Sunday, June 22, 2014

Awkward Moments: Bath Time

When I was in Boston a few months back I was hanging out in the lobby with my friend JT chatting as we waited for our group to meet up for dinner. I felt a tap on my shoulder while I was talking to him and looked back to see a girl who was bundled up in Eskimo-like attire and sunglasses (we were inside and it was nighttime). She said me, "I have a really random question for you." Confused but slightly intrigued, I told her to continue.

"Is there any way that I could go up to your hotel room and take a bath?"
I don't know what I was expecting her to say, but it certainly wasn't that. She told me how she had driven 12 hours to get to Boston for work and was staying with a friend who turned out to be exceptionally disgusting and she couldn't make herself stay the night in his dirty apartment but she'd been unable to find a hotel with any vacancies so far.

Sympathetic to her situation but not especially trusting of strangers, I was not at all thrilled with the notion of letting her use my bathroom, so I told her that the friend I was rooming with had just left to go back to his house and that he unfortunately had the only room key and wouldn't be back for at least an hour. The hour part was true, though I did in fact have a room key. I figured I'd get myself out of this very strange situation by letting her know she'd have to wait an hour before I could help her out. That blew up in my face when she said, "thanks, I'll just hang out until then" and she plopped down beside us.

I whispered to JT, asking him how I could get out of this and he sort of laughed at me, saying he had no idea. Our conversation sort of died with the presence of our new Eskimo friend (I should mention it had been quite warm that day) and as the minutes stretched on, things became very uncomfortable. After a while, I began to feel bad for her and started thinking that I'd just let her use the bathroom as long as she was quick. Finally I told her that I could get a key to my room and she could use the bathroom if she didn't take too long. I instructed her to meet me in the hallway on my floor and that I'd see her in a few minutes.

Between just wanting her to go and feeling like I should be a good Samaritan for someone who is just having a rough day, I wasn't thinking as straight as I should have been. You want to be helpful and do right by people and do something good for someone who might be in need, but you also have to watch out for yourself because there are terrible, shady people in the world. Deep down I want to believe the best in people, but it's rare that people exhibit good qualities. 33 years of human interaction has jaded me a bit towards the goodness of people. I mean the other day a 97 year old lady in a house near me asked for my help getting her trashcan to the street and the whole time I was eyeing her with suspicion, wondering what her angle was. Turns out her "angle" was that she is old and ran out of energy dragging a trashcan to the street that is as big as she is.

So I meet this girl in the hallway and as I'm walking toward my room it starts to hit me that, hey, I don't really know this person. I could in good faith let her use my bathroom to clean up, thinking I'm doing something nice for someone who needed a break, and then BAM, I might find her OD'd from doing a line of coke off of the toilet seat. Or crack or whatever drug people do lines of. Or she could call the cops and accuse me of rape. This possibility didn't occur to me at the time, but my friends who saw the whole story unfold said, "we were real sure you were going to get ax murdered."
Halfway to my room my sanity returns and I decide this is an absolutely terrible idea and I only have a few seconds to figure out how to get myself out of it. About that time, I hear her get a text and she says one of her co-workers had managed to get a room and she offered to let he stay there, so she could just head to her room for a shower instead. This was a huge relief.

She thanked me over and over for being so nice to her and she follows up with, "you've got to let me give you something" to which I decline. We go back and forth like this a couple of times and she says, "no, no, I really want to give you something".
Now, I can't say for sure, but I feel pretty confident that she was propositioning me for some saucy-time.
I continued to decline until she finally said that she appreciated me trying to help and that I had done my good deed for the week and that maybe she'd see me around.

I honestly think she was on the up-and-up about her day and how she just wanted to get a shower in to feel clean, but all the same I feel like I dodged a significant number of bullets that night.

I've always complained about how I have to approach women instead of the other way around, but if this is the way them approaching me is going to go, it's probably for the best. "Can I take a bath in your room" is a little too intense a first conversation for my tastes. I need someone to find a nice middle-ground between not talking to me at all and wanting to use my bathtub.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Waking Up

It's frustrating to look back at my 20's and realize how much time I wasted doing nothing. I say nothing, but that's slightly dramatic. I moved to a new city, completely changed careers, I loved and lost. In that time, I moved up in my new career at a decent speed. I can't go so far as to say I was focused on my career. Had I been specifically  focused, I'd be farther along than I am now. I should instead say I got so caught up in the 9-5 life that I ended up in a perpetual cycle of: work, go home, sleep, repeat. I didn't notice that my hobbies and social life quickly took a turn for the worse. I didn't notice that I lost myself in the tedious grind of that lifestyle. It's not a stretch to say I forgot how to be who I was supposed to be.

Having a solid career is a wonderful thing and I'm certainly thankfully to have one. But losing who you are, forgetting to socialize, forgetting to dream and to try and accomplish those dreams... well, that's a terrible thing. It's those things that create truly important moments in our lives that we look back on with fondness down the years. It's how we become enriched.

But as I mentioned, I didn't notice all of this was happening. It wasn't until the last few years that I really saw myself from the outside and noticed these negative changes. My health had suffered, my social life was in shambles, all of my hobbies that I was once been passionate about I hadn't touched or even thought about in years. All because I was lost in the routine of daily life. All because a fog has settled on me without my awareness.

I don't really know what woke me up, but I've been trying to make up for lost time now that the fog has lifted. Not that time can ever be reclaimed, but I'm trying not to let it slip through my fingers as easily as I once did. My friends probably think I'm having a mid-life crisis even though I'm not old enough for that. At least, I HOPE I'm not. I jokingly say "mid-life crisis", but I haven't bought a fancy car or gotten a mail order Russian bride. I've just been picking up old hobbies. Things I love but have neglected for too long.

I forgot how energized I get by learning something new or working on projects. I've been taking so many classes it's hard to keep track. And I've been loving every second. My goal at the start of the year was to try and do something new every month or to put myself in situations outside of my comfort zone. I saw a great quote about that once, "life begins at the end of your comfort zone." And I'm finding the more I put that theory to the test, the more true it begin to appear. There's a pretty extensive list of "stuff not in my comfort zone" that I can fall back on so this could go on for quite a while.

I look back and think about all the grand dreams I had when I was younger and I feel disappointed that I didn't make a more concentrated effort to reach them. But I realized that - while I had motivation then - I didn't have the level of motivation required of the people who do something truly special with their life. Even as motivated as I am today, I don't know if I have the right amount of drive. I hope I do and I'll be interested to see what the future holds as my young, passionate self continues to merge with the more driven, present version of myself to create - hopefully -  a better me than the other two.

I shake, I shake I could never see-
how good a young love could really be-
I know, I know it's not that bad-
Take a look at what we had.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Dating in 2014: Yep, Still Confusing

Having been off the dating market for a while, I had this strange notion that when I was forced back into that world that it would be a new animal from the one I'd unsuccessfully tried to tame last time. Turns out it's pretty much the same as I left it. Which is to say it's 90% exhausting, confusing, and confidence-destroying with the remaining 10% being amazing. The amazing part doesn't always balance out having to tolerate the other parts, but it's all worth it when it does. I love the thrill of getting to know someone who has the potential to be an incredible presence in your life and a person who enriches you in ways you did not anticipate. There's all of these possibilities for the future that suddenly open up in front of you and you can't wait to see where things go. Unfortunately there is (usually) a whole lot of the 90% happening before you get to that point.

I have never been cut out for 'dating'. When I was in my late teens/early 20's, I didn't have to date. Somehow I would always meet someone that I would hit it off with and then we'd "go out" or whatever it's called now. We would see each other exclusively, we'd label each other boyfriend/girlfriend, and so on. Looking back, I didn't realize how amazingly unusual and lucky that was. I just assumed that is how it worked for everyone. When I moved to Nashville at 24 suddenly I had to start dating and I had no clue how it was done. 9 years later, I still have no idea.

There were a lot of things I had to learn over the years that aren't remotely self-evident.
I didn't realize people who said "let's get together again" might not mean what they said. I've never been great at letting someone down but I don't say "I want to see you again" when I don't mean it. And neither should you. I'm a big boy, I've been loved plenty of times but I've always been rejected plenty of times. I can handle it. Just say "nice to meet you"...if you don't return my calls after that, I get it.

I didn't realize that some people actually take "dating rules" seriously, such as waiting two days to call someone. If I like someone, they seem to like me, and I feel like talking to them...I call. I'm daredevil like that. I don't want to tell you how many people have been offended by my thought process on this subject.

I didn't realize how many times I would get a date mad at me for opening the door for her. I certainly didn't realize one day I'd be cussed out in front of a restaurant for doing it. She screamed at me that she was "not fucking helpless" but I already knew that. After all, she'd driven herself to meet me and I assumed there were at least two times she had to open a door to make it happen. That's just how I was raised. It's a polite thing, not a male/female thing. She failed to see that I also opened the door for the gentleman who was right next to us.

I didn't realize that people would be going out on dates with multiple people at the same time. That was never my style, but in the dating world if you don't do that, you risk wasting your time because someone else is and they decide they want to get to know another person instead of you.

There was a whole lot of shit I just didn't realize and, now that I do, I just don't understand. I also don't really want to understand. I don't want to get "good" at dating and become an efficient date machine. That's not the person I want to be. I'm not out there to date, I'm out there to meet someone special. Being optimistic as I am and mixing that in with all of the real world experiences I've had which have caused disappointments, let-downs, and heartaches has created in me an uneasy combination of jaded and hopeless romantic.

Despite all my past experience, I was excited to get back to dating after having been in an important - yet unfortunately stalled - relationship for the past year and a half. That feeling of excitement of just who I might meet welled up strong. can be unforgiving on your ego which I'd evidently forgotten. I take rejection too personally even now in my 30's. It's a problem I've always had. Even realizing that rejection is so often not even about you as a person, your mind can always make it be. Maybe that's a little arrogant but I know so many people, myself included, who roll that way. Dating can take your feeling of self-worth and demolish it before you realize it is happening. One day you're walking confident and tall, daring the world to challenge you, and the next you're looking at your feet when you walk and slumping your shoulders under a weight you didn't even realize you'd started to toil beneath.

Take my most recent date, which was my first date since getting back on the horse. I went from feeling like I had so much to offer people to feeling completely worthless and like no one could be trusted.
I met her for brunch in Germantown, a nice low pressure situation where we could actually talk and get to know one another. It's so rare for me to meet anyone I hit it off with and want to see again, but I quickly found myself leaning forward to make sure to catch everything she said and was excited when she agreed to meet up again. I can't stress how rare actual excitement is when it comes to dating anymore.
The next weekend, I sat with her in the park while we watched live music. Close enough to enjoy it, far enough back where we could talk. Which we did for about 5 hours. I enjoyed listening to tales of her life while she would unconsciously grab a handful of her hair in a fist then flip it over her shoulder, wafting her pleasant shampoo scent my way. And when it began to rain for a short time, I even had the pleasure to chivalrously hold the umbrella for her. She scooted in closer to make sure we were both fully under it. It was adorable.
We talked frankly of past relationships, and how strange dating could be, and I was refreshed by how candid and honest she seemed about everything. She even brought up how frustrating it was when people would say they wanted to get together again and yet you never heard from them after that. As we were parting - myself a bit more smitten than I had been earlier- I was obviously pleased when she told me she wanted to get together next week, followed by a "I really mean that, I'm not just saying it."
I'm sure you can imagine my confusion when she cancelled on me a day before our third.

This was one of those situations where the ego makes it all about you when it probably isn't. In classic form, my mind made her decision all about my failings and all I could think was that if you can't rely on someone as adamant about going out again as she was, how are you ever supposed to know or trust what someone says? And also that I sucked and everyone hated me.
It turns out she'd met someone several weeks before me that she'd also been out on (several more) dates with (see, everyone does it) and it had started to get serious so naturally she wanted to see where it went. Assuming she was being honest - which I want to believe she was - that is a reason I can completely understand. I've been in that situation before, though I admit it's not fun to be on the receiving end. But in fairness, it's terrible to have to decide between two people when you think highly of them both. I'd like to think she agonized over the decision though I have no proof that. But it comforts me so that's what I'm going with. Despite feeling more at ease about the situation now that I've had a bit of time to step away from it, I'm still very disappointed I won't get to see her again and I'm trying my best not to be bitter about it even though sometimes I struggle to refrain from wishing ill on their relationship.
Though it would have been nice if she'd at least told me more than 18 hours before our date so I could try and make new plans.

Anyone out there who is going through these same struggles as I, you have my sympathy. Also, stop dating the few girls I like.

"I remember that look, the last one you gave me.
A kiss on the cheek, as you were leaving.
The last thing you said was 'I'll see you again'
But we both know we won't-"