9 \ Pictures of You.

October 2013
It’s been slow going meeting potential dates offline. 9 was the first. A friend of a friend, we met at a music festival. We chatted briefly – she professed her frustration with meeting good men in Austin. She was attractive, a little salty, feisty – an attitude. There was a bit of a spark, and we arranged to meet. I asked my friend about her. The consensus was that she was cool, but a bit of a live one. The term ‘starfucker’ was used. Right then. Let’s see what will happen.

The festival continued the following weekend and I spent the day with friends, until the evening when I met up with 9 – a smile, a hug, and a kiss. By that time we had fully enjoyed the hospitality area, and we were primed to see the headliner do their thing. I had stage access – I would be on the stage with the band – she did not, so I opted to hang with her of course. She was surprised by this – that I would give up that sort of ‘privilege’. This was a date wasn’t it? At least kind of? That just wouldn’t be right for me to leave her.

We enjoyed the show, and each other’s company. The band play a good while. Towards the end of the set it began to rain. Slowly at first, then an almighty Texas downpour. At some point the band called it a night and the masses made their way out. I was parked not far away, and we marched through the rain, laughing, getting soaked. Completely drenched we made plans. Her place was nearby. We would go, get dry clothes, then head to a party.

The rain continued to come down, and lightning began to fill the sky. A short time later we made it to her place. Head to toe, wet all the way through. She told me to give her my clothes, she would throw them in the dryer. She handed me a towel and a robe. I obliged.

At some point drinks were poured, as the storm continued to intensify. Her roommate was there, with her boyfriend. We all laughed and chatted, quite comfortably. The situation was ridiculous and fun, all in disparate states of dress. Foregoing the party, eventually the two of us wound up in her room. The dryer was still spinning, the storm still storming. We were more than half naked, and we kissed. Lightning lit up the room well into the night.

The next morning I awoke and I was still there. This hadn’t really happened before – a sleepover, and then wanting to hang out after. I still had tremendous confusion, guilt, and shame, and even though those feelings were present, amplified by the hangover, I fought them and went with it – I just wanted to move forward, and know what a potential ‘like’ interest might feel like. After brunch we returned to her place for more making out, and a nap. Hours later it was evening and this time I really had to go.

I believe the next time we met may have been equivalent to a mutual booty call (again, a first – a late nite call of convenience with companionship as the intent, and sex the result). It was much later in the evening, after a few drinks, and I went to her place. There was a firepit, a record player, more drinks, another sleepover. There was little more that I wanted – physical company – and she was happy to oblige. Shallow. Enjoyable.

I made tentative plans to meet her on Halloween and go to a show. I ended up hanging with some friends – I kind of blew her off. We exchanged texts, and I realized that she was waiting for me and expected me to take her out. I had somewhat set that expectation but had never confirmed with her. (I was over the shallowness of the connection and wasn’t interested in building deeper connections with her – there wasn’t anything there.) I felt bad for standing her up so to speak, so went to see her – she was in bed and having a bit of a pity party – feeling sorry for herself and clearly she was trying to make me feel guilty. Not attractive behavior. Despite this, I ended up parting in the wee hours of the morning. And that was the end of it. Or so I thought.

The next encounter was around F1. Another late night text exchange and we met and went to an after party. Late into the night. We drank and laughed and made out and fondled on the porch of the house converted into a bar for the party. A short trek to her place and an exit in the late morning. Physical, shallow, and should have been guilt-free – but still that shame lingered.

The guilt.
(Part of it an acknowledgement of the reality that it was truly over with the ex. The resistance to realization that I was accountable to no one but myself. Still emotionally attached to the idea of the ‘marriage’ – still coupled yet uncoupled in nearly every way. As I write this over a year later I’ve made progress – this feeling has dissipated. It’s useless and unfounded. Yet was a persistent devil.)

No harsh words, no bust up, I wasn’t going to call her again, and I didn’t. I didn’t see her for months until recently. I was on a date and she was with someone that knew my date. She pretended not to see me and totally ignore me. They went inside and then the guy came back out to introduce her to us. She said hello to my date then I stood up to give her a hug because – you know, we know each other – at least at an intimate physical level – and she completely backed away in the weirdest lean-back-fade-out contortion I have ever seen. Fucking crazy. And hilarious. And awkward. But luckily my date was cool and thought it was hilarious too. (I had a friend that ‘knew’ her and something similar happened to him, so I took this evidenced behavior to be a pattern).

I saw her a few more times recently and as I said ‘hello’, she did the same thing – completely blanked me. I laughed. I then saw her when I was with friends and she was alone and she called me out for never saying hello! (What?) The last time I saw her was very recently when I went to meet a ‘date’ who was out with a friend. That friend happened to be her. I had had a few drinks and used some colorful language to describe her. Which wasn’t cool and very atypical and I regret but apparently I was affected by the blanking treatment. And the booze.

I’m sure I will see her again. And that’s fine. I’m happy to chat with her or, if I get the blank treatment, keep on walking.

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