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Photo Stories

Unlucky Romance

July 11, 2017
"I knew immediately that I couldn’t rely on luck to let this happen. It wasn’t destiny, it was forced fate that belonged only to us and nobody else.”

It was May 21st, the high was +21 and I could feel pearls of sweat on my neck in a jean jacket that was two sizes too big. At 11:11, I mentally recited a wish list of eternal prosperity, zero credit card debt, and a hot romance with a new pair of dark denim jeans from Penny Arcade Vintage in the very near 24-hour future. Around this time, my sun roved around Pisces, and like always, I was running late. Waiting for the streetcar that was three minutes early, I knew that today was unlucky – the same day I would spill red wine on my white t-shirt and run into you when I wasn’t looking.

Racer Patch Set, $10
The sky had turned pale blue and I left my purse behind in a blind rush between sunset and the first liquor of the evening. Boozily upbeat after a wild turkey shot on the patio, it was ten past ten by the time I saw you at the bar with Mexican rugs. It wasn’t the first time I saw you, probably the third or the fifth, but you looked different to me this time. That night, you wore a hoodie that you’d later tell me was “limited edition.” Minutes after, I spilt merlot on my chest when I wasn’t paying attention.

Slightly buzzed off Modelo in the lousy warmth of spring, I started wondering if this might be the beginning of an unlucky romance between us: an unforeseen pairing of two fools who were never intended to cross paths – but did anyways. While luck worked its magic on the lazy optimists around us, my eyes met yours for a hot second and I knew immediately that I couldn’t rely on luck to let this happen. It wasn’t destiny, it was forced fate that belonged only to us and nobody else; a fluke that we might write off in a month or two as nothing if it faded into a physical fling. So I walked in your direction with nothing to say but, “Hiii!”

Winner Patch, $10

I met you two times before. You didn’t know my name, but that didn’t stop me from approaching you. You belonged to a circle of tanned vampires that drank gin and soda in ripped black jeans. To call us friends would be a stretch, but you knew my face and I remembered your name. You were distracted and didn’t pay attention to me until I stood right beside you and said something, like, “Nice weather, huh?” Against all odds, without a word to say, I decided that this thing between you and I might quantify as the closest feeling to fate – if there was such a thing to begin with. You were clueless, I was a little drunk.

Racer Pin, $4

Romantic rationality, the way I might describe it to a friend, is the kind of innate logic that swings some women from relationship to relationship as easy as one might change her shellac polish from Shells in the Sand to Wild Moss.

Truthfully, I am not one of these women, nor will I ever be a person with romantic sensibility. I’ve learned to accept this because I am, for lack of a better word, unlucky when it comes to letting things happen naturally. I belong to an endangered species of unlucky romantics who can’t keep or be kept by others for reasons long, unflattering and complicated. This is why I’ve never relied on luck to hand me the things I want. I rely on action, numbers, and patterns. Things that are hard, factual, and grounded in reality. Despite derailing and self-sabotaging romantic security, it’s in my nature to pursue, not to protect or preserve. And so my night turned from routine to remarkably memorable in the sequence of minutes after I met you.

Fate Patch Set, $10

But it wasn’t fate that made me see you on the night that the Blue Jays beat the Baltimore Orioles, it was like an answer to an unsolved problem. A mathematical equation of strange timing, warm weather ,and the sheer proximity to each other in a bar no bigger than a Brooklyn bodega. Unlike a one-off fling past midnight, this odd thing between you and me was the perfect mistake. There was no reason or rhyme to it, just a hunch that this might lead to somewhere exotic and positively unexpected. You didn’t think much of me, but that didn’t matter after all. I had already decided on that hot evening in May that you were a person of my unlucky interest.

Twelve hours later, I friend requested you on Facebook. You accepted, I smiled to myself as I typed “Hi,”, deleted and retyped by “Hey there”. Before I hit send, you messaged me at 4:37pm, “Hey, Facebook pal” and I spent two minutes thinking of something witty to say. So I asked you to grab a drink with me on Thursday, then a coffee next Wednesday, then a drink the following Saturday after you ignored me for the third time. I gave up and stopped trying after a while. You were busy, I was annoying, and I was forcing something to happen between us that was never going to be happen. So I put on my Nike hat and walked out the door.

Photos: Ema Walters + Sabrina Scott

It was mainly cloudy on June 13th when I suddenly realized that I left my debit card in my bomber coat with my lipstick. I hadn’t talked to you in two weeks since you had asked me on a date. I knew it wasn’t a good idea, but I wanted you. I chased you. It wasn’t natural. I was too young. You were hesitant. You worked nights. I worked mornings. You had better things to do. I should have been writing. There wasn’t a single thing about it that made us a romantically smart pairing. Busy working its magic somewhere else with happy ending rainbows and stars, we saw each other without the rose coloured glasses of cheesy destiny. Against everything, we invented our romantic compatibility from obscurity and opposition. It was rare and awfully romantic.

That’s the thing I’ve since learned about unlucky romance: its real intention is hidden behind the sulky superstitions we tell ourselves to explain why certain people belong together and others don’t.

Behind the unlikeness of you and me, we found an invisible thread to hold onto in a relationship of red flags and dark differences. Star-crossed and inauspicious, our unluckiness and unwillingness to be like each other, made me believe that we have the strongest bond of all. The kind of romance you’ll never see in a romantic comedy or experience in real life until it’s standing in front of you in a limited edition hoodie completely unaware of you. The fatal moment when chance expires and luck is no longer required for a happy ending.

Secret Pin, $4

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