The proof of the pudding is this: I went to Fitzbillies for lunch, knowing full well that he'd be there. Sure, I hesitated, thought the decision over, even walked past it when I was on the phone with my parents because I saw him and thought maybe I wasn't ready for it. But then, I'd really wanted a salad, and I didn't know where to go for lunch, and I had an interview at 2pm and it was already 12.35pm and I didn't have any time to waste, and so I thought, Fuck it.
I walked in. He looked up from whatever he was doing, and the look of surprise on his face when he saw me was unmissable. He was literally taken aback; the physical reaction was that of someone startled by the sudden presence of another when, for instance, walking out of a room and suddenly running into someone else.
But honestly, I didn't really care. I just wanted food. And I didn't see why I should prevent myself from getting what I wanted just because the guy working there had acquired a two-day old status of an ex-boyfriend.
We didn't talk. He asked me, in a knee-jerk way, how I was. 'Fine,' I said. 'Great!' I added.
It was nothing but the truth. I was feeling great. I was feeling as if a load had finally been taken off my shoulders. I felt so incredibly free, as if the world was once more at my feet, an abundant oyster waiting for me to explore - and I am still feeling this way as I write this. I am free of the shackles that my fixation with the idea of the relationship clamped around my ability to see straight, think clearly, choose correctly, the same shackles that prevented me from really recognising that he wasn't what I'd thought he was, let alone who I'd wanted him to be. These shackles strapped me down to an arid, uninhabitable corner of my imagination; I lived in here while reality marched on, past me, leaving me wondering why I was always feeling unfulfilled, unsettled, unhappy, even after I'd spent the night with him; even while I was spending the night with him. These shackles, too, restrained me from embracing the fact of our incompatibility, of the latent awkwardness between us, the always somewhat unnatural and uncomfortable quality of our time together. Don't get me wrong; there were some genuinely fantastic moments, moments in which I felt some kind of connection. But there really weren't that many of them, and it was more laborious than not; and while I felt this, I suppressed it because I wanted the fairy tale to come true.
In a way, I did him a disservice by idealising him, putting him on a pedestal, trying to make him fit the idea that I had of him instead of accepting him for who he was. If I'd done that, I would have accepted that we just didn't work together and not spent so much time trying to squeeze us into a fit that was never on the cards. In the same vein, I wouldn't have spent so much time chasing after him, wondering why he didn't seem that keen to see me and making excuses for it, and feeling dejected when he simply didn't seem like he'd wanted to be with me even when he was right next to me.
Above all else, I am euphoric because I am finally free to meet other people - people more suitable, more like me, more capable of knowing me, understanding me, being interested in who I am. I don't really know what Matt liked about me apart from my external attributes; but I suspect he was as guilty as me of the pedestal fallacy. Why else try to make it work when he'd known, deep down, that it would never work? Perhaps he was fundamentally incapable of knowing me; perhaps we were just unable to truly know each other. The fact that I kept thinking about Bruno wasn't the fact that I missed Bruno per se; it was the fact that I missed the deep emotional connection, the raw honesty that I had with him, even if short-lived. I had some of that with Matt; he opened up to the extent that he could. But he always reserved a part of himself for himself, and he was never really willing or able or interested in letting me in.
I want someone who wants the same thing: an emotional connection. That's the thing that I miss most when I'm not in a relationship. That was the thing that Matt was never capable of giving me. But I don't blame him for being emotionally closed off, and I don't think he's broken like he surmised. I think that if we'd actually been compatible, it wouldn't have been as much of a struggle; he would have been more willing to open up, or it would have come more naturally. So it was also to his credit that he stuck around for as long as he did.
Also, this is going to sound superficial but I don't care. I really want someone who takes care of himself and of his appearance. I don't need someone vain like Bruno, but just someone who dresses well in the most minimal sense and takes care of his body. That's always been something important to me, so it is surprising that I stuck around with Matt for as long as I did. I think, honestly, it says a lot about how much I'd idealised him that I didn't bail when he showed up to this date in flip-flops because if it'd been anyone else - literally anyone else - I would have been offended, insulted, and stayed for maybe a drink and politely excuse myself and leave.
At the same time, though, I'm quite glad to know that I am capable of looking past superficial things when I like someone. I don't regret going out with Matt at all (but then, I don't regret any of the choices that I'd made in my personal life) because just dating someone so different was interesting in itself from an anthropological point of view, if you will; and I also learned things about myself that I wasn't aware of, such as my willingnes to look past materialistic things to date someone that I liked. And of course, there were moments when he made me feel special, desired, beautiful, happy; and there were moments when I genuinely felt something for him, such as this. It doesn't matter if he'd felt the same; in fact, I don't think it was possible that he didn't feel the same way in those moments. But even if he didn't, I wouldn't trade it for anything else. I would rather feel something genuine for someone, even if not fully reciprocated, than to be emotionally closed off and prevent myself from experiencing romantic love (using 'love' in a loose sense here) for another, for these are the moments that we live for; they truly are.
I don't regret putting my heart on the line, or lowering my defences for him, or letting him in. I'm glad that, despite the beatings that my heart has taken over the years, I am still capable of good emotional health, capable of opening up to someone else and experiencing - feeling - the full range of human emotions that makes us truly alive.
Anyway. So I feel euphoric. I am wondering, though, if it's not too good to be true as it seems too soon. I hope I don't come crashing down over the next few days...but I think this feeling is here to stay.
On that note, I need to sleep.