“In the mornings, The Fisherman would whip us up coffee and eggs or smoothies and we’d sit at his kitchen table, looking out at the water through binoculars.”
Rapepong Puttakumwong via Getty Images

As I tossed a few bay leaves, rose petals and cinnamon into the water, my date was holding the candle with runes. I shouted, “Blue moon waters, blessed be; Hold us in your divinity.” It was Halloween, near midnight, a full moon, and he — The Fisherman — and I were floating in a boat, casting a spell for America’s divine intervention.

We needed every help possible to win the 2020 elections, which were just two days away. The Fisherman offered his assistance. The Fisherman remained silent as I read the spell in the ether and then he blew the flame out when it was appropriate. That night, we were one team: friends at the helm in an uncertain future.

I met The Fisherman at Bumble in late 2020 before the vaccinations. The Fisherman was a hot guy with long hair, a large laugh, and a strong, muscular body. It was unusual to date at this time. Everyone wanted affection, but everyone didn’t know what it was.

My father was diagnosed with COVID-19 a couple of months before, and he did so in his hometown. My dad almost died of it and I was still reeling from the traumatizing few weeks that followed. You should also know that I was still reeling following the Me Too movement and was still unsure of why I had attracted men.

The Fisherman and me went on our first date hiking together wearing masks. We ordered beers outside as it was changing season and getting colder. We didn’t kiss until the third date, at a one-on-one bonfire at his house; even that was after a long discussion.

The man was romantic. Like, so romantic that once, when he started kissing me on a street corner — some of the best kissing I’ve ever been a part of — it went on for long enough that the nearest neighbor knocked on their window from the inside to let us know, I think, to cut it out. He made sure that he had red wine ready for us every time we met. When my feet got cold, the Fisherman cradled them with love and slipped on some socks.

When I first slept over with him, I had everything that I wanted: an outfit, water and a toothbrush. Lip balm was also on his mind. When the snow started, we cuddled on his couch watching films with the dark themes we both loved: George A. Romero’s “Season of the Witch” and Andrea Arnold’s “Red Road.” On Valentine’s Day, he presented me with a bouquet of pink and yellow roses and some silver dollar eucalyptus threaded in.

“It’s nice to have someone,” I remember him saying, “in the winter.”

The author combining two of her favorite things: handstands and fresh water.
This author combined two of her most favorite things: freshwater and handstands.
Ashlee Green

The Fisherman’s house was strangely beautiful and dreamlike, complete with peacock-green carpeting and stained-glass windows. Set on the path of a nearby river, its cozy kitchen served as an observation deck for passing barges; at night, the boats’ colorful lights had the effect of a miniature laser show on the ceiling. The wall was decorated with fish netting. In the mornings, The Fisherman would whip us up coffee and eggs or smoothies and we’d sit at his kitchen table, looking out at the water through binoculars. We watched the ducks — mergansers, he taught me — swimming and dipping their heads underwater to scout for fish.

He and I talked for hours by candlelight about lost loves (his ex recovering from cancer; my greatest boyfriend moving to Chicago); the best sad music (Tyler Childers and Lana Del Rey); and, prompted by the “Octavia’s Parables” podcast, what we’d pack in a “go” bag if we had to leave and could never look back (he’d bring practical items like a knife; I’d take my Tarot cards).

Once, I brought up his dating app photo of him holding a fish — that cliche image that’s become the laughing stock of the internet — and we joked about it. However, over time I realized that one of the most common stereotypes about fisherman was true. They can sometimes be absent from a relationship.

The Fisherman asked me if I would like to spend a night with him in the early 2021 over a game on vintage Battleship. Sure, there had already been a handful of miscommunications between us — one week, for example, he assured me that he wasn’t sleeping with anyone else, but by the next week or so, he was — but those didn’t matter so much in the long run, I convinced myself. I was willing to open my heart and move on with him.

Take a look at these people, be with?” he asked, his eyes shifting.

“Why did I go days without hearing from him? Which was the priority? When I asked, he took me by the shoulders, led me to his living room, and lifted my chin toward a 20-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. My friends and family never saw him, nor did I meet his. He showed me an engraved wooden box from a former sweetheart: She’d loved him, he said with remorse.

I understood then that he’d been in this predicament before. I had questions. If he actually liked me, why wasn’t he texting me on the regular? What was the point of me not hearing from him for days? Is there a priority? He took me by my shoulders and led me into his living room. I lifted my chin towards a brown trout measuring 20 inches, which he mounted to the wall.

Emiliana Torrini, an Icelandic singer, has a complete album on this topic: The neglectful dedication of a fisherman. The Guardian describes her work, which is called, aptly, “Fisherman’s Woman,” as “often desperately beautiful songs stalked by undercurrents of loneliness and depression.”

The lyrics to the title trackImagine a woman who waits at a window to see her husband, but is unable to speak. The woman imagines her partner cold and salty, longing for her. He loves her. Deep down, though, she knows better; she’s pretending. She is proud of herself but she still stands by it.

Let’s be real, though. My guy was no commercial fisherman, so the Torrini song isn’t entirely relevant. Also, I was finished.

After two weeks of no communication, I decided to end the relationship. I told The Fisherman that I wasn’t going to chase him anymore; his ambivalence had become too much to handle.

Mark Groves (founder of Create the Love), taught me the importance of sorting when I was dating. Here’s the thing: The Fisherman didn’t want to be with me — he wasn’t the right one — but he helped me to unearth parts of myself I wasn’t even aware existed. It seems that I enjoy being near water. This past summer alone, I’ve gone tubing, kayaking, swimming, paddleboarding, picnicking, and spectating on or near lakes and rivers as much as I can.

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. So, now, every week, I buy myself a bouquet of flowers at the farmer’s market; cook myself fabulous dinners, light candles, drink red wine, eat dark chocolate, and dance unabashedly in my kitchen. I’m the spellworker, after all.

A friend’s therapist once told her the greatest gift of relationships is that they teach you about yourself: It’s cheesy, but true. I came away from my time with The Fisherman reminded that dating can be fun, men can be tender, and I’m, as The Fisherman once put it, “cool as shit.”

You too, reader, are cool as shit. Don’t be afraid to give the Bumble guy with the fish a shot: It might just be what you need.

Ashlee is an editor, writer and zinester. Yogi, Acrobat and Advocate for Feminism She explores gender, sexuality, power structures and individual freedom in her creative work. She is the co-host of “Itty Bitty Coping Committee,” a podcast about the intersections of art and mental health, and has been published in The Rumpus and LALITAMBA. Follow her Twitter account at @ashleegreenbean.

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Source: HuffPost.com.

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