Sometimes our lives don’t pan out exactly the way we thought they would.
This has been an underlying theme in pretty much all of my articles, but it still never gets old because it’s still a constant reminder. We set these timelines and life goals for ourselves, and when we don’t meet them we feel like failures. I’ve finally crossed the majority of that timeline motivated anxiety and depression off my list, but I am still met with moments where I’m reminded of a new timeline I’d forgotten about, or a new scar that has still not healed. We always think these things get easier, but they never do. What’s important is how we deal with them and how we allow them to affect us.
I met B about eight years ago. I’d moved back to NYC from a pretty incredible and life-changing experience living in the UK that had been cut short. I’d booked a role on a major television series over there, and had moved back over with this insight and feelings in my heart, soul, and guts that this was about to be it for me. I was about to show the world on a different level, that I was an actor. Alas, my mother ended up having a stroke and I moved back to NYC. I started working at a super popular, trendy restaurant in the city and my journey took a different path. Would I change some of it? Yes. But it brought some of my most favorite people I’ve ever met into my life, so for that, no.
I met B a couple years into this. I’d since resolved myself to this being my new reality, and to realize that becoming a tv star in London and finally falling in love with my ginger-haired, soul singing, really badass Nike dunks wearing, heavily tattooed, a soulmate that I hadn’t met yet, probably wasn’t going to be a thing. (yes, she’s always been SPECIFIC in her goals and soulmates). This night, I was visiting a friend of mine who was working coat check at a gay bar in Chelsea. It was around Christmas, and I love holidays, so we were sitting in the front both dressed in Xmas garb that I’d bought at Duane Reade and forced him to put on. He had on a sequins Santa hat, and I had on reindeer antlers and a light-up Xmas lights necklace. Two men walked in with suitcases, and one was so tall and so handsome that I instantly felt like I was tripping over my words even though I wasn’t even speaking. I said hello to both, watched my friend take their coats and suitcases and tried to think nothing of it; but to this day, I still remember sitting there and thinking “I never feel like this. I need to know this person.”
An hour or two passed and the drag show happening in the back ended. The same two guys came out to get their checked belongings. I for some reason found the random burst of energy to say to the one that had made my heart jump, “And why are you leaving so soon? I felt like we had at least one life- changing conversation to be had.” He replied with something about just having been back from a work trip and that he had to go home to sleep. He left. Ten minutes later he came back in, suitcase still in tow, and said “Hey again. Can I buy you a drink?”
This began the two-year love affair that was me and B. That very first night we ended up talking for three hours at the bar, then going back to his apartment talking for four more hours, falling asleep, waking up, going to breakfast and me going on my way. Things, simply, clicked.
Oh, I forgot to tell you that he was a still married man in the process of divorcing his wife. Variables, ya know. They were obviously separated and living in different places, but he was still technically married, and he had gone out that night with his gay co-worker thinking nothing of the sort, having never experimented or explored his potential attraction to a guy before. And here I was with him 12 hours later, arguing over Bellinis being better than Mimosas (Bellinis > Mimosas), and what the best Led Zeppelin and Etta James songs were (correct answers: Whole Lotta Love and All I Could Do Was Cry). I felt an instant connection with B that I had never felt with another man before. I knew from that first night this was someone I could be my weakest and most vulnerable with, who wouldn’t judge me. Looking back I think that I knew this was a man on his own journey regarding his sexuality, so I was comfortable enough going on my own journey in terms of realizing, accepting and working on my mental health issues, with this person silently side by side.
While we clicked in 8,393 ways, we had the same amount of things against us, including:
– He was technically still married. To a woman.
– His career had him in enough of a spotlight that I knew I needed to tread carefully in the PR world
– He had to travel often for work, and once I started working in reality tv shows I had to travel pretty often too, so time became very scarce and in between.
– Things that I never thought would create dynamic changes, such as wealth, became a constant subconscious thought for me, as I never wanted to feel “taken care of”, and therefore struggled to maintain a similar life style.
But the moments we did have, were constantly so so so perfect. He immersed me in his work life, his co-workers, and he spoke about me to them in a way that truly built a confidence and self-esteem that I needed to build. He made me feel special because I was daring to genuinely pursue and explore a creative route (he was a musician, who had put that side on the back burner to understandably go the money route). B made me realize the strengths I had as a human that I had been told at various times in my life were flaws. And I did the same for him.
Over the two years of only seeing each other every couple months, we’d talk of a future, we’d laugh, we’d cry, and finally, we’d say I Love You. At the time I never consciously admitted to myself “I think this is the person I’m going to spend the rest of my life with.” but, he was.
On that fateful night, we went to dinner at The Waverly Inn. B told me he wanted us to go out for a big dinner because his newest promotion at work was requiring him to move to New Hampshire. We had a beautiful dinner, where we talked in such insane detail about the past two years, and where he so graciously thanked me for everything I’d done in making him be comfortable in being him, and standing by him during the darkest days of his life. I asked a question I hadn’t asked yet: “Why did you come back that night?”.
“When I walked into the bar that night, I saw you and instantly wanted to know everything about you,” B told me, lit under that super beautiful Waverly Inn candlelight that made the restaurant live up to its name. “And when we were leaving, I felt like you called me on it, and that it finally gave me permission to try and love that part of myself that I’d hidden for over three decades.”
He told me he had walked half a block with his co-worker to 8th ave to get a yellow cab, and then he word vomited some truth to his friend and said “I feel like I need to go back there.”, and his friend said, “then you should.”
After dinner, we met up with a couple of my best friends from college after, and had an incredible night. At brunch the next morning, we talked about him moving and he explained that traveling was going to become an even more constant thing for the next year or two. The last thing he said to me was “I hope you always remember that I fell in love with you the very first second I saw you.” If I’d known that’d be the last time I saw B, I would have taken a picture.
One of my biggest flaws is my ability to keep in touch with people. I honestly didn’t realize what a flaw it was until the past year or two when I came to notice how truly lonely I’ve felt, and how I’m just not invited to weddings or birthdays or trips or like, anything anymore. For the most part, I did it to myself, but also for a good part of it, was just my brain telling me that I didn’t deserve to be loved or have friends or significant others.
But I tried to keep in touch with B, at least as often as we had spoken over the course of our two years. We talked here and there, but then it just fizzled out. I continued to reach out here and there, but was met with silence. I’ll never understand how I’ve had the ability to ghost others when I’ve seen and felt just how truly heartbreaking the experience can be.
I’d since tried to erase B from my narrative, but that fight has always been in vain.
If you’re still reading this, I am sure you are genuinely asking “why the fuck is he telling us about this?”. So, I’m still friends on social media with some of his beautiful and wonderful co-workers that I got to meet through him. As children and as adults, one thing all of us are as humans, is fucking NOSY. A couple months ago, I came across one picture of him (he has and always been social media less), to a photo of him with someone next to him, and a couple of Nancy Drew steps later I found myself on the Instagram page of his current husband.
I, of course, looked through every single picture on that page. I probably would have read every caption and comment but I knew I was on a time crunch. I laughed, I cried, and I asked every single question I could from how do I compare to this person, to when did they meet, to why them and not me. Why was the person that made you realize your truth, not the person that you wanted to spend and live your existence with? We never have answers to the questions we want most, but we need to learn to answer them for ourselves in a way that is healthy and productive and also keeps us surviving.
I avoided that page like the plague, but every now and then I’m brought back to it by a comment or a tag. B and his husband are now the fathers of two BEAUTIFUL children. They vacation often, they go to some of the most beautiful places on earth, and they tick all the boxes all of my timelines told me I wanted to tick. The range of emotions I’ve felt from sadness to anger to truly feeling like someone took the life I wanted and was deserving of, have been so so exhausting.
I went back recently though, and noticed something else. B looks so truly, outwardly, proudly and beautifully happy in every single one of those photos. He’s beaming from ear to ear with his kids. He’s lovingly wrapping his arms around his husband, and every fiber of his being just reads, happy.
How could I ever fault that? If anything, I have the privilege of being part of someone’s journey to them truly being happy. I get to be a rung on that ladder, a step on that staircase and a hand that they got to hold onto on a cliff.
I am lucky for that.
I can not be angry.
I can not be sad.
And I can be jealous.
I can experience those emotions and there’s nothing wrong with that, but I helped someone find their happiness and there is no greater gift.
My original timeline said married by 26 and kids by 30. I am now older than 30 and have neither of those things. And that is ok. I will be ok. You will be ok. We will all be ok.
Never fault your ability to love. Never fault your ability to change someone, to open them up to the world, and to grow yourself along the way. From a teacher in kindergarten, to a high school friend, to an old woman I met on the bus a couple weeks ago, I am constantly learning and absorbing new information about this world and about how I am successfully able to exist in it.
Throw your timelines out and realize that your superhero stardom has always been there and will always be there. Work every day to be a person who not only helps other people learn that not all heroes wear capes, but who learns to be their own number one fan as well. Learn to be happy for other people’s journeys, because when that clicks, you realize you were damn lucky to simply be a part of it.
It’s a beautiful fall day in the city today. I woke up to perfect crisp air, wrapped in a fierce new duvet comforter set, and I’ve decided, today is going to be a good day.
I hope you have one too. Xx
Peter William Dunn is a born and raised New Yorkers, who is currently a freelance writer, producer, director and sometimes actor in the city.
His professional passions include: film, music, literature, helping other artists thrive and all around storytelling
His personal passions include: puppies, babies, black and white milkshakes, and attractive men with accents (he has an extra strong track record for attracting emotionally unavailable men, but don’t tell him we told you that, and don’t yell at him for speaking in third person right now).
His current loves are his dog, Domino, a whiskey neat, and in case you didn’t know, his mother is the greatest human being on earth ❤