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Prior to Jamie, I'd dated a string of emotionally unavailable men, and I was terrified of repeating old patterns; the idea of getting to know someone slowly appealed to me. I was raised by a passionate, volatile father who alternated between exploding in anger and begging forgiveness.When he wasn't in one of his moods, he lavished attention on me—standing proudly in the doorway as I practiced piano, praising my artwork, taking me for hair-raising spins on the back of his Yamaha motorcycle. Late at night, we would sit in his den, talking about art, politics, even sex.
Then one evening, Patty casually mentioned she'd spoken to him the night before. That night, I tested out my sneaking suspicion by directing a fabricated accusation at him: "Patty tells me the two of you have been having phone sex," I said. I'd chosen Jamie for the very reasons he'd chosen me: We were terrified of intimacy. I was able to identify unavailable men and avoid them.
I think I'll always be evolving in that department.
All I can do is fight the urge to live in a fantasy—so a Jamie can never set up camp in my heart again.
The mere sound of Jamie's voice made my heart thump wildly. He said he'd like nothing more than to meet me but admitted he still felt scared. "You might not be attracted to me." In hindsight, I should have cut and run right then.
But I wanted badly to connect with someone, and the truth is, I shared some of his fears.
I remember the first e-mail I received from Jamie; it wasn't exactly poetic. Looking back, it's hard to believe what that simple line would lead to. At the time, I was nearing 30 and working as a secretary at a big investment bank in New York City—not exactly the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. So I checked out his profile immediately, but wrote him off just as fast—he lived in the Midwest and, more importantly, hadn't posted a photo. He persisted and e-mailed a few snapshots, along with a note. But it was at night that our talks really picked up steam. Paul's reaction mirrored that of my friends, sisters, and parents, so I clammed up. I was working in a dead-end job, watching my friends get married one by one, and kissing my 20s good-bye, having apparently missed the "Saturn Return," that astrologically significant period that occurs between the ages of 28 and 30 and is supposed to be marked by accomplishment, power, and prestige.