I’m sure I’m not the only girl out there who has held onto an old flame much MUCH longer than needed… and this one… this one’s a doozy! Dan* and I have known each other for 4 years and somehow always seem to balance on the fling/friends fence. It’s funny, I knew at some point I’d have to write about him but he JUST left my house so it’s obviously running through my brain right now. So, to maybe get some closure and perspective, here is the story of Dan and I. The flame that never seems to die.
Dan and I met in my first year of university. He always caught my eye but it was funny, he’s the complete opposite of my type. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a great guy. He’s funny, smart, outgoing and somehow 100% himself. I think that’s what I liked. He was confident but not arrogant. He was an amazing athlete but humble about it, even to this day. He has beach blonde hair with cloudy blue eyes and a smile that somehow only perks up on one side of his mouth. His laugh is a chuckle but one that’s kinda innocent and cute. But here’s the thing, Dan is almost the black sheep of his family. Both his brothers are perfect children who lived arguably vanilla lives, were amazing all star athletes, found love and got married quickly and now live pretty average lives. Everyone loves them! Dan, Dan had to break the mold. When you look him deep in the eyes you can see his rebellion just slowly sparkling. It’s like he just can’t help but be a little different. Be a little mischevious.
Dan and I shared classes and he was a year older than me. He was the guy that you knew had great potential but he kinda let himself be the classic university procrastinator. Which, I mean, we all let ourselves be sometimes. He dressed between a hipster and a wanna be but it was always him so you knew it was genuine and he always made an effort to be present with you. Even if he didn’t really know you. That’s what I always liked about him and what still draws me in. He says sorry if he checks his phone while talking or if he gets distracted and looks away.
Anyway, Dan always seemed to either be in a relationship or fooling around but when he was in a relationship, he seemed pretty loyal. At least from what I knew! He was one of those, ‘yah I would like him if I could’ or ‘he has potential’ kinda guy. The first glimpse I got of anything was in my second year. We started to chat and have mutual friends and just kinda notice each other but I was always the good girl and not really there. We became friends and would talk over homework and coffee and one day, after Winter Break, I asked the question you should never ask, “How are you and Amy* doing?” Well.. They broke up over the break. I felt terrible. I honestly wasn’t thinking anything would ever happen between us and I’m not really sure how it all faded into something more. I think it all started the summer I decided to live in Edmonton instead of going home. We both decided to stay through the summer and not move back home and were living about five houses down from each other. He sent me a message and asked if I wanted to hang out since his roommates were all heading in early. My roommate was gone for the night so I said sure. Innocent me thought absolutely nothing of it.. ha! He came over with a wine bottle and two glasses. We shared the bottle and chatted for a couple hours and he left. That was probably weird for him. Nothing happened at all! But my interest was now peaked. From that point on, messages were sent most days but eventually, things fizzled out to which I assume was because I wasn’t too bright or into things very physical.
Third year comes and goes and we flirt at random parties and talk every now and then but nothing really happens. He has his random flings here and there and even goes for a girl and has a thing for awhile but eventually, they fade out too. I liked her. She knew of my interest but was much bolder than I and so I lost. Anyway, summer comes and again we both stay in the city. Summer = summer fling right? We keep in touch and that fated night arrives. It’s a party and I’ve had more than my fair share. I’m shamelessly flirting and I’ve got my going out outfit on (aka showing more skin than normal). We get to the bar and were with a group of 15 dancing and drinking. Next thing I know were two-stepping to an R&B song, like what?! He get’s me to the opposite side of the dance floor and next thing I know were kissing! KISSING! This makes him the official first kiss! And official make out! We continue to dance and kiss and I can’t imagine anything more amazing and then he asks the dreaded question, “Do you wanna go home?” Naturally, I panicked and say, “I gotta check on the birthday girl first!” And what do you know, she’s VERY sick and has to be taken home ASAP. I tell him I’m sorry and that I have to take her home. I think he took this as a rejection and this put us back for a long time. I think I once texted him about it but he just passed it off. It sucked but what could you do? I still held on to him though. Let myself believe it would one day happen again.
Months went by and he still hadn’t responded so I let it go. But then a party came up to which I had decided to sit out of while everyone else seemed to get absolutely smashed. I was dropping someone off at the campus dorms when I see a horde of students run across the street! The cops came to shut down the party and everyone was running away and hiding inside the dorms. I see my buddies run towards me and one asks that I drive them home. But he’s in a drunken stupor and asks me to help him get all his roommates home. 7 trips. 7 trips I made back and forth between the campus and my house (about a 7min drive one way). About trip 5 I see Dan trying to bike home and he runs into a parked car! I laugh hysterically with my sober roommate sitting in the passenger’s seat. She looks at me and says, “Oh no. That’s Dan. Should we take him home?” I nod yes and work to get him in my car. We’re driving him back with some others and he won’t get out of my car. I’m getting phone calls pleading to bring McDonald’s back to the house so Dan comes with us. After ordering food, I get a tearful call for a pick up to Dan’s house so we decide to go back to the campus. We’re parked and waiting but Dan is now sick from all the driving so I get out with him as my roommate calls the dumb idiot who called and is nowhere to be found. I walk over to Dan who’s now swaying after throwing up all over the ground. I try to hold him steady and he pushes off my hands saying, “You can’t see this! Go away!” I laugh at him and tell him to sit down. He agrees only if I join him. We sit and he says, “You know, you’re pretty chill. And like I like you. I know I didn’t respond to your last text and that was pretty mean. I really should have but I didn’t know what to do. I just want things to be chill between us. I guess that’s all I can say. Oh, well I really wanna kiss you right now but I just puked so I guess I’ll hold off on that.” I laughed, thanked him for not kissing me and let him continue hugging/stroking my head with his semi puked on hands. I decide we should just leave the idiot behind since he still had not answered a phone call, and we drive back to the house with Dan. I’m dropping him off at his house but he doesn’t wanna get out of the car. He asks my roommate to take the food inside and the minute she leaves the car, he jumps from my back seat to kiss me. I push him off laughing telling him I am not kissing him. He gets hurts by that so I say it’s because he’s covered in puke. He tells me, “Just please come inside with me. We can just cuddle. I’ll clean up and we can just spend time together. Get Maddie to drive home and you stay here. Please! PLEASE!” I laugh and ultimately turn him down. I give him a kiss goodbye so he’ll leave my car and Maddie gets back with his roommates to get him out. I laugh telling her what had happened as we do our last pickup. Funny enough, I drop the next person off at Dan’s again and he is restrained in the house so that he doesn’t run into my car. The next morning, I ask him about his night and he says I can’t remember anything. I ask about him asking me to stay and he apologizes. I chose to believe him forgetting but have always thought he may have just lied.
More months go by and we both pretend that didn’t happen since he “blacked out” but then, one night I’m home in the living room alone watching Netflix while my roommates are all just in their rooms. It’s a week night so I’m not expecting anything crazy. Dan snaps me and asks if I wanna come over to his house for a little party but it’s all boys on his team and I say I’d rather just watch my show. Next thing I know, he’s sending pictures of him walking across the field towards my house! *We now live about 3min walk away from each other. He opens the door and quietly whispers, “hello?” He joins me on the couch and we have a little chat. He starts with the simple, can I join you? We cuddle and watch HIMYM. Then he turns, “Fuck it. I think we both know there’s interest on both sides. We both find each other attractive, I think you’re chill and I do like you. I just don’t think I can be what you want. I can’t promise anything. If you’re okay with just being chill together with no real expectations, then I’m down for that.” Going against everything I was raised to believe I say, “Dan. I feel the same way. I don’t know what the next chapter of my life is and I don’t expect anything more. We have fun together and I like that and I’m okay with seeing where this goes. Even if that’s nowhere.” He lets that sink in. We continue watching HIMYM. He turns again, “Fuck it!” He turns into me and we start kissing. It’s slow but it’s passionate. It slowly progresses from a soft ocean breeze to tumbling waves. Somehow our shirts are off and he’s throwing me around on the love seat slowly moving his hands up and down my body. It’s like I was out of my body as we pull on each others hair and I scratch his back. He whispers, “Do you want to do more?” I seize up in fear and say, “I’m not ready to go that far. Can we keep doing this?”
Poor Dan. I had a sports bra on and really wasn’t ready to fool around even understand the concept of what happened past kissing! He whispers, “Do you want me to cum for you?” I giggle. “Do I want you to what?!” He says it again. I say, “Um, do whatever you want?” LOL oops. Needless to say, I was christened with my first ever handjob to which I didn’t even know if I was doing right or if it was any good. I have know learned hat completion signifies success and that I was indeed good at it. Again, LOL! We kiss a couple more times and we clean ourselves up. We cuddle and finish another episode of HIMYM before he leaves. Funny enough, the minute he left all my roommates texted me asking who was in the house and what happened. I lied and said we just cuddled… haha!
Fast forward a couple days later and I realize I can’t be this girl who fools around and maybe even has sex without some sort of exclusivity. I knew what kind of boy he was and I was terrified to be just another notch in his belt so I text him. This may have been the worst thing I could have done but I had to be true to myself. It spiraled out and he said we were better off with friends and that doing anything wouldn’t be smart because feelings would be involved. I was heart broken. I was mad at myself for a long time before I realized it was okay. That sometimes we let our passions and physical nature over take us and I was still me. I stood up for myself and now I just have to move forward being okay with myself. Still loving myself.
Months went by and nothing really happened. We both avoided each other and pretended it never happened. I thought he’d never share his side with anyone but I later learned he drunkenly spilled the beans to his roommates who had to ask me about my uh.. techniques. His roommates, in their defense, are some of my closest friends so I’m surprised how long they went without asking me about it! I guess handjobs aren’t normally so successful when you’re doing the real thing? Embarrassing but flattering at the same time. Graduation is soon arriving and I realize maybe I made a mistake. I want to be with him SO bad. It’s like this thing where you know he’s the bad boy and you really shouldn’t go for it but I can’t help it! Everything in me screams Dan. The year end athletic party approaches and I build up the courage to talk to him. We’ve been talking on and off and I am only newly single from a two-month boyfriend. That boyfriend followed me around like a lost puppy and definitely did not help the situation. Dan and I meet in a washroom to talk and I tell him I want to try things again. I want a potential ‘friends with benefits’ agreement and that this time, if feelings happen, it’s my problem to deal with. He says he can’t do that to me. That I deserve better and that he knows I’m a virgin and that he can’t be the guy who takes that away. That my ex-boyfriend doesn’t deserve that either and makes it awkward. That he can’t commit to anyone right now and that’s not fair to me. That he can’t be with any girl right now. And lastly, that I look really good and that he’s trying to focus on my face but he’s tipsy and he’s sorry if he has been staring elsewhere. I laugh and agree that I guess things should stay the same but before I can argue for me, someone knocks on the door and our talk is done. I go home and I feel crushed. I put myself out there and it just didn’t work out. I mean, it was probably for the best but I was devasted.
After graduation, I would learn that he has a new girl in his life. They’re having a fling and I begin to become so self-conscious. What’s wrong with me? Why her and not me? I try to leave him in m past and move on into my post-university life.
You are now caught up to today. Two months later. He’s in town for a wedding and messages me. We decided we should hang out and catch up. Takes a little time to work itself out but we meet at my new place. He comes over and we talk. JUST TALK for 3 hours! What the heck does that mean? No kissing. No cuddling. Just talking. It was actually really nice. It’s like I realized what I was missing all over again! I thought I was over it. I thought he was part of my part but I realize we have so many mutual friends that we are bound to hang out again. I even made efforts for us to hang more while he’s still in town! A part of me wants to let it go and try to only see him as a friend. The other half of me really wants to try again. Really wants him. And so, I sit here, realizing I have rambled for quite awhile and still am confused about my feelings.
Dan has always made me feel safe in a way no one else has. He has made me feel comfortable about touch when it’s something that has always and still scares me. Somehow Dan has made a place in my heart that I don’t know how to let go. Maybe I will have to always wonder about him. So, I guess I’ve landed on continuing on seeing where our relationship goes. I don’t want to lose that sense of safety or honesty that we have between each other. He really is a great guy and I don’t want to lose that so I guess he’ll always my ‘what if’ flame. My ‘if only’ flame.
So, I guess this post is for all of you out there who have an old flame you just can’t seem to let go of. A person you should probably let go of but just can’t seem too. I stand in solidarity with you and wish you the best because, DAMN, it’s hard to walk away.
Sending Love Your Way,
Broken Girl Learning to Heal