A few weeks ago, I got a message from Lydia, an old friend from high school. She’d read A Love Letter I Will Never Send, and it reminded her of someone from her past. I asked if she would share her story. She agreed. Enjoy! K.
My relationship with Brad was on its last legs. After a year and half and two breakups, we were nearing the end. There was too much codependency, too much pot smoking, and too much fighting. I knew from the beginning it wouldn’t last – he didn’t want kids, in fact, he had gotten a vasectomy a few years before we met. There were other things, too: he didn’t read books and thought college was stupid. Despite being nearly a decade older than me, he had no long or short term goals. In fact, for a good amount of time we were together, he was jobless. I sat, speechless, as the credits to Lost in Translation rolled, tears streaming down my face, feeling in my heart how real and honest that movie was. Brad turned to me and said, “I don’t get it. What was that movie just about?” That’s when I knew for sure that it wouldn’t last.
Why did we stay together? It was the sex, plain and simple. He had just begun to explore his very real and very latent kinks. I just played along, and he was grateful and happy for that. He was very submissive, and gave me power I lacked elsewhere.
But I needed more.
I was up alone one night watching TV just after Brad moved out of his friend’s basement and into my basement apartment. I had no cable; just a few channels to choose from. I stopped on the public access channel just as a segment featuring a new shop in Pike Place Market came on. It was called ‘Lighter.’ They specialized in local, handmade items, everything from duct tape wallets, to purses, to screen printed t-shirts. They even had a rotating birdbath with a periscope made by a local artist. I immediately fixated on the shop’s owner. He was older by at least 20 years. (In my younger days I rarely dated anyone remotely my age. My first relationship was with a man 26 years my senior – think Woody Allen’s Manhattan. I was 17. He was 43). Something about the way the man on the TV carried himself reminded me of the man from my first relationship. I needed to meet him.
I worked in downtown Seattle about four blocks from Pike Place Market. A few days later, I found the shop in the market. It was one of the shops “down below,” two stories underground. I browsed, made some small talk with him (detected his German accent, something I hadn’t picked up on when I saw him on TV), bought a duct tape wallet (pink with a white star) and left. I didn’t realize that my heart had been pounding the entire time. I had to tame him à la The Little Prince.
I started frequenting the shop once or twice a week. I also started lying to my boyfriend about what I was doing on my breaks (we regularly met for lunch). Andreas and I quickly took to each other; my plan to tame him had worked. After visiting the store a few times, we were hooked on each other. I had forgotten what it felt like to flirt, and I mean really flirt with someone. He was everything Brad was not: educated, well-traveled, quick-witted, incredibly intelligent and confident. He was also married, but I didn’t care.
One afternoon he invited me to go with him to First Thursday in Pioneer Square. It was early summer, and there would be dozens of local artists on the streets, and the art galleries would be bustling with people. Not knowing what I would tell Brad, I turned him down. The next week, I invited Andreas to have drinks with me at a bar called Chapel (the space had previously been the chapel of a funeral home) that was known for their extensive martini selection: hibiscus, lavender, rosemary… amazing. I told Brad that I had made a new friend and would be having drinks with him. I even invited him along. He refused. He was angry, hostile, and jealous. I didn’t care.
I have made mix tapes for myself and for friends for as long as I can remember. But the person who sparked my love for music was Greg, the man I was in a relationship with when I was seventeen. He had an entire room dedicated to music. Thousands of records, CDs and tapes lined the walls of his music room. I made him mix tapes, and he would make them for me in return. Sharing and exchanging music was important to us. He would play music I had given him in anticipation of me arriving at his house. When I heard the music as I approached his house, I knew he was playing it for me.
I made a CD for Andreas. It was a very carefully selected group of songs. The songs I chose told my story. The night we planned to meet for drinks, I made my way underground to his shop. It was nearing 6 p.m. and everything was closing down for the night. By the time I had reached the top of the second flight of stairs, I could hear my music playing. I walked down the stairs and watched him for a few minutes. He was listening to the song I had wanted him to hear the most- ‘Japanese Gum’ by Her Space Holiday. He was playing it for me. He was waiting for me, he was thinking of me. In that moment, I was in love.
We had an incredible night together. I don’t remember what we talked about, but we talked all night. We were so connected, I was overwhelmed. I felt like my brain was having an orgasm for the first time in more than a year. Andreas walked me home. I held his hand, but wouldn’t kiss him, even though I wanted to more than anything.
I invited Andreas to a party a few weeks later. It was at a friend of a friend’s. Again, I invited Brad along, but he refused. I only asked him along because I knew he wouldn’t go. I felt like I had to ask, so he wouldn’t think I had motives that were deceitful. I think on some level he knew that I was just over our relationship. I also think he thought I wouldn’t go if he wouldn’t go, but I went.
The party was great. Andreas and I were never far from each other, and couldn’t stop touching each other. We were sitting close; he would put his arm around my waist, constantly touching me. There were a few moments I thought he might kiss me, but we were interrupted each time. I followed him into the bathroom at one point. We didn’t know what to do with each other, but what we both wanted was obvious. We embraced, and that was it. As unhappy as I was in the relationship I was in, I couldn’t bring myself to do anything with Andreas. Andreas, being married, couldn’t bring himself to do anything with me.
He drove me home, we said our goodbyes. Brad was waiting up for me. He had been crying. It was over. He was taking his things to a friend’s house in the morning. I didn’t put up a fight or ask why. I knew. I was relieved.
I didn’t sleep much that night. I was up very early the next day. I left my apartment and started walking. I walked for hours. I ended up at Andreas’s shop. It was very early; the shops weren’t even open yet. I waited. I should have left, but I waited. Andreas arrived to open the store, and I knew immediately something was different between us. When I told him that Brad and I had broken up, he didn’t seem surprised, but he was not as happy as I thought he would be. I’m not sure what he thought of me showing up so early. But I sensed that he wasn’t pleased. Maybe it was the awkwardness of the situation. Maybe he sensed I had expectations, and he knew he could never meet them.
I stayed and talked with him for a bit then left. I went back a few times, but the energy between us was different. Then, one time I went back, and the shop was different. The lady working there told me that Andreas had sold the shop. I called him once or twice, but never got a return phone call. We never spoke again.
I know at one point before we broke up, Brad went to Andreas’s shop to browse around. He said he just wanted to see what Andreas was like, what he looked like. He didn’t tell me what his impression of Andreas was. Looking back, I cheated on Brad even though I never kissed or made love with Andreas. Doing or saying something that you would not normally do or say if your significant other was there is deceitful. Andreas and I had an emotional affair. We never talked about his wife. She was away that entire summer.
Sometimes, I really wish I would have at least kissed Andreas. At least I’d have that. The attraction was just overwhelming on so many levels. I’m married now with kids, so I hadn’t thought of him in a long time; not until reading A Love Letter I Will Never Send.