Wednesday, November 16, 2005
By request...This one's for Lorika, who wanted to know.
I'm not certain what's kept me from telling this tale, especially since I threatened to do so in another post way back in August, and again in September. I guess I'm just a little slow. I'm also a little long-winded.
The story starts with me and my not-particularly-romantic self. Allow me to rephrase that: it's not that I'm unromatic, it's more like I don't subscribe to the typical American ideas of romance. I like a nice candlelit dinner now and again...wait. Actually, I like bright enough lighting to see both my companion and my food. Eating in the dark is weird. I like getting flowers...wait. I like it but the first thing I think of is that while the sentiment is sweet, the fact is that the flowers are temporary. They're going to die. Soon. So giving flowers: what kind of statment is that? I'm not a stars-in-my-eyes, love at first sight kind of girl. I loathe Valentines Day. My six-year tradition on Valentines Day is to rent "Aliens", "Terminator 2" and "Hard Boiled" and enjoy piles of Sour Patch Kids while watching stuff explode. Alone. Seriously. I don't want to come off as cynical, I'm not, I'm just...practical. I guess what I'm trying to say here is that I really hate dating. Always have. Hate. It.
As of mid-August 2005 I'd been single for exactly one year. My last boyfriend ended our crappy relationship after seven months of dating. August 2004 he was going on a monthlong trip abroad and I had asked what our status as a couple was, and what to expect upon his return. Not too unreasonable, and I was nice enough stupid enough (whatever) to wait until the day before his flight to ask (as if this was a proper question to ask after SEVEN MONTHS). He said he wasn't sure, blahblahblah, and I said "well, then I guess we should end this right now" because why should I spend the rest of my summer waiting for a man who wasn't sure he wanted to be with me? "Ooooh, no. No, no", he says. "I think that's premature. Let's not break up". So we don't. Instead, he breaks up with me the week after he gets back. This is what I mean when I say our relationship was crappy. Bumped me off the dating scene for a year.
Working nights in OB/GYN doesn't lead to a lot of dating possibilities. The few guys around are either 60-year-old maintainence men (all married...and old) or 25-year-old med students (all single...but young). I had met my last crappy boyfriend online, and decided to revisit my account to see if there were any new dudes of interest. There were a couple, and I wrote them little notes, and none wrote back. I hate that. It's one thing to get rejected in person, but to get rejected without them having met you is worse. I spend the next month resigning myself to the fact that I'm undateable, and that all I really need is my Netflix and my dog. I wasn't looking for a boyfriend, really, I was just looking to get back into the dating swing. A few practice dates, to remind me of how much I hate dating. Then I get a note from a redhead in a nice sweater with a kind smile. Of all the online dating service emails I've recieved (a whopping 7 in two years--seriously, I may be undateable) this is the only one that really screamed "GO OUT WITH THIS MAN". So I did.
On Monday we had a nice light dinner outdoors and then sat on a park bench in Union Square and talked for ages about everything and nothing. Best. Date. Ever. I had to put my feet in his lap because Union Square has a rat infestation of biblical proportions. Having a man offer to hold your feet so you don't get rabies--now THAT'S romantic. I'm such a New Yorker. We got together Tuesday afternoon for more walking, eating and chatting, and Wednesday morning I met him for breakfast after my shift was over for a third date (that's three dates in three days, if you weren't paying attention) because we wanted to squeeze in as much contact time as possible. We marvelled at how we were either completely psycho, or had really stumbled into something fabulous. He was leaving for Boston that day by train and then off to New Orleans and wouldn't be back in New York until October. Now, you know I have to be crazy about someone to meet them for breakfast after a 12-hour overnight shift when I know I look like crap and I'm all covered with hospital germs.
The first of two signs that he was meant to stay in New York: While sitting in the coffee shop that morning we learned of a huge Amtrak accident tying up trains to Boston. That kept him for a few hours more, not long enough for my taste. "Don't you think that's a sign?" I asked. We got a few laughs out of it. Two weeks later, the second sign: Katrina. It just could not be more obvious: the man was supposed to be in New York with me. Period. Case closed. Someone is trying to tell you something. I think we could have gotten the hint via a less destructive sign, but it's not like I had any say in it. He had ignored the travel warnings and tried to fly into Louisiana only to get waylaid in Atlanta on August 27th. He was stuck there for a bit, then made his way back north into my apartment and...my heart. See? I can be romantic! Or sappy, anyway.
Yep. Three dates. Does three dates in three days even count as three dates? It was really more like one really long date with some naps in between. Three dates, some phone calls, a couple of emails and *poof*! We shack up. You can imagine how my mother felt about this. But it felt right--it was simply the right thing to do, and I didn't think twice about inviting him--he was basically homeless. A natural disaster of that magnitude was more than strong enough to wipe out any and all dating propriety. And he behaved like a perfect gentleman. He even slept on the sofa for a night or two. Okay, it wasn't two. Whatever.
For now he's staying in a friend's spare bedroom until we can find something bigger to house the two of us (his kind smile takes up quite a bit of space on it's own) plus the dog and the Katrina-displaced kitty he brought back, and he still refers to himself as "The Luckiest Refugee". Imagine something as destructive and vicious as a Category 5 hurricane being a positive force in this one tiny instance. It's totally embarassing. But I just don't know what would have happened if Brian hadn't been compelled return to New York; perhaps we would have blossomed anyway, albeit on a more traditional dating timetable, but perhaps not. Well-meaning friends have informed me that disaster is not the most romantic foundation for a fledgeling relationship...
To those people I say: I can find romance in rats.