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Blog 33: The Only Child’s insights to looking for love (Meet Daniel)

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July 29, 2019 0 comments

“I had my Jan Levinson. I’m looking for my Holly Flax,” Daniel says. He knows I’ve been on a “The Office” viewing-marathon, in his references to Steve Carrell’s two love interests on the show, the high-maintenance ice princess, Jan, vs. the personable, better-personality-fit, Holly.

I’ve been chatting Daniel for several months now, but always on video chat. In fact, this is my first time meeting him in person. We began talking for an article I was writing about “How to Get over your Breakup.” Through a screen, Daniel strong, robust, muscular, and confident. In person, he’s surprisingly slight and hesitant. Like right now, he’s still wearing his sunglasses.

Maybe this is the power of an actor: to amplify yourself through a screen.

“I never go to the Bay Area anymore,” he refers to his hometown. “So thanks for coming this way.”

Why wouldn’t he go back? It’s a long story, but the short version is he no longer gets along with his extended family, and now he has no reason.

Like a good Asian-American, he fights with me over paying the lunch bill at a kale-bowl restaurant. We’re by the beach, I’ve walked through sand to get here, and I am determined to buy lunch. I need him to know I respect his humanity before I pry personal info from him.

How is he feeling these days, post-breakup?

He’s still clearly angry. His ex has been posting passive-aggressive thoughts about him on her Twitter feed. Also, her best friend has been looking at every single one of his Instagram stories. He tells me, while they were dating, she was constantly asking to use his Instagram to stalk her ex’s, and posting photos of them together to make her ex’s jealous.

I stare at him in shock.

“You were okay with that?” I ask. I’m of the thought that says, if you are dating me, you should be focused on me. Posting photos of me to get your ex’s attention is focusing on your ex. I ain’t down with that.

Daniel shrugs. Yeah, whatever, he says. Okay, so he’s more low-key than I am.

Daniel is struggling with the scraps of their relationship. Literally: she moved out-of-state and never packed up all her stuff. She had left behind a high school yearbook, a bra, a large teddy bear on a living room shelf. I tell him that it symbolizes her presence and he should burn it.

It doesn’t bother him.

Emotionally: what I gather is that Daniel was the pursuer in the romance, the one who let things slide, the one who apologized first. His ex was the first woman he had ever fallen in love with. His mom had died when he was younger, and he’d ended up fighting with the extended family who had cared for him after that.

“That, plus being an only child, has made me a little bit desperate for love,” he admits.

I can see how he hung on a little longer, maybe for this reason. His ex had tweeted at her celebrity crush saying she thought he was hot, and he’d grown angry and slept in the car. She had told him she loved him within a month of meeting him. Several months later, he’d planned an outing to Disneyland with her and her friends, but they’d ended up fighting so hard they’d parted ways before the end of the day. When they broke up, she insisted she got to sleep in the bedroom and relegated him to the sofa for the two months before she was able to move out.

A glance at her Twitter feed shows she still tweets about him: she claims he tried to tell her not to wear makeup, and that he threatened to kill himself. He fervently defends the first, saying that he always told her she also looked beautiful without makeup. In the second, he explains during a fight he’d made the dramatic exclamation, but not meant it.

“I’m an actor,” he justifies. Actually, for better or worse, I can understand how someone would say such strong words and not mean that. His ex clearly has had some not-so-great men in her life, and has grown extra protective of herself. Daniel is extra sensitive. It’s a challenge, but not impossible – but yes, in this situation, maybe it was.

Most recently, Daniel has been texting a woman he’s met at work. She is, he describes, a “natural beauty,” and doesn’t even wear a lick of makeup. She’s several years younger, and they’ve been on one date. She’s abroad for a few months, so the courtship is now taking place exclusively on text.

“My roommate sees me smiling and knows it’s her,” Daniel says.

“Are you dating anyone else?” I ask.

“No,” he says. “I’m old fashioned.” I’m impressed. What does that mean? It means no casual hook-ups. Only one woman at a time. And complete honesty.

And I’m confident he means it. After all, he’s waiting for a woman he can’t even see for another month, after just one date? He’s lean muscle, striking, and a bartender near a college campus: I’m sure he gets lots of opportunities.

It’s a bright spot in his break-up cloud:

“One day, I’ll be in my ex’s living room on her TV and she won’t be able to do anything about it,” he’d said to me. I can’t tell if his intensity is from his passion for his art, or from his anger over the relationship. Probably both.

His focus now is to work. To book work. Since his ex, he’s booked some gigs on Netflix specials and one feature film. He’s not looking for anyone, but he’s optimistic about the new girl. His Dad is coming to visit in a few weeks. It’s a first, because they’ve been distanced for a few years.

“I think my Dad is dating someone but I don’t know,” Daniel jokes. “Maybe if my Dad dies, a random woman will show up and then I’ll learn the truth.”

This is his Dad, who is his only current family member. I realize suddenly the impact of a breakup on Daniel. When you realize you are truly all alone, of course you’re willing to fight for love.

We head out of the kale bowl shop. Outside, we’re surrounded by bleached-blonde surfer-types with breast implants and steroid shoulders. In contrast, Daniel wears his all-black outfit and goth-like metal chains. When we hug goodbye, he invites me back to visit anytime.

“I never go back [to San Francisco]” he repeats. “So let me know when you’re next down here.” He invites me over for a huge friend dinner he’s having tomorrow, which I regretfully turn down. I have plans already. But his level of warmth and welcome doesn’t escape me.

Saying goodbye to him is like saying goodbye to an old cousin. He invites me into his inner circle with the level of trust and confidence of someone who wants to create his own family.

I promise him I’ll come next time, and I mean it.

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Each post is a great fucking adventure

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