The Face of the Earth
Every so often I date a Harry Houdini-a boy who sort of disappears during or after our relationship. Sometimes the signs are obvious. Like #24 who we will call Paisley.
Paisley and I were set up by a family whom I am quite close to and he knew from eating at their house. He was quite far away when we started to date, so we did a Facetime date before it was cool.
And it was a great date. We talked, we laughed, and after 15 minutes he called it and ended it which is so sexy it may as well have been Timothee Chalamet. Short dates that are effectively ended are 100% my turn on and I am entrusting you all with that information in the hopes that you don't use it against me.
We did this again a few days later. Short Facetime date and the only thing I can remember that we discussed was The Office. At this point I was ready to have a 15 minute Facetime wedding and subsequent 15 minute Facetimes to make up our marriage.
The next 15 minute Facetime was a little weirder however.
This was the first time where I could see more than his face. And he was wearing a short sleeved purple paisley button down shirt that was an approximation of everything I have ever hated about men's fashion rolled into one shirt. Every word he said I only heard "Paisley. Paisley. Paisley." It grated on me as if the shirt were clearing its throat and cracking its knuckles simultaneously.
He had one story that threw me: his job had asked him to move to an Asian country (I literally can't remember which one, it was China or Korea or Thailand or Vietnam or Japan) for work and live there for a year which he did. For a year he lived an antisocial life with basically no Judaism other than his diet which consisted of Costco salmon (whichever country it was they did have a Costco.)
This was all the red flags for me. Actually, the flags were paisley. This was a guy without a steady friend group or close family that he needed to see more than once a year. This was also someone who could live on salmon for a year which is antithetical to my high maintenance everything.
I am an adventurer but I am a comfy adventurer. I go places where I can eat well and after a week or so of enjoying my own company I always return to my friends and make them sit through my pictures which was why I took the vacation in the first place. Living in a random Asian city and eating salmon for a year would probably kill me, mostly because I don't eat fish and would probably starve to death.
This also communicated to me that this was a person who didn't mind completely disappearing.
This date was on a Sunday and he was coming into New York for the weekend and said he would contact me about meeting up in real life.
Then I waited for his response.
On Friday he finally texted to see if we could meet up on Motzei Shabbos. Naturally, being the planner that I am, I had kept my entire weekend open just in case he finally got it together to plan a date with me. I had arranged my Shabbos plans accordingly so I would be somewhere where I could easily get to basically anywhere else. But I was also angry, because we were three video dates in at this point and I had gone 5 days without any communication. This inconvenienced me and made me upset. I didn't want to blow up the relationship so I didn't take initiative and text him. Instead I stewed in my feelings, especially the feelings that this guy was a disappearing act.
He picked me up from my apartment on Saturday night and we took the subway together since, as a tourist, he didn't have a car in the city. I felt bad for him as he navigated standing in an empty subway with a girl for the very first time. I, meanwhile, sat down right away because standing is almost the worst (the worst is running) and let him know that he could sit down as well.
We went to the classic first date Sunflower Cafe (lost in COVID, may it rest in pasta.) and the conversation really stalled after about 15 minutes. Turns out that was about the longest time either of us could find something to speak to the other about.
Then he went back to his friends' apartment and I went back to mine, the hopes and dreams of previous weeks thoroughly dashed.
Much later I heard from the people who set us up that he had disappeared. Not in a scary Carol-Baskin's-husband-way (BTW Carol Baskin 100% killed her husband and fed him to tigers) but in a maybe-he's-still-frum-but-he-left-the-frum-community-as-far-as-we-know-and-no-one-has-heard-from-him which I 100% called when he told me about ChinaKoreaNam.
I've considered disappearing many times. Especially during the height (why is this pandemic all heights?) of the pandemic and watching the TikToks of intrepid 22 year olds who converted vans into living spaces and went off to tour the country.
But so far I've stayed. I've stayed in the middle of the dating scene because I believe it is important for me to continue trying to find someone. I've stayed where I'm in a Jewish community even if I never go to shul. I stay where the majority of my friends are a train ride away and I stay in touch with everyone. You know, if you've ever been my friend that I pop up frequently. You also know that then I retreat once we've talked for too many days in a row because commitment is terrifying.
Dating someone who can just disappear entirely taught me that even with all of my complaints, it's important for me to be in NYC where I can't fully disappear. It also showed how uncomfortable I am with halachik Judaism (where all the laws are followed) that completely ignores the entire spiritual aspect, including the aspect that this religion is a team sport.
Ironic, because Jews usually stink at sports.
So, if you are looking for me, you'll find me. You may pity me because I haven't moved much but staying where I am, staying here? That's movement. Upwards movement.