I was standing at the sink hand washing my red wine glasses when Valdosta called.
"Hey, where are you?" I asked.
"I'm at the restaurant."
Odd. The restaurant is on the first floor of my apartment building. I just assumed he would come up to my door.
I put on my coat and headed downstairs. As I walked out of my apartment building and into the restaurant, I saw that his car was parked not in the parking garage for the apartment building, but in the restaurant parking out front.
I saw Valdosta seated at a table. He had already purchased two beers for us. I sat down. We clinked bottles and talked about our weeks. He went on again about what a rough week he's had with his mother getting remarried.
"You look visibly stressed," I said. And he did. He was squinting and blinking hard. If I didn't know him better, I'd think he had a facial tic.
"I got really drunk with the guys last night. I'm running on a lack of sleep," he said.
Guys. I wonder about that word. He lives with his roommate, whom I know well. He should just say his roommate's name. His other guy friends are either not city dwellers or are coupled up. He doesn't see them often. It's the third time I've heard him use the word "guys."
We moved on to my week, and we ordered food.
"So do you want to watch a movie after this?" I asked, making conversation.
Valdosta put down his slice of pizza and picked up his beer. He took a long drink. That is the exact moment I knew.
"Well that depends," he said.
"Depends?" I asked strangely.
"We didn't talk for a few days," he began. I nodded. I remember. He sent me a text message Friday night saying that he didn't want to get out of bed that morning because I was in it. I assumed I would hear from him on Tuesday when he got back in town, but I didn't.
"I spent those days thinking about you, and thinking about me, and thinking about us. I couldn't get that conversation from Athens out of my mind.
"I did a lot of thinking, because I don't want to make a mistake and let a great girl like you go, but your feelings for me are deeper than mine are for you. Things are not going to progress further than where they are now. I wanted them to, but we've been dating 2 months and it would have happened by now."
He said a lot of other things. A lot of filler words. He was nervous. He was genuinely upset. "What do you think?" he asked.
I shrugged. What do you say to that? "It sounds like you already made up your mind."
He looked down and shrugged. "Yeah, I guess I did."
I kept my poise. I never cried. I smiled the whole time actually. When he looked down in his lap and said he wasn't doing a very good job at this, I ended up consoling him and telling him he was doing a fine job.
"You've always been honest with me, even at times when it would have been easier not to. I really appreciate that," I said.
"You're such a great girl." He repeated that statement about 20 times last night. "I'm glad I met you. You're just such a great girl and you have really awesome friends.We've had some great times together. I'd like to continue to know you. Argh, you said you were having a really great week this week; I'm sorry I ruined that for you."
And this is the exact moment where I knew I'd be okay: I thought to myself, Don't think so much of yourself that you have the ability to single-handedly ruin my week in one fell swoop. The good things that happened still happened.
"I'm sorry," he continued. "I've done some really horrible things in my past and I've gotten into relationships because it was the easy thing to do. I don't want to do that to you. You're a really great girl and you don't deserve that. There's someone out there for you."
I cut him off. "I'm a big girl. You don't have to feed me full of bullshit," I said. I mean seriously, don't sit there and talk down to me, telling me Mr. Right is out there and waiting.
"I'm sorry, it's just you're sitting here and looking at me and not saying anything. I'm not doing a very good job at this," he repeated. "I still want to know you."
He never used the words "breakup" or "stop dating" or "friends." I'm especially grateful for the last one.
Neither of us touched our dinners. We boxed them up, separately, and walked outside.
"You want to split of bottle of wine and get drunk?" I asked. I had accepted it. It just happened too fast and now it's over.
We took a few steps towards my apartment, but then he stopped. "I better not. We should just let things marinate. I'd love to get drunk with you another time."
I put my hands in my pockets. He approached me for a hug. He squeezed tightly and held on. I don't know why he would squeeze someone he just dumped so hard. I found myself uncomfortable and patting his shoulder.
I turned around, headed back towards my apartment, and never looked back.