The last time Blake and I hung out was on my twenty-sixth birthday. It was a Saturday and we spent six hours snuggling for what felt like forty-five minutes. But that wasn’t the last time we saw each other…
A few months before that, Blake had helped me move into me and my sister’s new apartment in Richmond, CA which was honestly a bit traumatic for me. Ha. It was a twenty-minute train ride away from where we lived in Downtown Berkeley, which meant Blake’s house would lose its convenience; but worse than that, it was legit in the hood. But my sister would be graduating soon, and we thought it would be best to down-size for the transitional time we were both approaching.
On a hot August afternoon, Blake helped me load my few belongings from a friend’s house we were staying at while they were out of town, and drove me over to Richmond in a grey v-neck, sunglasses, and a glorious beard that made him look like Brian Wilson. He drove barefoot like I do when flip-flops are life, and I looked at the Berkeley Hills in the passenger rear-view while Bryce Vine blared from the speakers. Obviously, I tried to impress Blake with my ability to rap all the words to a song he’d never heard before. ha. That ride felt like the most natural and comfortable ride in the world, and I discovered that Blake wanted to renovate a house in the woods someday. I found out other things about him and played in his hair that was getting longer – and lighter as it grew.
Once we got to the apartment, Blake made me show him around, and later seemed kind of disappointed that I’d hoisted half my belongings up the four-flights of stairs in the time it took him to park the car. I was just trying not to be inconvenient.
A month later, my cousin died and I came to an increasing realization of just how ‘not on the same page’ Blake and I really were. Over the course of a four-day texting conversation about him not being ‘ready for a relationship’, and my disappointment in his (lack of) response to my cousin’s death, I just decided that if he was ever going to change his mind about me, it would have to be of his own volition. So I ghosted with more internal resolve and distance than I’d ever been able to conjure up when it came to him. This time, he hit me up wanting to hang out and be normal… as if nothing had happened, still not acknowledging with so much as a ‘damn, I’m sorry to hear that‘ about my cousin. So I told him that as much as I liked him as a person, as golden as I thought he was, I didn’t want to be friends with him anymore. Not just because of him not behaving in the way I thought he should about my grief, but because I’d noticed that he had started to try and pull me back in whenever I stopped regularly initiating with him. It had happened after our final and most direct // intense Where Is This Going conversation, and I began to see some other patterns that I didn’t feel were worth enabling anymore. He apologized for not realizing that I needed space, and I could tell that it hit sort of a sore spot for him, and that he was bummed.
A month or so later, I ended up texting him because I saw this picture of an old dude on the beach that looked just like him in thirty years, and I missed our friendship. I missed being able to text him stuff like that, even though I knew that ultimately I didn’t want to just be his friend. (We had also hashed out the fact that I was not ever going to entertain a friends-with-benefits arrangement slash lifestyle.) He responded that he was sad I didn’t think of us as friends anymore, and that he still did. Then he told me the whole long story of why he wasn’t Ready For A Relationship… the rest of the story he had started to tell me three Septembers before on his front porch finger-picking a melody. And that’s how we ended up spending six hours on his couch on my twenty-sixth birthday.
And then Christmas came and we had the same mostly one-sided argument we’d had for the last three Decembers, which was basically us making plans to hang out and then him not getting around to it because this friend was coming up from SoCal and that friend just got a new house in Santa Cruz and the cousins and grandparents were meeting up for holiday festivities a couple hours north. Obviously, none of that was really what upset me, it was just the reminder that I didn’t have the place in his life that I wanted to have, and that it genuinely didn’t make sense for him to rearrange any of those plans for me because after all we weren’t dating. But the other thing that would happen was that he would always catch a cold right before New Year’s. So finally I was like, what are you eating over the holidays that you always get sick? Turns out it was milk chocolate. He volunteered that he was an idiot and I shouldn’t feel sorry for him. ha.
So yah, I was mainly just frustrated at myself for being in a situation where I was allowing myself to get played every Christmas and take second and third fiddle to family, friends, and a predictable, preventable annual illness.
That particular Christmas – the Christmas after my twenty-sixth birthday, my Sensei’s boyfriend had invited me over to play a few of my songs for him so he could record and critique them. I so badly wanted Blake to go with me, partially because I wanted to not take BART//Uber, but also because I wanted him to be there for moral support. I think by now he was finally fed up with me for trying to force a relationship onto him when he’d been so verbally clear about the fact that he didn’t want that. He didn’t seem to understand that his behavior was confusing and inconsistent with his words, and I didn’t want to let it go. Until finally I did. And it was kind of just like that. We just fizzled out. From the moment he smoldered me at the janky t-shirt company, I’d rehearsed to myself that we would either end in flames or fireworks. Fizzling out had never occurred to me.
It’s amazing what happens when you really ‘let go’ and ‘let God’. Ha. I knew that I needed some treat myselfs to fill the time and mental space that Blake had occupied, so I signed up for a SURFER Magazine subscription and started listening to podcasts from Oasis LA. I was in-between churches at the time because Big Church In The City had come to a frustrating conclusion for me, and with Blake not hovering as a hopeful potential relationship, I decided I should move to SoCal where there were more Christian guys to choose from who were edgy and artsy like me. Ha.
Sight unseen, I decided I should probably move to LA because cool christians! And the music industry! And a lot of my trusted close friends all thought I’d like it down there. As I was gung-ho deciding for sure about that, Hillsong was deciding to start a campus in San Francisco. When I fell in love with Jesus at seventeen, Hillsong meant so much to me. So even though I was surprisingly not convinced that I should stick around the Bay Area to be a part of it, I felt led – if you will – to at least take off work early to go to the interest meeting in the city. Having decided to go, I prayed that I would meet someone cool who would make it worth having gone, if nothing else came of it. And I did!!
As you can imagine, I was hoping to meet what my brother accidentally – but fittingly -referred to as a ‘Billabong man’ (autocorrect. ha.), but Christina has been one of the sweetest surprises in all of my twenty-seven slash almost twenty-eight years.
To my ISTJ dread, the interest meeting was basically an extended Say Hi To Your Neighbor After Worship situation. While waiting in the line I refused to really stand in before the ‘doors opened’, I met these two women on vacation together and we decided to hang out and each pick a person to talk to. That was what they decided, and I didn’t want to be awkwardly alone so I went along with it. Ha. When it was my turn to pick someone, I noticed Christina talking to a group of people in a messy bun and went over to say hi. We immediately bonded over the fact that Brooke Fraser’s husband was there, and that we were able to identify him via Brookie’s instagram. Ha. Following the interest meeting, Christina invited me to a Bethel concert in San Jose in August. This was still the Spring, but I agreed and as it turns out, by August we were ride-or-die. We started attending the first Alameda small group that Hillsong SF was hosting, and because I was still in-between churches and podcasting my Sunday mornings, I also started to go to church with her at 3 Crosses in Hayward // Castro Valley. Between church and weekend-traipsing with Christina and BARTing out to the whole wide ocean on my days off from work, I didn’t even feel the absence of Blake until I realized his birthday was approaching later that August. That, in itself – that I could be really enjoying my life and moving forward to the point where I didn’t ache for the noncommittal friendlationship I used to have – was a rich blessing. Let alone the fact that Christina is boss and I affectionately refer to her as my asian big sister… unless I feel the need to be more politically appropriate and socially conscious in which case I refer to her as my sister from another mister. Ha.
So. Here comes August and Christina and I meet up to hang out in San Jose before the Bethel Concert that evening. If I remember correctly, we were both free for the day trip because she was still looking for a job (I forgot to mention that she had just moved up from LA right before we met) and Mondays were my day off. So we hung out at a coffee shop in Downtown San Jose across from Muji, and had lunch with her friend Ronnie at a Mexican place. While we were hanging out and working on various projects over coffee, Christina half forced, half convinced me to sign up for a few dating apps, and that began my venture in actually online dating. Although, she would say that I basically just online-lurked. Ha. By the end of August, however, I did meet ‘Mark’ on Coffee Meets Bagel.
Mark was a half-greek second grade teacher who was in an active band and building a record label with his brother. On paper, we were perfect. Not only did he want to spend his life influencing the music industry from the glorious seaside of Santa Cruz, California but I had also just changed my Instagram bio to read ‘Christos Anesti’ and when he saw that it said that he got all excited about the fact that I new the Greek Resurrection greeting.
After a few days of chatting on the app, we met up for coffee at Cafe Strada on College Avenue in Berkeley. I was a hot ridiculous nervous-wreck-mess and entirely convinced that I was meeting my husband that night. Ha. Evidently, that was not the case, but we did just so happen to run into Blake at Cancun as we sat down for dinner. Mark had no idea, and Blake pretended not to notice me as he collected his salsa cups from the bar – also eating out with some other girl. Yall, it could not have been more perfectly placed…Here I am on my first date with Mark, who I am assuming to be my husband, and he’s telling me about one of his favorite Anime story-lines in which two characters are entirely in love with each other, but just don’t work out because it’s cosmically not meant to be when I look up from my fish tacos just in-time to see Blake dart his eyes away from me in a panic.
After a day trip to Santa Cruz, and meeting Mark’s parents five years to the date my momma died, I realized that the reason he liked that story so much was because it spoke to something he was still dealing with in his soul. If it was just up to us on paper, I really feel like Mark and I could have been perfect for each other, and I had hoped and wanted for the next person to be the person, and to have a reason to stay in California for good. Honestly, I wanted to be rescued from my struggle and the feeling of just floundering in life.
I think the timing was all wrong with us, and I also can see now that we weren’t that perfect, even on paper. Ha. I’ve also always thought that if Mark and I had met earlier in life, and/or in another context besides a dating app, we could have been really good friends and probably wouldn’t have ever tried to date in the first place. I still hope that one day Mark will produce an album with me because I really enjoyed his friendship and his people, and I think that we’d work well together. Plus if he does build a life for himself in Santa Cruz, flying out to work on a project with him and his tribe would be all that much more enjoyable.
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