My favorite movie touches upon theories of how time flows, and there’s a scene where they describe the start of a relationship as fast. I’ve always been able to relate to that. I meet people and I feel nothing again and again. They’re always nice on paper, no real flaws that I can find, but the connection just isn’t there. I’ll see them for a few times, giving it time. I start to like them sometimes, but it never develops past that. The few times I’ve fallen for someone it was fast. It was a rush of a sudden overwhelming amount of…liking them. I can’t say “love.” I don’t believe one falls in love that fast with someone they hardly know, but when I like someone, when I really like someone, I’m excited and it’s a complete rush. My brain obsesses at the beginning. It’s like an explosion of sudden emotion shortly after meeting them and it’s hard to quit. It fades some overtime, it settles, it might disappear, or just calm down, but the beginning is always a rush, and that’s where I am. Saturday I had nothing. Saturday I was still lonely. Saturday I was debating stringing along some mediocre dates just to have someone. Sunday everything was different. I spent Sunday, Monday, and this morning in a wave of excitement. I went to sleep after midnight and I woke up at 4am filled with anticipation. I’ve been anxious and excited because I can’t get him off my mind and I want to see him again. I’m trying to fight it. I’m telling myself to slow down or I’ll burn off this feeling too quickly. I’ll overdo it and tire too fast. But no matter how much I try to relax, I can’t switch it off.
It’s funny, as lonely as I was at times, and as much as I knew there couldn’t be any real future with someone who lived as far away as my foreign crush, I half hoped I wouldn’t wind up falling for anyone until he visited my city, and now just four days before he’s here, the urge to see him disappeared. What timing. I feel oddly guilty about seeing him. I’ve only half mentioned it to the guy I just met. It’s silly of course. We’re not in anything serious. I don’t know where this will go. I’ve only known him for two days. Two days! But I don’t want to date anyone else right now. I don’t want to keep my options open. I want to see what happens with him. I hope something happens with him where this just works out. I did like my foreign crush, but the bubble popped when I looked at that situation realistically. This cloud of doubt has always been above my crush on him and I knew my crush was more about fun and a temporary attraction. I haven’t felt this crazy about someone in…well, about four years. Since my last real relationship. And it’s scary because this is so new and it might all fall apart so quickly, still. I’m nervous about falling from where I’ve flown to in this now. I’m in my head, dizzy, spinning with so much hope and so many ideas of what could be. My mind’s already raced to the extremes: what if this lasts, what if I never date again after him, what if this continues, and he keeps feeling the same way about me too, how do I feel about his last name, what if we had children, what if we stay happy together for many years, will I get along with his friends, will we have a healthy relationship, we could go here and there together, if I still do that big vacation in a year I’ll miss him if he’s still in the picture, and so on and so on…
I woke up on Monday after meeting him ready to go on a hike with a friend I hadn’t seen in years, but hours passed and my friend didn’t answer my phone calls or my texts. Was my friend flaking out on me at the last minute?! I frowned at the time and although it felt too soon according to the usual “rules” to reach out to the guy I’d just been with ten hours earlier, I really wanted to see him again. Did he want to go on a hike with me instead? I texted him. He had made lunch plans already. I told him that was fine and not to worry about it, but he said my plan sounded much more awesome. “You can’t ditch your friend because I just got ditched, it wouldn’t be right,” I told him, as much as I hoped he would. He suddenly played down the lunch plans and told me to give him a minute. Fifteen minutes later he was headed over to my place and we were in the car headed to our hike. He cancelled plans for me, he liked me, and he couldn’t be upset with me over cancelling the plans because I’d already told him not to. I was excited. We were in the car for over an hour. I had intended to put some music on, but it wasn’t until we were already there that I’d realized we’d already spent the entire ride talking. He looks at me with this interested and curious smile when I say something that he likes. We started the hike. Sweaty and out of breath scrambling up some rocks we realized we’d gone a bit off the path. We looked around for the path and he paused. I knew he was going to kiss me, I anticipate it, and still I try to pretend as if he’d caught me off guard, except there’s this sort of energy in the air each time before he kisses me. Everything slows for a moment. And each time I’m left with the same smile. It’s comfortable with him. We got back on the path and continued on. I stopped to get a pebble out of my shoe, balancing on one foot. He came over to me and held my shoulders to steady me. I flashed back to a couple I’d been envious of on the train a week ago when the girl bent down to tie her shoe and the guy with her had held on to her to keep her from falling. How did I wind up in this position so quickly? We passed some other hikers and noticed something amusing. We made the same joke at the same time. How did everything come so easy with him?
I was exhausted on the car ride home. Drained, but content that he was still with me. I asked him for more details about his ex that he used to live with. I wanted to better understand his past and where he stood now. He told me about their breakup, their fights toward the end, and his theories on her behavior. Suddenly I felt sad picturing their relationship crumble and knowing the feeling all too well. I could already see what it would be like if it ever turned into anything more with us, and the horrible demise we’d one day face. I was quiet for a while. But we weren’t at that point now. I glanced at him and smiled. I invited him up to my place.
In my bedroom I described all the color I’d seen in his eyes and he laughed telling me I was very observant. We talked, listened to music, and I showed him a couple of songs he hadn’t heard after he’d expressed interest in the singer. He correctly guessed the meaning behind the title of one of my playlists. Soon all the songs that I’d been listening to over the last few years sounded like they were about him. Then he kissed me and our clothes started to come off. We paused so he could go to the bathroom, and when he came back I’d had a moment to think. I thought about what I would say. I didn’t want to tell him I liked him, so I decided to play it off as a lesser statement and just tell him that he was cool. “I always do this right away. But you’re cool, and so I was thinking maybe I’ll wait until the next time I see you.” Sure, it sounded silly, I sleep with those I’m not that into right away, but now when I like someone, I choose not to be with them? Only, I didn’t want to ruin what was going on. Maybe my feelings never properly developed for everyone else because it was too rushed. Maybe I’d ruin what had already begun. He told me that was alright and he was enjoying kissing me. I meant to say that I liked kissing him, but somehow, “I like you” came out, so I started talking really quickly, as if all of the new sentences would cover up what I’d said, but I was very aware of a flicker of a smile that had appeared on his face as I said it, moments later washed away with a look of confusion as I rattled on about other things. He liked that I liked him. Maybe he liked me too. Sure, it wasn’t so bad, “I love you” would’ve been a horrible thing to say, yet still on the second day of knowing someone, “I like you” still sounded too forward. But I do, I do like him. He said he hears about how great he is and “let’s wait” a lot. I wondered who said it to him last. I thought about what I’d said and hoped it didn’t sound like too much so early on, I wasn’t usually this sentimental, and I didn’t usually make such a big deal about this; It couldn’t be a big deal because it was a scary thought to acknowledge how I felt so soon. So I told him that he wasn’t that special. He nodded and said he knows. I think he knew what I meant. So, we kissed some more and lay together a little longer before he eventually went home.
We lingered by my front door. I’d be leaving on another business trip this weekend and we both had plans during the week. He said waiting to see me until after my trip sounded too far away. He asked if I was free Friday night –his birthday. Every time I start dating someone I always cross my fingers it isn’t around any holidays, our birthdays included, to avoid that awkward questioning of if you should get them anything so early on and if so –what. When he’d told me his birthday the day before I’d just assumed I wouldn’t see him because his family was visiting him, but now there were all types of pressure about that day. He smirked and I knew what he meant. I told him he should spend time with his family and friends, trying not to butt in as an important person in his life at this point of time, but he assured me his parents would be at their hotel by that hour and he had a picnic planned with his friends the following day (which I wasn’t really available for anyway.) I told him I couldn’t and he sarcastically joked, “Great, another year without birthday sex!” I was getting guilted in, but it wasn’t like I didn’t want to see him anyway. I told him maybe. And once again, as soon as he left, I couldn’t wait to see him again.
I sat at work the next day with a smile and a distant look on my face for most of the day. If I was in high school, I’d have probably been drawing little hearts around his name in my notebook. I thought about his birthday again. I decided I’d make him a card because I had a somewhat artistic side to me he’d already seemed to appreciate when he’d noticed my nail art. I worked on an intricate design for hours and then sketched out what I’d write inside on a post-it note for a while. I had to keep it simple and light, as I wouldn’t have even known him an entire week yet at that point. But I wanted it to say more than your standard “happy birthday.” I thought for a while about how to sign my name. I’d just write it. I couldn’t write the word “love” even though I might to friends. It was just too risky at this point. “From” was just too unfriendly. I couldn’t draw a heart because he might read it as “love.” X’s and O’s seemed too mushy. Maybe I had a sticker at home in my childhood sticker books of a silly face giving a kiss I could put in it…I considered all of this for a while. I’ve decided to see him on Friday, but I know so little about him I haven’t decided if I’ll include anything else in the card. What do I know about him? That he doesn’t like tomatoes and raisons? That he’s learning to play the banjo and sings in a chorus? How do I turn those things into a thoughtful present? Perhaps the card and my presence was enough. I couldn’t really do much or it would seem like too much for someone I’d just met, anyway.
I checked my phone every hour, writing down things I thought about texting him. I couldn’t come on too strong after seeing him for so long two days in a row. This is day three of knowing him. I had to leave a gap for him to miss me. I worried someone else would sweep up some opportunity and it’d be over before it began, but I couldn’t give in. We needed at least 24 hours where I didn’t reach out to him. Maybe I’d allow myself to text him tomorrow. Maybe I wouldn’t. Then my foreign crush sent me a message that he was looking forward to visiting my city. It made me nervous. I’d spent close to nine months anticipating his visit, and all of a sudden the excitement had faded. Would I really see him the day before I met with The New Guy on his birthday? What if we wound up at my place after midnight, would I sleep with him on this guy’s birthday and then jump back to this guy the next evening? It didn’t sound like me at all, I thought, and then I got a text from The Short Guy. He asked if I’d seen his acknowledgment to my drunken text from last week about hooking up with him. So there was that loose end too. I didn’t think twice about cutting ties with that one. I told that I’d just met someone I wanted to see where things went with. He wished me luck and said he still wouldn’t mind seeing me either, though. I kind of laughed to myself. I certainly can’t feel very undesirable at this point in time.