~Thursday, January 27, 2011

Hungry Hungry Hungarian

Monday at 6 pm I was in the process of getting out of my car and running an errand when my phone rang from the depths of my giant handbag. It was the generic ringtone for phone numbers not saved in my phone book. I not-so-secretly hoped it was Valdosta as I frantically fished out my phone.

"Hello?"

"Hello. The Hungarian calling."

I was so flustered that I didn't hear him. Besides, he has an unusual Hungarian-y name.

"Who?"

"The Hungarian calling."

"Whhhhhhr," I gurgled in utter confusion.

"How are you?" he asked.

"I'm... I'm... good?" I sat back down in the driver's seat of the car.

"Is now not a good time?"

"Erg, it's just that I'm in the middle of something."

"Why don't you give me a call back when it's more convenient?" he offered.

I called him back 15 minutes later after I walked in the door to my apartment and kicked my boots off. The Femme Fatale was sleeping under my bed and had yet to greet me.

"I was calling to see if you wanted to go out," he asked.

I sighed. "That depends."

"Ah, she has conditions," he smiled.

"It's just that I know it went that way for a couple of weeks, but I'm really not interested in a sexual fling. I'm looking to date and establish relationships," I explained.

"Then there's no problem; we're on the same page."

"But your recent text messages..."

"Yes, we've had sex, but that's not all it was. Come over. Have dinner with me. I got a new Netflix in the mail."

"Oh, you mean tonight?!"

"I'm going back to Montreal at the end of the week. I want to see you before I go."

The Hungarian lives 27 miles, 3 towns and 1 toll road away. "I don't know. It's a long drive for me, and the toll..."

"I will pay for your toll," he answered. "I'll even round up and throw in $5 for your gas."

It was Monday night. My other option was to stay home and watch The Bachelor, which would inevitably have me rolling around on the floor in my own tears before the episode was over. "Alright," I agreed.

The Hungarian cooked me dinner. This time I knew to just sit and look pretty and not touch anything in his kitchen, especially the dishwasher. He talked as if six weeks hadn't gone by and I let him; I didn't really care enough to question otherwise.

Over dinner, he was telling me a story and abruptly stopped. I looked up from my plate and saw him staring at me. He had noticed that I had yet to look at him. I studied him. The Hungarian really is an attractive man: 5' 11", average weight, mousy brown hair, blue eyes, high cheek bones, and a strong nose that tips up at the end like mine.

I sat on my hands as he collected the plates and washed the dishes. We talked about mortgages: his and my very near foray into house hunting.

"I could refinance, but I owe so little on this house that the $2,000 in closing costs would wash out even. If I did though, my mortgage payment would be $50." He looked at me and grinned, "Yours could be $25."

Oh no, Hungarian. I'm still not convinced you are emotionally available enough to let someone else live in your house. He keeps one pillow on his bed. One pillow for one person.

We moved to the couch and he put in the movie. He fell asleep. As the credits rolled, I tickled the underside of his arm.

"I'm just resting my eyes," he automatically answered. Funny, I say the same thing.

"No, it's over," I said.

I got up and immediately began collecting my coat and hopped in his doorway as I tugged my boots back on. I gave him a peck on the cheek and scurried out to my car.

I drove home feeling empty. The reason I went out with him again was to try to get back to who I used to be. Who I used to be before the breakup, maybe even who I used to be before the relationship. After all, I had been happy then. But as I paid the toll and headed back into the bright lights of the city, I realized I didn't want to go back. It would be easier to go back, but now I had the knowledge of what I would be missing.

I stepped on the gas and sped up.

~Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Date #10

Date #10 asked to meet me at the same Starbucks as Date #9 did. Considering the memories of Date #9 still gave me the heebie-jeebies, I was nonplussed regarding the location. Besides, that particular Starbucks leaves a funny smell in your clothes that you don't notice until you get home.

I thought Date #10 showed promise. He was an architect in his mid-thirties who lived on the same street as me. He remarked that the borough I live in is beautiful and he'd like to own a home there. The downside is that he remarked about a lot of things: his e-mails seemed like epic novels as he detailed his pastimes and even his texts were so long that they arrived in my inbox as three separate messages. But don't women complain that men never communicate? This could be a good thing.

He arrived a few minutes late and I was struck by the enormity of him. Online dating code stipulates to subtract two inches from a man's height, but Date #10 was all of his 6' 1" and 240 lbs. In the one good picture of him online, he had short brown hair covered by a golf visor. This was not the case anymore. His hair was now gray. Unruly, old man gray with a matching gray beard, grown presumably to hide the weight. He didn't look 36, he looked 46.

He was nice enough. Inoffensive. Didn't make fun of the handicapped like the last guy did.

"How has eHarmony been for you?" he asked.

"Well, I'm here. That's the short answer," I said. We traded bad dating stories and he apologized profusely for taking me to the same Starbucks.

He seemed lonely. I asked if he had ever been married and he said he hadn't. I asked how close he got. He told me about a relationship he was in a few years back. They had been together a couple of years and he was prepared to marry her. She, on the other hand, broke things off saying the fit wasn't right. He was comfortable, he said. I wondered if that was the problem.

"We're still friends. Actually I'm seeing her Wednesday night. She said I was the best person she's ever dated, but I don't why she would say that when she..." he trailed off.

"What are you looking for?" I asked.

"In a relationship? I'm looking for what I had with her. It was easy; I was comfortable," he repeated.

I felt bad for him. Obviously he still had feelings for her. I wondered if the girl he was hugging in his profile picture was her. The one of him when he was younger with brown hair, happy.

"What about you? What are you looking for?" he asked.

I sighed. I'm looking to feel the same way that I felt with Valdosta.

All of a sudden I understood him.

~Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Date #9

Date #9 was the date I went on before I got dumped. He asked to meet me for coffee at the Starbucks by my apartment.

I breezed through the doorway. I had walked there and I was a few minutes late.

"Hey," waved a man in the corner.

I had blown right by him. Normally I'm a champ at matching someone's picture to the actual person, but this time I failed miserably. I looked at him, puzzled. Clearly he wasn't here to meet me.

"I know, I shaved," he said.

Noooo, that wasn't it. The reason I didn't recognize him wasn't because Date #9 had shaved off his beard. It was because he was about five inches shorter than he said he was in his profile and his hairline was about three inches further back. And I'm being kind in overlooking the fact he had to be at least 30 pounds heavier. I was victim of the old bait and switch.

He paid for my small coffee "because that's how [he] roll[s]," and we walked upstairs to the seating area. I resumed the date, trying to ignore the fact he misrepresented himself and reminded me of the Gingerbread Man. I have a step-brother who is smaller than me with a hairline that's about three inches back, and he's a kind and generous person. I wanted to give this guy a shot. He has a nice smile, even though his teeth are really tiny, and he has an expressive face.

But the conversation kept circling on how down he is on society. He went to a private high school and told me how much better and more well-rounded he was than his classmates. He was also offended I had grown up in the area and had never heard of his private high school, but of all of the surrounding ones. And why are we spending this much time talking about high school? You know who talks about high school? People who don't go to college.

We talked about work. He used to be in radio before he quit to start his post-baccalaureate pre-med program. Now he's part-timing at some foam manufacturer that makes sex toys. I try to hang in there, revealing that in college I worked at an inbound telemarketing company and I sometimes handled the customer-service calls for those herbal supplement sex aids offered in the back of a magazine.

Then, I can't figure out the transition, but he starts ripping on high-functioning autistic people, which segues into how he had a psychiatrist—not a therapist, but a psychiatrist—because he had a clinical onset of depression at a pre-pubescent age. And now we've full circled back to high school because when everyone else became angsty teenagers who listened to Korn and Nine Inch Nails, he felt like he couldn't conform and listen to the same music because his depression was so much more profound than theirs.

I uncrossed my legs and stood up. "Welp! Look at the time! I gotta go to Walmart and pick up my drugs before it closes."

"Drugs?" he said, LIKE I'M THE ONE WITH THE PROBLEMS. "Ha, I don't even know how we got on that conversation."

True Story.

~Monday, January 24, 2011

Living Underwater

I'm glad to be back at work and resuming some normalcy today. I spent the last few days feeling like I was living underwater: everything I did was slower and took more effort. Everything is met with resistance.

Friday night my friends drug me out to happy hour. I showed up in what I wore to work: blue jeans, a red hoodie, a puffy face and my hair pulled back by a headband. There's a guy in our group that we don't see much because he's constantly working out of town. He was Helen's boyfriend for five years until they split last year and Helen dropped off the face of the earth, never to be heard from again. We got him in the "divorce."

"I haven't seen you since Friendsgiving," I said.

"Yeah I heard you went and got a boyfriend," he said.

"Ah, well, he wasn't my boyfriend and he dumped me last night. It's a shame too because we were all talking about how you two would have gotten along together."

"What? You think I'm mentally retarded?" he asked, playfully offended.

"No?"

"You think there's something wrong with me?"

"No?"

"Then why would you think I would get along with this guy that dumped you?"

Ah, he was implying that Valdosta was dumb for getting rid of me. I laughed. I have really, really great friends.

Saturday was Katie's Around the World party. Everyone brings a shot, and a station and activity is set up in every room. The group then visits each room of the house, taking the shot and performing the activity, like a game of Twister. I had been looking forward to the party, but now I was dreading it. If I drink, I'll get tipsy. If I get drunk, then I'll cry. Drinking = tears, therefore I didn't want to drink.

I walked in the house late. Those who weren't at happy hour immediately noticed I looked devastated and asked why. I pulled Katie in the room and made her tell them. If I say the words, then I'll cry. Katie gave a nice, perfunctory summary and everyone surrounded me and hugged me. Then they grabbed the strawberries filled with amaretto and shoved four of those in my mouth. And then a jello shot was thrust in my hands, and then a chocolate pudding shot. I immediately hit up the hydration station and grabbed a bottle of water.

I sat down on the couch next to Government Mule. He pressed up against me in a quick hug. "I'm sorry," he said. "At least you're doing better; you're no longer dating guys that shit in your car."

Unfortunately the three people surrounding us had never heard that story. I've known these people for five years and they had no idea what happened to me. And who can pass up a good, yes-I-dated-a-guy-that-shat-in-my-car story? And so I found myself freshly dumped and retelling the incident. Head, meet oven.

"Are you okay?" asked Helen's ex-boyfriend.

"Yeah, I'm fine. It was years ago and I put myself through a year of therapy and I'm in a different place now. It won't happen again. What I want to emphasize is that it wasn't like things were good one day and then he punched me in the face the next. It was a downhill slope where you forgive one thing, and then something worse happens and you forgive that thing, and then something even worse happens but you've already forgiven the first two things... and then you're getting beat up and you're not even sure how you got there in the first place. By that time your self-esteem is so low that it's hard to get out, and your family knows and some of your friends know, and nobody does anything..."

"I remember Helen told me that he beat you up. I told her I was going to drive into town to kick his ass, but she told me you guys had already broken up by then. If that ever happens again, call me. I'm not above killing somebody."

"Thanks, but it won't. I'm fine now." Just what I want to be talking about right now. The bad ones tried to kill me and the good ones don't want me. Head inside oven, and big breath!

Sunday, I stared at my running shoes. Although I had been telling myself that I was going to attempt the 5k again, the reason I actually laced them up and began training again was because of Valdosta. And now that reason is no longer there.

Mel showed up on my doorstep and patiently waited. I put my shoes on and we went running. There were a couple of moments on the treadmill where I wanted to give up and burst into tears, but I didn't. In my funk I managed 50 minutes of cardio, my longest time ever.

Last night, I had my nightmares again. One about my ex-stepfather and one about Valdosta. The one about my ex-stepfather was so horrifying that I can't believe my mind was capable of conjuring it up. Once again, I was trying to convince my mom that what he did was wrong and my mom was trying to convince me to not tell anyone. For Valdosta, it was just me getting rejected in new, public ways.

I got up this morning, the same way I would have gotten up any Monday morning. Only this Monday morning, I woke up with the knowledge that he would never call again. Apparently this is a big difference.

It's been a long time since I've been dumped: I ended things with Christopher, S, and Jack. The last time I got dumped was by Adam in October of 2006. So I guess it's my turn. I'll be okay. This was a little breakup, not a BIG BREAKUP; I'll be back to normal soon enough. But for now, I'm still living underwater.

~Saturday, January 22, 2011

Aftermath

I hit "Publish" on the last post and immediately threw up.

Only I was sitting at my desk at work. I was already the girl that got dumped; I did not want to be the girl that got dumped and threw up into her recycle bin.

I got up and started racing for the front door: tall, heavy mahogany doors that require effort to open even when your hands aren't clasped to your mouth. I made it into the hallway, but the bathroom was too far away and involved yet another door.

I threw up in the hallway. And then I had to tell my office manager that I threw up in the hallway so he could call building maintenance to clean my throw up in the hallway. Ugh.

I've never had that reaction to a breakup before. I'm normally a crier. Scratch that. Normally I'm a wailer. Big, shuddering sobs that have me gasping for breath and on the verge of passing out. For Valdosta, I cried lightly on the phone to a few select people for about an hour. Then I took an ibuprofen to ward off the crying headache, put a cold pack over my eyes to help with the eyelid swelling and went to bed without the aid of alcohol or sleep meds. I slept soundly through most of the night, bar one episode of waking up completely drenched in my own sweat. The next morning I put another cold pack on my eyes for an hour before I went to work. That was that. I did good.

On last season's finale of Grey's Anatomy, there was a scene where Miranda's tending to a shot Dr. Percy and she looks around and above her. "Where is that water coming from?" she asks, confused.

"Doctor Bailey, you're crying," answered Mandy Moore.

I remember thinking that was the most preposterous idea, that someone could cry and not know it. Only I was laying in bed with the ice pack over my eyes, listening to Good Morning America on TV when water slid down my face.

"What the—" I said as I removed the ice pack and checked for leaks. Nope. Turned out to just be my face. The medical term is called ocular hyperosmilarity: too much fluid in the eyes.

I had prided myself on not crying too much, on immediately telling my friends I was going to be okay and I was only sad in that moment, but then I got sick when I had to confront what had happened. And now all of my coworkers are asking why it's wet in the hallway and I'm slumped at my desk thinking, You best be glad I hadn't eaten in 24 hours and that's only green tea in the hallway.

***

Of course because Valdosta was a gentle and kind person, he ended things gently and kindly. Knowing what I know, that he couldn't give me any more than what he already had, it was the right decision. I'm glad I know now and not later on down the line, and I'm thrilled that I meant enough to get an in-person dumping. I've never gotten that kind of closure before.

All of a sudden I felt like I was in a teachable moment. I wanted to prevent one more girl from getting dumped via text or fade away. Before I went to bed the night I got dumped, I sent Valdosta one final text:

Thanks for being honest with me and telling me in person. I have nothing but respect for you.

You're a great girl, Sarah. I'm really glad I met you.

Before I could think any further: delete, delete, delete. I cleaned out my entire text messaging inbox and outbox. I deleted his name out of my address book. I went through my call log and deleted every instance of his missed calls or received calls. Oddly enough, there were no instances that I called him. I logged on my e-mail account and deleted the folder that contained his e-mails. I hovered over the folder that contained our pictures, but had too much heart to delete those just yet.

Dammit.

~Friday, January 21, 2011

I got dumped!

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."

"Shit. Really?"

"Yeah."

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.

~Thursday, January 20, 2011

Lanie in the City

Want to read about me from someone else's perspective?

Lanie in the City

Operation: Cat String

Yesterday as I was walking out of my office building, I felt the urge to call Valdosta. I know he had an intense weekend and was going through some things, and the normal me would have typed out a text to see how he was doing. But Operation: Treat Him Mean and Keep Him Keen had been employed. I'm playing aloof.

"Where is Valdosta?" Schmoozer asked Saturday night.

I wiped up the last of the hummus with a pita chip and ate it. "Back home. His mom is getting remarried this weekend." I took a swig of beer, "He won't commit, you know."

"I figured as much when you said you went on a date this afternoon. What are you going to do about it?"

"Operation: Treat Him Mean and Keep Him Keen."

"Ah," he laughed. "The old Cat String Theory."

Schmoozer's buddies looked away from the football game on TV and turned their attentions to our conversation. "Cat String Theory?" one of them asked.

"You know how you dangle a string in front of a kitten and it plays with it for a short bit before getting bored?" The room nodded. "What do you do to get the kitten playing with the string again? You just pull it a a little bit away." He made a tugging motion.

Ah! The Cat String Theory! I like it!

"I like you, Sarah," Schmoozer has told me on multiple occasions, "You date like a guy."

So now it's Wednesday and Operation: Cat String is in full swing. I huffed in the parking lot. This is when it counts, I told myself. He may have not noticed the first couple of days, but the longer without contact, the more he'll start to notice. This is the crucial time point. You cannot cave now.

I got in my car and began my commute home. Only I was so distracted with Operation: Cat String that I didn't take the back roads like I normally do, and instead I merged onto the highway. And because it was rush hour, I came to a complete stop.

I looked at the clock. It was 5:58 p.m. If Valdosta were to call, he'd call at 6 p.m. The couple of times where I had wondered whether he was going to call, he always called at 6. It's when he's off the highway and almost home from work.

Just then, and I swear this is true, my phone rang. "Sweet Child O Mine" played. It was Valdosta's ring.

I debated whether or not to answer the phone, but I picked it up, "Who's this?"

He laughed. "Hey babe."

He said he's had a tough week. His mother got remarried. Work called him in to work over the weekend to make up for our snow days last week and he lost his hockey game.

"How's your week going?" he asked.

I thought about it. "You know, it's going really great. I finished that painting you said you wanted, and I think it turned out really well. That hat I ordered off the Internet arrived and it's the perfect amount of awesomeness and ridiculousness. So are the thigh-high tube socks I bought over the weekend. I got some special recognition at work today and I'm kicking ass at my running program." I've been a little off with Operation: Cat String, but really it's been a pretty awesome week.

"That's great, baby," he said. "I'm glad one of us is having a good week. I was calling to see if you wanted to go out to dinner tomorrow night."

I paused. This is new. Usually when we go out to eat, it's lunch the next day after we've partied together. When we get together during the week, it's usually take out and movies. This was a dinner date.

"Ennnnnnnnhhh," I said, thinking aloud. The thing is, I already accepted a date invite for coffee at 6. "I can," I said slowly, "If we do it later in the evening."

"Okay," he said quickly.

"It'd have to be at like 8."

"That's fine."

I smiled. That move wasn't a part of Operation: Cat String. That was just plain, old life.

~Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Child is father of the man

"So have you heard from anybody?" my mother asked me on our daily phone chat.

This is code for something. She's asking about someone in particular and I don't know to whom she's referring. I don't think I told her about Valdosta. Actually I'm pretty sure I didn't because otherwise I would have to disclose the story surrounding the DTR, or non-DTR as it turned out to be. (And for those who are keeping count, last contact was made by him Friday night saying we would get together this week. I'm staying strong, but am getting a little antsy.)

"Um, no?" I said.

"Oh," she said flatly. "You didn't hear from the wine guy from Saturday?"

I groaned. "Oh god no, Mom," I said. "I told the Internets that I didn't want to date him anymore and I closed out the match."

She gasped. "When did you do that?"

"The very next day."

"You're ruthless."

This exemplifies the attitude of dating that I grew up with. When I was in therapy, we discussed extensively my mother's attitude that it was better to be with a man than without one. I remember a time about six or seven years ago that I wanted to break up with my then boyfriend because I wasn't happy anymore.

"Just wait it out," she said. "He's got a good job and comes from a good family; he may be the best you can do."

And so I did. And so he dumped me four months later via text.

I'm over it now, but when I was growing up and my mother and step-father were fighting, she'd tell me the only reason she married him was to give me a father. She stayed in that marriage for 17 years, 10 of those years being after I moved out, so I acknowledge it wasn't all about me.

Even now, a year after the divorce, she's unhappy with The Doctor, but doesn't do much about it. She avoids his phone calls for the most part, but she hasn't cut the cord.

I can feel her disappointment through the phone. "You didn't even wait to see if he liked you," she said.

"It doesn't matter," I said calmly. "I don't like him."

***

To put this in context, I had a bit of a breakdown on Christmas morning. It was just my mom and me at her house. Christmas lasted about 15 minutes as we each handed our gift to the other person. I was loading up my car to drive to my father's house. It was snowing heavily and I was wearing my Uggs, which are not waterproof. I was balancing my bags as I fought my car keys to get my back hatch to unlock. As I tried to lift the tailgate, the Christmas dishes that I just unwrapped a few minutes earlier tumbled out of my hands and broke in the driveway. My mother had been more concerned with keeping the kitchen door closed to save on the heat than she was to help me.

I cried.

"You're not mad at me, are you?" she asked.

I kind of was. Anytime she needs anything heavy lifted or carried or moved, it's my job. I had spent that morning hauling an antique desk up a wooden staircase while she hollered after me to not scratch anything. Anytime she needs something looked up on the Internet, it's my job. Anytime she needs anything, it's my job.

"No," I responded. I bit my lip to fight back tears.

"Go ahead and let it out," she urged.

And so I dropped the f-bomb on Christmas. I said I was tired of f-bomb being alone and tired of shouldering all of the f-bomb burden. When something is too heavy for me to lift, I have to get creative. I have to figure out a way. I don't have anyone to f-bomb lean on.

My mom cried. "Don't you think I feel that way?" She opened her hands and motioned to the giant house that surrounds her.

I sighed and looked at her, "But you have me."

And so she wrote a check to cover the broken dishes.

It explains why she has taken a sudden interest in my dating life, suggesting web sites that she sees on TV commercials and asking why I didn't like the wine guy from Saturday.

I guess my Husky just doesn't need a dad.

~Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Date #8

"You want to know why things won't work out with Date #8?" I said to Mel, "It's because he's an overachiever. I don't need any of that ambition driving me down."

Date #8 is a marathon runner. Only 1% of the population have completed a marathon. I'm on Week 2 of my Couch to 5k program. Again. Because I quit the first time.

I had already cancelled on him once. After an uneventful phone call (During which, he said, "Tell me about you." I was overloaded with so many facts and figures about myself that I was so overwhelmed that I just stammered.), I accepted a Saturday day date with him. A look of my calendar confirmed that it was the weekend I was going out of town for the birthday party, so we rescheduled for this week.

It hadn't snowed since last Sunday night, and almost a week later there was still snow on the ground. I've never seen that before. The water pipes in my building had frozen and burst on three separate occasions, leaving me without water for 24 hours each time, and the newest occasion happened to be Saturday. I had to go out on a date using no water.

Luckily I had showered the night before when I got back from the gym. I pulled out a box of baby wipes and my flat iron and went to work. I brushed my teeth and washed my face with iced tea. Used double mouthwash. I had kinks and cowlicks that even the flat iron couldn't straighten, so I convinced myself that bed head was still in.

My mother called, wailing. She had been dating her doctor for the last year, but there has been no communication for the past 2 months. Her prescription ran out and when she went to fill it, the pharmacist told her it would be $300.00. She needed a generic prescription written and she didn't want to call her gentleman caller who hadn't, um, called.

I looked at my watch. I needed to leave the house in 20 minutes to meet my date and I'm in the midst of my own crisis of sorts. But I sat there and listened to her. It's tough sometimes being the strong one. I went through therapy to get my act together, and instead of other people getting their acts together, they lean on me. My mom should have ended things with the doctor a long time ago (last May in my opinion when he didn't acknowledge her birthday) but she's still hanging on. Moreover, she hasn't found a new doctor, which is kind of illegal in the medical world. He could face disciplinary action for dating his patients.

I hurriedly walked into the wine store. I was late and the water still hadn't been turned back on in my building. Date #8 was shorter than me. I knew that going into meeting him, but it's another thing to be face to face with it. Or face to nose.

There are two kinds of short. Adam, Christopher and Valdosta fit into the first kind of short. They are the same height as me barefoot, but then I'm taller in heels. That kind of short is acceptable, because they still have broader shoulders, bigger hands, larger heads; I still feel smaller. The second kind of short, such as Date #8, is when they are littler than me. I was in boots so I was taller than him, the same way I would have been with any of the boys from the first category, but my head was bigger. I'm weird about the size of my head; I can't date anyone with a smaller head than me. It just makes me feel so beastly.

Our date was a wine tasting, which hit the spot considering the drama of the morning. But we walk up to the table and the owner of the wine shop stops my date. "Hey [Date #8]," she said. "It's good to see you back here today."

I was unimpressed. That must be his first-date thing, to take them all to the free wine tasting by his house.

I didn't even have time to take off my coat. We went straight the to table and got our first glasses. There was empty seating all around, but we stood right by the pourer. I took off my coat and held it. The was a coat rack behind him and a simple food spread behind me, but we stood at the front of the table in the way of everyone.

Unlike me, Date #8 is quiet. Not just shy, but quiet. There were awkward silences, but I didn't feel like performing, so I would just ride them out with him.

He asked me how I was doing with my running. He told me the entire story of how he got into running (to recover from a kickball injury of all things) and that he was training for the Ironman for his 35th birthday.

"Did you play kickball last year?" I asked.

"No, they didn't have it last year," he said.

"Yes they did; I played," I countered.

"I meant the Clemson alumni didn't have a team last year. I only play kickball with people with whom I have something in common," he answered.

I took a swallow of my wine. The people who play kickball are typically middle class college graduates in their mid-twenties to thirties. That's a lot in common. "So you only have things in common with people who went to Clemson?" I charged. Because he's living in the wrong state for that to happen.

"It's just nice to have a common ground."

I thought of Schmoozer. "You know, we had a few free agents who signed up on our team—guys who didn't know anybody and just took a chance. One of them became our really good friend and now he's a member of our group. I'm glad he took that risk," I prodded.

Date #8 shrugged.

"Do you have any pets?" I tried again.

Date #8 went off on a 20-minute diatribe about how he lives in an apartment and how he thinks people who live in apartments and own pets are cruel. Dogs are for houses. Crate training is unethical. I smiled through the whole speech because I knew exactly how this conversation was going to play out.

"So do you have any pets?" He returned.

My profile picture is me hugging my dog.

"Yes, I have a dog. She loves her one-bedroom apartment," I quipped.

He gulped. "What kind of dog?"

"Siberian Husky."

His eyes got wide. "That's a big dog." The wheels in his brain were turning: such a big dog for such a little apartment.

"She takes up three feet of space, usually under the tables and bed," I remarked. I felt myself become agitated over his diatribe. My dog loves me and wants to be with me. It explains why she's happy to leave my parents' houses and yards and go home with me. She's 10 years old and can only nap in so many places.

After the wine was gone, he asked if I'd like to walk around the store with him. Sure, I'd love to look at picnic baskets in the dead of winter. Only the store owner struck up a conversation with him, so I was left alone to stare at the picnic baskets. I debated just walking out of the store and making a run for it, but my dodgeball league plays about 10 steps from the store and I couldn't risk running into him again.

He walked me to my car and gave me a hug. "It was nice meeting you. I'll call you," he said.

"It was nice meeting you," I said back. I got in my car. 45 minutes. Huh, that's a new record.

I called Mel and asked how long I had to wait before I closed out the match.

~Monday, January 17, 2011

Unanswered

Text message received Wednesday, 10:03 p.m.:

When am I going to see you again?

It's from The Hungarian. Hmm. My newest mission was to get back out there and date. I tapped my nail on the screen of my phone.

Is this a date request or a booty call?

Let's call it a date. I'll call you Friday and we can work out the details.

Interesting. Okay then, I typed.

But there may be some booty involved, he added.

No. No. No. I haven't heard from him in six weeks. He does not get to assume he's going to get laid.

Not guaranteed!

Why not?

Because I haven't heard from you in six weeks!

So?

I left it unanswered. I am a person, not a vagina. He was making me feel less than what I already felt, not more.

The next morning, he sent another text: Booty still not guaranteed?

I never responded. He never called.

***

Christopher has resumed calling. I deleted his information awhile ago, so I picked up the phone when I didn't recognize the number. He was drunk; I was at work. It was 5 o'clock on a Tuesday.

Once again he was rambling about his new job and about all the money he was going to be making. He told me he could move anywhere in the U.S. He told me he was considering Texas or California. Yup, he said he was moving to San Diego in three weeks. I didn't believe him, but just gave him the cursory mmm-hmm as I typed at my desk.

"I am so happy, babe," he slurred.

The use of babe made my skin crawl. "That's great for you," I said, completely uninterested. And then I hung up the phone. I didn't pick up when he called back.

And now the 4 a.m. phone calls have resumed. Being woken up completely bewildered when I have work the next morning really pisses me off. Of course they don't happen when I'm at Valdosta's. When the late night phone calls didn't work, he started sending me e-mails. All unanswered. He had me and he treated me like he didn't even want me.

***

S's step-mother has begun calling me again, leaving messages. All unanswered. I haven't spoken to her since probably May of last year, so I know something must have happened with S for her to start calling me again. If he had died, she'd probably tell me on the voicemail. However her voicemails don't indicate death so I can't be bothered. And really that's the only news I can stand to hear about S.



It's never who you want to call, is it?

~Friday, January 14, 2011

A rose by any other name

I smell of Valdosta.

He has a sweet smell, sweeter than mine. I remember the first time I noticed it, I was in my closet folding clothes and I picked up my gray alma mater t-shirt I had worn to sleep in at his place. I couldn't place the scent originally. Later that day, I pulled my coat out of my front closet and put it on. As I zipped it up, the same sweet scent wafted around me and it hit me that it was him.

I spent last night at his place. We ordered Chinese, drank a bottle of wine and watched that Spartacus show on Starz. I watched the main actor, looking for tell-tale signs of lymphoma, which is the reason he's leaving the show. Valdosta leaned towards me, "That's what I'm going to look like by my 30th birthday."

I chuckled. "I'll look better." I've been quietly going to the gym. Nothing motivates me more than a little competition. Unfortunately, the competition is entirely one-sided. Valdosta's New Year's resolution was to get into shape and I knew I had to follow.

"I can tell, " he said. "You look good." He patted my knee, "Time for bed, baby."

While the city was snowed in, Val utilized his time to decorate his bedroom. His diploma now hung on the wall. So did a gold-framed mirror and an M.C. Escher print. I had left a hair clip on his bedside table a week and a half earlier, and I saw it in its same place. I know him now, and I know when I'm not there, he sleeps with a body pillow. I untangled his sheets and saw the pillow inside the bed. I remade the bed and shivered as I crawled in.

He crawled in behind me and wrapped his arms around me. "I missed this," he whispered. "Cuddling with you." He brushed my hair off my neck and kissed the nape up to the tips of my ears. He squeezed me tight.

"I'm used to sleeping with you now," I whispered back. It's true. I miss his shoulder when I'm sleeping alone. "Are you used to sleeping with me yet?"

"I'm getting there," he said.

He's getting there.

And now I'm sitting at my desk at work and I smell of him. This morning I went home and changed clothes, but I didn't shower, so his smell must be in my hair. I like that I smell of him.

This is why I wrote at the very beginning that I'm toast.

~Thursday, January 13, 2011

Puke and Rally

Valdosta and I went out of town together last weekend. It was Harvey's husband's 30th birthday and 15 of my closest friends drove back to our college town for some heavy drinking. We met and formed our friendships in those same bars, so it felt right to return to celebrate.

Athens, Georgia is a drinking city. Hell, the university itself is currently ranked as the number one party school in the nation. We boast 64 bars in a 3-block radius. The best part of all? The booze is cheap. The downside? The booze is cheap so everyone is quick to buy a lot of it.

When Valdosta asked what to expect during our big night out, I said, "A hot mess." Friends agreed. And that's exactly what happened.

Valdosta, Government Mule, Jenna and me started drinking at 2 o'clock. We had three beers a piece. I got noticeably tipsy. Then we met up with the group for the main event, took a nap, and was back at the bars by 6:30. At the urging of Valdosta and Schmoozer, dinner was accompanied with a jager bomb. And a beer.

I leaned towards Schmoozer. "What are you drinking?"

"Vodka and Red Bull."

"Ooh! Let me try," I reached out.

"No!" He pulled his glass away from me. "I don't want your cooties tonight."

"Tonight?!" asked Valdosta.

"I mean ever," Schmoozer corrected facetiously.

"Hey! No one's ever complained about my cooties!" I slurred. "My cooties taste great!"

We left the resturant bar and headed to the next bar on our to-do list. There I had three gin & tonics and a blow job. A blow job is a girly shot of Bailey's and Kahlua topped with whipped cream. The trick is you can't touch the shot glass with your hands, otherwise it's a hand job. We were big into blow jobs in college. (That's what she said.)

The next bar was dance club that only played 80's music. Valdosta and I split a pitcher of beer and he ordered two more jager bombs. And that was the turning point of the night: the second jager bomb.

When I was in college, jager bombs were given in two parts. You got a glass of Red Bull and a shot of jager, drop and chug. Now jager bombs come premixed in a plastic cup. The cup is only about halfway full. When the bartender mixed our jager bombs at the club, the cup was all the way full.

"Uh, I think we should do this shot in two parts," suggested Valdosta.

"Balls up, Valdosta," I cajoled. "No one goes halfsies with jager."

He shrugged. We toasted and chugged. I sputtered afterward.

"I told you we should have done that in two parts," he laughed.

The girls pulled me away and we danced. Then Valdosta pulled me away and we danced. We returned to our pitcher of beer. Valdosta watched the others dance.

"I can't believe Katie is single," he said. "She's so great."

Fire alarms in my head. No way. Not again. Need we revisit my year-long insecurity of showing interest in guys who prefer Katie? Not again. And not with Valdosta.

"You can't leave me for Katie," I said. I'm not sure he meant it the way I took it, but he hit such a throbbing, exposed nerve. And that damn second jager bomb.

Valdosta was taken aback. Apparently I just got weird on him. "I don't want things to get too much more serious with us," he said.

Well shit, that was the wrong thing to say.

He tried to explain himself, but the conversation is fuzzy. He said something to the extent of he didn't want to get so serious that we had to have talks of someone leaving someone. I think.

"Are you dating other people?" I asked.

"Yes," he admitted.

"Are you sleeping with other people?" I immediately asked.

"No."

He said a lot of things. He said he hadn't dated for a long time before he met me. He said he really liked me, and that I am the only one he's dating seriously. He said he's wasted years of his life dating the wrong people and wanted to be sure he's not wasting his time the next time he gets into a relationship. He said he's still not sure he ever wants to get married.

I think all of those things were meant to be taken in a positive context. That he likes me and takes dating seriously. But all I heard was, I don't want to commit to you, and then, You're not good enough for me.

"So what do you think?" he asked.

I ran my hands through my hair, mussing up the roots and readjusting the locks falling across my shoulders like I always do when I'm anxious.

"I told you where I'm at. Where are you?" he asked again.

Mel walked up, "Hey guys, we're moving to the next bar for the midnight birthday shot."

Jesus, it's not even midnight. That damn second jager bomb. "Give us a minute," I said. "We'll meet you there."

"So?" prodded Valdosta.

I couldn't take my hands out of my hair. Every strand had been properly fluffed and now I was going back for second and third rounds.

We had finished the pitcher. "I wish I had a beer," I said.

Valdosta spun me his PBR. I hate PBR, but I took it. I don't know, if I didn't have enough alcohol in me by then, I don't think there was enough alcohol in the world to prepare me for this.

"This isn't the time nor the place I wanted to do this." I stammered. I rambled. I yakked my feelings all over him. I told him I was in a previous relationship that very nearly destroyed me but I got through it. I told him that I date a lot. I've dated more than I should have to date, and that I really liked him and saw something different and special in him. I told him that I was dating two other people, but I broke up with them after Christmas because it seemed like the right thing to do, which is technically true because I never saw Memphis again since Christmas, even though we had been in contact, and the Hungarian was over way before that. I said I didn't regret that decision.

"So what now?" I asked. Clearly we're in two different places.

"Nothing changes," he said. "I still want to date you and see you."

We met up with everyone at the next bar. I ordered more shots (red snapper--had to keep the jager theme going and not mix colors). And then I headed into the bathroom and cried a little to my girlfriends. I don't think I can count the number of times I have cried in that particular bar bathroom. They said what I already knew. That it's time for me to withdraw, start dating other people again and play the game. I nodded. I'm good at playing the game. I just thought this would be the one person I wouldn't have to play the game with. I dried my eyes.

Valdosta saw me and asked if I was okay. I laughed and said I was. Katie thrust her beer in my hand, which if you're keeping count was my eleventy-ninth drink of the night. We played Pac Man.

The rest of the group headed to the same sandwich shop that Valdosta, Government Mule and I started out at. Valdosta and I headed to another bar that his roommate had suggested before we left on our trip, and there we had another shot. It was called a sex bomb and it was some clear liquor (mixing color alert) in a shot glass placed on top of chop sticks over some juice cocktail. You pound the bar until the shot falls into the glass and then chug. From what I remember, it was fun and it tasted good.

Then Valdosta had us walking quickly to the sandwich shop. He said it was cold out; I was so liquored up that I couldn't tell one way or another.

"Baby, we have to slow down. I need to stop and rest. I'm feeling wonky," I said.

"It's too cold," he said. "Keep moving."

"But I'm wonky. My stomach is wonky. I'm wonky!" I chanted for an entire block.

We stopped by a tree. There was already a pile of vomit at the foot of it.

"Get sick here," he said.

"I don't want to yak; I want to sit," I protested.

He faced me. "Just do this," he put his finger in his throat. "It's what I do."

"I don't wanna."

"You'll feel better, I promise. Just puke and rally, baby. Puke and rally."

There were about 4 policemen within 40 feet of us. He stood between me and the policemen. I did as he said: sex bomb in, sex bomb out.

I stood back up.

"You yak very femininely," he said. Well at least I have that going for me.

By the time we made it to the sandwich shop, everyone had already gotten their orders and were taking them back to the hotel rooms. We pressed the elevator button in the hotel lobby. The doors opened. Someone had taken all the fake plants in the hotel and shoved them inside the elevator along with an iron bench. I shrugged and took a seat on the bench, not really comprehending that something was amiss. Valdosta laughed.

The elevator opened on the next floor. A couple stared inside the elevator and saw us sitting on the bench amid this jungle of plants and looked at the two of us like we were the world's biggest assholes. So I scooted over on the bench and made room for the woman, who also took a seat.

Schmoozer tried to sleep in our room. Valdosta kicked him out. We climbed into bed.

"So we had a serious conversation tonight," I said.

"I know."

"What now?" I asked again.

"Nothing changes," he said again.

"I don't want to get hurt," I mumbled.

He brushed back my hair. "That's not my plan," he said.

***

The next morning, Valdosta found the Gatorade I had packed and chugged it and brought it into bed with us.

"This is a good idea," he said, gesturing to the Gatorade. "We should do this every time."

I reached my hand out for it. "Uh, you don't?"

"No."

"It's a good move." I drank half of the liter. "What's your hangover cure?"

"Nothing. I'm a glutton for punishment."

Everyone else had left. Valdosta and I were on the hunt for some Chinese before we left town. There we learned about the shooting in Arizona.

Then we both shouted simultaneously:

"Wait, you're a Republican!?"
"Wait, you're a Democrat!?"

"Do you still like me knowing I'm Republican?" he asked. "I'm with you: socially I'm very liberal, but I think we're in times right now where economy is more important."

I stared in disbelief. He doesn't want to commit to me, yet he's asking me if I still like him.

"I'm more middle of the road economically," I said. I took a bite out of my crab rangoon. "What was your favorite part about last night?" I asked, changing the subject. There were a lot of favorites to be had.

"I think my favorite part of the night was you sitting on the floor of the hotel room drunk and you were throwing Combos in the air for me to catch with my mouth," he said.

Of all the moments he could have chosen, he chose a simple moment when I was being myself and goofing around. Why does he do that? Why does me make me like him and want him to be my boyfriend when he doesn't want to be?

I'm more distraught about this than I thought I would be. For the first time I'm like, Oh, this is going to fizzle out. This isn't going to go anywhere. And of course because I've been snowed in my apartment for the last three days and have been alone with my thoughts, it's now translated to He's figured out that I'm not good enough. I couldn't hide the fact I'm damaged from him. Yep, this is going to be my story. I'm that girl whose feelings are never reciprocated. I'm a sad sack of a person. When am I just going to accept this?

~Thursday, January 06, 2011

Dream On

I have nightmares pretty frequently. They still circle around my years spent with S.

For instance, a couple of weeks ago I dreamt that I was living in low-income government housing because I was still with S and he had driven us to the poor house. He was dealing drugs out of the apartment and Rivers Cuomo (that's right, the singer from Weezer) broke in and stole all of my stuff. Every last item. Including my dog. He had sold my clothes to the thrift store, but I was scrambling to raise enough money to bribe Rivers to ransom my dog back to me.

Last night I was in Valdosta's bed having another nightmare. It was the first one I've had while he's been physically present. We were in the classic spoon position: his front against my back. I was using the arm he slipped under my neck as my pillow. Our forearms were indistinguishably tangled across my heart; I couldn't tell where he stopped and I began.

The dream I was having was unclear. S was in it. So was Valdosta peripherally. The problem I was having was that I was frightened. I had woken up to some degree. I opened my eyes and saw the mess of hands in front of me. I knew it was a dream. I was aware that Valdosta was sleeping softly behind me. But every time I closed my eyes, I could feel them roll into the back of my head and feel myself being sucked back into this dream where I was so frightened.

The cycle would repeat: open my eyes and adjust them to Valdosta's dark bedroom, close them and feel scared. However, the longer time elapsed, the more terrified I became, even if I was awake. My heart pounded incessantly to the point that it ached in my chest from beating so hard. I began thrashing and kicking. I told myself that Valdosta was behind me and everything was okay, but I couldn't shake the intense fear I felt.

Being awake but reacting from my dream was such a loss of control for me that the fear began to form the beginnings of an anxiety attack. My heart pounded so hard and so fast that I was legitimately concerned that it was going to stop beating out of exhaustion.

Lying in bed, I tried to think of how to slow my heart down. Valdosta hugging me from behind obviously wasn't working. My heart needed to be compressed; it needed pressure on top of it.

I punched Valdosta in the arm. "You need to roll over," I said much more harshly than I intended. Soundlessly, he obeyed. I formed the reverse-spoon and molded myself against his back. I smooshed my face into his shoulder blade, and then because I didn't want to be a big inconvenience, I wrapped my arms around his arms instead of draping them across his stomach. I squeezed, felt relief in my chest and fell asleep.

Valdosta eventually shifted. I woke up again, my heart no longer in pain. Where I had grabbed a hold of him was a wall of sweat from such intense contact. It extended from the nape of his neck down to the backs of his knees. I was damp from it. Well, you kind of brought that upon yourself, I thought. Valdosta rolled onto his back and I took my position on his shoulder.

At 6:30 a.m., his alarm went off. I woke up feeling relieved that both the night and the dream were over.

"I did not sleep well last night," Valdosta said. "I was hot."

"That one's on me," I admitted pitifully. "I had a bad dream."

Valdosta rolled towards me and we lay face to face. Then he wrapped his arms around me and hugged me to his chest. He squeezed tightly. Any residual fear I felt evaporated. My heart was compressed.

"Huh," I said. "All I had to do was tell you."

~Wednesday, January 05, 2011

A Side of Tongue

So, um, I'm still dating Memphis.

I saw him the Tuesday before Christmas, the day after I went ice skating with Valdosta. I barely returned his texts and the poor thing wasn't even sure I was going to show up at his place at all.

He cooked me dinner, which was hot. Apparently I like sitting on a bar stool and watching the man do all of the work. It was good food too, and that may explain his weight. I don't know if I'm just used to looking at Valdosta or if it was his clothes, but Memphis looked easily 15 pounds heavier from the last time I had seen him. He had gone from chubby to the kind of fat where he suffered from slap-face disease—he perpetually looks like he's just been slapped in the face.

He offered to open a bottle of wine, but I declined. Then he opened his fridge to grab some ingredients for his salad dressing.

"Ooh! I'll take a Yuengling," I said, spying the carton on the shelf.

He looked back at me, "You said you didn't want anything to drink."

"That was before I knew you had Yuengling," I beamed.

He grabbed the bottle from the fridge and popped the top. Then he took a swig out of it to enjoy it in front of me. I didn't say anything. I was tired from work and didn't feel like playing games. When he saw his game wasn't working, he grabbed another beer from the fridge and handed it to me. But anytime I made a joke or teased, he'd point to the door and tell me to leave. It was funny the first time, but by the fifth time, I was considering it.

Dinner was good. The boy can cook.

Afterwards we move to his couch. He leaned in and began kissing me. Normally I am able to be present in the moment and with the person, but I felt like I was being disloyal to Valdosta.

Memphis uses a lot of tongue. I'm a fan of the tongue if it's done right, but Memphis uses it with every kiss. My mouth began to fill with saliva. He used so much tongue that my body thought I was eating again.

I pushed him off of me, "I'm full."

"What?"

"Nothing."

He paused for a moment. "I was hoping we would go further tonight," he said.

He had already rounded second base; how much further did he think it was going to go? My entire relationship with Memphis has been dinner. That's it. We go to dinner, or like tonight he made me dinner, and then he'd drop me back at home. We don't hang out. We don't communicate between dinners, which is largely my fault. It's like we're in our 50's and he's my companion. So was he thinking dinner and sex? Dinner and a hummer? I don't know!

"Not tonight," I responded quickly.

Memphis shifted uneasily. "You don't know how hard it is to put yourself out there like that and then be rejected."

WHAT? SO AM I SUPPOSED TO PUT OUT JUST BECAUSE YOU ASKED?!?!

"I didn't reject you, Memphis. I said 'Not tonight.'"

He couldn't distinguish the difference. To be honest, I'm not sure there was much of one.

Memphis tried. He told me that he liked me and wanted to spend more time with me. He wanted to talk to me in between our dinners.

"It's just... you always give me such a hard time," I answered. He looked at me expectantly. Finally, I was honest. "I called you when my grandmother died. You didn't answer and that was fine. But when I did hear from you again, you were all 'Why did you call? Why did you call?' I told you, but you wouldn't let it go and the way you asked was like you thought it was a booty call and maybe if you kept asking my answer would change. I was like, She's still dead"—Memphis put his head in his hand and groaned out of embarrassment when I said this—"You made me feel really uncomfortable and made me wish I had never called you about it."

He responded apologetically. He told me he couldn't believe that a pretty girl would call him and he couldn't figure out why. And when he found out it was about my grandmother, he said he was honored that I would call him. He never actually admitted the thing about the booty call, but I know I was right. He said in the future for me to call him out on it.

"But what do I say? 'You're making me feel uncomfortable?'" I genuinely asked.

"Just say, 'You realize that you are sounding like this'. But you have to say it nicely or else I'm going to get angry and defensive."

I immediately knew I'd never be able to sugarcoat it the way he wanted me to. What I don't understand is that he dishes it out so aggressively, but he can't take it. At all. He wants me to be all sensitive around him while he points to the door and orders me to leave. It's an annoying an unfair double standard that I'll never be able to abide by.

I took the ending of the conversation as a cue for me to leave. He asked me to stay longer, but it was after 10 p.m. and I had to work the next morning. I felt better about things after our little talk and I left his apartment feeling optimistic, but then Valdosta showed up on Christmas day.

And Memphis is nowhere near Valdosta.

~Monday, January 03, 2011

New Year's Eve

"You know what they say, the way you spend New Year's Eve
is the way you'll spend the rest of the year."
-- Hailey Nichol, The O.C.

I chose not to spend New Years with Valdosta. Or rather, I chose to spend it with my friends. Valdosta could tag along or he could not: those were the only options in my book. He accepted a party invite to his best friend's girlfriend's apartment.

New Years was intimate this year. It was just Harvey, her husband, me, Schmoozer and Swayze. For the first time the guys outnumbered the girls.

Before the boys arrived, I talked with Harvey and her husband about Valdosta. I shared that we still haven't had the DTR yet. Harvey's husband was very adamant that if he was sleeping with someone, he wouldn't want her to be sleeping with other people. I smirked and said that's why he's married and all the other boys are not. Either way, neither Valdosta nor I are sleeping with other people; we're still in the awkward limbo of dating and relationships. I don't want to say anything, mainly because I already did too early and I don't want to look desperate.

A couple of weeks ago, Government Mule was quick to advise to not pressure him to commit. At his Christmas party, Schmoozer had given me some great advice. He had said that girls tend to take the reigns and plan all of these activities for the couple to do together. He shrugged. "What do they need me for then? It makes me feel useless."

Valdosta does a great job of taking the lead. I don't call him ever. When I leave him in the mornings, he always makes a list of the upcoming week and our pending activities and days that we're both free. So I'll see you Thursday, he'll say. For a movie at my place? Instead of trying to control things, I'm letting Valdosta have the lead. It's not really something I've done before, but I'm confident that when he's ready, he'll say something.

"Relationships tend to work out when they're easy," Harvey said in a rare moment of seriousness. "Dating my husband was the easiest thing I've ever done."

I sighed with relief. For now, it is easy. But it's also easy for married people to give advice. Neither of these people have dated anyone outside of college.

Then Harvey's husband scolded me for my New Year's plans. "It's okay to not spend every moment with us," he said. "Eventually you guys are going to have to compromise on how to spend your time."

"No I won't," I said. "All of Valdosta's friends are coupled up, so I automatically win because I have the fun friends."

"Maybe he's looking for someone to do the coupled-up stuff with."

I scrunched up my nose. Just then Schmoozer and Swayze walked in the door. The conversation was over. We drank wine, played beer pong and watched Ron White.

Harvey poured the champagne and we counted down. "2010 was the best year of my life!" I cheered.

Harvey's husband was taken aback. "Very cool. I've never heard anyone say that ever." I guess the possibility of the new year overshadows the accomplishments of the previous year.

The new year rang in, kisses were exchanged and the champagne was drunk. I typed out a mass text message to my friends that couldn't be there. Because it read, Happy New Years! I love you! I did not send it to Valdosta. My phone vibrated from my back pocket.

"Hey, baby! Happy New Years!" said Valdosta from his party. I stepped into Harvey's foyer to hear him better. "Everyone here is kissing and it made me think of you, so I'm calling to give you a phone smooch!"

Harvey ran into the foyer. "Happy New Years, Valdosta! Baahhhh!" she screamed into my phone. "Bahhhhhhhhh!"

"Okay, I'm ready for my phone smooch!" I giggled.

"Oh, you're going to make me actually do it?" he asked.

"Yup."

"Just for you." He made kissing noises into the phone. "I'll give you a better one when I see you." He asked me to come to his party to meet his friends and he sent me the address. I guess Harvey's husband was right.

I left Harvey's house in suburbia and headed back into the city. Valdosta's party was in Midtown. Amazingly enough, I found free parking on 3rd street and walked four blocks to the skyrise. Valdosta was waiting for me outside under the building's awning.

"Valdosta!" I cried as soon as I saw him.

It was 1:45 a.m. and the streets were lit like daylight, but it seemed like we were the only people in Midtown. The ball drops in Downtown. He opened his arms and gave me my New Year's kiss. I love the look on his face every time I meet him; it's a mixture between surprise and excitement. The only other one who greets me like that is my dog.

He took my hand and led me into the building. The party was thinning out by then, but I got to meet the main players in Valdosta's life, the ones he had told me about. His friends consist of a few guys he's known for eons. To my relief, they seemed normal.

We stayed for a glass of champagne and said our goodbyes. I took Valdosta back to my place.

He groaned while he slipped into my bed, "Your bed is almost as comfortable as mine. What are your New Year's resolutions, baby?" he murmured.

"I don't have any," I said honestly. "I think my birthday list is enough."

He scooped me up and brushed back my hair, planting kisses on the nape of my neck. "I'm going to get in shape," he whispered. "I want to be in the best shape of my life for my 30th birthday this year. I'm so glad I got to see you tonight, baby."

"You are?"

"Yeah."

"Me too," I answered.

"Let's watch movies tomorrow."

 

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