Friday, August 22, 2014

BEFORE AND AFTER

The following entry is an unfiltered before and after account of an experience that many of us face all too often. I wanted to capture the thoughts and feelings as they occurred. They don’t put me in the best light, but I think it is important for others to read something relatable. We can’t always simply put on a happy face.

Before:

My heart races. I am sitting in a cafĂ© in town, trying to get back into my regular writing routine after being in Los Angeles and Ontario for the past six weeks. It’s been a summer of distraction. That can be a good thing.

But Tim just texted. “If you’re around today, what time would be good to call you?”

I immediately feel panic. He’s done. At least he has the dignity to dump me on the phone instead of with a text.

A few days ago, I pushed the conversation. Maybe too much. “Where are we at?” It had been our second time seeing each other since I returned from my travels and we hadn’t managed to close in the distance. The physical connection, in particular, wasn’t there. Craving something physical, yet too timid to initiate, I needed to know Tim still felt something. I made it clear that I certainly did. Tim seemed startled and defensive. We seemed to work it through and ended the evening with one of his strong, warm hugs and a welcome kiss. I felt reassured, but I think he felt unsettled. How does one conversation take two people in opposite directions?

So now I am worried. I want us to move forward. There is great potential. But why the Friday morning phone call? Doubt has a nasty habit of popping into my head and spreading like an invasive vine, winding around and strangling all other thoughts.

My hands are shaking as I type. It’s the caffeine. They make strong coffee here. I feel it more as I haven’t had this blend all summer. And this is my second cup. It can’t be nerves. That explains the rapid heart rate, too.

Right?

After our Tuesday date, I called the following day and left him a message. He immediately texted to say he was visiting with a friend. “Let’s connect in a day or so.” The following day passed. We’re into the “or so” part. I suck at waiting. That’s when Doubt sees opportunity.

The unknown of a new relationship can be exhilarating. It can also be maddening. You can’t take anything for granted. How do you know what the other person is thinking and feeling? Or not feeling?

And so I wait. I text back that we should talk in half an hour. That gives me time to calm the nerves and to get out of the coffee shop. I decide to burn off this hyped up energy with a walk along some forest trails. Nature soothes me. Usually.

I want to get the call over with—whether it’s good or bad. I need to know. If I wait until after work, I’ll just obsess and Doubt will get the best of me.

Yes, good or bad. Tell me.

But please be good. Please let the call be about when we can get together this weekend. Let’s move forward. If I say “please” enough, can I will good things to happen? Can I shake this doubt?

 

After:

I want my limo ride.

Yes, this is proof that reality TV has impacted reality. Mine, at least.

On “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette”, when you get rejected, you are hauled off in a limousine and your immediate thoughts (and tears) are recorded for the amusement of millions of viewers.

In my defense, I shed no tears. I just felt a profound frustration. I let a possible relationship linger over the summer. It felt good to think that something might continue once my days in L.A. ended. And, for a few days, they did. Tim and I reconnected twice in the days since my return.

All good. And yet not as connected as pre-L.A. I knew the first coffee felt flat. The second get together was comfortable but that was all. Give it some time, I thought. But the evening ended abruptly. Tim wasn’t checking the time—usually a good sign—and didn’t realize there was no time for dinner. We hadn’t kissed beyond the “hello” peck. He hadn’t grabbed me and wrapped me in his arms. I needed clarification. Are we on track?

This startled him. He seemed to think everything was progressing nicely. My asking made him get defensive. And that’s when I sensed I had erred. Sometimes I can be too communicative.

I got dumped. Tim said that my question made him reflect. He’d thought things were fine and then realized he wasn’t as affectionate. “You needed to initiate, too,” he said. I’d indicated I was ready, but I knew it was too late. That monkey on my back—fifteen years without physical intimacy--has made this shy guy fearful. I don’t want to get shot down. And yet it happened anyway.

When people break up, they throw out so many explanations in search of something that will stick. Anything to finish the conversation. Unfortunately, it all sticks with me. He went on to say he could see us as friends, he didn’t want to be physical with me, he didn’t feel attracted.

Oh, my god, I have heard this over and over again. This is why I spent the summer rationing my food, repenting when I’d have a margarita and working out my body beyond the point of fatigue. Must seem attractive. Tim had been so clearly drawn to me in June. Must maintain until he is drawn to the attractive inner me.

So much sacrifice. No gain.

Five dates. Best run in years. (How sad.) Best prospect. Same result.

No tears. Just more bewilderment.

I thought things would be different this time. What now?

2 comments:

Jack Urquhart said...

James,
Such unhappy news you’ve bravely chosen to share with your readers—and as always, with such uncommon eloquence. Strange, don’t you think: the way so many gay people set about near merciless courses of self-reinvention toward rendering (or more accurately, *believing*) ourselves worthy of love and acceptance? Strange the way we work so hard at it? Maybe too hard? I am sorry that you are experiencing this painful disappointment, very sorry that you’ve come up against so much unhappiness in recent months. Having read your posts these many years, I cannot but believe that you deserve only good things. Only good things.
Wishing you strength and comfort,
Jack

Rural Gay said...

Thanks for your comments, Jack. I always feel your support. It has been the most challenging year of my life, indeed. There are positive things to take from this dating experience. At least someone finally expressed an interest in me, however briefly. That is progress.

Know that I have thought of you several times this month as I am aware of a tragic one-year anniversary that pops up in August. I wish you strength and comfort as well.