The Men I’ve Never Met

He saw me from across the street on 14th and 7th, just as I got out of the subway and wrangled my headphones out of my purse to catch the rhythm of the street on my way to work. I didn’t even notice him, even with his colorful scarf. Even though he was particularly tall and certainly handsome.

My thoughts were focused on the deadlines I needed to meet before noon, the emails I was writing responses to in my head and getting to the officebefore the clock struck girl, you’re late. I wasn’t feeling attractive either – considering I was sporting tennis shoes with my black tights, houndstooth coat and pinned-up hair. Due to a running faux pas the evening before, nothing felt comfortable except my dusty running kicks, so I tried my best to not feel like one of those New York commuters that I swore I’d never be. I turned up Pandora to a happy song so I’d at least walk like I was sassy and stylin’, even if I was actually far from it.

You can imagine my surprise when I felt a slight tap on my back, and I hesitantly turned around to meet a beautiful pair of baby blues on a chiseled face that I couldn’t believe was talking to me — looking like this. I smiled, awkwardly I’m sure, and he returned it as he said, “I think you dropped this.” In his hand I saw one of my leather gloves, the ones I just got for Christmas, and I felt my cheeks turn crimson. “Oh my god! Thank you so much – I just got these,” I said as I took it and quickly stuffed it back into my black-holed purse. “Do you work around here? You look so familiar,” he asked as he continued to walk in the same direction of my job. Feeling relived it was 9 a.m. and not 9 p.m. and there were dozens of people around me, I told those HE COULD BE A SERIAL KILLER!!!!! fears to settle down and talked to him, casually. Comfortably. Easily.

Magically.

A few weeks into our relationship, we’d talk about that moment — when he saw the girl he’d noticed forever. How we took the same train sometimes and on random mornings, and we were so close he could have reached out to touch me but never knew how to stir up a conversation, and didn’t want rejection to tear down the sweet image he had of me. So when he saw that glove fall from my pocket to the ground, he felt like it was in slow motion — like something out of a silly movie with a perfect happy ending — finally giving him the perfect excuse to say something. To hear my voice. To see if my heart was as beautiful as the rest of me.

The taxi horn woke me out of my trance, just as Pandora demanded my attention to an ad I had no interest in. Another ridiculous fantasy about a guy that doesn’t exist, I thought, shaking my head motionless to myself and sighing out in mild exhaustion. My daydreams and the music that accompanies them gets me through the morning and the afternoon commute. I’ve planned elaborate meet-cutes, extravagantly sentimental proposals, full-on relationships and many running-into-my-ex-looking-stunning  scenarios in my head. The man with the glove isn’t a man I’ve actually met– but I’ve dreamt of him nearly every day.

For whatever reason, these tiny tales of hope give me a little something to hang onto. Maybe its faith or the idea that somehow, somewhere, someday — there will be a man who will fall in love with me. Just like that. Just that simply.

But how can that happen if I spend all my time hopping the morning train to cuddle into my illusions (and possibly, delusions) of what this grand ole’ relationship will actually be like instead of actually really getting out there and finding it?

If I keep falling in love with imaginary boys — do I prevent myself for meeting real ones?

There really isn’t a great harm in having good, positive — even romantic — thoughts about love. I’ve mastered the fine art of weaving together plot lines and dramatic beginnings and endings — I mean I am a writer by trade, after all. But having this hyper active imagination that latches onto visions of love can make dating a very unrealistic. There is no perfect way to stumble across my fate, no glove that slips out of my reach only to be found by someone who matches my exact perception of attraction. The way to meeting someone isn’t dreaming them into creation — it’s having enough courage to snap out of never-never land and take a giant leap of faith into the scary world of dating.

It’s only here, in this odd, often puzzling city of love triangles and dating disasters that men are merely humans, full of imperfections and shortcomings just like the rest of us; that plans don’t always execute on the time schedule that we’d prefer; that you may not find the absolute dream guy…but if you’re lucky. If you’re really lucky — you may just meet something better. You may just fall for something more.

You may stop falling for the men you’ve never met — real or a product of your daydreams — and instead, fall for the best kind of man that’s out there: a real one.

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