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Disclaimer: I am writing this post in 2 parts due to lack of time, so please forgive me for that.

“If you wear a mask for too long, there will come a time when you can not remove it without removing your face.” ― Matshona Dhliwayo

It is hard to say exactly when I first started speaking to Mr. Stock (that is what I will call him here).  We met on the dating site Plenty of Fish.

At first he said he was not ready to meet anyone and was only there to make friends.  He sounded vague in his messages, but still, I started exchanging messages with him. Perhaps it was because I love making new friends, and also, I felt a certain compassion towards him.  He felt safe and harmless.

I detected some underlining pain. A pain, that according to him, he wasn’t ready to talk about, but that, slowly, revealed bits and pieces of it.  Much later I learned that he was dealing with the long illness and, eventual passing of his wife.  He hinted at also having some social anxieties and not being comfortable in crowds. I am not sure if the anxiety came about from the grief or was already an issue prior to that.

“Grief does not change you, Hazel. It reveals you.” ― John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

I am not sure what we talked about at that point.  Perhaps the weather.  I do remember, at times, being annoyed that we would never meet. We are only 30 minutes apart, so I didn’t understand why we couldn’t meet as friends. At times I would stop replying to him, but would give in and reply anytime he reached out.

Eventually I got off of POF, and gave him my number.  We would say hello every couple of months or so. We would have disagreements. I don’t deal well with negativism, and sometimes he was in that mode.  His unwillingness to see the beauty in life annoyed me.  My optimism was too much for him.

Still, we would always check in with each other.  He would talk about meeting every now and then, saying that he was going to try.  But after so many times I just never believed it would happen.  I had made peace with being phone/text friends.

Months, years passed.

One day I asked him a question about stocks, since he is an investor.  He loves talking about stocks.  From that day on, we speak and text more often.  He would often talk about meeting and teaching me about stocks in person.

Every time he would say something about meeting, I would think about The Boy Who Cried Wolf.  I never thought we would meet, and honestly, by now, I didn’t care.

“Between what is said and not meant, and what is meant and not said, most of love is lost.” ― Khalil Gibran

A couple of weeks ago, he mentioned he was on vacation and then texted: “Just make sure we go to dinner while I’m on vacation”

That text infuriated me. I let him know how mad I was.  To me it implied I had control about meeting or not. Also, it implied we had never met before because of work. It also felt that “meeting”, was always a carrot that was being dangled in front of me.  I don’t like carrots!

We talked it out, and he said it was miscommunication and he would try to meet.  In his mind he had decided to meet months ago but had been too busy with work.

Last Saturday at 7pm he asked if I wanted to meet for dinner or something.  First, I was surprised and second, I was annoyed.  After so long, you don’t just ask me out last minute like that.  I said that I was not free, but said I was available the following day. He said he was not sure about the next day because of the Jewish holiday. I said ok, and I meant okay.

On Sunday,  at 11am he wrote to see if I wanted to go out for dinner, drinks or anything else that evening.  I agreed to dinner and asked him to pick a place in my area.

I thought he would cancel it. I was willing to bet that it wouldn’t happen.  I was ready to get the cancelation phone call.

But it did!

to be continued…

“Masquerades disclose the reality of souls. As long as no one sees who we are, we can tell the most intimate details of our life. I sometimes muse over this sketch of a story about a man afflicted by one of those personal tragedies born of extreme shyness who one day, while wearing a mask I don’t know where, told another mask all the most personal, most secret, most unthinkable things that could be told about his tragic and serene life. And since no outward detail would give him away, he having disguised even his voice, and since he didn’t take careful note of whoever had listened to him, he could enjoy the ample sensation of knowing that somewhere in the world there was someone who knew him as not even his closest and finest friend did. When he walked down the street he would ask himself if this person, or that one, or that person over there might not be the one to whom he’d once, wearing a mask, told his most private life. Thus would be born in him a new interest in each person, since each person might be his only, unknown confidant.” ― Fernando Pessoa