Folding the Hedge

Dearest Rachel –

Every so often, I come up with a title that needs some explanation; however, this is going to take some time for me to get to. Feel free to guess a little while I try to set the table here. I’ll give you a hint, though; it has absolutely nothing to do with topiary, or any attempts to shape it.

There are some things that just bear repeating, it seems. One of them is the fact that I would not be dealing with any of this online social stuff were you still here. I’d have who I wanted by my side (that is to say, you – as if you didn’t know that), and wouldn’t dream of looking elsewhere. But you aren’t, and I don’t want to be on my own from here on out, and so here I am.

That being said, I can’t bring myself to settle on anyone, especially when there’s no feasible way to meet in real space. Yvonne and I, for instance, text each other every day, and call about once a week, give or take. But despite the fact that she’s mentioned having a less-than-ideal family life, she tells me that she currently has her hands full with her mother’s health issues. It all sounds quite reasonable… but I’ve heard stories before. So I find myself unable to let myself say, “Yes, she’s the one,” and stop my search. Who’s to say I’m not just being fed another really good story?

It also means I’m not quite able to reciprocate adequately when she texts me some flight of fancy about the powers that be and the stars that guide us like ancient sailors to the destination that we are to each other. I mean, I suppose I could compose free verse like that if I tried, but could I really mean it? Not yet, not yet… and because of that, I don’t. I hope she’s not expecting me to, because it may very well wind up that I end up being the one to disappoint her, rather than the other way around that I’m afraid of.

With that being said, I find myself maintaining my profile on the dating app, despite having seemingly found a promising candidate. If nothing else, even as she apologizes for not being available due to her mother’s condition, what is there to do in the meantime? There’s no one here to go out and do this kind of stuff with (and as for your friends, it boils down to one or the other of us not being interested in that way). So, while it feels just a little bit like two-timing, I keep looking. Hedging my bets, if you will – that’s hint number two, by the way. Do you see where this is going?

So, the other day I mentioned a girl who I’ll call Dory (because it was included in her handle), and chatted with her for a bit before she asked for my number (and ultimately, my Gmail address in order to connect via Google Chat) and deleted her account. I’m sure that ought to have been a warning sign, but her explanation regarding scammers seemed like she was commiserating with me even before I would have brought up my own complaints about it being a thing. But you’ve heard about this part already.

This morning, I woke up to find that she’d left a chat message for me just before two in the morning (nearly three her time. Guess she stays up late like you; either that or she wakes up insanely early). Thank heavens I slept through that ping. I responded once I’d woken up and we got to chit-chatting about our respective days; mine her at the ‘office,’ hers at her lawyers’, seeing if her documentation had been completed.

“Documentation?” I asked.

And once again, the story gets strange, and yet, strangely familiar. She’s got to renew her visa application in order to stay in the country, as she’s an Australian expatriate. That home she owns? It’s one she inherited from her parents (by the way, I got that wrong the other day; she’s staying with her aunt in Florida), and it’s in Perth, in Western Oz.

I still cannot figure out why her profile indicated she was located in Evanston; it seems that she was never here in the first place.

Somehow, she seemed to sense that I wasn’t entirely pleased with these revelations. She even asked me “do you really want me in your life?”

It’s the sort of question that’s meant as a challenge, I think; she might have been expecting me to back down and say “Yes, yes!” rather than risk losing this connection. But in all honesty, I’d seen this movie before with E.C., and her having to fly back to South Africa to deal with similar visa issues. I can’t see myself getting attached to someone I can’t simply drive over a few towns to see every now and then.

Honestly, you’d think that, in the third largest city in the nation, there’d be someone living here that would be interested in meeting up with me for whatever. But at least it wasn’t an acrimonious situation like the back-and-forth between me and Ruby. I acknowledged that I had been looking for someone in the area, sincerely wished her luck in getting her documentation issue resolved, and we mutually ended the conversation, most likely for good. Sometimes, you just have to “know when to fold ’em.” There’s the other half of the story, by the way.

It’s crazy out there, honey. Not always frantically so; sometimes it just leaves you scratching your head. But it just makes you wonder.

Anyway, as always, wish me luck, honey. Clearly, I’m still gonna need it.

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I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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