Editor's Note: We are going to be following Chelsea's journey for the next six months as she navigates single life in the current world of Tinder, hook-up culture, and single-shaming.
Words by Chelsea Oliver
I wasn't looking for anything in particular when Adam* unexpectedly came into my life. At the end of May, only two weeks after ending things with Matthew* before they even really got started, Adam arrived in the small town I was still adjusting to.
While I was bartending for a local establishment, he came in fresh from moving to town with his parents from Austin. He was quickly hired as kitchen help for the upcoming, busy summer months. He complained ruthlessly about the minimum wage of Pennsylvania and his thick accent made everyone on staff start calling him by his former location instead of his name.
Austin and I became flirtatious fast. I was surprised at how quickly everything moved with him and how close we became just within the first week of knowing each other. We spent our time off together, worked the dinner and evening rush together, and did our best for a little while to remain secretive, even while sneaking into the beer cooler a few times per shift for some quick kisses.
I was hooked on him instantly.
Everything about him was intoxicating. He was fit and had tattoos. He was rough around the edges, but had the sweetest heart. And although he was adopted and wasn't quite sure how to respond to his parents, feeling very much like he didn't belong with them at times, he was respectful to a fault. And that accent, I could listen to him talk for days. He was so refreshing just to have around because he was different and new.
I knew he had a rough past, but did not judge him for any of his actions until he began to string me along and I couldn't understand his reasoning. My closest friends worried that he was into things out of our control and he would pull me under. But it wasn't until the end of the summer, while we were sitting at a concert waiting for it to start that he told me that all of our suspicions were true.
Austin was addicted to heroin.
He said it like it was the confession of a lifetime, leaving me stunned. Then as our friends came to rejoin us after taking a restroom break, he said, "I'll see you later" and walked away into the crowd. He didn't return until the final song, when he came right up to me, squeezed his arms around my waist, and kissed me hard. I instantly knew he was gone.
In that moment, I finally admitted to myself that I had known this all along and knew that he was in a place that was not with me even as he held onto me tighter than he ever had before.
We spent that night together, and drove back home the following morning. And then as I sat in my kitchen on my laptop researching how to handle heroin-addicted lovers and tried to figure out how to deal with my feelings with this new information swirling in my head, he was out in town trying to find the next girl to use to maintain his high. I was of no importance to him after unknowingly taking him to a concert where he was easily able to score after being sober with me for at least a month. Nothing mattered to him anymore now that his real true love was back in his system.
For my own sake, we stopped hanging out, but I could never stop caring about him.
Not much later he was caught with drugs at work, was given a warning, but ended up quitting and using his new girl to make his way back to Austin. Right before Christmas, he returned to his parents' house and although everyone let me know he was in town, I made no effort to contact him and he didn't reach out to me until well into the New Year.
I met him for a drink once. Saw him out one other time. And a week later he was picked up by the police and has since been in jail for possession. And every day I question whether I should write to him to let him know that despite it all, I never stopped caring about the guy who swept in from out of town and blinded my heart.
Chelsea Oliver is a lover of life in heels, coffee in hand, who runs the marketing department of a credit union by day and makes sassy stationery for her own business by night. Chelsea is an old soul in a power-lifting millennial body. She craves authenticity while loving every filter on Instagram and tweeting in all caps as necessary.