I started dating at the age of thirty-six. I’d never had the opportunity before because I married my first boyfriend, and, in the aftermath of that breakup, I really wanted nothing to do with men. By the time I was in my mid-thirties I’d lost touch with what I wanted. When I dated in my town of Tucson, Arizona, I got the strong impression that I was not attractive and the inventory here was not worth the bother.
But then I met Daniel, a CEO in town from New York on business last Spring. We had a whirlwind romance over the course of two nights. I was smitten. When I told him so, he said that he was not that special and I just needed to raise my standards. The first excuse I had to go to New York, I went. Daniel was wrong about not being special. He was and is magnificent. But as I begin to date in the city, I realized he was right about raising my expectations.
The city became my playground. And though I was a four or a five in Tucson, in New York I was a strong eight. I met a roller dancing doctor in Chelsea named Samy, who punctuated our time in his bedroom with a concert at MSG, ropa vieja at a Cuban diner and sunbathing on the Highline. By the end of my week I was in love…with the city of New York. So I kept returning, time after time. Every trip, I collected friends, lovers and experiences.
In preparation for heading out to the East Coast this June, I hopped on a dating app and met Roy, an Israeli musician. By this point I was a savant at picking out the good ones, so it was a bit of a red flag that he didn’t have pictures of himself. I gave him a chance though, and found myself delighted. He was poetic, gentile, profound. So we made a date. But I double booked the night.
I’d made plans with a Facebook friend, who took me to Daniel on the Upper East Side. The Brittany butter flown in that day alone sent me into a revery. I imagined happy French cows in berets, smoking cigarettes. Then I met Daniel Boloud himself. Somewhere between the fois gras and the wagyu beef courses I broke out of my trance and left my new friend in the company of two Brazilian women out on the town. I willed my Uber downtown to SoHo as fast as is would go. And when I got out of the Toyota Camry, there he was. Roy.
He was spectacular. Shiny black tendrils, a wide, open face, and a blue linen shirt buttoned halfway. Eurotrashy but sophisticated. He took my hand and didn’t let go. That night was more fever dream than reality. We ended up in his room at The Standard where we acquainted ourselves with each other, again and again. As I drifted off to sleep, he serenaded me with a Bob Dylan song. In the morning before leaving, we took a selfie and I posted it to Instagram. And though there was nothing showing off the hotel, the CEO of the company that owned The Standard liked the photo. A bit amused, I mentioned it to Roy. “Oh, Amar? How’s he doing?” And it made so much sense that this kid knew a hotel magnate.
Roy went back to Tel Aviv and I to Tucson but we made a pact: if we could be in the same city at the same time, we would find our way back to each other. We kept talking all summer. And things got deep quickly. We’d be in the middle of a conversation on video chat and Roy would just stop talking and stare. “What?” I’d ask.
“If you could only read my mind. The things I would do,” he’d say. I was dazed by the lightning bolt he delivered directly to my spine from halfway around the globe.
I was falling in love, and I told Roy, “My love, be careful with my heart.
To wit, he responded, “My darling I would never want for it to break.”
He told me he’d be busy towards the end of August and beginning of September. His brother was getting married, followed by Jewish high holy days. But I was lonely for him. So I Google stalked him. I learned that his brother had married a famous Russian model. That his band had been a minor international pop sensation. That he’d worked with Mark Ronson and Sebastian Tellier as a music producer. That he was a filmmaker. And a land developer in Costa Rica. I might have been a New York eight, but this was some next level stuff. What could he possibly see in me? I felt inadequate. But it didn’t matter. I was in love. And not with the resume, but the man.
When Roy finally got back to me he told me he’d be in New York on business October 17th and 18th. Then he’d be off to Miami and Costa Rica. So I made my plans. Got my tickets and a place on my friend’s futon in Crown Heights. And I packed my suitcase full of swimsuits for Miami and Costa Rica. Because when we were face to face I was going to make the ask: for him to take me along with him. Our relationship deserved more time. And, romantic that he was, there was a pretty good chance he’d say yes.
Feet firmly planted in New York, I proceeded to tell everyone my plan, including Samy and Daniel. Samy told me I was playing three-dimensional chess. Daniel helped me work on my pitch to Roy. And then October 17th came and Roy and I were in the same city at the same time. He had a meeting for a screenplay, but we met up afterwards in the Lower East Side. When I saw him, he put my memory to shame. He was gorgeous.
We delved deep into conversation. We talked about our egos, our parents’ expectations, his guru and my life coach and our feelings for each other. Soon enough we headed back to his hotel, the SIXTY. And there we reacquainted ourselves with each other over and again. I asked him if he was tired from his trip and he said no. His business associates at the meeting had helped him out with the jet lag. And then he showed me how: with a vial of cocaine the size of my thumb. He then proceeded to do rails for hours as though he was intent on getting to the bottom of that vial. Around three a.m. I was tired and he was agitated. He couldn’t sleep…because of the jet lag. When I looked at him he was physically transformed. His eyes were black, his jaw moved uncontrollably, and his tendrils were matted against his head.
I offered him a Klonapin from my purse, but he informed me that you don’t mix uppers and downers. That is how you overdose. I am not naive to this world, but one thing I have never tried is cocaine. Having autism and a related sleep disorder, I don’t need assistance to stay up for days on end. He had done enough cocaine to potentially overdose? That’s when I knew I’d never make the ask. I wasn’t going to chase that vial of coke to Miami or Costa Rica or across the street for that matter.
He slept in fits and spurts and roused around noon, having missed his meeting. When he emerged from his shower, he was reborn. Shiny and new in a cashmere sweater, matching blue blazer and fitted jeans. His tendrils perfectly arranged as though nothing had happened. But I was still in last night’s clothes, last night’s makeup and last night’s heartache.
As we kissed goodbye, he said we’d make plans that night. But I didn’t wait for him. I knew as long as there was coke on the streets, he’d be getting high. Hand ringing and hair pulling would accomplish nothing. When I got his text telling me that jet lag had pushed back his meetings, I was drinking High Life and making out with a darling 30-year old hedge fund mathematician/musician/DJ at Do or Dive in Brooklyn.
I came home. I unpacked my bags and put away my swimsuits. My friends have asked me if I’m disappointed that Roy wasn’t all I thought he was. “Not at all,” I say. He was everything I thought he was and more. He just also happened to be human…and frail. He didn’t break any deals with me. We didn’t have any deals about cocaine. I had a deal with myself.
You see, for 17 years I was in a relationship with the most wickedly talented alcoholic. I managed him. I nursed him. I babysat him. I bought him his booze and I tried to drink with him. And when all else failed, I picked fights because it was the only thing I had control over. And when that ended, I vowed to myself: never again. So when temptation came in the form of the most brilliantly glorious creature I have ever encountered, I passed the test. And I kept my deal.