August 31, 2011

The prairie, part one

He had his arms around me, and I had my arms on top of his. I lightly tapped my fingers on his biceps.

Are you counting?

Sort of. Counting down. Building up the strength to say what I need to say.

An exceptionally deep inhale, and tumbling out with the breath came the words I had rehearsed over and over for nearly twenty-four hours, as well as a deluge of tears.

I got the job...

He frowned and bit his lip, and I continued.

... and I want you to come with me.

Clearly I need to backtrack a bit.

On July 2, Matt and I went on a date to the library. We picked out a few CDs, then went back to his place to listen to them and have sex. A pretty standard date for us, it was also one of the first times when I started to doubt his committment, and I left feeling confused and unsure.

So, on July 3, as I continued to apply for jobs, I applied to one in New York, one in New Jersey, and one in California. I decided that nothing was keeping me in Chicago.

On July 24, enough finally became enough, and I broke up with Matt. I cried for the better part of the day, grieving the loss of something I had hoped so dearly would turn out to be a good thing.

So, on July 25, I reactivated my online dating profile. I had only been seeing Matt for about six weeks, and I decided that one day was long enough to let the kid make me feel lousy. I thought my footing was secure but it wasn't, and I fell; I needed to get right back on the horse, so to speak.

Interestingly enough, on that very same day, I got a message from a boy. He fit pretty much none of my criteria - the biggest deals being that he was younger than me (freshly 23 to my nearly-done-with 24) and lived out in the Chicago suburbs (tough when I don't drive) - but I decided to message him back anyway because he looked cute and the site said we were a 95% match. (To put that into comparison, Jon and I were 72% and Matt and I were 78%). His name was Bobby, and he looked kind of like Seth Rogen.

One little message turned into two. Then three. Five. A dozen. After two weeks, we'd sent each other over three dozen emails - substantial ones, we're talking pages and pages. And there was no end in sight - the conversations were never slow, but he was also not pushing a physical meetup. Which is strange, really, because with online dating, most guys send one or two messages and then move things offline. Finally, I made the move and asked him to hang out.

We met downtown at the train station, and despite my excitement and the anticipatory butterflies in my stomach, it was not love at first sight. I don't know what it was, but I didn't feel the connection we'd had online. We walked down to Millennium Park and heard an orchestra rehearse for the next night's concert, then walked to another part of the park and played Would You Rather? to get to know each other a little better. We also used the Truth or Dare app on his phone, truths only. I had a good night, but left him at the train station feeling really unsure about what would happen next. Part of my confusion, I think, came from the fact that we hung out for nearly eight hours and he didn't try any funny business - we left at the station with a hug, and it was the first physical contact all day. I'm just not used to nice guys, I guess.

We had discussed my visiting the suburbs two days later, a day when I also had plans with a former student of mine. This student is someone I've promised blog posts about in the past - I had a bit of a crush on him over the course of the second semester of last year, and he and I got very close since the end of school. He's actually why I started thinking about Richard again, because I see a lot of Richard in Mike - he's cute, funny, and inappropriate, and my feelings are unrequited. I got back in touch with Richard and explained about Mike, about wanting to make sure I didn't throw away a great friendship just because the relationship might not turn out to be exactly what I wanted it to be.

I was torn. Mike asked me to cook with him at his apartment, but Bobby asked me to take the commuter rail out to the suburbs with no real plans besides "hang out." I ended up choosing the latter, and am endlessly glad I did.

When my train got to the station, I saw him waiting on the platform, and it was still a very confusing and uncertain feeling. As we spent the day listening to music and talking, though, something changed. I can't pinpoint the moment, but that day I felt more comfortable and happier than I had in a very long time. We watched a movie, then went downtown - there's a long walking path along a river through his town, and we strolled along it, chatting as I took in the scenery.

And there was a kiss. As far as first kisses go, it was remarkable. He first took my hand and lifted it to his lips, kissing it very softly. I giggled a little, unsure of what to make of it.

Is something funny?

No, this is just really cute.

Okay, good. Get used to things like this.

Then he kissed my cheek, right along the jawbone. Pulled back, looked at me, and then - a real kiss. It was the magical, fireworks kind of kiss I always saw in movies and hoped would actually be real for me someday.

That was August 11.

On August 12, I got an email from the coordinator of the foreign language program at a university in California - the one I had applied to after my lousy date with Matt. If I still was interested in the position, they wanted to schedule an interview as soon as possible. I said yes, of course, and the interview was set for Monday.

I told Bobby, and he very calmly said we'd figure out what to do after the interview. He came to the city two days after the email (the day before the interview), and we had a pretty fantastic day of movie watching, healthy cooking, and making out like crazy. It was perfect, in the sense that kissing was the only expectation for the day. These were little kisses stolen during breaks in the movies, soft touches without harmful intent. It didn't feel like with other guys, when they kiss you and you can tell they're just passing time until they can go further and get what they really want.

Later that night, as I walked him back to the commuter rail station, we held hands and both bit our lips as we waited for the train to arrive. I let out a very deep exhale, and he did too. I asked him about it.

What are you thinking?

Nothing, just feeling uneasy. [silence] About the same thing you're uneasy about.

And I started to bawl. And he started to cry. And we held each other on the train platform, and I told him

This is so shitty. I just found you, and now I might lose you.

No, you won't. Keep smiling, and do well on your interview, and then we'll see what happens next.

This is turning out to be a longer post than I thought ... part two tomorrow, the dramatic conclusion. The interview, the prairie, the proposal.


Kelliann said...

Wow - this is so amazing... I can't wait to read tomorrow. :-)

Charlotte said...

Oh, my gosh, I have goosebumps...
Can`t wait for tomorrow!

Joy said...

Geez girl, you could be a romance writer....and a sequel too!!!When is the book out?

melanie said...

You're such a great writer .. can't wait for part two! :)

Caron said...

More, please. :)

Shannon said...

He sounds SO nice! I can't wait to hear more!

Stacey said...

The suspense is killing can't wait to read tomorrow!

Love your writing skills!

Tim said...

Nooooooooo you can't leave it at that! Tell us now!!!!!!! LOL

finnj73 said...

Can't wait for the next part

Ashley said...

My goodness, Mary! I've certainly missed a lot in my absence! I'll have to catch up on your posts soon.

Denise said...

I need it to be tomorrow already. Fantastic.

Amy said...

Way to give into the suspenseful posting. SO unfair. I love epic love stories.

Particularly when I think I might be in Act 1 of my own.

Meghan said...

Wow. Can't wait to read more!!

Hope you're enjoying Cali!!!

Donald Wells said...

Oh no, not a cliffhanger.
This is even more suspenseful than "Who shot J.R.?"

Fangirl Says/Monica said...

I can't wait to find out what happens!

Poison said...

OMG OMG OMG!!!! The suspense is killing me!!!!! I'm in all out sappy girl mode now. I hope he said yes!!! lol.

marisol said...

Is it tomorrow yet? :)

Pirate Alice said...

OMG! Mary!!! I've completely fallen behind on all my blog reading! Congratulations on getting the job! I can't wait to read part 2!! I'm so so so happy for you!!!! (you can't hear it but I'm squee-ing!)