I came to Brazil for the Paralympics. I went to São Paulo for a man.
We’d met nearly five years earlier in Paris. *sigh*
A typical international romance. We spotted each other across a table, giggled through a broken Spanish/Portuguese/English conversation and then snuck away from our friends to kiss by the canal in the freezing cold Parisian winter.
Our relationship was short lived. It ended as soon as the other moved on to another city. But he was hard to forget. Tall, dark and handsome. He had a smile so dazzling that when I sent a pic to my BFF she told me to give me all his info because that smile was a little too charming.
And to my surprise, he didn’t forget me either. We chatted over the years. A Facebook like here, a comment there and even a Skype call or two.
When I came to Brazil two years ago our communication was terrible. As we were living in different cities neither made the plan to see the other. I began dating someone else and decided to give up on it.
I’ve buried that failed romance the past two years until only a few months ago. I was out at a bar with a girlfriend and a notification appeared on my screen. “Username* likes your photo.” I pointed at my phone and told my friend that “the one that got away” still likes my pics.
I told her the whole story and showed her his profile. In the way only a good girlfriend can do it, she insisted I message him knowing I was headed back to Brazil in a few short months.
“Oi tudo bem? Sdds”
I clicked send on the message and almost instantly the screen displayed “seen”. My girl and I pulled back, gasped in theatrical surprise.
From there we started chatting. It was flirty and exciting. He wanted to see me in São Paulo! He wanted me to stay with him in São Paulo! We both got to talking about the last time and regretted how things went. We wouldn’t repeat that same mistake again we promised each other, this time we were communicating.
A couple months later I was sitting in his apartment drinking a glass of wine (watching a football match *sigh*) I was miserably nervous, but it was happening. A story was in the making.
I didn’t accept his invite to stay with him, but instead volunteered at a hostel nearby. I love my independence and wanted to meet other travellers too. He didn’t mind this of course, but on our first date told me that the only way he’d “allow” me to go to Rio was if I saw him every day.
But the next few days I realized he hadn’t meant that literally. My first weekend in the city he returned to his hometown leaving me to start exploring on my own. The texts were less and less frequent. We met up again for surprise, surprise another soccer match.
The next days continued this way. A text would go unanswered for days, I’d suggest a fun plan and would be met with a “Sorry, I’m going to my hometown this weekend! But I really want to see you.” He was always writing just enough to keep my interest, but never enough to keep me from feeling down.
With each day that passed his indifference burned more and more until I’d reached my limit. After some consulting with a girlfriend I felt empowered enough to send him a two minute voice message. I explained how I felt, called him out for leading me on and ultimately said goodbye.
Only moments later he responded (his fastest yet):
“God! You’re making so much drama!”
“I don’t like the way you’re talking to me.”
Women. We’re always told to be quiet. Act more ladylike. Speak softer. We’re called nags and bitches. We’re told that if we play the part of the “chill girl” we’ll get the guy.
Is it such erratic behavior for me to get involved in a consensual emotional relationship and then hold my partner accountable for his actions? Are communication and effort luxuries only few deserve?
After decades of being taught to accommodate for the other sex I’m sure another woman would question if my voice was too angry. If my opinions infringed. If my emotions inconvenienced. If my words were a burden to bear.
I had every reason to be upset. I had every reason to express myself. And I had a million more to walk away.
Recently a friend from São Paulo wrote me to tell me how happy he was to see me glowing in my pictures in Rio. He said he could often sense that during the month I was there I was “sad and tired”.
How sweet it was to read these words. Of course investing time in someone who made me suppress, doubt and be a lesser version of myself would leave me sad and tired. Recognizing that I no longer feel this way is bliss.
To the man that told me to be quieter, dazzling smile or not, I’m so much better off without you.