This topic isn’t at all pertinent to my work. In fact, it is the anti-thesis of romance. I only bring it up because some readers have relayed similar “vanishing” and “resurfacing” stories. In Romance Is My Day Job, I discuss my experience with Vanishers and Resurfacers, those love interests that disappear without warning and months later show up again to throw you back into a tizzy. This happens a lot with dating in Manhattan–and I’m sure everywhere else!
Vanishers are so common and easier to get over because they’re just…gone (Berger on Sex and the City–big Vanisher). Sometimes, your Vanisher will vanish even before that first getting-to-know-you coffee date. My favorite Vanisher was Mr. Spinach. He seemed really nice, took a long train ride in for our first date in the city. During dinner, I made the mistake of telling him that he had spinach in his teeth. Gone like the wind! The most preposterous Vanisher had to cancel our first date twice. Then, on the third attempt, his car broke down on the way into Manhattan. I said to my Vanisher, “This isn’t happening.” He protested a little but then vanished. No tears were shed.
Resurfacers were always the most confounding to me because I never knew when an ex would resurface or which ex it would be–The Wordsmith, The Finance Guy or An Old Flame I’d Forgotten About. For a good twenty years, I was deeply flattered by resurfacing flames (there weren’t many, Mom–I swear). Resurfacing resembled a reunion romance, in how the hero has second thoughts and really does want you. But Resurfacers really, usually don’t want you back–they’re just bored. Yes, I spent many hours consulting my older brother, my girlfriends and my Tarot cards over this silliness. I tracked Resurfacers’ reappearances, calculating that they tended to bing* between October and January 1st–time better spent buying not-lame presents for my relatives. As the years passed, I could almost predict the email a week before Thanksgiving, when one might feel sentimental about the past: What’s up, Paysh? This effortless reaching out would make me as giddy as flashing Christmas lights, bring me back to that sad cycle of high expectations and inevitable deflation. Sadly, I’ve been guilty of both vanishing and resurfacing, which is why when the favor was returned, it really stung. I knew it all meant nothing.
In the 80s, with a lot of time on my hands, I resurfaced through letter-writing, an ancient form of texting–with a 0% success rate. In the 90s, because I had a car, I could accidentally show up where he was–50% success rate depending on whether he was onto my devious “surprise run-in” plan. Even better in its subtlety, with old email systems, I’d “forget” to remove him from my distribution list when I wanted to send around what is now a Buzzfeed quiz or Someecard snarky quote. New email correspondence would ensue, back together, and then realize it’s the same old pits. Moving to Manhattan and discovering the dating scene put V&R into overdrive. With advanced technology, V&R-ing can happen at the press of a button (though Googling exes never makes you feel better). It is now such a tidy, fast way to enter and exit a person’s life without fuss, just to see if there’s hope for a quick fix before another adieu. Finally, in my late thirties, I grew absolutely tired of Vanishers and Resurfacers and had no desire to reconnect with the past…or anyone who wasn’t fantastic. The delete button has been my good friend ever since.
Now that I’m married, this whole issue is moot, but I do get the occasional email: Hey, Freckles. Whatcha up to? And then I tell Sam about it–and then I tell the Resurfacer about Sam. Usually, this causes immediate flight, and I feel sad, only because I know the feelings behind resurfacing (loneliness, boredom). One guy came up to me and said, “I just resurfaced the other day! I don’t know why. I just did it. I wrote to her out of the blue, ‘Hey baby, what’s up?’ I’m a total Resurfacer!”
Looking back, I see my efforts as a big waste of a brain and heart. Instead of reaching out or entertaining a DOA reunion romance, I should have read more books, worked harder, taken up crocheting. But, what can I do? I’m just grateful that I don’t care about any of this now!
*an official term my friend Joe and I use to mean “surprise visit.”