Saturday, October 15, 2011

Now What

A few weeks ago I wrote a note to the Canadian. And then I waited to see what would happen next. I thought that a few days or even a week might go by before I heard anything back from him. But the next morning when I logged into Facebook, there was a message from him. After a few e-mails and some harmless flirtation we agreed to meet for dinner and drinks.

Every time I am going to see the Canadian, I feel this nervous energy. It is a combination of anticipation and fear. He is by far the most attractive person I have ever dated. But it is more than just attraction. Being around him pushes me out of my comfort zone. I have always proudly characterized myself as the girl next door, with an edge. But when he is around I feel like I need just a little more edge. Maybe a small hidden tattoo or a belly ring.

The first time we ever went out was when I was 20 years old. I was in college and still living with my parents. When he came to the door to pick me up, I was upstairs getting dressed. I wore a long sleeved v-neck black blouse with tiny pearl buttons up the front and a black pleated mini skirt with white polka dots. At the time, I am sure I was feeling pretty sexy with my skirt well above the knee. He says that I reminded him of Gidget as I bounced downstairs to greet him that night.

Now here we are 20 years later and I was getting ready for another first date. The Canadian and I have become experts at having great first dates over the past few years, as we weave in and out of each others lives. In my experience, things start to go downhill around date number three.

In the days leading up to our big date, I noticed one thing was different. For the first time, I didn't feel that sense of nervous anticipation. In fact, I was completely calm. He arrived at my doorstep with a bottle of wine and gave me a quick hug as he stepped into the house.

We spent the first two hours sitting on the couch drinking wine and talking. Conversations with the Canadian are always fascinating. He is the special kind of liberal that you can only come to be when you live in a country with socialized medicine and mandatory recycling programs. And he is an avid conspiracy theorist, whether it is who killed Kennedy or the 911 terror plots. We share a common mistrust of authority figures, as well as a hatred of all things Walmart.

Eventually we headed out into the world to grab a bite to eat and then we played a few games of pool at a local bar. By the time we got back to my house it was 1:30 AM and I was exhausted. I asked if he was going to drive home and he said that he was hoping he could stay. He offered to sleep on the couch if I didn't want him to come to bed, but I invited him up with me.

I was surprised at how easily he snuggled into position, spooning me from behind. As I drifted off to sleep, I could tell that he was happy.

The next morning, I started to think about all of the things that were left unsaid from the night before, especially the part about me having a boyfriend. As we slowly started to wake up, the Canadian and I engaged in a little pillow talk.

"So, are you dating anyone?" I asked casually.

"No," he replied. "I really don't have time to date."

"Well, I am dating someone," I said matter of factly.

"Does he make you happy?" he asked.

"Sometimes," I said. Then I told him about my problems with the Boy and how much I miss having someone I can really talk to. Its funny because the whole evening with the Canadian was really about conversation. While there were also romantic undertones, we barely even kissed each other. And we slept in the same bed without having sex.

"You know, I tried to date a few people this past year," he began. "But I have trust issues. Every time it felt like we were getting too close I would stop and push them away. I am so used to relying on myself. I don't know how to let another person in."

"I know," I reminded him. "You did that to me too."

"I'm sorry. You know I really tried not to do that with you," he explained. "After I stopped seeing you the last time, I did not go out for four months. I just went to work and went home to bed. It was miserable."

After our conversation, I got up to brush my teeth and waited for the Canadian to follow suit. But he didn't. Instead he asked me to come back to bed and just lay with him for a few more minutes until it was time to go. Then he got dressed, kissed me goodbye and left. Another perfect first date.

A few days later, I sent him a quick note to thank him for dinner. Later that afternoon the Canadian replied: An evening for the soul! Thank you. You always make me feel good. Enjoy work this week. It makes me feel so good that you are doing what you love. You will make a difference.

Whenever I start to doubt whether what I have with the Canadian is real, all I have to do is read that message to remind me. But just because what we have is real, doesn't mean that it can become a reality. In fact, I am pretty sure that it can't.

In reality, I've been dating the Boy for almost two years and he has never said or done anything to make me feel like the Canadian did with that note. I try to give the Boy credit because he keeps showing up. But I am starting to realize that just showing up isn't enough for me anymore.

My relationship with the Boy is starting to crumble. And it is not entirely the Boy's fault. When I met him I was looking for someone I could go out and have fun with. Now all I want is someone that I can stay home and talk to. The rules of the game have changed. And the Boy does not have any of the necessary equipment to play.

So here I am once again, contemplating the future of my relationship with the Boy. It seems like I only have two options. Stay in a relationship that does not fulfill my needs or spend a long cold winter alone, wondering if I should have given the Boy one more chance.

I am a smart, attractive and successful 40 year old woman. How can these be my only choices?

Last night I re-activated my old account on eHarmony. I am not really sure why I did it. Maybe I was just drawn to the promise of "chemistry" and a "strong intellectual connection" with your soul mate, as prominently featured in their advertisements. I updated the match settings to allow them to send me new matches.

Today, I got an e-mail from eHarmony with seven new matches representing my potential soul mates. I scrolled through the list and saw a familiar name in the profiles. It seems that eHarmony thinks that I would be a perfect match for my sister's ex husband. Of all the thousands of people in their database, eHarmony tried to match me with the biggest asshole living within a five mile radius of my house.

Well, I guess that answers my question. So, now what.


Anonymous said...

The universe does work in mysterious ways ... so in answer to your question, it seems you got another question (your ending line!) Look forward to reading more about how you answer it.

Anonymous said...

At the end of the book You Can't Go Home Again by Thomas Wolfe the protagonist says "You can't go back home to your family, back home to your childhood ... back home to a young man's dreams of glory and of fame ... back home to places in the country, back home to the old forms and systems of things which once seemed everlasting but which are changing all the time — back home to the escapes of Time and Memory." Many use this to focus on the future, but the future can include bits of the past we want to bring along with us.