When I returned home to Virginia in 1996, I had only one goal in mind: get back to London as soon as possible. The only way I could fight for John's heart was if I was there, so in order to save money I lived with my mom and step-father and snagged a temporary job through Avis Rental Car corporate offices. By January of 1997, I was on a plane headed back to London.
I had obtained an internship with Soho Theatre Company on Dean Street as a literary assistant to the literary manager. This was the best job I never got paid to do. I read and critiqued submitted plays (the manager hadn't time to read all of them), helped compile press packages, and attended plays in the literary manager's stead. I got to sit in on auditions, readings, and play rehearsals. I loved going to work and hated to leave in the evening. From a professional standpoint, I was living the dream.
From a romantic standpoint, I was entrenched in a nightmare.
For some reason, I thought that once I was living in London again (within walking distance of John's flat), everything would resume between us. It had been nine months since I'd been there the first time and to my dismay, John had gone on with his life. He had started a business that kept him busy 24/7, so he rarely had time to go out, but more importantly I discovered that John was a player. I knew it, but I didn't want to believe it. That didn't fit my romantic ideal of Nicholas Dunraven--the hero of my dreams--the tortured, yet gentlemanly man who lived on the moors somewhere.
Once, while on a "date" with John, he greeted another girl he knew by kissing her right in front of me. I was so shocked that I came up with possible reasons why that would have happened. Maybe they were just really, really good friends. Maybe I hadn't actually seen him kissing her (I had turned away right before their lips met). Maybe he was just being flirty.
I was utterly confused and more desperate than ever. This incident marked the trajectory of our relationship from thereon out.
Some weeks he was willing to get together with me; some weeks he wasn't. Sometimes he was warm and kissy-kissy, and sometimes he was stone cold. I celebrated my twenty-fifth birthday on a date with him, and as he talked to me over dinner using phrases like, "You're so young. You have so much ahead of you..." I had a sinking feeling that his feelings for me were not on par with mine for him.
After a tumultuous six months of desperate agony, I finally put the question to him one night. "Should I try to stay here, or should I go back to America?" His answer put everything in perspective: "I don't want you to stay because of me, but I don't want you to go either." The next day, I called and made my plane reservation. I was done.
For the next two years, I clung to my memories of John with a tragic, Blanche Dubois sort of grasp. I felt would never again find someone else like him and I was plunged into a deep depression. Believe it or not, I actually did see him again some three years later on a return trip to London. He invited me out to a pub, only to show up there with ten of his "mates" and a lady friend from Los Angeles. I watched in horror as he mauled her in front of me and then left with her, assuring me I was in good company by staying with his friends. As I rode in the taxi back to where I was staying, I knew I had been played. Again. But for the last time. I saw him for who he was, and my heart finally let go of him.
Anyone else out there ever been "played" by love?