Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Cards on the Table.

I'm back on the Raincoast, feeling jet lagged and un-sexy. On my first day out in town, I needed to get to a particular store to buy a particular technological gadget so's I could surf the internets (essential). I hopped on a bus and asked the driver if I could get to this store on his route; he wasn't sure but a man getting on behind me interrupted and mentioned that it would be better if I hopped off at a certain stop and walked the rest of the way.

"I work near there, and that's where I get off," he said.

"OK, then I'll just get off when you do," I said. "Thanks."

We chose separate seats. When he stood up, I stood up, and we got off the bus. I started walking in the direction of the store. Awkwardly, he was walking in the same direction. I tried to slow down so we weren't walking together, but he paused and waited for me at the corner.

"Where is it you're going, exactly?" he asked. I told him. "They're in my office building," he said, laughing. "I'll walk with you."

So, off we set, even more awkwardly. We made conversation; he was a journalist, we talked about the story he was writing. We talked about my work. It was as good a conversation as perfect strangers can have during a 10 minute walk. He was clearly intelligent, and witty. And English. I was sufficiently entertained. No wedding ring.

When we got to the building, we shook hands, exchanged all those niceties: "it's nice to meet you," "good luck with your story," "good luck with your move," blah blah. Then he handed me his business card, and we parted ways.

When I got home later that day, I looked at his card. What did it mean, the giving of the card, I asked myself? He didn't say "call me." He didn't say "it would be nice to hear from you." But then, why the card? He had seemed like a pleasant enough man, so I thought, could it hurt to have a drink?

The next day, I emailed. I kept the tone casual, light: "Thanks for the guided tour, it was nice meeting you." I made a little joke referring to something we had talked about. Three lines, that was it.

He responded literally within 30 seconds. The reply was basically "You're welcome." Friendly, responded to my joke cordially, but that was it. No leading question for me to answer to continue the conversation, nothing to give me some encouragement that if I sent another email, he would reply. Certainly no invitation to meet up again.

I immediately hit "forward" and sent it to my friend Cath, saying, "Well, so much for banter. What the hell do I say now? I guess nothing." She immediately emailed back a suggested reply, which I fired off to him immediately. He responded, a little more wit this time, but again, the email was the electronic equivalent of a poker face, impossible to read. I had no idea if I would be shot down if I asked to meet up, and was not willing to ask until I was a bit more sure of the response I would receive. I waited a few minutes, and emailed a one sentence reply. Then I had to head out to meet a friend for lunch, but eagerly anticipated coming home to a reply, which I was sure was forthcoming.



So, if he didn't want to talk to me again, why the business card? There was no reason, professionally, to give me the card. If he was waiting to see if I was interested, clearly, emailing him in the first place indicated my interest, non?

While I am not devastated or even feeling particularly rejected, as there was nothing more than a mild interest on my part in the first place, this incident has confirmed that I am decidedly against the act of business card spamming. Cards should only be handed out to people you genuinely wish to contact you. This is what I have concluded, after much deliberation. Amen.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

If it will feed nothing else, it will feed my revenge.

I'm not sure why, but following my recent dark night of the soul over C.M., my friends thought that the best revenge was to head out on the town and on the pull.  I reluctantly agreed.  I was only willing to venture out of my room after dark anyway, as my eyes were so swollen from crying.  At the very least, I thought, a good night of drinking myself into oblivion was in order.  

After many, many shots of sambuca, I ended up going home with a much much younger man for some meaningless "revenge" sex.  It didn't feel like revenge, though, as I realized, C.M. didn't care.  It would mean nothing to him.  The only person I was hurting was me.  

It would have been one thing if it was fun.  But I just felt sad.  And hollow.  I think this is a feeling I will have to learn to live with...

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Devastated Girl Seeks Uncomplicated Man.

I should have known it would be my heart that got broken in the end.

I haven't had much to say here for many months. Readers of this blog will know this is because I've been hopelessly in love with one very Complicated Man and waiting for him to figure out what to do about it. I've been very patient, I think. Every email, every letter, every phone call, every gift, every meeting, was like water to a gasping traveller traversing the desert, quenching my thirst momentarily, and giving me the strength to stagger on in search of the next oasis. At times, my faith wavered, and I couldn't see the horizon. I doubted what I felt, thought perhaps I'd imagined it, but was drip-fed hope in small enough doses that I continued to trust in what I felt and to trust my heart when it said he felt it too.

Even in my deleriously hopeful and optimistic state, I couldn't help but notice a chill in the air over the past few months. It went acknowledged but blithely and pointedly ignored. I chalked it up to him having to figure things out. C.M. is a good man who found himself in a situation where it was impossible to be good to everyone, and I felt very confident that if he searched his heart, he would make the right choice, and that it would be me. So I gave him space, and tried not to panic as the gulf widened.

My birthday last month went unnoticed, which hurt. Then came a momentous announcement from me, that I was making a huge, life changing decision that would certainly put physical distance between us. The response I wanted: "Please don't go, I love you and I just need time to sort things out before we live happily ever after." The response I got: "Totally understand, and think it's for the best. You'll be happier." Even then, however, I didn't clue in. The encroaching silence, the gentle let-downs...they didn't register.

The final blow caught me while I wasn't looking, while I had exhaled. Things seemed hopeful. Chances of a reunion were on the horizon, the daily contact that I craved was back in full swing, and I was confidently striding towards a future that I was creating for myself with a quiet confidence that C.M. would be part of that future. Tonight, I was sitting at a table in a restaurant, laughing with friends, happier than I had been in months. I casually checked my Blackberry, to find an email from C.M., always a joyous event. As I scrolled down, I saw the line, casually buried halfway through the third paragraph of otherwise witty, breezy chat. I don't need to tell you what it said, other than to say it was a death shot. It was aimed to kill, not maim, and it found its target easily. It was information that was withheld from me until it became the elephant in the room too large to ignore.

At that moment, reading the words, the air disappeared. I couldn't focus on what my friends were saying, I was upside down, underwater, couldn't find the surface. After what seemed like hours, stumbling home in the dark, I was able to process it, chastising myself that it had all been in my head, right from the very beginning, a ruse cleverly designed by my heart to carry me through some of the darkest times in my life. Friends assured me that I was in his heart, no matter how hard I argued that I had deceived myself. No, they said. He found himself in an impossible situation, unable to be honest with me for fear of alienating me completely, of losing our friendship altogether. I reproached myself, that I had let my imagination turn that friendship into something more than it ever, ever was.

It may not have been love to him, but it was life to me. And for that, I am grateful, despite this assassination of all my hopes. Despite the calculated, careful nature of the attack.

And so, after tonight, which I need to grieve and mourn and admonish myself for daring to dream, I will put an end to it. As I move on into a new phase of my life, I suppose I can let go of this crutch. It's painful. It hurts like hell. I'll be limping for ages. But I'll be walking. Forward.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

For The Complicated One.

The stars align
But they don't align for us
Excuse me, for I am the ocean
And I will stop for you
Will you know how to stay brave
Search for fragile moments we share
And you are my everything
Even with nothing to say...

And...we're back.

And I'm glad.  

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I Did Notice You Had Gone...

...from my life, from my inbox.  And it hurt.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Girl Code

There is a code among girls. Girls' girls, that is. If a friend:

a) dates a fella;

b) is in unrequited love and/or lust with a fella; or

c) even expresses a remote interest in a fella,

if you are a girl's girl, you back off. Even if she protests, says she's no longer interested, that "oh, you'd make a great couple and honestly, I don't even CARE about him anymore," you back. the fuck. off. It's the Girl Code.

I feel very blessed in the girls I have in my life. They are, without exception, girl's girls.

Or so I thought.

There is a man that I've been circling around for awhile now. I more than like him, but, as Facebook would say, "It's complicated." He's married, for one. But there's just something. At the very least, it's a very close friendship. If I get my way, it will be a very close more-than-friendship. The line has already wavered, and continues to, in one form or another. Suffice it to say, he's been marked for some time as mine. I take comfort in the "complicated" status of whatever-it-is we're doing together because universally, those that know both of us get that we're working through something, even if it comes to naught, give quiet encouragement where needed, and basically stay out of it.

My co-worker Paige has been one of these people. She was the first person I confessed the real depth of my feelings to, and she was encouraging and empathetic. She was the first person I texted when I woke up in bed one morning after a night of partying to find Complicated Man right beside me. She's seen us together, and dissected every detail with me later. She's agreed with my analysis of Complicated Man's attractive qualities, and given independent third party observer confirmation that yes, he definitely is into me. She's been, in short, a girlfriend.

Last night a group of us, excluding Complicated Man but including many mutual friends (Paige among them) gathered at our local pub, the Shakespeare, getting drunk on someone else's tab, which is always good fun. The drinks were slightly tinged with hysteria, as all of us had found out a day earlier that we were all potentially on the chopping block at work, victims of the credit crunch and the recession crippling the City, and our double G & T's turned into double-doubles. I hadn't seen Paige in awhile, and in fact, someone had pointed out earlier in the week that they thought Paige and I had "fallen out" (for reasons I'll explain in a minute), which had been a surprise to me.

After a few double-doubles, Paige came up to give me a hug, drunkenly crooning "I miss you, it's been so loooong." I hugged her back and filled her in on the fall-out theory. Paige looked truly perplexed, widening her eyes to emphasize her shock at such an outrageous statement (perhaps more than she needed to, I thought, but I blamed that on the G & T's).

"But what do they think we fell out about?" she asked incredulously. That's when I took a deep breath, and raised the issue of the Girl Code.

"About Complicated Man," I said, and sat back, stirring my G & T anxiously and waiting for her reply. "They think that you got together with Complicated Man, and I found out. This was the first time I heard any of this, so I said it must not be true." To my horror, she calmly took a sip of her drink, and nodded knowingly.

"Ohhhhhhh, there's NOTHING going on with Complicated Man AT THE MOMENT," she said airily. "We've gotten to know each other very well, and I know he fancies me, but you know, he's happily married. So nothing will happen."

I stared at her in shock. It was like we were talking about someone else. She couldn't be talking about MY Complicated Man. WHEN did they have time to get to know each other very well, I asked, swallowing down my fear with a swig of gin. She gave a vague answer and I only half-listened. My mind was racing. Why was she acting like the fact that he was happily married (and my wounded ego begged to differ on that observation) was the only obstacle to them acting on the unbridled lust she was implying had grown between them? And where the hell had I been when all this was going on? When had they seen each other without me, and what was he doing when he wasn't with his wife or with me, or talking to me, or texting me, or writing me emails? In short, whataboutmewhataboutmewhataboutme?

My first reaction was to hope against hope that she had just been misled into believing that whatever heat was generating between me and Complicated Man had cooled. While carrying on with him in these circumstances was still a technical breach of the Girl Code, it was one I could live with.

"You know," I said, "CM and I are still kind of...well, I don't know what we're doing, but we're still doing it."

It was like she didn't hear me. There was no immediate gasp of horror and reassurance that, whatever there was between them, it was nothing to what he and I had. Or that all they had done was talk about me and how crazy about me he was. No. She responded with some comment about how fit he was and what a nice guy he was. I tried to suppress my panic. I tried to pin her down once again on when exactly they had had time to get to know each other, when they had last seen each other, and how this had all transpired. Once again, I didn't really get an answer. I felt sick to my stomach.

Oblivious to my discomfort, she repeated that while he was fit and she definitely fancied him, "nothing would happen between them." She said this with such ingenuine reassurance, as if they had already held a summit on this matter, had nobly resisted the irresistible animal attraction between them, and declared it closed...for now. My insecurities now overcame my pride. Whatever cards I still held to my chest were thrown to the table.

"You know Paige," I said. "If something happened between you and CM...well, that would make me really upset."

"Well," she said, just as ingenuously as she had before, "then nothing will happen."

At this point, I smiled feebly, stood up, and walked like a zombie over to where another group of our friends were standing just out of Paige's earshot.

"If she mentions CM again," I said, smiling sweetly for Paige's benefit, my teeth gritted, "I'll fucking punch her." And I meant it.

Immediately my friends sprang into action. My friend Chris walked me into another side of the pub, and earnestly told me that Paige was just drunk, that she was insecure and fragile, and that I should a) trust what I had with CM, or b) realize that maybe he was happily married, despite whatever was going on between us, and let it go. I responded by reminding Chris (a married man himself) of the Girl Code. That every word that had just come out of Paige's mouth had been in flagrant violation of the Code. Meanwhile, our friend Karen wheeled Paige out of the pub, out onto the patio, to remind her that CM was a no-fly zone. I learned later that Paige again intimated to Karen that something could have happened with CM, but wouldn't, for now. Karen didn't get any better a hold on the details than I had.

After a few deep breaths, I was calmed, but not calm. Chris was right. I couldn't trust CM because we were clearly doing something a man in his position shouldn't be doing anyway. I couldn't tune out Paige because she was playing on my biggest insecurity, that I am not a girl that stands up well to competition. Complicated Man was, perhaps, Too Complicated Man, although my heart told me I couldn't let him go yet. I rejoined our friends, my mind a thousand miles away. I couldn't face another drink.

As the night progressed, Paige continued with the double-doubles, studiously avoiding my gaze, until just before last call. I watched, teeth gritted, as she tried it on with several of our other guy friends. It poured salt in the wound, really: if she could be interested in any of our other guy friends, then why did she need to meddle with CM? Why did she need to help him break my heart? She stumbled over to me, threw her arms around me, and buried her head in my shoulder.

"Sorreeee," she mumbled. "Looooooove you."

I stroked her hair. There was nothing else to do. She was maybe about to lose her job. We all were. Did that make up for the sad realisation that Paige was a Girl Code Breaker? No. But I tried to be understanding. I tried to blame it on the double-doubles.

"Love you too," I sighed. "Do you want to get a cab?"

Paige nodded, silent, head still buried in my hair, arms wrapped around my neck. I led her to the door, and realised at that moment just how drunk she was. She could barely walk, lurching from side to side. I needed to use all of my strength to steer her in the right direction. As we stood outside the Shakespeare, I let go of her for an instant to hail a cab, and she fell with a thud to the sidewalk, bumping her head, and skinning her shin, which began to bleed. Cabs whizzed by us, reluctant to pick up a girl who was obviously very drunk. Finally, one came along. I got Paige inside and buckled her in, and started to give the driver her address, but Paige had already passed out. The driver wouldn't take her home without me. Home for Paige was in the opposite direction from me.

Sighing heavily, I gave the cab driver my address, and climbed in. There was nothing to do but take her home with me. We drove in silence, the driver annoyed that Paige might "soil his cab" at any moment, me lost in hurt, panicked thoughts that I had lost CM forever, and Paige...well, she was out.

We arrived home, and I somehow managed to get her to the door and up the stairs to my third floor flat. I opened the door and she stumbled onto my couch and immediately passed out. Her leg was still bleeding from where she had fallen. All over my couch. I cleaned up her cut, and went to the spare room to begin making up the bed for her. I placed the expensive pillows and the beautiful suede throw from my brother on one side of the bed, and pulled back the duvet.

I got Paige to the loo, and tried to get her to change into a t-shirt of mine, but she was belligerent, and so I let her climb into bed in her clothes. Tucking the duvet around her, I placed a glass of water and an empty bucket (just in case) on the bedside table, and turned out the light. I got into my own bed down the hall, feeling nauseous, unable to sleep. Paige was the last person I wanted sleeping over tonight, given I'd publicly threatened physical harm to her several hours earlier, but I couldn't have left her.

I had just drifted off to sleep when I heard her stirring in the next bedroom. "Paige?" I called out in the darkness. No response.

I got out of bed and padded down the hall to find a very drunk Paige crouched in the corner of the spare bedroom, PEEING on my expensive throw and pillows.

"Nooo, Paige!" I cried. "You have to use the loo! Stop it!" She grunted incoherently, half-asleep and fully drunk, and continued peeing. "Noooo," I wailed at her. She stood up, and fell across the bed, which I noticed was already covered in puke. I knew she was drunk, more drunk than I had ever seen her, but it was hard to be charitable. If only CM could see her now, I thought grimly. There was nothing to do but return to my own room, and lie awake fretting until dawn.

When I got up in the early morning light, I tried not to make much noise. I wanted to get to work, have Paige wake up surrounded by her own pee and puke, and save her the embarassment of having ME find it. I thought if she found it, she might, in her horror, do the cleaning, to spare herself the absolute mortification. No such luck. As I carried my bowl of cereal from the kitchen to the living room, she woke up and made a beeline for the bathroom, slamming the door shut behind her. I grimly sat in the living room, intently focused on the breakfast television I was watching.

Within 5 minutes, Paige was out of the bathroom, and out of the flat. Muttering that she needed to go home and change before work (no kidding, I thought dryly), clearly embarassed, she made her exit. I went into the spare bedroom and surveyed the damage. There was no way she could have missed the puke and piss fest. She had also knocked the glass of water off the bedside table, breaking the glass and leaving a pool of water on the floor. I felt like crying, but I was too tired. I stripped the bed, picked up the soiled things between two fingers, threw them all in the laundry basket, and immediately started putting them through the laundry. I mopped and scrubbed the floor with antibacterial soap. All before 8 am.

Paige was already at work when I arrived, showered and in a black dress, looking much more put-together than I could have believed possible. She thrust a potted orchid at me, muttered her thanks for my hospitality, and made her exit. I didn't hear from her for the rest of the day.

Now, some would say Paige's breach and subsequent pissing and puking on the Girl Code, would entitle me to some revenge. To casually mention the event to CM, for example. But I find that I can't. I want to be better than her. It's sad to have come to the realisation that I can't trust her as far as I can throw her, but I want to do right by Paige. So the worst punishment she'll get is being written about anonymously, on this blog.

But please god, don't let it be true. Paige may have already broken the Girl Code, but don't let CM break what we have between us. It's too precious to me. I'm not ready for it, whatever it is, to be over.

Back to the laundry. I have bloodstains to scrub out of the couch tonight, too. Unbelievable.