The Russian called me last night. I missed the call initially because I’d fallen asleep watching the cringe-inducing Iron Chef America. “Who doesn’t fall asleep during that one?” he quipped when I called him back.
His voice was sweet to my ears, but I was tense. It’d been a strange two weeks of texting between us since we’d met and he’d turned down my offers to talk on the phone. A hangover hung on me like cheap perfume; I wasn’t prepared.
“I’ve been thinking a lot about us,” he began, “and the thing of it is, I don’t think we should take our relationship to the next level. We can’t be lovers. I’d like to be friends, though.”
I shook my head as if I hadn’t heard right. “Ok…” I said.
“It’s too intense to be casual and too casual to be this intense. I can’t unknow about your blog and it’s just too much. It’s too much exposure; I don’t want to be a character. I don’t want to do it. I’m spending as much thought and energy on all of this as if we were in a committed relationship and that’s not what I want.”
Many more words were said. I was keenly alert now, no vestiges of my night lingered. “I need to be selfish,” he said. “I choose me.”
I stammered that I understood. He worried if I was ok, how I was feeling. I felt vaguely punched, but only shared that I felt trapped. “I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t.” This was my worst fear about the blog come true: that I would be rejected because of it.
He lamented with me, apologized again. “I know this is the very thing you were afraid of happening and here I am doing it to you, but I just can’t help it.”
He said he didn’t want another intense and complicated relationship. He was done with those.
Occasionally I felt tears well up in me, but I kept them at bay. “I’m happy to be friends if you want,” he offered towards the end. “When you’re up here for Labor Day you’re welcome to come over for a beer and hang with me and my friend.” I told him I’d think about it knowing full well we’ll likely never speak again.
His words were well-formed and precise, my responses were bumbling and ill-formed. I had known something was going on with him. He’s a thinker, a thoughtful man and I took every pause in texts and new punctuation to mean something was going on over the past couple of weeks and I was right.
My blog, he said, is me and he would never ask me to stop. I didn’t offer any solutions because it didn’t seem relevant. He lives so far away, the mechanics of any kind of relationship with him were already complicated. I was keeping an open mind and feeling my way through this new exposure. He was safe, he was sexy. That’s as far as I’d gotten. Apparently, he’d gotten much further.
“I don’t want the burden of your secret, the double life.”
I sat on my couch as every word hit my eardrum. I felt overwhelmingly sad, yet relieved. I’d no longer be hurt by my texts being ignored, at least.
“Meeting you and liking you has been great, but it can’t go any further.”
I’ve always known that my blog could be a deal breaker for someone, I just didn’t expect it to happen. It’s scary even for me, but I’ve chosen to take the risk. For any man who gets involved with me he’d have to be comfortable with the level of exposure that could come if my cover were ever blown. Don’t date me if you have a political career on your mind. I’d ruin it just by association.
I’ve thought about the impact of this space on my life for years. On the one hand it has provided me with a rich playground of creativity and connection. On the other, I risk losing important people if it’s ever revealed — by me or by anyone else.
When I told The Neighbor, I was terrified. I had been lying to him about what I did with my spare time for two years, I’d shared every intimate detail of our sex life. He had every right to be angry, to leave me, to walk away. But, he didn’t. He was proud of me in a detached way and left me to it. “Is it anonymous?”
“Am I anonymous?”
“Ok then. I’m ok with it.”
It had been that simple.
With The Russian, even knowing I’d taken every measure possible to protect my identity, the very idea of that many eyes reading about him was too much.
When we hung up my eyes stung and my gut ached. I had hoped for a different kind of ending. He was intelligent, kind, introspective, sexy, and successful. Being accepted by him would disprove the inner voice in me that says no one will want me if they know everything about me. Unfortunately, my worst fear has been proven correct. I’m sorry, Hy. I can’t do it. It’s just too much.
Part of why I opened up to The Russian that night is because I’m tired of the double-life. I’m proud of what I’ve done here and it’s a huge part of my life, yet I can’t share it. It’s a difficult position to be in and my patience has petered out. I need to search my soul about this: why now?
How do I manage this going forward? I don’t want to find myself in another situation like I did with TN where I have years of lies under my belt, nor do I want to expose myself to a total stranger and hope he’s not a psychotic asshole who’ll rat me out — I got supremely lucky with The Russian. What’s the middle ground?
Perhaps I tell everyone that I have a secret blog about my sex life, but won’t share any information about it until and unless we develop feelings for one another and decide to commit. At least that way he’ll have been able to think about it and not feel blindsided. I’ll tell him the size of my readership, the topics I cover, etc., but keep the URL and names out of it. I just don’t know.
I’m missing TN tonight because he was safe and he accepted me. I have to remind myself that he also never wanted me despite it all. I found an old post where he said, verbatim, what he told me in January, “You’re not the right person for me.” It’s been nearly a month since we spoke last. It’ll be exactly one month on my birthday next week. I don’t expect to hear from him. In fact, I don’t expect to hear from anyone.
I’m lonely, I’m sad, I’m worried I’ve wrecked my chances for love because of my need to be Hy. I’m sad to miss out on a man like The Russian, but relieved that he let me off the hook as he did, with kindness and like a grown man.
Maybe I’ll meet another one like him, but one who is also willing to take the risk to be with me. I won’t be Hy forever after all.