About seven months ago…
After Friday’s disappointing ending, I continued to work through the weekend.
Saturday afternoon, Chi-guy brought his daughter to the public venue in which I was managing a promotion. I had gone back to my hotel room to change into warmer clothes for the evening. He texted me to see if I was around. I let him know that I was on my way back. When I got there, I had a few fires to put out, then finally checked back in with him. By that time, his over-tired child had caused him to leave. We had missed each other entirely.
“Will I see you again this weekend?” I texted. He didn’t respond.
I finally reached a girlfriend. “Tell me about it,” she said.
She listened and, at various points, said, “He said that?…But that’s good, right? That’s a good thing!” And then, “Clearly he knew what you thought was going to happen, and it was cowardly of him to do what he did. He’s hurting and sometimes men aren’t able to perform physically for a while after divorce, so it may be that he didn’t want to let you down. You can’t make assumptions or judgements right now. Will you see him again? Can you tell him that you’re confused and ask him about it?”
I would absolutely ask him about it; we had been candid enough with one another for that.
I didn’t hear from Chi-guy for the rest of the weekend. More than once, while back in my hotel room, I wept. This was about more to me than this particular guy. His polite brush-off of my advances had merely triggered all the pain, insecurity and baggage about rejection, being unwanted and unattractive that had built up in the last months of my marriage. He told me he found me attractive; he told me he wasn’t rejecting me; he told me he liked me. Despite all that, these ugly feelings poured out and into the open. Why? Because actions speak louder than words, and I had all-too-easily leapt to some unhealthy conclusions about what his actions meant.
Monday was Chi-guy’s birthday. I posted a greeting on his Facebook wall. I spent my morning on an architectural boat tour of the city, wishing that Chi-guy and I were enjoying it together. My longing, I have to admit, had more to do with commiseration or sympathy — misery loves company, after all — than with any desire for relationship.
When my cab pulled up to my home that afternoon, my son crawled into my lap before I’d even gotten out, as I was paying the driver. I immediately felt more grounded. Of course, the birthday gift, Manhood for Amateurs by Michael Chabon, that I had intended to hand-deliver to Chi-guy had arrived at my home. I unpacked my bags and focused on my children for the afternoon.
But I had also been thinking about this mess with Chi-guy. We had spent a really nice day together on Friday, and I was carrying around a lot of hurt based on a misunderstanding. I decided to set my own pain and baggage aside. It was his birthday and only a complete jerk would not call to wish him a happy one.
As my children and I drove to a late-day appointment, I dialed Chi-guy, fully anticipating that he would let my call go to voicemail. To my surprise, he answered.
“I wanted to wish you a happy birthday,” I said.
“How are you?” he asked immediately.
“I’m better, more grounded, now that I’m home. I really can’t talk right now, but what I can say is that I needed you to be much more clear with me about where you were at.”
“That’s fair,” he said. “I’m sorry.”
“I was really confused, and I’m still confused and you pushed some buttons that brought up some baggage I need to deal with, and I’m hoping we can talk about it later.”
“I’d like that,” he said.
What guy ever says he’d “like” to talk about my feelings and confusion and some awkwardness that transpired?! This was certainly not what I’d expected to hear. I let him know that his gift had arrived and that I would send it.
Later, Chi-guy texted me: “Sorry about the BS this weekend. You’re a good woman and you deserve better.”