Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Date / A Mistake I Won't Make Again

I wrote this two months ago about the one we’re calling Anastasia. I didn’t post it because she reads my blog. Or did. Not sure if she still does.

I’m going on a date. It’s more of a vetting process, an innocuous coffee date, our first time alone to see if there’s anything behind the eyes we’ve made at each-other in crowds, but it’s still a date.

My emotional state through this separation reminds me of my recovery from an automobile accident I had two-and-a-half years ago. The recovery process was not a gradual upward slope but a series of jagged edges. Two feet pulled forward, then jerked four feet back. Leaping five feet, then sprawling for twelve. I knew I’d make a full recovery, so even though I knew a fall was waiting, I managed to push myself on those days I felt better.

I’m okay most days, but my emotional state is not improving gradually. It’s brimming with excitement over what’s to come, followed by crying jags in the shower over what I’ve lost. It’s living each moment and letting the stupid frustrations of modern life slide, followed by meltdowns over a rude remark from a stranger or a botched purchase order. It’s enthusiasm for change and fear of same.

I will not plunge into drinking and drugs, wandering the streets at night, muttering to myself, railing at the world (at least, I don’t think so) but will I ever again be so happy for so long? The odds against it are mind-boggling. In this case, I don’t even know what a full recovery would look like.

So how about focusing on the positives?

The Treehouse is morphing from a dank, grimy writer’s retreat to a home entirely of my choosing. My friendships and family ties have become richer. I’ve met more people in the last month than I’ve met in the previous two years. I no longer have nightmares about driving a car with no brakes. I don’t have to worry about anyone else’s nutrition when I eat Ben & Jerry’s for dinner. My life is in perspective (again; let’s see how long it lasts this time). If I want to see a movie with a friend or read a book or have a drink with a friend or sit and listen to music, I see a movie or have a drink, I sit and read or listen to music.

This innocuous-coffee-date-but-still-a-date is with someone I’ve been attracted to for some time. It’s never felt like the right moment (“I’m not sure when I’ll be over the breakup of my marriage, but why don’t you dive in while the water’s warm?” “My wife and I dissolved our joint account; let’s say you and I break in my bank card.” “Hey, I’m moving into my new place this week. How about I take a pause from packing and we get some sushi?”), but I eventually realized if I saw her on the arm of some skinny jeans wearing, bass guitar playing, weirdly facial haired hipster doofus without at least giving it a shot, a little bit of me would whimper and die.

The wanting to vs. the probably shouldn’t, the heart vs. the head, has been going on for weeks. Yet once we decided to have an innocuous coffee date, it took two days for the excitement to fade. I’m still excited, don’t get me wrong, but it’s tinged with melancholy. “I’m going on a DATE!” has become “I’m going on a … date?”

I’ve wanted this for so long, and now it’s depressing me.

Dates feel arbitrary and forced, like mating pandas in captivity, or talking in a basement with the other kids while your parents all party upstairs. What are the odds of dropping my defenses long enough to be myself? If by some miracle we do relax and enjoy ourselves, what are odds we’ll enjoy each-other’s company?

The promise of good things in my future has gotten me through the lowest points. If this innocuous-coffee-date-which-is-still-a-date is a disaster, what will see me through the bad moments then?

I planned on posting this after Anastasia and I met for coffee, thinking things would go swimmingly and we’d have a laugh over my insecurities. Well, let’s all laugh at my insecurities, because the date never materialized. I won’t bore you with the back and forth of it all. Let’s just say she’s tough to read and clearly not as into me as I would have liked. And frankly, as I need during this vulnerable junction in my life.

So what did this experience teach me? Not to censor Sweet with Fall and Fish based on who reads it. I’m not out to hurt people or share things which aren’t mine to share, but this is therapy for me on some level. I’ve written volumes I don’t intend anyone other than me to read, so when I write something with the express purpose of posting it, I can’t hold it back.

Things I write here are true. There are also parts exaggerated or skewed by my perception, and things which were true when I wrote them but I can’t fathom now (“single and happy,” September 24th version of Aaron? Really?). There’s little point in a blog full of lies, but anyone’s personal truth needs to be taken with a measure of skepticism. People have a million thoughts a day, they’re born in the strange meat of our minds and they dance for a while and usually die. Writers take those thoughts and dip them in amber. We can’t help it. Non-writers are lucky enough to have your darkest moments and regrettable words hidden behind your skulls.

So take my amber, hold it up to the light, and see what’s inside. Examine it from any angle you’d like, just remember to consider the source.


  1. Hullo AJC,

    Maybe some people are scared of the fact that any relationship would be subjected to such intense scrutiny that they would flare and burn in the glare?

    Maybe some people want or need to be protected from that just a bit.

    Can't there be a positive side to compartmentalisation and censorship too when it protects fragility from being opened up to further inspection when its already been analysed to the n'th degree and hung out to dry by you on what can be a fierce, even if mitigated, perspective?

    That kind of care, of discretion, of protection is something that most folk would really value.

    What about the baggage that they carry?

    And isn't that sometimes just you being a wee bit defensive/ protective of the id?

    Dont take this the wrong way but if I dated you I'd be bloody careful about what I let you see. Would absolutely everything be up for public inspection? Do I want anything I say/do potentially published? And anyone who can disect people the way you can is a real threat in any conflict situation. Many folk can't deal with the risk that honest truths are going to be used as weapons. That's not to say that's what happens with you, only you know that, but jings, what a risk.

    Or, of course, I could just be completely barking myself.


  2. Interesting point. I didn't even think that might have factored into her decision. What did I say in that T-Mobile post, about becoming a celebrity or marrying a writer? If you want to have your life held up for public scrutiny…

    I could have been plenty vicious toward my wife. Sometimes the temptation was strong. But even as I’ve presented the facts of her behavior to my closest friends, I’ve tried to balance them with understanding. The facts haven’t appeared here, however. Only my reaction to them.

    Oddly, it was my wife’s reading of a blog which taught me people could take Sweet more – well, the word isn’t seriously. I take my writing seriously. Literally doesn’t quite work, either. My thoughts and feelings are always evolving, as everyone’s are; as serious and true as I am when I’m getting a thought out, that doesn’t mean it’s carved in granite. It’s carved in thoughts, just recorded for others to contemplate perhaps enjoy. Like a snapshot of smoke.

    I guess the folks who know me know they can trust me, but as you’ve pointed out, trying to woo someone who barely knows me might be a different kettle of fish. I’m thinking of the poor Schmoe’s in Stephanie Klein’s blog, victim of the kind of judgment and ridicule you mention. Of course, I find her style hilarious. Whatever happens, the names will always be changed to protect the innocent.

  3. Hullo AJC,

    Sorry that was a bit of a rant too.

    I can be a twat sometimes..........

    I understand that you do protect people from public view and I think you are doing the right thing not compromising peoples view of your wife.