Letter to the Young Chef

Dear Michael,

I know now that is not your name. I figured it out pretty quickly after you Bergered me with that text just hours before we were supposed to see each other. At that moment my brain told my heart to shut the fuck up and it did what it does very well. It went to work following all the hunches my heart ignored.

My brain went to the Facebook page of the Brew Pub in the city you said you didn’t live in (thank you I Will Dare stat counter for having my back). There was a picture of a sous chef with the same name as your sous chef and when I clicked her name, there was your face. Your cutie face with a name that was not the one I knew you as.

And there you were on the social media you said you eschewed for various reasons. There you were with your wife and your son. There was your wedding and your honeymoon in Mexico.

Was it a dick move to like that picture on your Facebook page? Probably. Was it also a dick move to follow you on Twitter. Yeah. However, since you’ve blocked all form of communication from me I had to let you know that I fucking figured it out. You gotta give me that. I figured out a lot even before then, you know that. I want to be petty and list all the things I was right about. All the things you assured me were not true. But you know and I know and I guess that’s all that matters.

I give you props for blocking me pretty quickly. Don’t worry. I’m not going to blow up your family. I’m not a home wrecker. The way I see it your home is pretty much going to wreck itself. It needs no help from me.

Here’s the thing, though, Not-Michael. If you could have been honest with me from the beginning, told me about whatever shitty situation you are currently in, I could have at least been your friend. Maybe this is the wisdom that comes with age, but life is weird and relationships are complicated and confusing, and you’d be surprised how understanding people can be. That is, if you give them the chance.

You never gave me the chance. Instead you filled me with glitter-covered bullshit and because I was lonely and sad I ate it up happily. It felt so damn good to be desired and appreciated, told I was pretty. I loved being your fascinating new thing. Like I told you, you melted my ice monster heart and it was nice because I wanted to be special to someone so damn much.

And I weep now as I type not for you, but because the want in me is so great I don’t know what to do with it. I cannot contain it and so it spills out my fingers and my eyes. Perhaps my greatest fault is not being a trusting fool, but the unending belief that I can make something happen through the sheer force of my desire.

I dreamt about you last night. When I woke up this morning it ached a little because I couldn’t tell you about it before I even got out of bed.

In the dream you were at your restaurant making pizza. Your wife and son were there. It was a little chaotic, lots of people, and the bathroom was flooding. I sat off to the side watching you. Sometimes I was outside a window looking in. At one point, you turned to look at me, raised your chin in a subtle greeting, and smiled. I waved at you sadly and left.

It was cold and raining as I walked to my car, and once I got in it wouldn’t start. But then it did and I drove to Atlanta (?) to help a bunch of college kids make a commercial for sparkly ear buds with Joan Jett. Joanie dismissed all the kids’ ideas until I came up with something brilliant. She hugged me after the commercial was shot and I left. I couldn’t find my car for a long time and when I did I got lost and turned around. A cop pointed me in a certain direction and I ended up driving on top of a tall, tall building that was being demolished. The roof was pretty dicey. I knew I had to get out of my car and get to safety.

After skittering around looking for a way off, I found I could jump down through a series of balconies. The last one was pretty high off the ground, and I teetered there for a bit wondering how much I’d hurt myself, but I knew I had to jump or die in the building’s collapse. I leapt and landed on my feet. Stunned, I stood there for a second and a hard-hatted construction worker said, “Nice job.”

My subconscious is about as subtle as Ramona Flowers’ hammer, eh?

This is getting kind of long, Not-Michael. I have a lot of things to say but I’ll try to wrap it up soon.

You didn’t get a chance to know this, but I have a blue Mason jar next to my couch. In it are slips of paper filled with things that made me happy on certain days. I hope to open it on New Year’s Eve and see what my year looked like. Last night as I filled out a slip I thought about finding the one from 26.Jan.15 that says something like “Talked with an interesting man named Michael” and ripping it up. But I left it. Because talking to you did make me ridiculously happy.

Last night’s slip said “The Internet was kind to my broken heart.” And it was. So kind that I cried more out gratefulness at the kindness of people who hardly know me than I did at your deception.

Here’s a thing you might not have learned yet, Not-Michael, because you are so young, when you are bold and honest and bare your messy sticky heart most people will treat it with the kindness it deserves. When you are true and vulnerable and cultivate a good circle of friends both in your life and in the ether of the Internet, they will show up when you need them — even if you don’t expect it.

My hope now, Not-Michael, is that someday you will find the courage to come to me as your real self. I want you to tell me how this all happened, what your real intentions were, and how it all got away from you. I need to believe that your consistent and active deception was because you are in a great deal of pain you can’t face and not because I am a needy old fool desperate to be loved.

I think I said it all now. I’m sure you’ll find this letter. That’s the problem with being a writer who blogs about her life. I don’t get to disappear like you do. I’m always easy to find.

One day, I hope you will be brave enough to explain, to apologize, and allow me the choice to forgive you or not. There is a lot of grace to be found in forgiveness. My capacity for forgiveness is only exceeded by my capacity for love. I think it’s a trait people who grew up with abusive parents learn to cultivate. See, Not-Michael? I can find silver linings too.

Until that day when I hear from you again, in the words of St. Paul Westerberg who sings the sounds of my big, stupid heart, you’ll be a song I sing, a thing I give away.

All the best,
Jodi

P.S. I forgot to say my heart is a resilient motherfucker and I might be down, but I am not broken.

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7 Comments

  1. dainec 28.Mar.15 at 9:47 pm

    Jodi. Your self-awareness and ability to assess a situation just blow me away. You are no fool at all. I hope that one day he will take you up on your offer to hear him out and perhaps offer forgiveness. In the meantime, peace and happiness to you.

    Reply
    1. Jodi 29.Mar.15 at 8:35 am

      Thank you so much. I only wish I was better at assessing the situations before they blow up in my face. Maybe someday. I’m sure I’ll hear from him again. I hope he learns something from this too.

      Reply
  2. Tanya 30.Mar.15 at 11:57 am

    Oh, lord. I don’t know why people pretend to be someone they’re not. I’m sorry this one found you. But most of all, I admire your ability to handle the situation with such grace.

    Reply
    1. Jodi 30.Mar.15 at 1:54 pm

      Thank you, Tanya. I can’t begin to understand his motivations and why he kept it going for so long. I also can’t understand why I didn’t listen to my instincts, which suspected something was fishy.

      It’s funny you mention grace because one of the first things he & I joked about was how I like to play graceful on the Internet as a way to temper my sarcasm.

      Reply
      1. Tanya 30.Mar.15 at 3:38 pm

        Oof. The idea of him joking with you in such an intimate manner, knowing full well he was creating a fantasy scenario, is so bizarre and cruel.

        Reply
        1. Jodi 30.Mar.15 at 3:55 pm

          The cruelty is what stuns me the most. Like I’m shocked someone would do that to a human being.

  3. Susanna 21.Apr.15 at 2:46 pm

    UGH!!!

    His cruelty comes out of selfishness. Thank god he couldn’t go through with it. But shame he couldn’t grow a pair and be honest. (And I agree with the nice comments on your first post. I’d hoped I could go to AWP in the Twin Cities so maybe I could meet you! Alas no.)

    Reply

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