Part 4 – Uncomfortably Numb
By the time John contacted me, I was a cynical, bitter, hopeless twenty-something. I had given up on love… on happiness. I was miserable. I was in therapy. [Which was nothing more than some dude sitting there while I yammered on about how I was afraid I would be alone forever and if I just had someone to love – and someone who loved me back – I’d be all better. Yes, I really believed that. God, I was so stupid.]
But from his email, John seemed like a decent guy. So despite the extremely negative attitude I had by this point, I figured I should meet him. I guess I still had some hope buried deep inside me somewhere. Probably down at my toes or something.
I sent John my phone number. And he called. We had a nice conversation. It wasn’t earthshattering in a good way or a bad way. But I was okay with him calling me again, which he said he would do so we could make plans to meet.
Days. And days. And more days.
Well, fuck. Another lying jerk. Shocking.
It was a cold Saturday afternoon in February… one week before dreaded Valentine’s Day. I’d been lazing around most of the day, disinterested in seeing anyone or going anywhere or even changing out of those sweatpants. When the phone rang, I didn’t feel like answering, but I did, expecting my mom.
Hi. It’s John.
Well, fuck. When he said he’d call me again, did he really mean almost two weeks later? Because I was certain he was gone for good before we even met.
I’m so sorry it took so long for me to call you. I woke up so sick the day after we first talked. I haven’t been to work since. I’ve barely been out of bed.
That’s okay. I did kind of think I’d never hear from you again…
I was afraid you were going to think that. I’m sorry.
No, really, we haven’t even met. Don’t worry about it.
Did I believe him about his illness? I don’t know, but I had no reason not to. I let it slide and he asked me if I wanted to meet for dinner.
Because I’m a masochist, I agreed.
Deep breath. Okay, here we go again.
I sat at the bar waiting for my soda. Yeah, just a soda. I wanted to be in full control of my [few] inhibitions. As is to be expected, the moment I took a sip of my soda, and therefore had a mouthful, a guy walked up to the bar and spoke my name. I was mildly startled and almost choked.
Once I managed to swallow, I confirmed my identity… and his. So this was John.
Tall-ish. In my dreams, he’d have been taller.
Dark hair. In my dreams, he’d have had more of it.
Not a bad looking guy. In my dreams, he’d have been drop-dead gorgeous.
I didn’t have a feeling. I didn’t have a racing heart or a flustered head or a stirring in any other part of me. Maybe I had succeeded in making myself numb. Or maybe it just wasn’t magic. I figured I was never going to get the magic. Which made me sad… disappointed. And that wasn’t entirely about him. I think most of that was about me.
I’ve always been a romantic. For as long as I can remember, I’ve dreamt of that perfect beautiful man who makes me melt the moment I lay eyes on him. The man who makes me fall in love the moment I know him. The man who makes my heart race whenever he walks into the room. The man who falls madly in love with every single thing about me, even the things I hate about me. The man who makes me feel like nothing is missing anymore.
I spent so long building up this imaginary perfect man… this perfect feeling… this perfect love. I became almost obsessed with it. And no man, no emotion could live up to any of it. Yet I still dreamt of it… still wanted it.
But life is not a fairy tale. My life is not a fairy tale. I had to stop waiting for one to materialize. I knew it was never going to happen.
John and I had a nice night. We had dinner and we went for a walk in the city. He seemed to really like me which amazed me because I was hopelessly bitter. I may have even been a little bitchy. Not toward him. But I know I was not my charming self. My attitude sucked. How could he be so nice to me? I didn’t deserve it. Maybe that was what endeared him to me. He saw something in me that must have been very well-hidden. I’m not sure how he found it.
I let him drive me home. I invited him in and leaned on him while we watched Saturday Night Live. It felt good having him there. And I couldn’t believe he was still with me. Maybe I wasn’t quite the moody bitch I thought I was. Or maybe he was as desperate to stop being alone as I was. [I would later discover that there was some truth to this.]
Kissing happened. And a little bit of curious touching. But it was late. And I didn’t want another strictly physical involvement. Not that he was necessarily pushing for it. In fact, I got the impression he didn’t want to go too fast either. I could already tell he didn’t just fool around. He was a relationship guy. And that’s what I wanted.
Part 5 – What is Love?
[Cue Howard Jones.]