Read Part One here.
Just as quickly as they started, the phone calls from the Tall One stopped. Violet called him a few times and left messages, but he didn’t return her calls. Violet was not new to the online dating game and didn’t need the advice of Mr. Kenny Rogers to “know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em.” So she determined to add the Tall One to her List of Disappointments and move on.
Violet was surprised and bemused to find that the Tall One did not slip easily out of her mind. Every few weeks, she would feel a renewed sense of…concern…connection…something…and she would call him. He never answered and sometimes he returned her calls, sometimes he didn’t. When he did, their conversations were still fun and flirty, but there was an undercurrent of...something. Violet was worried about him, but the Tall One insisted he was fine, just busy and working a lot of overtime.
This went on for three months.
One Saturday, around noon, Violet was cleaning her kitchen when the phone rang. It was the Tall One, calling to say he was in the area and could he come over? Violet was surprised and pleased and, despite her unshowered, middle-of-housecleaning, sweaty state, she said yes. (She managed a quick shower before he arrived.) They greeted each other a bit awkwardly but warmly, and sat down on the couch.
The Tall One apologized for the gaps in their communication and for the long time since they had last seen each other. He explained that he is an addict – that he had been deep in a drinking phase during those three months and that he had very recently stopped drinking and started attending Narcotics Anonymous meetings. Violet was naturally taken aback, and remembered those beers from their dates and how odd it seemed. It made sense now. (The Tall One had been involved with NA on and off for years. He was mostly a drinker but had also abused OTC drugs from time to time.)
They talked for several hours. Violet had no experience with alcoholism or addiction and had no idea what she was dealing with, but being Violet, she decided that if he stayed sober they could see each other. It was so nice to see the Tall One again, so nice to spend time with him, and he seemed to feel the same way about her. Violet made it very clear that their relationship, whatever it was, would end abruptly if he relapsed.
And so, they started dating. The Tall One was attentive, polite, and open…mostly. Violet understood that it was early days in his recovery and gave him more leeway than she would give another man. That summer was a roller coaster ride – one day they were dating, the next just friends, dating, friends, dating, friends… (Perhaps there is a pattern here. Maybe Violet isn’t as smart as she thinks she is.)
Violet had major surgery that summer. The Tall One was very sweet during this time and even came over to meet her parents, who were staying with her during her recovery. One afternoon, Violet and the Tall One were having a conversation via text while he was at work. The end of it went something like this:
V - *some sarcastic, smartypants comment typical of Violet*
TO – smart aleck
V – yeah, you love that about me
TO – how about just loving you?
Violet suddenly couldn’t breathe, let alone push tiny little buttons on a tiny little phone. After a moment, when she was once again in control of her faculties, she called the Tall One. He must have gotten busy at work because the call went to voicemail. She left a message: “You send a text like that and then don’t answer your phone?? Call me when you can.”
An eternity (or, say, 30 minutes) later, he called. He told her he loved her and she was mildly surprised to hear herself say, “I love you, too.” He replied, “I know.” They laughed.
They continued to date and he continued to vacillate, but things seemed to be smoothing out. He had 60 days of sobriety, then 90, then 150. All in all, things were good. They enjoyed each other’s company throughout the fall and into the winter.
Violet’s birthday is in February. February also marked a year since the Tall One first IM’d Violet. The Tall One had plans to give testimony about his addiction and recovery at church the day after Violet’s birthday and they made plans to celebrate both occasions. She would go to church with him to hear his testimony and then they would go out for lunch.
Tuesday afternoon, five days before their church/birthday date, Violet called to chat with the Tall One. He casually mentioned that he had lunch with “a friend” that afternoon. For some reason, those two words set alarms clanging in Violet’s head. When she asked who he had lunch with, the Tall One hesitated, then said again, “a friend.” She pushed. And the Tall One admitted that it was a woman.
Sounds like another ending, doesn’t it? Perhaps it should have been, but it wasn’t…