Monday, September 27, 2010

Oh Boy, Part II

In March of 2009, thirteen months after James died, I was asked out on a date.  My response was to come thisclose to throwing up.  (Not on him, thankfully).  It wasn't the good "OMG! The captain of the football team just asked me to prom" type of throw up, either.  It was the bad kind.  I decided that I was either not ready or not interested in him, or both. Ultimately, I determined it was both.  I wondered if I would ever be ready and/or meet someone with whom there was mutual interest for another 13 months, and then I met NLNG, whom I have determined really is not the one for me despite the Universe's constant signs to the contrary.  I know relationships take work, but the early stages should not be as much work as this has been.  He has a special place in my heart as the one who showed me I can date again and be okay with it, and I do care about him-but as a friend and a casual one at that.  He doesn't make my heart sing.  And now that I have felt my heart sing again, I don't want to settle for any less than that.

Since my post on September 13th, I have gone to the movies twice with the subject of that post and a couple of others.  (I think I will just call him #1.  The nicknames are getting too hard to track and I am running out of them.  And since it could take awhile for me to meet "the one," numbers seem like a logical way to go).  We have had a conversation on Facebook that lasted for an hour, and have had several e-mails and texts go back and forth, mostly to confirm plans to see the movies.  I find myself looking forward to and hoping to hear from him.  The thought of seeing him makes me want to throw up in the good way.  I don't doubt that he at least likes me as a friend.  And if that is all I get out of this, that in itself is a blessing because he seems like he would be a pretty good friend to have.

If I was reading the whole story about him written by someone else, I would think "Oh yeah, he's interested."  But because this is me, and I'm a clueless pain in the ass when it comes to these things, I just can't be sure.  But I do hope so and it feels good-and scary-to have this much hope.  The last time I felt this sort of hope was when I met James.  I don't know how to proceed though.  Yes, I was excited and hopeful when I met NLNG, but I had my doubts from the beginning when I felt like he wasn't interested in getting to know me after our first date.  I chalked it up to nerves, but 6 months later, that feeling hasn't really gone away.  I went back and re-read my first couple of posts from after I met him and was surprised by how much doubt was in them, along with some hope.

I know I need to just take this as it comes, one day at a time.  That's not easy for me because patience is not my strong suit.  I just need to relax and be patient in knowing that the type of guy I am looking for is out there and I don't have to settle for something I know in my heart isn't working. My dear friend told me today that he hopes #1 is the subject of many more of my stories (okay, so I paraphrased to my liking) and that if this has an unhappy ending like the story of NLNG did, I should look at it from the standpoint of having had the stories to tell.  He's right (don't let it go to your head).  It does feel good to know that I can still turn a head or two.  (God help us all if this goes into triple digits, however!)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Close Encounter

I have a new mission:  to find the best turkey burger in Portland.  I can't really say what prompted this.  I guess it is partly due to wanting-and needing-to eat healthier and partly because I like to try new things.

So far, I have had two.  I knew not to expect much from the first one.  After all, food in a seedy bar is rarely 5-star quality.  It was a disappointing first experience as it was really salty.  The second one was from Burgerville, a local fast food chain that prides itself on using local vendors as much as possible.  Their food is pretty good, but the turkey burger was pretty bland.  So the last time I was at the grocery store, I decided to get some ground turkey and make my own someday.

Last Sunday, I decided a turkey burger made on the grill (George Foreman, but close enough), French fries and corn would be a great end of summer dinner.  I needed a few burger fixings and set off for the store.  I was thinking I should go to WinCo as it is less expensive than Fred Meyer, but in the end Freddies won out.  They typically have better produce but more importantly than that, they have a Starbucks.

I had finished my shopping-gathering the items, that is.  I still needed to pay.  I was in line at Starbucks waiting for my frappucino when a couple came in the front doors of the store.  I recognized them immediately:  it was James' old roommate-and one time best friend-and his wife.  I almost called out to them.  I haven't seen them since the funeral.  Like me, they live not far from Freddies so it's kind of weird that it took over 2 1/2 years for me to run into them.  It was on the tip of my tongue to call out their names and instead, I turned my head.  I hoped they wouldn't see me.  And they didn't.

It was a weird experience.  Here were two people that had once been our best "couple" friends and I didn't want them to know I was only a few feet away from them.  There had been a falling out several years ago when they went through a rough patch.  James did not agree with how he treated her during that time.  And then when I asked an innocent question about a basketball rule and he bit my head off in response and practically made me cry, James cut off all ties.  This was during the time we were in Arizona so it wasn't hard to end that relationship.  But then we moved back and by that time, they had reconciled.  James wanted to repair his friendship with her, but she chose her husband.  I remember sitting at opposite ends of the couch, cross-legged facing each other-our serious discussion position-discussing whether or not to try to mend fences with him.  We decided to give it a go; he wasn't willing to meet us halfway.  So we let it go.

I knew I had to tell them when James died-that it was the right thing to do.  They were one of the last to know-I had a hard time getting her to call me back and that wasn't something I wanted to leave on an answering machine.  I don't really remember them at the funeral, but they came up to me at the reception with a picture of James that used to be on their fridge and said it should have been included in the slide show.  I know more was said but that is all I remember.  It's amazing I even remember that much, truth be told.

I got my coffee and went to pay for my groceries.  I tentatively looked down each aisle before crossing it trying to avoid them.  I didn't want an awkward conversation about how I'm doing and what they have been up to for the last 2 + years.  I didn't want to agree to a get together that would never happen or make a false promise that I would call if I needed them.  That time has past.  What I wanted was to go home and tell James who I ran into at the store-which of course I couldn't do.  It put me in a weird frame of mind for the rest of the day.  A week later, I'm still not really sure how I feel about it but I do know I don't care to rekindle that relationship.  That ship has sailed.  If I do run into them again, I will be civil but I won't seek them out.  I think James knows this.  I think he would understand and he would be disappointed that they-especially she-was not there for me when I needed his friends the most.

James would not have been disappointed in the turkey burger that led me to almost run into them at the store, however.  It turns out I make a damn good one.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Oh Boy

Way back in March, I briefly met a guy through the fun Meetup group at a showing of "Easy Rider" (I so did NOT see that ending coming) at the Portland Art Museum.  It was a brief encounter and I thought nothing of it.  At the time, I was still wondering if I would ever be ready to date and still had some pretty huge walls up (as compared to the not quite as tall walls I have built up now).

I ran into him again at our group's monthly potluck and book club discussion in May.  ("Catcher in the Rye."  Hated it).  Again, it was a brief meeting with really no interaction although I did learn a couple of things about him in the course of the discussion about the book.  I thought he was kind of shy with a really cute smile and a name I would never be able to pronounce.  (He's Indian.  As in from India, not Native American).

At the end of June, he came to one of the volunteer projects I hosted at the Food Bank.  The group of us went out for drinks afterward-I figured it was the least we could do as he drove a little over an hour (each way) for a 2-hour project.  (It feels really weird to say "went out for drinks" when I'm allergic to alcohol).

In July, he co-hosted an event with the main organizer of the fun group:  a potluck and outdoor screening of "Up in the Air."  (I love that I can access past months of the group's calendar online).  We have a lot of potlucks in this group.  We joke it is how the main organizer does his grocery shopping.  At this event, he came up and gave me a big hug, but I didn't really get a chance to talk to him.  I had friends there and he was busy running the projector equipment.  It was pretty late when the movie ended and I didn't stay for too long as I was pretty tired. 

As I have been broadening my horizons by joining other groups, I have noticed he's in a lot of the same groups as I am.  Last month, when I went to my first event with the 30's Group, he was a welcome sight as the only person there that I had already met.  We got into a discussion about books but he left before I had a chance to mention a book I have that I thought he might enjoy.  So I e-mailed him about it and he did think he would enjoy it and offered to lend me a couple of his in return.  I replied with which ones I wouldn't mind reading.  And that was the end of that.  He never responded to my second e-mail so I wrote him off.  Ever since James died, I am really quick to write people off if they disappoint me (except NLNG-the one person I should write off).

And then I ran into him Friday at a Meetup event for a dog lovers group.  Because Mother Nature apparently did not get the memo this is supposed to be summer, it was chilly.  We ended up sharing my blanket.  (Guess who ended up with most of it?  Yep, he who made fun of me for being so bundled up).  There were only 5 of us that went to the movie and afterward, he and I went for a drink.  (The Lucky Lab has really good lemonade).  We were there for just under 2 hours and I swear in that time, I learned more about him than I have about NLNG in 5 1/2 months (saw him this weekend too.  He called me "Sweetie."  First time he has used a pet name.  Not really sure where that came from or what to do with it).  I had already picked up a few things along the way:  he likes movies, likes to read (yea), would not only support my volunteer efforts but on occasion would join me (yea), loves dogs (BIG yea), and he might be the only person I have ever met that talks faster than I do-which is pretty fast.  I also learned that he is only 29-yikes!! (coo coo ca choo, Mrs. Robinson).  I didn't learn anything about him that made me want to run screaming from the pub.  Actually, I want to learn more about him-especially his culture.  And how to pronounce his last name.  I think it might be the same as the one (tangible) thing I am terrified of.  During the conversation, I told him about Schoolhouse Supplies (when you have two people who talk at warp-speed, you can cover a lot of ground in 2 hours).  Saturday, he went out and bought supplies to donate to them.  Now we are trying to work out how he is going to get them to me.

I drove home thinking that was how I remembered it being with James-and how it should feel even though this wasn't a date.  This is not how it feels with NLNG.  With him, conversation feels like a chore.  I can't get him to open up to me and now that I know the type of guy I would like to date exists, it makes me really feel like I would be settling if I tried to make it work with NLNG.  The only problem is NLNG is the one that is (sometimes) interested and this other guy is not.  And I don't know when or if another other guy is going to enter my life.  I have known this guy for 6 months and have no reason to think he is or ever will be interested in me-maybe if I was 25 and never married instead of 36 and widowed I would have a better chance.

When I got home Friday night (okay, technically it was Saturday morning, but just barely), I found myself telling God that was the type of person I wanted to meet.  "Technically, you already have" said the little voice in my head.  I can't argue that's not a good point.  So I amended it to he's the type of person I want to meet who is also looking to meet me.  Apparently, specifics are required.  It does give me hope though that one day, I will meet someone who instead of frustrating and confusing me makes my heart sing again.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

31 Months and the Red Purse

Friday after work I met two of my best Meetup friends at Washington Square Mall for dinner at the Cheesecake Factory followed by shopping for "go out" clothes I could wear to speed dating and other events.  I'm a very casual person and they think I dress "too old."  In addition to needing new clothes, I wanted to go with someone who would force me to step out of my shell.  Casual non-descript clothes are just one more thing I hide behind so I can stay neatly tucked away unnoticed on the sidelines of life.  We had finished shopping and were walking down to Starbucks when my purse suddenly felt lighter.  The strap had broken-probably from too much weight-and there was no way to fix it.  I figured it was Labor Day weekend-I had three days to get a new one.  I have a couple of small purses that hold the essentials for when I go out and don't want to lug around the "Mom" purse.  I ended up just using one of those over the weekend and never made it out to get a new one. 

In my last post, I mentioned an incident that took place on Saturday in which a member of one of my Meetup groups took it upon himself to text another member of the group, a good friend of mine, that I showed up to his Meetup with a date and made it clear I was not with the group.  I felt this was very inappropriate.  I'm not really sure what to do about this.  He has been told I am not interested (more than once).  I have been wondering if I need to say something to the organizer of the group (who was the one who told me about the crush in the first place) that he may be someone we have to keep in eye on before he develops crushes on other women in the group and drives them away; he's a nice guy when you meet him but he's very pushy and icky when you actually get to know him.

I was thinking about this yesterday at work and was stewing about what I felt to be a huge invasion of my privacy.  I found myself picturing a conversation with the organizer in which I said that I am 36 years old, I am single and it has been 2 1/2 years since James died so I have certainly waited long enough by societies standards to test the waters again.  That it has actually been almost 31 months and I was free to do what I wanted and it was no one's business and no one had a right to broadcast it.

And then I looked at the calendar.  And I saw that it was the 7th.  It wasn't "almost" 31 months.  It was 31 months and 1 day.  The 6th had come and gone.  And I missed it.  For the first time in 31 months, I was not aware of the day.  It wasn't looming over me.  It wasn't a reminder.  It was just another day.  And this felt good.  It felt like a definite sign of healing, of moving forward, of being ready for what comes next.  I practically felt giddy.  I e-mailed a friend.  I texted my two widower friends for validation this was a good thing.  And then the guilt hit.  How could I forget?  Does this mean I don't love him enough?  Logically, I realize this is a good thing.  Today, I have mixed feelings which I will have to discuss with the therapist on Monday.  I want to talk about him more than usual anyway-I can't really explain it, but I feel that he is one more thing I am somehow hiding behind.  I wonder what he would think about me being completely unaware of the 6th?

Today at lunch, I had to go to Fred Meyer.  I decided to get a new purse while I was there.  I'm pretty disappointed the other one broke.  I really liked it-it was practical, both brown and black so I didn't have to worry about switching it out.  (Because that is so not me).  And I liked the style.  It was cloth with a leather bottom and a leather strap with a zippered main pocket and a zippered side pocket for easy access to the things I need the most and a back pocket to cram receipts and coupons into.  I found it's "twin" on the shelf and then found it's "siblings"-same style just all leather instead of cloth.  I really like the purse and thought maybe the leather version would be stronger than the cloth.  So I picked up the sensible brown one and put it in the cart.  And then I picked up the dark red one.  I liked the dark red one.  Really liked it.  But it wasn't sensible-it won't "go" with most of my clothes (Heaven forbid).  So I put it back and stepped away.  I took three steps and said "Screw it."  I put back the sensible brown purse and bought the totally bold and out of character for me red one. 

Walking towards the cash register, I noticed the overhead music was "Kiss Me" by Sixpence None the Richer-our recessional song and the only song for our wedding we had picked out.  I got into the car and when I started it, the song on the radio was Gary Glitter's "Rock and Roll, Part 2"-James' favorite song. 

Driving back to work all I could think was that we're good and James approves of the red purse.

Round 3

I determined NLNG did not spend a month in a coma and was not abducted by aliens.  Therefore, that was it.  No Round 3.  Time to move on to greener (or in my case drier) pastures.  Time to get back to just having fun and seeing where this road is taking me.  He was deleted completely from my phone and completely from my life.  I resolved for the billionth time I was done with him.  And for the billionth time he came back.  Seriously, what is it with this guy?!  I could understand once or twice as fluky coincidences.  But Every. Single. Time? Really?  (And then there's also the whole issue of me not really believing in coincidences).

I was done.  Have I mentioned that?  And then right after I told a friend that, I logged on to my Meetup account to check the calendar so I could schedule something.  I did this 2 minutes after he RSVP'd "maybe" for an event I was hosting on 8/21.  I didn't react (well, at least not to him.  My co-workers would say otherwise).  He didn't end up going, and I felt relieved when he changed it at the last minute to "no" with the comment "Can't make it :("  I wasn't surprised.  "Maybes" are generally considered to be "nos" and the event was an 1860's re-eanctment baseball game.  He doesn't like to watch sports.  Later that evening, he RSVP'd "yes" to an event I was thinking about going to but had not RSVP'd to yet.

On the 25th, I decided to take my therapist's advice and have my eyebrows waxed.  She thinks I have beautiful eyes and that I hide them.  (She thinks I hide behind a lot of things).  It was a whim and it didn't go well from my perspective.  The swelling made me feel like I looked like an angry monkey.  Even when the swelling went down, I still thought I looked like I was scowling.  It turns out I have a scar on the right side that my eyebrows have always hidden thanks to "Heather vs. the Really Heavy Wood Coffee Table" when I was three.  And apparently, I'm the only one who sees the scowl.  So, I was having a crisis over the whole brow thing and furiously texting back and forth with two friends and trying to take a self-portrait with my cell phone (not as easy thing to do it turns out) so I could show them the horror when I got a text message from NLNG asking me to let him know when I posted my next movie or similar Meetup event.  (Complete with a smiley face).  And then he sent me a butt-text.  And then I smashed and probably broke my pinky toe, which seemed like a fitting way to end the night.  (This is the third toe I've "probably" broken.  James heard one snap and I still deny I broke it.  But that's mainly because I don't want to admit I broke my toe trying to do a cartwheel at the age of 28).

But before the toe vs. the carpet shampooer incident, I texted him back letting him know he butt-texted me and I was thinking about posting a movie for the following week but didn't think it was one he'd want to see ("Eclipse."  Team Jacob.  Enough said).  End of conversation.  Until...

After mulling it over (i.e. talking to my co-workers), I decided not to let his going to the event I wanted to go to on the 27th stop me from going.  A lot of my favorite people were going to be there.  So I went.  And so did he.  He gave me a hug and said it was good to see me again.  I lent him my extra chair and shared my blanket with him.  After the movie ("The Blind Side"), I said my good-byes and left without looking back.  It was late and I had to get up early the next day.  I had an 8:00 chiropractor appointment followed by my first outing with the photography Meetup group (Swan Island Dahlia Festival) followed by stopping by Mt. Tabor to take pictures of members of the fun Meetup group playing Capture the Flag.

After I got home, I decided to go see a funk band play (yep, another Meetup event with the fun group).  I was about to walk out the door when I got a text from NLNG inviting me over to watch a movie.  I thanked him but said I had other plans.  The next day, I sent him a text to see how his movie was, which led to a conversation that we should go see the newly re-released "Avatar" in 3D.  His last text came when I was already in bed; I sent my response agreeing to go the next morning (8/30).

And then I heard nothing.  On 9/1, I joined a speed dating Meetup group and asked my friends to take me shopping for new speed dating appropriate clothes.  On 9/2, I had a volunteer shift for Schoolhouse Supplies manning the donation barrels at the free Oregon Symphony Concert down on the waterfront.  The whole way there, I told myself I was only doing speed dating to practice talking to guys and that I needed to find a way to not be so disappointed when I didn't get any matches.  I thought about how I have a ton of questions for my friend who has done this and how I should probably ask him before I interrogate him. 

I was people watching on my shift and thinking that I needed to just delete the latest round of text messages and I need to meet someone with whom I am not going to be constantly playing games or testing each other.  Someone with whom I can have a healthy relationship.  I look to my right.  And there he is standing no more than 20 feet away.  "For the love of God, you have got to be kidding me."  I look again.  Yep, that is definitely him.  I look up to the Universe.  "Seriously?!  What did I DO to you?!?!"  Every.  Single.  Time.  (It's almost comical at this point because really, what else can I do but laugh-besides bang my head on the wall).  He starts walking my way.  I decide to not get his attention.  I decide to just let him go.  I'm standing right next to an entryway.  He's focused on his iPhone.  He almost walks right by me and at the last second looks up and sees me.  (At this point, I'm pretty pissed off about being blown off not once, but twice).

I admit I was more than a bit frosty to him.  I'm not proud of this (now.  I was acting out of anger then).  He asked me to join him when I was done volunteering.  I told him my allergy meds were wearing off and I was going to go home and stick my head in the oven (the schizo weather had been wreaking havoc on my sinuses-still is).  He seemed disappointed.  Said to call him if I changed my mind.  The concert started and I found myself enjoying the music.  So I stayed.  And we had a good time.  He walked me back to my car; I gave him a ride home.  We agreed to see "Avatar" on Saturday (9/4).

Friday, I sent him the theater info and the correct show time (as promised).  I suggested a time to meet in the lobby.  I got no response.  The fun Meetup group was going as well, so I knew if nothing else I could watch it with them.  An hour before we were supposed to meet, he sent me a text saying he'd see me soon in the lobby.

I got there first and ran into the Meetup group.  The Org for that event has a crush on me.  He has been told that I am not interested-more than once.  He had waved to me from the parking lot; I told him I didn't see him waving and wasn't with the group.  He kept insisting I was.  When it was his turn to buy his ticket, I escaped to the bathroom.  NLNG was waiting when I came back out.  When Pushy Meetup Guy saw us together, he texted one of my best friends from the group to let her know I was on a date (she knew).  I'm guessing he was hoping she'd say it was nothing serious-even though she told him (again) the night before I have said I am not interested in dating him.  This really annoyed me.  He really needs to leave my life alone.

After the movie and lunch, NLNG walked me to my car, gave me a hug and said he'd see me real soon.  On my way home,  I thought about how busy I had been lately and that it would be nice to stay home and watch movies.  I sent him a text inviting him over.  He asked if we could do Sunday instead.  That was fine-3D is an awesome effect, but it did make me sick to my stomach and gave him a headache.  I suggested 7:00.  I heard nothing until he showed up around 7:15.

I tried to ask him why he has his guard up-why he has built up such strong walls.  All I got was an acknowledgment that I was right about that.  He left around 1:00 saying he'd see me again "real soon."  I'm not holding my breath.  Yesterday, I joined another singles Meetup group.  I figure it'll be another month before I hear from him again.

I was asked why I keep going back.  The obvious is that I'm lonely and he's the only one (with whom there is mutual interest) that is asking.  The not so obvious is that I like the parts I have seen when the walls have come down a bit.  What if behind the walls is a really great guy and I let that go too soon?  And I really can't get past him showing up every time I resolve to be done and actually take steps to move forward.  (That goes back to that whole not believing in coincidences quirk of mine).

He'll be back.  In the meantime, I'm just going to keep doing my thing.  Hopefully, one of these times he will come back to find that he's too late-that I have met someone else and have moved on.