in part, by other online-dating women. Some have been promising, turning into multiple dates, and one became a girlfriend—for a while.



Ten years ago, Kim (from my memoir) and I drove up to Waterbury Center, to Michael’s on the Hill, in a snow storm. We phoned ahead our inevitable late arrival. I carefully piloted my Subaru past a big, luxury sedan spinning its tires at the base of the upsloping driveway. We enjoyed a smug giggle at the hapless out-of-state driver.


That was the most I’ve spent on a dinner for two. Over $200. We dressed up and drank red wine and treated it like the holiday occasion that’s sold to us. It was nice.


The other diners appeared more casual. Not a lot of suits and dresses; most seemed to have come straight from the mountain. It wasn’t a special Valentine’s dinner for the monied crowd vacationing in Stowe. Proof that we were out of place: the waiter asked where we were from and balked at our response. He didn’t seem to believe we’d come from Burlington, from our home.



I walked to Brooks Pharmacy (after City Drug and before it became Rite Aid and now Walgreens) to pick up flowers for my girlfriend. Because that’s what you do for Valentine’s, right? I was 15. I only knew I was obligated to do or say something.


I walked two miles on slushy sidewalks in the cold to buy flowers because I couldn’t make myself ask for a ride. I just couldn’t. I was embarrassed, scared; it was too vulnerable. I’d much rather go it alone.


What was I so afraid of? “Nate bought flowers for his guuuurlfriend!” Yeah, I guess that, even if only in my head. Or the run-of-the-mill, probing “mom” questions that for some reason were so uncomfortable. Just protecting myself from what was probably an existential threat. The last thing I ever wanted to do was expose my soft underbelly to the put-downs and criticisms for which I was ALWAYS prepared.


I don’t know how a dozen drug store red roses made it home in the cold. I think I jammed them in my backpack for school the next day. I don’t remember giving them to her. Not even a little bit. I only remember the secrecy and difficulty of getting them. I should’ve bought chocolates; we could’ve shared them.


 

I haven’t seen [sorry, you’re not getting her name] in almost a month. The distance has been obvious and purposeful. We’ve talked about how we need to get together and talk. She’s really been struggling. I know that. (I’m not going to share the details of her life.)


Finally, a week after I sent a long message (in part) seeking closure, she responded. I’ve known that our short-lived relationship was over, but today she confirmed. I’d almost immediately accepted its inevitability. Maybe I was protecting myself by imagining the worst. Not maybe.


It’s nice to know for sure though. The extended delay made me uneasy, if not a bit angry. I’d already moved on. Well, mostly. I’ll be alright. I’m always alright. Ish.

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