Sunday, February 3, 2013

Bootstraps and Panties

Well, I drank the Night Train. Rather,I am currently drinking the Night Train. That means it is time to put thischapter to rest and let the next one unfold.

You see, back in November I startedtalking to this guy online. It was right around Thanksgiving. I had done onlinedating last winter and then put my focus on myself for thesummer and fall. Oh, and the ABC boys. And work. And work. And work. Butsomething about the holidays always has a way of reminding me just how single Iam. So in a moment of weakness, I reactivated my account. Not two days later, Iwent back on and cancelled it. But the thing is, I had already paid for amonth, so they were going to give it to me anyhow. Whatever. I didn’t have timeto date, plus none of my initial matches struck my fancy. It was just the dayafter I had decided to ignore my impulse purchase that I got an email from agreat looking guy out in Stevens Point.

I was busy with holiday stuff, plus mycomputer was acting up and my iPad isn’t really compatible with the datingsite. So we exchanged a few emails here and there, but after two weeks Idecided to just give him my number. He was going to be in the area for abachelor party and wanted beer recommendations. Well, that was easy. By the endof that first weekend we had found common ground: work was stressing us out.The next week was full of all night conversations (seriously, I don’t think Iwent to bed before 2a that whole week). We were on the same page witheverything. Originally we had planned on him coming to Appleton on the 22nd.My boys would be gone and we could have a full day to hang out. But by Thursdayof that conversation heavy week, we knew our first meeting had to happensooner.

I told him to name a Sunday and giveme his address and I’d be there. At first he said he’d get back to me in themorning (it was about 2:30a). We said goodnight. Ten minutes later I got thetext with his address that said “this Sunday”. Holy cow. 

Friday and Saturday were full ofbutterflies and nerves and excited texts. We decided to do a beer swap. Each ofus would pick out our 6 favorite micro-brews and switch with each other.

Our date was as perfect as a firstdate can be. I broke every rule in the single girls handbook – I drove to acity where no one knew me, on a day with a horrible forecast for snow and windand travel, and met a guy from the internet at his house. But it was perfect.Conversation was comfortable and easy and natural. He held my hand and openeddoors and never took his eyes off of me. I started feeling an excitement thathad been hibernating for nearly two years.

The next few weeks were a whirlwind.Our nightly conversations were still lasting three or four hours, but theystarted to get more personal, more deep, more future-focused. Things weremoving so fast. But I was so happy to follow his lead. It felt as natural as Icould ever ask for. I spent four days at his house after the holidays. I hadjust lost my job, and he offered a retreat from it all. We spent those daysgetting to know each other even better, looking at rehab ideas on pinterest,sipping coffee at 6:30a and eating hummus at 6:30p. I met his best friend fromwork. And then all of his colleagues. I bonded with his pets. I was so happy,so comfortable. I felt at home.

We connected in a way I forgot was possible. I fell hard for this boy. And it felt so mutual. I felt pursued, which made me feel attractive, and happy, and Lord was I giddy. He saw me through a pretty rough time, but he did it because he was empathetic. Not just sympathetic. He knew my feelings and felt them right there with me. And every time that happened, we grew closer. He made me feel real, and I brought lightness and smiles to him. We were flying high for those few weeks.

And then the world caught up with us.I let down my guard and lost my footing. Nothing awful, he just saw anotherside of me. I was his date for a friend’s wedding, and we were confronted withreality. Something happened to our relationship that weekend and we weren’table to recover from it.

I was devastated. I immediately made an appointment with my therapistbecause I had been here before and I wanted to know if I could change theoutcome. I couldn’t. But this time it wasn’t because I pushed too far, triedtoo hard, said too much. This was on him. But let me tell you, that didn’t makeit any easier.  

For two weeks, I poured over everylast detail. I cried. I turned to my best friends to try and help me sort thisout. I wrote. I prayed. I spent hours on pinterest and blogs finding quotes tosoothe my aching heart. I cried some more. And then I stopped. Because I didn’thave time to hurt like that. I had school and work and 5 high school boys tocare for. So I picked myself up by my bootstraps and I put on my big girlpanties (I bet you were wondering about the title) and I grew. I grew strongeras a woman in those weeks of hurt. Stronger as a single, 20-something,independent woman.

When we first started talking, beforewe even had our first date, he invited me to a concert with him. The concertwas last night. Obviously I didn’t go. He didn’t actually ask if I still wantedto, I guess that was a given. And today, I have a text ready to send to him.And I’m drinking the last of the six beers he gave me on our first date. TheNight Train. How appropriate since my text opens by saying I dreamt about himthe other night (totally true, and weird because I NEVER remember my dreams). And it was a Night Train of a dream.

I don’t know if I’ll send the text.I’ll finish the beer. I’ll go on my little afternoon date that I have. I’llcome home and reread the text, decide if I still feel it. Either way, myboostraps are up. My big girl panties are on. This chapter is closing because Iknow I’m better than this hurting girl. I am stronger and happier than thatgirl. And there are people out there who see that, and people out there whodeserve to see it. I’m not going to let them down. And I’m not going to letmyself down.