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This guy had already managed to hurt me, in the space of just two weeks. We spoke for hours about everything, from our damaged childhoods to jobs to exes to first kisses.
Then he'd found me—a woman he might want to have a real relationship with. "Please," he begged, "give me another chance." I hesitated. I'd planned to merely dip my toe in the water, but instead, I cannonballed right in.
I remember the first e-mail I received from Jamie; it wasn't exactly poetic. Looking back, it's hard to believe what that simple line would lead to. At the time, I was nearing 30 and working as a secretary at a big investment bank in New York City—not exactly the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. So I checked out his profile immediately, but wrote him off just as fast—he lived in the Midwest and, more importantly, hadn't posted a photo. He persisted and e-mailed a few snapshots, along with a note. But it was at night that our talks really picked up steam. Paul's reaction mirrored that of my friends, sisters, and parents, so I clammed up. I was working in a dead-end job, watching my friends get married one by one, and kissing my 20s good-bye, having apparently missed the "Saturn Return," that astrologically significant period that occurs between the ages of 28 and 30 and is supposed to be marked by accomplishment, power, and prestige.
He said he'd joined determined to overcome his intimacy fears but hadn't been moved by any of the women he'd met. I want to hear your voice." He called me that night, and was even smarter and funnier on the phone.
"Ever since my father died, I've been terrified to get too close to anyone..." The e-mail was long and apologetic, full of searing self-criticism and shamefaced confessions.
I think I'll always be evolving in that department.
All I can do is fight the urge to live in a fantasy—so a Jamie can never set up camp in my heart again.
What if this magic chemistry we had Plus, I was free to date anyone I wanted. (I neglected to remind myself that in order for someone to get me, I would have to let him get to me.) A year passed, then two..still, I continued to talk to Jamie every day. Even my therapist got uncharacteristically direct and said he didn't like what was happening. One day, I was in a taxi with my good friend Patty when Jamie called.