When I first saw him, I was thirty years of age.
Three years later, just before my thirty-third birthday, I “grew a set”/threw caution to the wind: I invited him to a birthday party that my friend/coworker/non-conjoined conjoined twin, Goga, and I were throwing for ourselves (her birthday is four days before mine).
Of course when I say “him,” I could only be referring to Il Postino.
The only reason I felt as though I could even invite him without passing out and/or vomiting all over myself was because my brother, Aaron, was in town visiting me. The added support of having him there propelled me to ask.
I don’t even think I knew Il Postino’s given name at this point.
I recall mailing something from the Brookline post office that day, with my brother in tow. Of course there were probably dozens of other post offices in between where I lived and where I worked that I could have easily mailed the package from, and even though I had to commute in order to mail something from his post office, I felt it was entirely worth it.
I introduced my brother to Il Postino that day, and I had already gushed endlessly to my brother about this guy. I’m sure my brother likely thought I was either crazy or delusional. Or crazy-delusional. (But not “cray-cray”–GAWDS, WHY do people even USE that term? It’s horrible. I find it to be ignorant. Actually, I find most people to be ignorant, but…I guess they can’t all be as blisteringly smart as I am. Right?)
I remember saying to Il Postino: “Oh, this is my brother, Aaron. He plays in a band, too!”
(At that time, one of the few things I actually knew about the mysterious Il Postino was that he played in a band. It was a quick effort at attempting to connect with him.)
Geez–in hindsight, it sounds so pathetic. Shit, perhaps it was pathetic. Perhaps I was pathetic.
Il Postino and my brother exchanged pleasantries, I paid for my postage, and my brother and I were getting ready to leave.
Halfway out the door, I was gripped by the thought: It’s now or never. Do or die.
I wheeled around on my heel and went back to the postal desk, pulling a business card out of my wallet at the same time. (*Ahem*–Shameless plug: www.esteinert.etsy.com for most of your hand-made sterling silver jewelry needs.)
I heard my mouth saying to Il Postino: “Sooooo. Yeah. My friend and I are having a birthday party for ourselves this weekend and, uh…I’d like to invite you! Here’s my card–that’s my address. There will be beer. And cake.”
And as the words ran out of my mouth, my brain was screaming at me: WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING??? You sound like a moron!!! GET OUTTA THERE!!! ABORT MISSION!!! ABOOORRRRRT!!!
Il Postino looked at me somewhat bewildered (probably sensing the battle raging within my crazy brain), and said very simply and graciously, while smiling: “I like beer. And cake.”
To which I think I replied: “GREAT! I hope to see you there!”
I walked out of the post office in a cold sweat…and yet I felt strangely light.
I had done the unthinkable.
My brother smiled coyly and shook his head at me.
I remember grabbing his shoulder and using it for leverage as I jumped lithely into the air with a yelp.
I felt good.
I felt crazy.
I felt high.
I felt…very uncertain.
I knew Il Postino had a dog.
I knew he liked beer. (Um. Who doesn’t??)
I knew he was in a band.
But, what I didn’t know (and this is a biggie) was whether or not he had a girlfriend. I mean, I assumed he was probably a lady-killer, but I didn’t know if he was one of those dudes with many ladies or one of those dudes with one lady. I sincerely hoped he was one of those dudes with NO lady, but in my heart I felt that probably wasn’t the case.
The date of the party arrived.
My guests arrived.
We ate, we drank, we belly danced, and we had a good time.
But…no Il Postino.
It was at this point that I realized it was highly likely Il Postino already had a lady friend. Of course, the thought made me feel slighted and I hoped that she–whoever she was–knew how lucky she was, and I hope she appreciated him.
After the birthday party, I slipped back into my old routine. And by ‘old routine,’ I mean my OLD-old routine. Pre-Il Postino.
I found myself not wanting to see Il Postino. Partly because I was embarrassed I had asked him to my birthday soiree, and partly because his non-attendance led me to believe he was ‘with’ someone. I rarely stopped in to his post office, and the times I did, I found that Il Postino was not there (to my relief).
I assumed he had quit.
The assumption that he had quit was incorrect, as I saw him at the post office sometime later that summer. And what I saw while waiting in line instilled a sense of anger and grief deep within me. As I stood in the line, I watched Il Postino work. And as I watched him work, I noticed what NO woman wants to notice on a man she is interested in: a sudden, but unmistakable flash of gold on his left ring finger.
He had gotten fucking MARRIED.
I was crushed.
I felt as though I was suffocating.
I remember leaving my place in line at that very instant–I walked out in a daze.
How could I have been so stupid? So hopeful? Nothing else had worked out for me thus-far in life, and I was angry and ashamed at having been so ignorant to blindly believe that just because I had some stupid crush on someone that I could potentially walk off into the sunset with this person, hand-in-hand.
I remember coming back to my work from the post office.
My coworker/non-conjoined conjoined twin asked me, “Did you see your postman today?”
I sadly and quietly said, “Yes. And I saw a ring on his finger. And I left.”
She told me she was sorry and offered a hug.
As I returned Goga’s hug, I thought about how dumb I felt and how I probably looked even dumber. To everyone. A grown-ass, 33 year-old woman acting like a fourteen year old girl. What the fuck.
I remembered a statement I had made approximately ten years earlier; I had decided at that point (after being shit upon and tossed aside for another woman by my then-fiancee) that if I did not marry or find a suitable life-partner, I was going to try my damnedest to have a hundred lovers before I died. They would be, in short, a means-to-an-end.
And in that moment of remembering my earlier statement, I also thought to myself: “What fucking good is it?”