Saturday was a very busy day for me. First, I did what I am now calling the "volunteer project from Hell." Actually, the project itself was pretty cool. The Audubon Society has several hiking trails. They have been slowly replacing the bridges on the trails and were down to the last one. It was the manual labor that sucked. First, we had to haul all the lumber for the new bridge down a 1/4 mile hiking trail. Then, when that was finished, as the bridge was dismantled we had to haul all the old lumber back up the hill. These were not small pieces of wood-they were two person minimum. So I was pretty tired and already feeling the pain from that when I sent a text to a couple of friends in my fun Meetup group to see if they were still planning to go dancing. Another friend had changed her RSVP to "No" and if none of my core group was going to be there, I wasn't going to go either.
My friends N & T were still planning to go so I took a couple of Advil and headed out. They weren't planning to be there until the dancing really got underway at 9:00 but I went early for the line dance lesson. (Coincidentally, the organizer of another group sent out an e-mail Saturday afternoon that the community center is going to hold a 7-week line dancing class starting in May. I will be signing up for that). After the lesson, there was still about 1/2 hour until dancing started and I was pretty bored. I knew the event organizer, R, and only one other girl that was there with the group. The others seemed to know each other and weren't really that interested in including me in the conversation.
A little after 9:00, I was looking towards the main entrance and I saw my widower friend. I thought it was odd he hadn't told me he would be there and even more odd he was there given he is not a fan of country music. He came down and was standing between R and I and I was trying to get a good look at his face having only seen his profile. It wasn't Widower Friend, but man, do they look a lot alike. I was intrigued so I introduced myself and attempted to make idle conversation which wasn't easy with the noise level of the bar. A little later my friends arrived and introductions were made and my focus shifted to them.
The bar was pretty crowded and despite being primarily a country bar, they play other music as well. So when a rock song came on, my friends and I all went to dance. New Guy was standing by himself where we had all been standing so I went and asked him to join us. After a couple of fast songs, a slow song came on and I ended up dancing with my friend K, who asked if I was interested in New Guy. I said I was intrigued. So K gave me a pep talk on being alone for the rest of our lives and the only way that isn't going to happen is to put yourself out there and take a risk.
There was a good mix of fast and slow songs. The next time a slow song came up, New Guy asked me if I wanted to dance. So I danced with him. I had to sit a few songs out thanks to the pain in my muscles from the volunteer project, and most of the songs I sat out, New Guy did too, other than when R drug him out to the dance floor.
Around 10:30, I took a sip of my juice and set it down. I went to reach for my water and it was gone-as was my juice. The servers and I had been playing a cat and mouse game with my drinks all night and they finally won. So, I told New Guy I was going to get another drink and headed for the bar. The line was long and about 10 minutes later he found me still standing in line. He said he thought I had snuck out. I told him I wouldn't have just left without saying something. I wouldn't have just disappeared without telling my friends. He stood there and waited with me for what turned out to be another 25 minutes (grr). At one point, I made the comment about having been tempted to shave my head. I had half my bangs (the half I am now growing out) pulled back in a barrette and the rest of my hair in a half-ponytail/half bun and he pushed the rest of my bangs back to get an idea of what I would look like with no hair. (I got my hair cut today so there will be no more threats of shaving my head-for now). Surprisingly, I wasn't uncomfortable with the invasion to my personal space. Since James died, I have been very uncomfortable with men-especially ones I have just met-touching me.
The bartender finally served us. I had asked New Guy what he was going to get and ordered it for him. I figured I could buy him a beer and be done with it or we could stand there for another 1/2 hour. We made our way back to my friends and he thanked me for the beer. He took a sip, set it down and then was gone. I looked up and saw he was dancing with R. T was on my other side and I just said "whatever," with a shrug, but I actually thought that was kind of rude. She said he didn't look the least bit thrilled. I said "well, he's out there dancing with her." (She had interrupted our conversation a couple of times to talk to him as if I didn't exist). T repeated he didn't look happy about it; turns out what I didn't see was she had "summoned" him. When the song ended and a slow song started ("Every Rose Has it's Thorn," for the record), he hightailed it off the dance floor and asked me to dance (point: Heather. Ok, that was snarky. But there were definitely moments it felt like Jr. High and a pissing contest to see which of us was going to mark our territory first). My friends were also rather helpful with K giving me advice and trying to make New Guy jealous and N pushing us towards each other and proclaiming "Not anymore!" when New Guy said he was single. I have very subtle friends-subtle like freight trains that is. (Love 'em though!) And once again, I feel like I am in high school.
As the night went on, he became more comfortable with testing boundaries, for lack of a better term. When we would lean in to talk to/shout at each other, he would put his arm around my waist, leaving it there longer each time, finally working up to the point of gently stroking my side. At one point, I went out with N & T to attempt a line dance and quickly gave up. I told him I gave up because I couldn't keep up and he said I should have stayed out there because I looked good.
Late in the night, we had one last slow dance, which was a song called "Holes in the Floor of Heaven," by Steve Wariner. As we were dancing, he said to me he knew I had already told him but asked what my name is. I told him and he said "Heather, it's nice to meet you." I said it was nice to meet him too. He said he was really glad he decided to come out; I said I was really glad I decided not to stay home as well. As I tuned into the song, I realized it was about a young widower. That actually made me feel a little guilty. I told him it was a pretty song but also sad. He asked what it was about. I said it was about a man whose wife was watching from above and he was trying to figure out how to live his life without her. (Okay, so I was slightly off the mark). He asked how it ended. I told him I didn't know, I had never actually heard the song before, but at the end she was still going to be dead and he still had to live his life. (No, the irony did not escape me. I'll analyze this tomorrow when I'm pretending to reconcile something).
Finally around 1:30, I had enough. My muscles were killing me and I really wanted to get on the road before all the drunk people. So I told him I was calling it a night. He asked if he could have my number. I said I didn't have a pen on me since I didn't have my purse, but I had one out in the car. I said a quick good-bye to the others and we walked out to my car. I found the pen and a piece of paper, wrote it down, made sure it was legible and handed it to him. We made small talk and then he cupped my chin, turned my face towards him and kissed me (I guess that answers the first "new life" kiss question). He told me again he was glad he had met me, and I said I was glad I met him too. He then told me to have a safe drive home. I told him to have a safe drive as well and then amended it to bus or cab ride, having remembered that he said he took the bus instead of driving. He suggested I give him a ride home and then said "no" and stepped away from me-almost like he knew he had gone too far, I think? I was quiet for a bit and then said I was sorry, but having just met him I wasn't comfortable with that. He thanked me for the beer, the dances and the kiss and again told me to have a safe drive home and he walked off. (I had noticed R walking to her car with another girl from the group she had carpooled with so for all I know, he went home with her).
So now I am left wondering if he will call. Now that I have had some time to process, I am really hoping he does and I am hoping I won't be too disappointed when he doesn't. I am also left wondering if he was interested in me or if he was just looking for a one night stand and tossed my number when he didn't get lucky. I hope that's not the case; that would really hurt. (Of course, if that's how he is and that's the only thing he is after with this group, I can get him kicked out of and banned from the group. (Technically, as an assistant organizer, I can do it myself). Because that's just not cool and so NOT what this group is about).
If nothing else, he served the purpose of the first "new life" kiss and I was surprised by my reaction to it. I thought for sure when that day came, I would feel guilty and like I had cheated on James. But I didn't, which brings up it's own guilt-how could I not feel guilty? Did I not love him enough? No, of course not. It means that I have accepted he is not coming back and I have reached a point in my healing where if someone were to come along, whether it be New Guy or some other remains to be seen guy, I am ready for it. And that's a pretty good (and scary) feeling.