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My date held the candle carved with runes as I threw a handful of rose petals, cinnamon, and bay leaves into the river.
The election was two days away, and we needed all the help we could get. The Fisherman was willing to assist. He stayed quiet as I read the spell into the ether; blew out the flame when it was time. We were a team that night: comrades at the helm of an uncertain future.
The Fisherman and I met on Bumble in the late summer of , before the vaccines came out. He was hot, with a muscular, barrel-chested body, thick hair, and a huge Dating was especially weird at that time, mid-quarantine: Everyone was hungry for affection but no one knew what was appropriate; guardedness was at a whole new level. A few months earlier, in my hometown, my dad was the first person his doctor diagnosed with COVID He almost died from it, and I was recovering from the shock of those traumatic few weeks when my family had no answers.
Not to mention, I was still reeling from the arrival of the Me Too movement; confused about the reasons why I was attracted to men in the first place. On our first date, The Fisherman and I went hiking with masks; on our second one, we ordered beers on a patio, but the seasons were changing and the weather was getting cold.
The guy was romantic. The Fisherman made sure he was stocked on red wine for me each time he and I met up, and when my feet were cold on that freezing Halloween night, he cradled them in his hands with care, gliding on a pair of spare socks. The first time I slept over, he had everything I asked for on hand: a soft outfit to sleep in, a glass of water, a toothbrush, even lip balm.
When the snow started, we cuddled on his couch watching films with the dark themes we both loved: George A. There was fish netting hung on the wall for decoration. We watched the ducks — mergansers, he taught me — swimming and dipping their heads underwater to scout for fish. But in time, I found one major fisherman stereotype to be true: In love, they can be absent.
I told The Fisherman that I wanted to be with him one night in early , over a game of vintage Battleship. I wanted to move forward with him with an open heart. What was taking precedence? When I asked, he took me by the shoulders, led me to his living room, and lifted my chin toward a inch brown trout, I think, mounted to the wall: That was my answer.
It had been a few months now — four at least — of this routine: meeting up about once every two weeks, always at his house, always at my prompting. He never met my friends or my family, and I never met his.
I had questions. Why did I go days without hearing from him? Icelandic singer Emiliana Torrini has a whole album about this: The neglectful devotion of a fisherman. The lyrics to the title track portray a red-lipped woman waiting by a window for her partner, who is away at sea.
She imagines him cold and salt-covered, missing her; fueled by his love for her. She scorns herself, but even still, she stands by.
More importantly, I was done. I finally broke things off when two weeks or so had passed without communication. I think it was Mark Groves, founder of Create the Love, who taught me that dating is sorting.
Apparently, I love to be near water, for example. Too — and my therapist helped me with this one — the romantic qualities of magic and wonder that I endowed him with are, first and foremost, my own.
You too, reader, are cool as shit. Give that Bumble guy holding a fish a chance: He might be all you need to realize it. Ashlee Green is a writer, editor, zinester, yogi, acrobat, and advocate of feminism. Her creative work explores the concepts of gender and sexuality, power structures, and personal freedom. Find her on Twitter at ashleegreenbean.
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