14. The Traveler

food-1246621_1920When I matched with The Traveler, it was right at the beginning of a long, empty week. No work, no kids, seemingly endless discretionary time, with the added bonus of a girls trip at the week’s end. He was in town visiting his family, which happened often enough, as he had grown up here and planned to move back within the year. We hit it off immediately and made plans to get together mid-week.

He had happily agreed to help me shop for a dress for my trip, so our first stop was the mall, then to a nearby playground because we both felt it had been way too long since we had played on a swing set. We laughed and flirted and had a lovely time, eventually landing back at my place for an even lovelier time. We capped off the evening with a 1am pho run. I knew then that I really liked this man. He was family oriented, kind, emotionally aware, communicative, sensual, and funny. And I never saw him again.

Wait. What?

Well, as it turns out, The Traveler had one major problem. He was perpetually busy with work. He traveled to job sites and spent weeks working 14-hour days with no set completion dates. On the rare occasion he would find himself in town, he prioritized his family, his ailing mother, his newly born god-daughter. I would be a monster to fault him for these choices, but all of it made communication with him exceedingly difficult. I told him I needed to hear from him more, that it just wasn’t working for me — he apologized, and we broke it off.

At the time, I viewed him in terms of, “if he ever takes a stationary job, he would be perfect.” But we had talked about it, and that wasn’t going to happen for a long time. I didn’t want to be stuck, dreaming of unlikely scenarios, missing out on opportunities to connect with people who were available. My choice to intentionally cut things off before my heart got too involved (because I was well on my way there) was a sign of progress (see: The Runner). My criteria for dating were slowly shifting. The Old Rules were being chipped away and healthier, more flexible guidelines were taking their place. While I still sometimes think of The Traveler or smile wistfully as I pass playgrounds, I don’t regret my decision. I hope he is well. I know I am.

 

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