Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Math Teacher: Part 6

"Math is a lot like love - a simple idea, but it can get complicated..."

I was nervous about seeing The Math Teacher that Friday afternoon. After all, I had blown him off the night before when we were supposed to have a dinner date. And it wasn't the first time. It was the second. Eeech. Not good. Everyone was convinced that I didn't really like him. That he was just a distraction. That I was convincing myself I liked him. Maybe I was. But then again...

I got off work at 4pm. Pretty much unheard of at my office. But I didn't care. This was more important somehow.

I met him at the metro a few blocks from my office. And he looked goooood. There's one thing about this guy that can't be denied - he is an attractive man. Tall and lean. Tan. Longish, roughed up hair. He even has nice fingernails and feet. It's a little intimidating.

He was quieter than usual. I'm sure I confused him. I'm sure I had hurt him. I'm sure he didn't know quite what to make of me. But neither did I you know? I was a mess. A tired, stressed, overworked, overcaffeinated, recently dumped mess. I didn't know anything. Least of all anything useful about who I was at any given moment or what I wanted.

We road the train to Clarendon to meet our friends. I was nervous and talked too much. He smiled and laughed appropriately but wasn't as giving of himself as usual.

We got to the Chinese restaurant before our friends. We took two stools along the bar and ordered beers. Despite the slight awkwardness, (being the elephant in the room that was my repeated cancellation of our dates), the one thing that had always been there between us (an ability to talk about anything), once again saved the day and before long we were chit chatting like old friends again.

Then our friends came along. One by one, and three at a time and then a half a dozen at once. We sat apart from one another and caught up with our friends on our own and in our own time. But there were glances. From our friends at us. And from us at each other.

Before two long, MT got up. He started saying goodbye to people. I wasn't sure exactly why he was leaving. He came over to me last.

"I have to go," he said. "Oh really?" I said the disappointment apparent in my voice. I did mean it. I really did. I didn't want him to go. "Yeah, I have a friend's barbecue thing. I'm trying to set up my buddy with an old college friend." "Oh," I said, still disappointed. "Will you come back?" I asked hopefully. "I'm not sure," he said and I could see and tell that he was hurt and confused by my recent behavior and that being around me might not be as fun as it should be if we were dating on mutually, respectful ground.

"I'm really sorry you know?" I said out of nowhere. "Are you?" he asked almost bitterly. "Yes. yes I am," I said sincerely. "I feel like shit." "Do you?" he asked, again still sounding unconvinced. "Yes, I really do feel like shit. I wanted to go to dinner with you last night. I really did. I just couldn't. I'm sorry." "Listen," he said, a little kinder - "maybe from now on if you want to do something with me, you should call me."

Ouch. That one hurt a little.

"But you don't want to. Do you?" he continued. "Of course I do," I said. He shook his head slightly. "I gotta go," he said finally. "Try to come back," I said. "We'll see," he said and gathered his friend and said a last farewell to the group. He walk out the front door and I watched him walk away from the restaurant and then around the corner through the restaurant's glass windows until he was out of sight.

And I felt regret in my stomach. Had I blown it? Had I thrown away this great guy who treated me amazing because I was a complete brat? Because of Fuckface David? Because I didn't know how to love the right guy? Because I didn't let the right guys love me? I wasn't sure. I did know that I felt awful.

Everyone at the table knew something was wrong.

My friend Mike who can be a bit crass said: "What are you so upset about for? Isn't he supposed to be the rebound guy?"

"He was," I said and then paused. "But he just won't bound. He just stays."

"I'd love it if some girl wanted to use me as the rebound guy. I tell her - 'no problem, just let me know when you're done with me and I'll be on my way'."

"Wow, that's great Mike. Very helpful."

But I actually like him. I think. But I've blown him off and treated him poorly and now he's really pissed. I didn't even know MT could get pissed. I don't know anything...

And so I sulked for a little bit, deeply lost in my own thoughts. Was I upset because I wanted to like him and didn't? Or was I upset because I liked him but wasn't ready for him? Or upset because I liked him and was pushing him away for reasons I couldn't fathom?

It just wasn't clear. Nothing really was. Except that the Math Teacher had left the restaurant without me. And I wished he hadn't.

To be continued...

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Math Teacher: Part UNKNOWN

"Math is a lot like love - a simple idea, but it can get complicated..."

We set out into the dusky muggy, drip-droppy drizzy Dupont night to find some food for the Math Teacher. He had recently had dental surgery and the diet of soft and liquid food was starting to wear on him.

"Where can I take you?" I said to him aloud. "What do you feel like?" I asked him. "Soup is probably a good idea" he said and kind of shrugged, his arm wrapped around me casually. "Ooooh, I know," I told him. "I've got the perfect place."

We strolled along 18th street along the east of the Circle talking and laughing and making faces at one another. He kept trying to kiss me with his tender or perhaps even gross post-op mouth and I kept pulling away in horror and laughing.

Amidst the normalcy and fun and yes, for the first time in a long time, giddy happiness, I realized, with dread, that we were approaching an unhappy spot. The spot where I got dumped. Just walking toward it. Closer and closer and closer...

Isn't it amazing, and even unfortunate, how a location or smell or person or activity can make the vividness of its corresponding memory flood back over you? All the details. All the pain. The look on his face. The way he tried to rub my back but I pulled away. The things he said. Him walking away.

"We're having such a nice time. I don't know sometimes whether I should tell you stuff or not. But then sometimes telling you the bad stuff makes it less bad you know? I can sort of throw it away? Or at least you just know all about me. The things that I've been through."

"Just tell me..." he said. So I did. He put his arms around me tighter. "That's tough," he acknowledged giving me a little squeeze.

We went on to dinner at the deliciously Korean, spectacularly serviced Mandu where we sat and talked and ate and laugh and lingered with no sense of anywhere to be anywhere else anytime soon. I ordered the spicy soup, "extra extra" spicy and we all were hesitant as I took my first bites. Both the waitress and the MT were hoping I would be in for disastrous consequences for ordering my soup "kill me hot," but I prevailed. "It could be spicier," I commented nonchalantly and gave a "hah" look at them both. Then, I cut up MT's dumplings into baby bite size pieces with my chop sticks so he could better handle them with his "injury" and we both told stories of how we love driving and road trips and one time where he got stuck driving near a cliff and had to call AAA.

When it was time to go we headed down the street, the drizzle a little more prevalent. "You realize you're carrying a little leopard print umbrella?" I asked him entirely amused. "If I were by myself, it might seem a little strange," he admitted, "but with you I can get away with it."

We continued on, until that spot, the dumping spot, was in my sights again. "Ugh," I thought, "if only I could get passed this. Him. The Dumping. The dumping spot. All of it." Then I got an idea...

"I want you to help me make a new memory of this spot," I said. "Because its otherwise such a lovely place and I pass by it all the time." "Okay," MT said. (as willing to do whatever I asked or needed or wanted as ever.) "What do you want to do?" I walked over to the rock ledge that I had sat on while being told exactly why I wasn't the right person for and by the one person I had ever thought was the right person for me. I stood on it this time and gestured MT to come near me. "Kiss me" I said with my arms stretched out wide overdramatically. "O" -"kay" he said with gusto. He came over and put his arms around my waist. I leaned into him and gave him a sweet, gentle kiss. And then...

We both looked over toward the street. There was a young guy (maybe 20?) in the backseat of a car with the window rolled down taking our picture. What?

"Hi guys!!" he said waving with one hand still taking a picture. "Hi" I said hesitantly waving back and smiling confusedly as he and his friends in the front seat burst into laughter and then drove off.

"What was that??" MT looked at me incredulously. "I don't know!" I responded bewildered. "Were they high," he wondered? "Or drunk?" I added. "Although they didn't seem that drunk," I continued... "Maybe they were on a scavenger hunt?" I pondered hopefully. "Come on!"he said with a crooked smile, "a scavenger hunt?" "Okay, okay, I don't know then. We weren't kissing crazy. We aren't dressed crazy. We don't look like a weird couple do we?"

"You know what I think it was," I finally determined. "What?" he asked me seriously. "A sign," I said. "A sign not to take life or one's self too seriously. You sit on a ledge you get dumped. You stand on a ledge kissing someone and some crazy teenagers or scavenger hunting frat boys take your picture. It's just all a little ridiculous."

"Well one thing is for sure," MT said. "What's that?" I asked him. "You wanted a new memory and you got one. Now it's the spot where the creepy dude took your picture."

And he was right. A new memory. And lots of other new memories that night too. Because you never know when a creepy dude is around the corner to make you feel a whole lot better about a whole heck of a lot....

To new memories and cheers,

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Math Teacher: Part 5

After jolting from MT's bedroom like steam from a kettle, I might've thought about what that all meant if I didn't have to work a 10 hour day on a Sunday the following day. Hungover. Okay...really hungover. And then the 12 hour work days Monday through Thursday blurred together like one and the same until five days had gone by without even thinking about the Math Teacher. Or David either for that matter.

Then Thursday arrived and I was supposed to have dinner with him. He had texted at some point and suggested a little Middle Eastern place he'd been wanting to try and if I was up for it did I wanna go? I had said yes, but as the day arrived, I grew more and more tired. I was EXHAUSTED. I am ALWAYS exhausted it seems.

"I think I have to cancel for tonight," I told my co-worker Amber. "Not again!" she almost shouted at me. "You cannot cancel on him again." He will NEVER go out with you EVER again if you do this to him twice. It's not cool. It's not nice. Its....RUDE."

"I know, I know it is," I whimpered. "But I could barely keep my eyes awake in that meeting. And we have hours left to go in this day. I hate being this tired. I hate it. I really am this tired. I swear!"

Then I told my co-worker John about my plan. I needed a second opinion: "I'll just say I was stuck here. Stuck in a meeting. I couldn't leave. And say I feel really REALLY bad about it." "I mean, it doesn't really matter what you say," he replied. "It's obvious you just don't like the guy. Obvious to me. And it will be obvious to him."

But hearing those words. I realized it wasn't true. Because if I really didn't like the guy, I wouldn't be trying to think up the perfect excuse. I wouldn't be worried that he'd never go out with me again. I would assume that he would think and assume I didn't like him and stop asking me out and I'd stop going out with him and that would be that. But that's not how I felt. I felt REALLY, really, really conflicted. Conflicted between my complete and utter exhaustion and inability to do nothing and my desire to go spend time with him. I really did want to have dinner. So much so that I was still considering going - despite my growing weariness and hopelessness at life.

"If you're gonna bail, tell him now," Amber said. "It's not fair to him." "I know, I know, I know," I said. But what if I feel better later and change my mind?" Amber just looked at me. With that bitchy, no-nonsense, handle your business look of hers that said: "Tell him now. The end."

So I texted him. That I was stuck in a meeting and I was REALLY disappointed but I wouldn't be able to make dinner that night. But that I knew our friends were getting together for happy hour and then karaoke the next day (Friday) and that I was hoping he was going and that we could go together. Perhaps he could meet me at the metro near my office. I usually get off work between 7 and 8 but I would get off at 4 and we could get there before anyone else and spend some time together before the whole gang arrived. How did that sound?

He said it was really too bad about dinner. But he would meet me. And we would go together. "Thank you for understanding," I told him. But I could tell, he wasn't as patient and unaffected as he had been the last time.

I got off work at 8pm. I was too tired for the walking and the metro and the bus so I hailed a cab and paid the $15 to get home just a little bit sooner and without any effort. Just sitting there. Defeated. Downtrodden. Disjointed.

I did not stop Go. I did not collect dinner. Or a conversation with the roommates. I went directly to the bedroom and collapsed into the pillows - my own kind of heaven, but my own kind of jail. I couldn't escape my confused thoughts and my put-upon heart. I lay there, thinking "damn." "Damn, damn, damn, damn." "I should've gone to dinner....there's something about him..." And I was worried, for the first time - that I might lose him. This amazing guy who had grit. Who stayed. Who never faltered. Who let me be me. And liked me. And who was so good looking that no one would ever kick him out of bed for eating crackers. And I started to get the sinking feeling that I had ruined something that could be something - maybe even something good.

To be continued...

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Math Teacher: Part 4

"Math is like love - a simple idea, but it can get complicated."

After being outside in Baltimore at the Preakness Horse Race all day, my group of friends continued on to another bar to party. After hours and hours of being there, I was tired and a little sun burnt and a little drunk. The Math Teacher and I looked around and realized that all of our friends had left us and gone home. I wasn't sure if they had even said goodbye. We had gotten lost in conversation for who knows how long.

We left the bar and got a cab. We decided to go to his place, with the understanding that I was in fact tired. burnt. and nothing was going to be happening. And he was fine with it. But by the time I got to his house and into his sport clothes (which happen to be super baggy on me and completely ridiculous looking) and lay down in his arms, I suddenly felt suffocated and trapped. I had to work the next day (yes I work on Sundays, every Sunday, fml) and I wanted to go home and shower the dirt and suntan lotion and long day off me and go to bed - ALONE-. And get some real sleep. And get up in the morning surrounded by my clothes and my things before heading into work inevitably hungover.

"I'll give you a shirt in the morning, " he said. "And you can shower, just relax."

He is always saying that to me. "just relax." But I don't WANNA relax. Or maybe I need to. Or should. Or just can't.

We went through his closet and I tried on everything he owns that I could wear over jeans to work on a Sunday. Button down shirts mostly. He is 6'3 and I am 5'7. Needless to say, I was swarming in stripes. I looked at him and shook my head. "You know this isn't going to work right?" "I know," he said. "I'll walk you down and get you in a cab."

And he did.

Things just hours earlier had seemed so right. So easy. What was my problem? Why couldn't I just lay down in the arms of a man - who seemed to truly be that - a. man. And let him hold me. And care about me. The whole night through. I wanted so much to want to be with him. I wanted so much to be over David. But some days, are just so much harder than others. And confusing. And at that moment in time, I had to get out of there and be alone.

There's nothing I can do about it. The sadness ebbs and flows. The new found feelings for MT come and go just the same. And I seem to have control over none of it, but instead, I am victim to the unpredictable tidal waves of feeling that continue to wash over me without any relief.

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Math Teacher: Part 3

“Math is like love -- a simple idea but it can get complicated.” "

After bowling, I felt guilty about the way I'd been treating The Math Teacher. It wasn't who wanted to be as a person in general and certainly not the way I wanted to treat someone pertaining to matters of the heart. Particularly when someone else so recently had been so careless with my own emotions.

On the following Saturday we went to the Preakness horse race with a large group of our friends. The girls wore sundresses and the guys wore shorts. We drank beer and rum and mimosas in a grassy spot by the race track on the infield. I lay on a blanket in the sunshine and took in deep breaths of warm air. It was the most relaxed I'd been in months.

The Math Teacher sat down beside me. Put his arms around me and we fell asleep.

We woke up some time later. Our friends laughing at us and teasing us saying some such nonsense or another. We sat up half-awake brushing hair and blades of grass out of our eyes and hair.

"Why don't you admit that you like each other?" our friend The Canadian said.

"What do you mean? We do like each other," I responded.

"Well then what are you?" The Canadian said.

"I don't know. We don't know,"I said. Which was true. I didn't know how he felt about me. I didn't know how I felt about him. We were nothing. Yet we were something. It was all a bit strange.

We got up and walked around the park holding hands - me with my Math Teacher and caught wondering how things can change so fast. Who you hold hands with. Who you like or don't like. How you feel. And I guess that's a good thing. Even when it's not.



Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Math Teacher: Part 2

I can't sleep tonight. Usually it's because I'm thinking about the Ex-boyfriend. Usually it's because I can't believe things didn't work out with David. But tonight, I'm thinking about the Math Teacher. Surprising, I know. I'm not sure how I feel about him. I'm not sure what will happen. Of course I'm not ready. And I wasn't ready. And I won't be ready. Not for awhile anyways. But I think you should know the truth about him. The truth that he might just be... a good guy.

So - we went bowling. Two Fridays ago. Or maybe it was three. Time when you are working like a dog, 7 days a week, 11 hours a day and your heart is full of lost love can be an impossible thing to keep track of. I am tired and I am delirious. And I thought of canceling (for the second time) on the Math Teacher. But I didn't. How could I do that? That would make me, well, just an inconsiderate asshole. So - I went bowling.

Now I did of course share a bottle of wine with my coworker Amber before I headed to meet him at Lucky Strike at the Verizon Center in Chinatown. And I did of course pop into Clyde's to down a glass of white wine like it was really my job and I was billing $300 to drink it. I was a little tipsy for this date. A little sedated. Because as we all know by now, I wasn't ready. And yet - I went bowling.

And he was there waiting. As always. On time. And he paid for our shoes and for our games. Even though it is CRAZY expensive to bowl at Lucky Strike. I know its a cool place with a bar and music and food and ambiance but still...its bowling people! some things should remain pure, but I digress.

And we played and I was awful. And he was slightly less awful. And it was fun. Actual, pure, non-sexual, not even that romantic --- fun. It was just nice you know? To hang out with someone. To do something stupid and random and silly and whatever. Bowling is always good for that. Isn't it?

He bet me that if he won I had to eat a pickle. (I hate - HATE - pickles with a passion. Ask me about it some time). I bet him that if I won a game he would have to wear this translucent white shirt he owns from his days in Miami out with our friends some time. Betting is fun. Flirtatious. Pointless. Delicious.

Some of you have wondered how it is that I've treated him so poorly...I think its just that I'm so flippant and ambivalent and lackadaisical. Like when we were done I just handed him my shoes to return without saying thank you and said I was going to the restroom. That's not like me. I'm nice and polite and considerate. And treat people like human beings. Instead I treated him like my waiter, my meal ticket, my doormat. Just in my attitude. In my words. In my subtle actions. I'm not proud of this. But it is true.

He said he was hungry. He is ALWAYS hungry. But he is SUPER TALL and very fit and trim and so I can see how his metabolism is like that. I wish my body were like that. I eat nothing and am not hungry ever and yet I still carry the pounds. It sucks. But I digress again...

We went downstairs to Thai Chili. I love that place. It was my suggestion. I said I wasn't hungry but then I proceeded to eat half his Pad Thai without asking. (I know that is SO annoying for guys). We each had a beer. On four square I saw that my friends were nearby. I told them to join us.

Let me repeat that in case you didn't get it - I invited two girls to join us on our date. hah. Our third date. The four of us. Classic.

They showed up and I acted surprised to see them. They said they were going to Rocket Bar across the street. I said "OF COURSE WE ARE COMING!!!" I didn't even ask him. He paid the bill and followed me like a puppy. We went across the street. And I in drunken enthusiasm caught up with my two girl friends and one guy friend who joined us for the first time in a long time. Mostly we talked about the boy problems the two girls were having. For once, I was glad that they boy problems weren't my own.

The MT sat there and listened. And asked questions. And engaged. He was nice. Really nice. I don't even know if I spoke one word to him for hours. I hadn't even noticed that he was still there. Finally he got up and said he was leaving. It was late and he had to get up. I didn't even stand up to hug him or kiss him goodbye. I didn't even say thank you. To put it bluntly... I was a bitch. I waved my hand in the air nonchalantly and said " Okay...BYE!"

When he was gone my girl friends gushed and gushed about him. They said I had taken a step up in every way. In looks, in personality, in the way he treated me. "But he's just the rebound guy," I said with no feeling. But they could not be persuaded to believe that, though it was true. Then we talk and drank for what seemed like hours. I got completely sauced and I remember them asking me if I had money and putting me in a cab.

It was marvelous. Really and truly. I know all this drinking and abusing men isn't healthy. But it was good to see old friends. Friends I'd seen less of to spend time with David's friends. Friends who think I'm fun. And nice. And worthy. Friends who have an opinion on who I date. Friends who don't judge. And who put me in a cab and tell me it's time to go home.

And I remember thinking in the morning what an ass I was. And also, that maybe, just maybe, The Math Teacher...was actually...a good guy.