Back to Tony, figuratively and for the moment, kinda literally.
A few weeks ago, on the day I was set to leave on my vacation, I received a text message out of the blue from Tony. It was a picture from a local sporting event and a reference to a page number from a newspaper. No “Hey Ann”. Just the pic and the page number.
My immediate thought was – well that’s awkward; must be a mistake. I texted Hy and she sagely commented that after over two months, I wasn’t going to be high up on his text history. She said with certainty it was no mistake.
So I just said “hey Tony…was that text meant for me?”
He confirmed yes; he was at the game and in the picture in the newspaper. He knows I’m a huge fan so wanted to share. He said:
“I splurged on great seats before they got expensive. You almost got the call 🙂 but took my brother; needed to patch things up.”
My heart immediately started beating faster. The thought of him reaching out to invite me somewhere; the thought of him. And simultaneously I realized it was the same story – he intended to do it, but didn’t follow through.
We had a very innocuous chat about the game. I remember (ironic now, given I later found out Fox read my blog) thinking I wanted to be completely above board in my responses to him. I actually said to myself “Ann, respond as if Fox would read every word”. I knew Fox wouldn’t like that I was responding at all, but I was.
Tony said he hoped I was well. He’d remembered my general trip dates and asked if I’d returned. I said no, I was just about to leave. He then said:
“I want to hear the stories. I miss my Ann updates, even if they make me sad :(“
At this point, I reached out to Hy again, asking her what the hell I was supposed to do. Her advice, which I followed, was to say nothing in return. He hadn’t actually asked me out and wasn’t moving the conversation forward.
So I didn’t respond. I went on my vacation, and didn’t think much of it. I figured it was just one of those things and I wouldn’t hear from him again for a while. I was okay with that.
But I was wrong.
After I returned, he texted me to tell me he bet big on his team, knowing I was where they were. He believes I’m lucky; they won.
Then he said:
“On another note, I will be finishing that job today (hopefully). If you are ok with it – I would like to celebrate with the promised bottle of champagne and a snack. But let me finish it first.”
I didn’t respond. The night I told him I couldn’t see him anymore, he said he would still call me when he finished a job that was taking him forever to wrap. I knew there was NO WAY I could meet him when I was in a relationship. I didn’t want to do that to myself, or to Fox. I told myself yet again, nothing had changed. I needed to try with Fox.
He texted again and we did have a back and forth about the jobs, and I was very careful to be neutral. Until I opened a flirting door inadvertently when he said he would have loved to play rugby and I responded it was a rather hard core game.
He responded “I’m not that soft :)”
And while I had a pavlovian response and my breathing increased just at the thought, I managed to keep things light and neutral.
We signed off and I didn’t hear from him the next day or night; which happened to be that fateful night where Fox went off the rails and decided we were over. I had received Fox’s late night missive telling me I needed to think about whether it was him I wanted.
The next morning, having received yet another lengthy text from Fox asking to book the time that we would talk about our relationship, I was rather frustrated.
I was leaving to get a hair cut. And while I’m loathe to admit it, I texted Tony. I said “I assume you’re still not finished the job; hope it’s progressing well.”
We continued an innocuous conversation. He told me about some of the progress he’d made on mundane tasks like getting his TV fixed. And the whole time, I was struggling with figuring out why he wanted to see me. Why he’d reached out. So I just asked.
He said he enjoyed my company. He never wanted to stop seeing me, but he “guessed” he wasn’t able to provide what I needed, but it never stopped him from want to just talk to me or have a dinner and listen.
And I told him the truth in return:
“I understand that. My feelings for you haven’t diminished. I’ve been in a relationship for a bit, but it’s not going well at the moment. On the surface he’s been wonderful to me, but what’s missing is what you and I had. I always said to you I knew it was near impossible to find and its proving to again be true for me. But it is hard for me to talk to you and see you when my feelings aren’t reciprocated.”
I know I should probably haven’t mentioned the part about what was missing with Fox. It was a weak moment.
Tony said he was sorry and he wasn’t trying to make anything difficult or sad for me. I told him he didn’t need to apologize and I knew he wasn’t trying to hurt me. Then he said:
“I’m a bit of a hermit. In moments of joy or celebration I tend to reach out to those I like. I get it – I’ve felt that way before. I’d love to be a friend and confidant, but understand that doesn’t work. I’d love to reciprocate your feelings. They are there; just the timing is wrong.”
It was the first time he’d told me he had the same feelings. But no matter. I told him I’d love to believe the timing would some day be right, but that hope was a dangerous thing. I told him I couldn’t see him while I was in the relationship with Fox.
I told him I would get in touch if I ever thought I could meet him and not go down that rabbit hole. He said he hoped I would call sooner than later but he understood. I had said goodbye to Tony once again, and he knew not to reach out.
That was 12:25pm.
At 12:26pm, my Mom walked in my front door to talk about Fox.
At the same time, I got the breakup text from Fox, referencing my blog.
In shock, I texted Tony: “Ummm… the timing is insane of this but I was just dumped by text.”