Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Math Teacher: Part 8

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

Once you decide to give someone a chance, to let someone in, to be vulnerable....and more importantly not to put pressure on something...that it be this or that or mean this or that or that he be the...sometimes things just fall into place quietly, softly, subtly...without your even knowing.

I don't think I realized how much I liked the Math Teacher. I refused to call him by his real name. I referred to him as simply "The Math Teacher" or "MT" to even my closest friends. "You don't name the puppy," I would often say (a lesson I learned from an oft lovesick girl friend). "You don't name the puppy....otherwise you'll feel like it belongs to you. It is someone. It means something to you. And then you'll want to take it home with you."

Even though I had committed to giving him an honest to goodness shot at really dating, I really didn't let myself think I liked him all that much. But I must have liked him enough...

When it came time to visit New York City for a friend's birthday, I couldn't help but invite him along. "Taking a trip together eh?" one friend asked. "That's kind of serious this soon isn't it?" "Not really," I replied nonchalantly and shrugged. "He's just....he's just....good company." And I meant that. I did. He really was....good. company.

But what did that mean? That I thought he was good company. That he was good company, for me. That I wanted him to come with me. That I somehow knew I wouldn't have as good a time without him.

And so we went to NYC. We met at the Chinatown Bus pickup point on H street near Gallery Place Chinatown metro. He had a small bag of luggage and so did I. In a way it was strange that we were going on a trip together. And in another way, it wasn't strange at all. It just made sense. He was good company and therefore we were travel companions.

I wish I knew how to explain the feeling of what happened next. But its hard. The ease. The comfort. The laughter. The perfect contentment. It was the shortest 5 hour bus ride of my life. After getting on we commenced our talk, talk, talking. Because you see, with us, there is never a shortage of conversation. The topics flow and stop and start and intertwine. No subject matter ever really finds completion. No inside joke ever loses its original wit. I told him I was an avid scrabble player and that I'd recently become obsessed with playing Words With Friends on my phone versus friends in real life and virtual friends whom Id never met. He was intrigued.

He doesn't have an iPhone so it took some time to figure out how to download WWF onto his phone. And then it also took some maneuvering to figure out how to challenge each other to play. You see, we weren't even facebook friends. I don't know why. He thought this was funny and thought we should remain facebook strangers. So instead we gave him a twitter account. (he didn't have a twitter account!!!) and he found me and was able to challenge me that way.

We played WWF for hours. Trash talking. Concentrating. In silence. And then not. At first I kicked his ass. But slowly, word by word, game by game, it became apparent that The Math Teacher, might not just have a nack for numbers. He had some background in Latin. He had an extensive vocabulary. The mathematics training helped him see patterns in the letters. It was almost ironic how he, the MT began to demolish me beyond all humility, beyond all reason. It made me angry. It made me intrigued. It made me turned on. There was more to this guy than I realized.

When our phones died we created our own version of taboo mixed with charades and made funny faces and gave hysterical word clues and laughed and laughed and laughed. We arrived to the City as if we'd only been commuting from just outside. It was - the easiest, most pleasurable bus ride of my life.

What could that mean? Or did it mean anything? It couldn't not.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Math Teacher: Part 7

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

After the Math Teacher left the Chinese restaurant for a friend's bbq I was pretty deflated. But at some point I had to get over it. I had to work the next day (Saturday), per usual and the following day (Sunday) per usual. Which is to say, because I work so much, I have to get my jollies in while I can. I need to be around my friends and tried to decompress. So even though things with the Math Teacher weren't going as well as I would have liked, and even though he had left, now was the time to have some funwhile I still could. Even if I had to rev myself up to do it - to convince myself I was actually happy.

"Let's get to the karaoke place," I told my friends. "I want to....EMOTE!" "Emote?" one friend said. "What do you mean 'emote'?" "I mean I want to SING my soul. I want to belt it out. I want to feel it. I want to -- EMOTE!!!" "Okay then, whatever you say," my friend said and waved their arm wildly in a gesture to the group that seemed to round them up and head them all towards the door.

When we got to the karaoke place, things were in full swing. A large group of drunken friends, out for a birthday or some other event were really going at in on the small stage in the back. My friend Jenny and I did some espresso tequila shots (don't ask, just know they are delicious) and settled into the bar stools as we perused the song menu.

What followed is what usually follows on a karaoke night out with friends. Some good singing, some bad tunes and then also a few memorably horrific performances. Beers and mixed drinks and a round or two of shots quickly becomes a shitshow of botched harmonies and hipthrusts and somehow you end up telling everyone there, even those you've never met how, much you love them, man. Except sometimes something out of the ordinary happens....

I don't know what time he got there. He could've been there half an hour or five minutes. But the Math Teacher came back, a friend in tow. A guy friend in tow, not to worry. I tried to make small talk with the friend but I was a little wasted. Or a lot. Frankly, I hadn't expected the Math Teacher to reappear so I had gone ahead and let myself go. Pretty literally. But seeing him was having a sobering effect. I was glad he had come back. And I couldn't help but wonder if he'd come back especially for me.

After MT's friend left we sat down on a couch up against the wall, crammed in between two of our other friends. It was cozy. (To say the least). I don't know at what point we started making out. But we did. And then one of us got up to get a drink or go to the bathroom, but somehow we were separated. I went over to talk to my friend Amanda. "He's pretty cute isn't it?" I said more than asked. "Yeah, he is," she agreed." "I think I like him," I admitted tentatively. "Good," she said. "He's a really nice guy." "I know," I said.

And then I talked to my friend Spencer who had been there the night that I first hooked up with MT. Spencer and MT were friends before I knew either of them all that well. "You've gotta tell me," I started to Spence. "Honestly. You've gotta tell me if he's playing me," I pleaded with him. "He's not playing with you," he said. "Honestly." "He never was." "Then why did he go home with me that night?" I asked more impatiently. "I don't know," he said. "He thought you were fun. And cool. And hot. But it doesn't matter. He likes you now. He really does." "But how do you know?" I almost whined. "Because he told me. He likes you a lot. He's just worried he's the rebound guy. He doesn't want to be." "But he IS the rebound guy. I mean, isn't he?" "He doesn't have to be you know." "But he just IS!"

"Is he?" Spencer finished just as MT was coming back over to meet us. "Whether or not he is or is not the rebound guy, is entirely up to you you know."

And then MT was by my side again -tall and handsome, gentle and kind. He smiled at me, leaned over and kissed me on the side of the face. It felt nice. Comforting. He took my hand in his and whispered in my ear: "Do you want to get out of here?" I nodded.

I don't remember saying goodbye to anyone. I just remember leaving. With him. Hand in hand. We waited outside for a cab on the sidewalk.

And I was nervous. Because somehow, some way, after losing my self-believed Mr. Unicorn and having my heart shattered completely, I had found a way to open myself up again. To the possibility of someone else. To the possibility of loving again. And to hoping and wanting and wishing, that someone great, just might fall in love with me back. I had fought my feelings for the Math Teacher for a long time. I wouldn't let myself get too close. I wouldn't let myself feel anything for him. But sometimes the heart is smarter than the mind. Or at the very least, its more stubborn. The Math Teacher had weaseled his way in and I didn't want him to go. I was going to give him a chance. This, a real chance. I wasn't sure if I was going to love him. Or could love him. Or wanted to love him. Or if we were right for each other. But I was going to stop fighting it and just let things happen.

I guess I was taking some shallow breaths because MT asked me if I was okay. "I'm okay," I said. "I think I'm just nervous." And then he said something, I would have never expected: "What makes you think I'm not nervous too?". Which surprised me. Because I think he actually meant it. It had never occurred to me (after all the pain and disappointment that men had caused me) that he was taking a chance on me too. That he wanted to be with someone too. And though this didn't calm my nerves, it did make me feel less alone.

And so we waited. In the warm spring air that lazily drifting by as it headed towards the summer. While the possibility of our new romance, thickly hung all around us.