I recently had the privilege and pain of experiencing a weekend fling.
This is not to be confused with a one-night stand, of which I have had many in my lifetime. No, a fling carries with it all of the underpinnings that tie together a real relationship but leaves you with only frayed ends when it's over.
Here's how it starts: you meet someone. You're attracted to them instantly. They're attracted to you. In my case, I had the world at my fingertips. I was on a trip to New Orleans for a weekend to run a race I participate in every year. I love the city; from the first time I stepped foot on the cobble-stoned streets of the French Quarter, I was immediately swept up by the its romantic chaos, sophisticated whimsicality, and utter uniqueness.
I must admit, my story is two-fold:
Last year, I made the trip with my mother. On our last night there, we ended up bickering, so I left our hotel room and went down the road to a popular bar where I could seek solace in a vodka tonic while we cooled off. Instead, I ended up meeting the most gorgeous, incredible, sweet boy of my life. (Sure, it helped that he was the one serving my drinks.)
After his shift was over, he asked if I was hungry. Having just run a half-marathon that morning, I assured him that I was. We then embarked on a wonderful night on the town–wine, cheese, getting caught in the rain, exploring a bar set on a carousel, and I was spinning from his company all night. At the end of the night, he dropped me back off in front of my hotel and turned to me.
“Can I kiss you?” he asked.
I didn't even answer; I moved right in for my own. The goodbye was long and drawn out. Neither of us seemed to want to let go of the moment. He told me he wished I didn't have to leave back to LA the next day because he wanted to spend more time with me, and asked if I would please come visit him at work before I left the next morning. Yes, I said. Yes, yes, yes.
So, I did. The next morning, still bristling from the fight between us, I told my mother that I had to go say goodbye to a friend and walked down the road to his bar. He came out, hugged me, told me again how much he wished I could stay. He asked if he could kiss me again. Yes, I said. Yesyesyes. Then I got into my cab and headed to the airport.
A text came through: Is it bad that I wish your flight was cancelled?
My heart melted.
As soon as I got to the airport and said a still icy goodbye to my mother, I walked right up to the airlines counter, asked how much to change my flight, and set down $200 on the counter before turning and getting right back into my cab, back to my boy at the bar.
The look of surprise that washed over his face when I came in carried across the whole room. Surprise gave way to sheepishness gave way to happiness. I spent the rest of the afternoon keeping him company during his slow Monday work shift, eating lunch, laughing, giggling, occasionally sneaking kisses. At the end of it, we knew it was really time for me to leave him and I asked if he would ever come to California. Yes, he told me. Yes.
A year passed. We remained Facebook friends and Instagram buddies. Communications that started out fairly consistently grew less and less frequent. I started dating someone else. My New Orleans bar boy became a distant, but still quite fond memory…until I returned the following year for the race.
I was unsure about whether to contact him. By this time, I was no longer dating the other boy. Instead, I chose the passive aggressive, modern day social media tactic of posting to Instagram with the location of my hotel in the French Quarter tagged. He immediately texted me and we made plans to see each other the next day. What followed was a whirlwind weekend romance during which time we were nearly inseparable.
I'm not going to lie; a part of me kept wondering what was going through his gorgeous head. I knew I was probably different from the year before in many ways, and maybe the 5 or so pounds I had put on in an effort to be happier and healthier as 2015 started out was not a welcome addition to my previously petite frame for him. Still, every moment when we would say good bye for the night, he would insist on seeing me again the next day. He would hold me and hug me and kiss me and ask if he could see me again and my answer would always be the same: yes, I said. Yes, yes, yes.
I was thrilled to have more time to spend with him this time. I met his friends and his dog. He met my parents. He would kiss me and hold my hand in public. He would take me out to dinner and drinks and we even had an occasion to slip into the bedroom at one point. He showed me the entire city–his favorite haunts–and made me feel like the world was ours.
On the night before I left, our goodbye was once again long and drawn out. Neither of us could let go–neither of us wanted to break the moment we were having together. The next morning, he met me early for breakfast before my flight. This time, after our kiss and our hug, I knew I would not be changing my flight. I had to be back; life was calling me.
At the same time, I wanted him to be my life too. After the weekend we spent together, how could he not be? The feelings I had, like the spinning carousel bar where we spent our very first night together, circled around in my head. He had to feel the same, I told myself. You don't go through such a magical weekend with someone like that only to forget it ever happened.
And yet, upon my return to LA…nothing. The occasional word, usually by my own initiating. The less I got, the more I obsessed. I became obsessed with this feeling. Because why? Because I had had a relationship, something that felt so real and so right, for just long enough to have it hurt when it ended…and then it came to an end, oh so soon. Too soon. Sooner than I was ready to let it go.
This is what I learned about flings: You feel flung at the end. I'm not saying my New Orleans bar boy is a bad person. I'm not even ready to say that he didn't enjoy spending the time with me over the course of that weekend every bit as much as I did. In the end, he was able to stay grounded, hold on to the pole of that spinning carousel, and meanwhile I was left flying through emptiness only to land with shock and surprise and hurt just where I had started.
It's still a fresh hurt for me. There's still a part of me, sitting on the ground and freshly stunned from the impact, that thinks there may be another chance at this. Isn't that what they say? When you get knocked off the horse, you get back on.
Even if nothing else ever comes of it, and even for all of the bitterest and sweetest of these bittersweet feelings I have to wrestle with, damnit it to hell, yes, I would do it all over again.
Yes, yes, yes.