My Tragic Love Story

Weeeeeeeeeeeee. I had the most amazing set last night. It wasn’t all roses before that, though. It was actually no roses. The day was pretty awful before that. What do they say, though? It’s always darkest before the dawn?

I guess I have to share my tragic love story for some background. Before the pandemic began, in December of 2019 I began talking to a girl named Anastasia, who lives in New Zealand. Anastasia and I met a couple years prior on Instagram through sharing our writing. We messaged back and forth here and there every once and awhile, and I always thought she was so fascinating and hilarious, not to mention beautiful. She was married at the time, around 2017 or 2018, and she was living in Austria, so a romantic relationship with her never really crossed my mind.

That being said, I thought to myself “I only hope I can meet someone like her someday.” Being a very pragmatic and rational person, I never quite understood people who could say something as ridiculous as “I knew I loved him/her right away.” But one thing I’ve learned about love is that it’s not rational, and I knew I loved Anastasia from the get go. I didn’t know why I loved her, but I did. We only talked sparingly during those years as I wandered around California hoping to find a woman that was like her. I never did.

I hadn’t said a word to Anastasia in several months when I decided to log onto Instagram one day, which I also hadn’t checked in months. This was probably sometime around June 2019. Low and behold, she made a post that very day saying that she was deleting her account and to message her your information if you wanted to keep in touch. I hovered over the message for a minute before saying that I’d like to keep in touch. She sent me her phone number and said “What’s up me.” I thought it was interesting way for someone to tell you to text them.

So, the next day I decided to text her. And I waited. No response. The day fell to night, and still… no response. Days went by, and nothing came back. “Darn,” I thought. “Looks like I won’t ever hear from her again.” A few weeks passed by. I was browsing snapchat and I hit the “add friends” logo. Since her name started with an A, she was the first person who came up. “Sure, I’ll try and add her,” I thought. So, I added her and sent her a picture of my face with something I’m sure I thought was funny. Weeks went by. Months went by.

At this point, thoughts of Anastasia had only rolled through my mind very rarely. She was really just this ideal in my mind of what I wanted to find in a woman. After all, she was married, lived in Austria, and I had no contact with her in months. But for some reason, whenever I thought about finding romance, the image of her popped up in my mind.

Fast forward to December, 2019. I’m sitting in my room probably doing nothing interesting at all, when I get a snapchat. It’s from Anastasia. “I was wondering who this was!” she said, with a laughing emoji. On her end, it just looked like a random snapchat. She couldn’t even explain why she ended up adding me back. She said she was surprised she hadn’t heard from me, and I explained that I texted her. She said she never got the message. Turns out, that was her WhatsApp number, and instead of “What’s up me,” she meant to say “WhatsApp me.” We laughed about it, and messaged each other back and forth for a while on snapchat. We continued to message into the evening. I had taken a weed edible, so I was saying some really goofy and ridiculous shit. It helped that she was married and lived in Austria. Having no hope of this every actually turning into anything, I wasn’t nervous or trying to impress her. I was just being myself, which was utterly ridiculous that night. And she went with it every step of the way. We talked for 45 minutes about the logistics of possibly trying to have sexual intercourse with a kiwi fruit and whether it would be easier if you were a man or a woman. I had never laughed so hard in my life texting back and forth with someone.

A couple days went by. We snapchatted a little here and there. Then, we got into another silly conversation one night. We were going back and forth and then she said something undoubtedly flirtatious. “Aren’t you married?” I said. “No,” she laughed. She had gotten divorced and was now living in New Zealand, which was awkward because I labeled her in my snapchat as “Anastasia who is married and lives in Austria.” I didn’t know how to change it and I thought it was funny so I kept it for a good while.

So, we talked. And we talked. And we talked. Every day we talked. We FaceTimed, we texted, we called. The chemistry was out of this world. We were always on the same page. After a month or so of this, we spoke about if it was worth it to actually keep talking to each other. We obviously had a romantic interest in each other, but living on opposite sides of the world, it wasn’t exactly a realistic situation. We agreed that we both wanted to keep talking to each other, and if it was worth figuring out some day, then we would figure it out. So, we talked and we talked.

A few months went by, and I booked a flight to go visit her for my birthday in May. I was going to visit for three weeks. Just a couple of weeks later, reports of a virus landing in the United States began to hit the newsstands. Like most people, I had no idea the what the ramifications of this news would turn into. A month or so later, my flight was cancelled. I wasn’t going to New Zealand. I was devastated.

Anastasia and I continued talking. We had no idea what the virus meant, so we still had hope I could come see her in a couple of months. We decided to engage in an “open relationship,” and had been doing so since around the end of January. She began dating someone in February. So, I was dating someone I had never met before, who lived on the other side of the world, who was dating someone else, and who I couldn’t actually go see. Difficult doesn’t even begin to describe it.

Anastasia and I were talking on the phone one day, uncertain about the future of the world, the future of our relationship, the future of anything. She said she didn’t know what was going to happen, and she didn’t want it to be this way, but she wanted me to know that she loved me. I told her that I loved her, too.

We tried to navigate our feelings for each other in the most reasonable way possible throughout the pandemic. We tried everything: Open relationship, friendship, taking breaks, not talking, all of it. But we couldn’t deny our love for each other. We were both exhausted. We didn’t want to do this anymore. It was too hard and it was only getting harder. Yet, we talked. And we talked.

As hard as it was, we were always on the same page. We always have been. It’s actually really weird. When I thought it was time to take a break, she felt the same. When she wanted more, so did I. Things got so weird that it became normal. We could not text for a couple of days, and I would just think about texting her, look at my phone and see that she was texting me as I was thinking about it. This happened all of the time. It became expected. Like I said, love doesn’t make any sense. Neither did our relationship, but there was something greater at work. We’ve always had some kind of cosmic connection and understanding that I simply cannot explain. We feel each other’s energy. I don’t have to talk to her to know how she’s feeling, and she always knows how I’m feeling. Like I said, it doesn’t make sense and I can’t explain it, but it’s as real as real can get.

Anyways, we’ve been through hell and back together without ever being together, and we had to finally decide to go one way or the other. We both agreed that we either wanted a real relationship or no relationship. We “dated” for 15 months, but we ultimately decided that it was time to move on. I just started my new life in Austin and I know it’s where I want to and need to be. I’m not going to consider leaving any time soon. Anastasia loves New Zealand and doesn’t want to leave either. She is recently divorced and can’t leave her country again in the hopes that the romance will work out, and I don’t blame her one bit for that. As much as I want to be with her, I think it’s the right decision.

That doesn’t make it easy. I don’t know what our future holds. I don’t know if we will be able to be friends. I know my feelings for her may be too strong to navigate that. Time will tell, but yesterday was the day I realized that I truly have to move on.

Alright, so now that you know all of that… I can talk about my day yesterday! Good lord what have we gotten ourselves into folks? Anyways, I was super depressed yesterday. I had actually been depressed for a while. I just had so much going on, starting a new life and traveling across the country, that I hadn’t taken the time to actually acknowledge how I was feeling and deal with it. It wasn’t until I woke up this morning and actually wanted to get out of bed when I realized how much I was actually struggling.

Life can get busy, but it’s important that we check in with ourselves on the health front. I have a chronic physical illness so I’m usually focused on that, and sometimes I can forget about the mental part of things. Anyways, today I feel wonderful so that’s cool and stuff.

Yesterday, I totally hit a rock bottom. All of my emotions came crashing down on me. Then I went to an open mic that I signed up for through e-mail, but found out I wasn’t on the list. That was a bummer, but there was another open mic happening around the corner where the sign ups were at seven o’clock. Online, it said “priority is given to in-person sign ups. For real.” Great, I’ll sign up in person, I thought! Turns out, if you sign up online you get a guaranteed spot, and if you sign up in person, you get your name in a bucket for a chance at getting pulled once “every five or six comedians.” I watched eleven comedians bomb on stage without a single name being pulled and just left the venue. By “priority given to in-person sign ups” they clearly meant “If you sign up in person, you can go fuck yourself.”

It was especially frustrating because there was a wide audience of normal people. They weren’t there to see comedy either, which I liked. I wanted to work on some jokes for that specific type of audience and I thought it was right up my alley. It was infuriating to watch comic after comic go up and display the bad habits they’ve developed by only performing in front of other comedians. Most people were just doing super obscene ramblings with no punchline and the audience was not having it at all. And the whole time I’m just sitting there anxious out of my skull praying that they pull my name from the bucket. But the bucket just sat there. I think it was a different host who didn’t know what was going on too well. But the regular host was also there so it wasn’t really an excuse.

It was painful. It was sad to see such an awesome venue, a real crowd, a great opportunity for comedians, all ruined by a poorly run mic and clueless performances. Walking back to my car, I can’t remember a time in my life where I ever felt so mad. It may have been a good thing I didn’t get on stage. I don’t know what would have happened. And that’s why I left. It got to a point where I was so upset that I couldn’t even be in public, let alone on stage. Luckily, I’m one of those people who internalizes my anger instead of externalizing it, so I’ve never really snapped at anyone or done anything crazy. I just ball it all up and leave so that it can turn into a chronic disease later.

So, I went home and I let me feelings out. I told myself I had to let it go, that it didn’t matter, and I had a performance to do at ten o’clock. Part of me just wanted to give up, but I know that’s never the answer, so I gathered myself and turned my pain into motivation to go up and fucking murder at my 10’oclock set.

And that’s exactly what happened. It was a glorious crowd, excitement was circling through my veins, and I stepped on stage with a mission. I started off with two new jokes that I wanted to try, and they did okay. Then I brought my good stuff out. I’ve been working on getting the timing right for one joke, and I hit it perfect on this night. The crowd laughed hysterically for about twenty seconds straight. I’m so glad I had the patience to just stand there and soak it in. It was a double-wave laugh. There was the initial uproar, and then a second wave of equally raucous laughter. It was one of the best moments of my life. It was the best set of my life. I was in control, I was patient, my timing and delivery was spot on. It was like all of the heartbreak, all of the pain and anger led up to this one singular moment where I burst through the black gates of despair and saw what was on the other side. And it was beautiful.

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