ITNOWIT #12: A month has passed

Operation ITNOWIT #12

  • my place
  • Thursday 6/21/12
  • 3:00-7:15pm

B came over to my place again last Thursday. He brought a selection of movies from the library and some snacks, and I made some snacks, too. I changed my hours at work, so he was coming over after work rather than before. This meant that there was no set ending time, and I wondered how long he would stay and how it would go.

It went pretty well. We watched a movie and talked for a while afterward. He read Pride and Prejudice. I had talked about it before. We were talking about internet use and I mentioned that I watch The Lizzie Bennet Diaries on You.Tube. Then I babbled on about the impressiveness of Bronte’s vocabulary and how our vocabulary in the 20th century has shrunk so much (and there may have been a bit of Darcy-swooning as well). And he actually read it. Sigh. This both impresses me and makes me feel bad about not reading the two books he gave me. I mean, I’m trying. But Love in the Time of Cholera has almost no dialogue; it’s all narration. So it’s a really big adjustment from what I usually read and I’m having a tough time getting into it.

We talked travel and names (nicknames, middle names, popular names). The kind of talk that’s fun and interesting, and that made me realize after he’d gone that I’m still finding it difficult to know him. But there were moments that I felt myself relax and not worry about the level of liking that was happening between us. So that’s good, I think.

He did tell me that he doesn’t have internet at his house (along with no tv, which I already knew). He takes his laptop to the library instead, and downloads podcasts to listen to at home. He says it’s because if he had it at his house, he’d be on the internet all the time, rather than reading. Obviously, I completely understand that because that is my life right now. It reminded me of A pear by herself’s blogs about respecting your partner. I really respect what I know of B’s lifestyle. It makes me feel like I should really strive to limit my own internet use and read more (which I knew before I met B, of course). On the other hand, I don’t want to feel guilty about watching five episodes of Mad Men in a row. The good thing is that B doesn’t seem to be judgey about it.

He drove to a city many hours away this weekend for an interview. I can certainly say that I  don’t want him to move far away. I do want to see where this is going, if it’s going anywhere. We’ve been spending time together for a month now. I keep trying to imagine how we’re going to get to the next step, since I can’t bring myself to “make the next move.” It certainly doesn’t seem like we’ll just talk it out. (“So, are we dating or what? Because if we are, shouldn’t there be touching involved?”) And it certainly doesn’t seem like things will just progress. (We’re sitting on the couch together watching a movie and somehow we’re holding hands…)

A month ago, I wouldn’t have imagined that I’d be here, hanging out with a sweet, literate guy. A month from now, who knows what will happen?

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ITNOWIT #11: B’s a keeper.

Operation ITNOWIT #11

  • my place
  • Thursday 6/14/12
  • 12:30-3:15pm
  • deli sandwich
  • $11 (I treated to make up for B buying my movie ticket)

B is a keeper. He’s so thoughtful and kind and generous. Really. It would be great if I, you know, felt my pulse speed up or my knees go weak at the sight of him or something. Perhaps I’m just too old for that giddy, schoolgirl crush feeling. Or perhaps he’s just a lovely friend, nothing less and nothing more.

Last Thursday B came to my place for another afternoon of Boggle. It was the first time I’d seen him in more than a week. (He sent me a postcard from the conference in Las Vegas.) After he arrived we walked to an awesome co-op grocery store where they make great deli sandwiches. B had never had one, so I was happy to introduce him to them. We brought our lunch back to my house and he told me about the conference, which sounded incredibly emotionally intense.

We played Boggle and talked about books. I asked him what he read as an adolescent, and he didn’t have an easy time answering. I find we’re very different in that way–B doesn’t really go on about favorite things (or any things). I am in love with lots of things, and still find joy and comfort in so many of the books/music/movies I discovered in adolescence. And as I’ve mentioned, I can talk about things I love quite a lot. This quality could either amuse or annoy people, I imagine.

Anyone who’s known me for more than five minutes, then, will inevitably become familiar with my love for Leonard Bernstein, Russian composers, and musicals, among other things. “Lenny” is a household name in my family. At one point early in my acquaintance with B, we were talking about music and it popped into my head that someone had once told me they’d had a New Kids on the Block pillowcase as a kid (and she’d kiss her favorite one, but I left that part out). I asked B if he’d had anything like that and said that if I had a pillowcase with my favorite musicians on it, Leonard Bernstein would be on one side, and Sergei Rachmaninov would be on the other.

Can you guess where this is going? B handed me a box. Inside was a pillowcase. With Lenny on one side and Sergei Vasilevich on the other. Seriously. I said “wow” and “thank you so much” a lot. And in my mind comments like “You sure know the way to my heart” and “You’re a keeper,” were thought and unsaid. I love the pillowcase. I like B. Other than his lending me his arm up and down stairs, we still have not touched.

I would like to be someone who’s comfortable giving hugs. Friendly hugs would be a good place to start. But since I’m only comfortable giving one-armed hugs while steadying myself with my free hand, it usually just doesn’t happen. And there grows this “don’t touch me or I’ll fall over” wall. I could have hugged him sitting there on the couch after I’d opened the gift, but I did not. Side by side sitting hug? So awkward.

When I go in circles about these issues with my friend she says, “You know what might help you figure out if you like him? Kissing him.” (She’s one to talk. She’s a fellow introvert, and a twenty-four-year-old virgin with just as many issues as I have.)

I can’t be the initiator because I don’t know how I feel and I don’t want to be misleading. I can’t say, “I’m not sure how I feel about you, so I think you should kiss me and see if that sways me one way or the other.”

Most people would say that if I still don’t know after all this time, then that’s my answer. And part of me thinks that’s true. But there are some people, fellow introverts, who do understand and don’t believe that just because I don’t feel head over heels right now doesn’t mean the feelings won’t come. And so I continue to waffle and ask myself again and again: Are the romantic feelings simply not there? Or is it possible that I just need to give it time?

And it’s possible that B doesn’t like me that way, either. It’s possible that he’s just that nice and just that generous. Possible, but not likely.

ITNOWIT #10: Tea with D

Operation ITNOWIT #10

  • Independent  tea café downtown
  • Saturday 6/9/12
  • 11am-12:30pm
  • chamomile tea
  • $14.00 with tip (I treated to make up for last time; D also got soup)
  • Met D there

Yesterday I had a third meeting with D. Instead of feeling more friendly toward him as time goes on, this meeting made me feel less friendly. It began with him arriving flustered and saying that he’s feeling out of sorts and has been sick. Opening with a litany of ailments and/or excuses (or just being overly explanatory) is something that really turns me off. I’m seldom sick so I think I’m pretty judgmental when people go into unsolicited detail about illness. (I tend to be skeptical and assume hypochondria.) “Sorry I’m late” would have sufficed.

The whole conversation seemed to again focus on me and what I’m doing with my life. D either contradicted me or pushed me about things. Things like “I think you need to give yourself the space to feel that..don’t be so hard on yourself.” On one hand, I’m reveling in all the free time that having a part time job affords, and on the other, I feel like I squander that free time, wasting it on Net.flix when I could be volunteering or at least learning about something new. I felt that I was being scrutinized and misunderstood the whole time. And we were both aware that the communication was awkward. D kept talking about the conversation: “You seem uncomfortable, so I’ll switch topics.” To be fair, when the conversation was focused on him, and his attempts to write regularly, I made suggestions, he demurred, and I prodded.

I did lend him more Paul Zindel books, and I’m willing to get together again. If he’d just lay off the life coaching, we seem to have plenty in common to talk about. There is very clearly no romantic feelings on my side. He emailed and apologized, saying that he was projecting, and once again mentioning that he hasn’t been feeling well. When I answered, I told him it’s fine, but that I’m not in the market for a therapist or life coach!

A friend who lives a couple hours away came to visit this weekend, and I babbled on about all my experiences with OKC. I’m not telling my family about any of my adventures, and it feels particularly strange to edit my life for my sister, so it’s nice to be able to get into all the minutiae with friends. We scrutinized B’s OKC and FB pictures (there’s only two). She’s intrigued by him and thinks he sounds nice and that he probably likes me in a more-than-friends way. Now if only I knew if I liked him. He’ll be back from Vegas soon. Last night I dreamt that when he returned I was really happy to see him. I wonder how the reality will be? It would be nice to return romantic feelings (if indeed he feels them), and I’m a bit worried that I’m trying to convince myself I feel them. But maybe I really am beginning to feel them?

How can I be such a ridiculous, ambivalent mess?

ITNOWIT #9: Boggle with B

Operation ITNOWIT #9

  • B’s place (meeting #5)
  • Tuesday 6/5/12
  • 12:45-4:00pm
  • no cost

Yesterday I went to B’s house to Boggle. On Friday, after the lovely comedy show, we had agreed to get together again before he left for the conference on Wednesday morning. Sunday he emailed me asking if I wanted to come over for Boggle and a movie either Monday or Tuesday, “since I end up picking something embarrassing when we go out.”

I picked Tuesday and told him if he’d pick a time, I’d check the bus schedule and take the closest one. B, of course, told me to pick a time and let him know, since he didn’t know how much time I wanted to spend there. Naturally, I then wondered, “How much time does he want me to spend there?” Sigh.

Anyway, he met me at the bus stop, which was good, because his place is on a little footpath leading into the neighborhood, and I would have gone a completely roundabout way and had trouble finding it. So perhaps it was just relief that I wasn’t going to get lost, but I have to admit I was happy to see him there waiting for me. The t-shirt, jeans, baseball cap–I’m beginning to recognize his look.

So yeah, we played Boggle for about three hours. We did not keep score. =) He teased about playing strip Boggle, and now we have a running joke that I’m going to show up at his place at 6am, dressed in ten layers of clothes, and shake Boggle to wake him up. At one point we looked at his other games, but they weren’t good two-player games. So maybe three hours was a bit long, but it ended up okay. Of course we stopped and talked sometimes. We didn’t do the movie because he doesn’t have a tv and uses a projector to project movies onto his living room wall, so it really needs to be dark for that. Also, it’s a bit weird watching a movie unless you’re okay talking through it. (I prefer quiet, but it wouldn’t have been a comfortable quiet.)

I brought him some chocolate bars (dark, organic, fair trade because that’s the kind of girl I am), and gave them to him saying they were for the drive to Las Vegas, “but I don’t even know if you like chocolate.” He answered, “I’m allergic to chocolate.” So I said, “Well, you can share them” [with the friend he’s driving with]. Then he said he likes chocolate. Whew, he’s got quite a deadpan sense of humor. Either that or he’s actually allergic to chocolate but tried to make it into a joke?

He lent me two books. Which of course now I have to read. They are the kind of books I feel I ought to have read, but I wasn’t going to go out of my way. Now I guess I will. I do mean to be reading more, so it’s probably good to have this pressure. On the other hand, no one likes to feel pressured to read something because it was lent (and unsolicited).

It is getting easier to spend time together. I like him. Every time I think that, Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet come into my head: “I can say that I think very highly of him. That I greatly esteem him. That I like him.” But I do like him romantically? It’s true that I don’t feel I know him well at all, but there isn’t anything about him so far that’s putting me off (the way there is with D, being overly philosophical and a bit too pushy conversationally).

He walked with me back to the bus stop and waited with me until it came. Two girls who were also waiting started talking about the Beatles, hunched over a phone. “Yellow Submarine” started to play. “Aw,” I said. “It’s our song.” B chuckled.

If this is going anywhere romantic, we are moving profoundly slowly. If it isn’t, then it’ll be nice to have a guy I can joke about strip Boggle with.

ITNOWIT #8: Insert sex joke here

Operation ITNOWIT #8

  • university campus
  • Friday 6/1/12
  • 7:45pm-10:45pm
  • student comedy/improv show
  • $3.00
  • Met B there (meeting #4)

Last night was the comedy show. It was held in one of the large lecture halls on campus, and I was surprised by the number of people and by the live music (sax, drums, electric guitar). I had been wary of the whole comedy show idea because I just find it so uncomfortable when people try to be funny and don’t succeed, and then we’re all looking at them. (I have an overdeveloped sense of empathy I think.) B told me, “To make things even more awkward, it turns out tonight’s theme is one night stands.” Great. We were in for a whole night of sex jokes thought up by college students.

Yes, the evening was filled with jokes about boners (we must have heard that juvenile term dozens of times in one sketch), blow jobs, rimming, and all other manner of sex-related scenarios. There was even a video section on meeting people (or animals, if that’s the way you swing) on craigs.list. There was a sketch about a backscratcher and a condom… This was high class comedy, let me tell you. At intermission, B asked if I wanted to go get some air, “or this is our chance to leave, if you want…” I thought I’d stick it out because I didn’t want to risk making him feel bad. If it had been the 21 year old me, I would have been mortified, but a decade of adulthood helped me find the whole situation pretty amusing.

The second half was the improv part of the night (with a wider range of subject), and they ended with all the graduating seniors sharing their favorite memories from being in the group. So that was much better. Though we were treated to some man nipples and a dollar bill in a butt crack. Ah, college humor.

B walked me home, and we joked about our track record–walrus-stomach art the day before, and now this…

I’m very aware that I could fall at any moment, clip my toe on uneven sidewalk and go down. I’ve gotten to the point that if I meet someone new and know we’re going to spend any significant amount of time together, I try to just get it out there, to highlight the basics of my cerebral palsy: it’s pretty much guaranteed that I will bump into you when we walk together, and it won’t be your fault. It’s pretty much guaranteed that at some point in our acquaintance I will trip on nothing and fall, but I haven’t needed stitches since I was six, so don’t be alarmed. I managed to communicate this, ungracefully. (I’ve learned it’s good to do it, but that doesn’t mean I’m good at it.)

Then we were at my door, and B called my cell so I’d have his number. He had teased me earlier, “You mean you don’t have any Rachmaninov or Bernstein mix cds for me for my drive to Vegas?” (The conference he’s going to is in Las Vegas.) See? I’m very easy to get to know. (I would not be able to tease him back yet about any of his interests.) I can rhapsodize endlessly about anything I love, and I love the music of Sergei Rachmaninov and Leonard Bernstein. We’d heard some Rachmaninov the day before, so it’s not totally out of context. Anyway, as it happens, I do have cds I’ve made of all my favorite music. (I took them on a long trip in the days before iPods.) So I invited him in, saying he could borrow them for the drive. Of course, I had them all in one place except the Rachmaninov, which was missing. So that was a bit embarrassing, and my house was stifling so I was getting all sweaty. But that was it, he left with some cds and plans to meet up again before he leaves for the conference on Wednesday.

There was again no touching. I felt immense relief, tempered by a bit of disappointment and not a little confusion. I had clicked on B’s OKC profile again to check his “interested in” answer. OKC keeps track of all traffic to your profile, so B will know whenever I look. Consequently, I didn’t want to appear obsessive or stalkery, but I needed to see his answer. Again with relief, disappointment, and confusion, I saw that B, too, is only looking for “new friends.” Does this explain the no touching? Are we really just new friends? Maybe all this awkward conversation only feels like flirting because of the guy-girl thing.

I’ve decided I’m not going to be the one to bring it up. At least, not until I’m sure if I feel romantic toward him or not. It could very well be that he’s just as confused about the whole thing as I am, and just as unprepared to bring it up. So I’m just going to wait, and keep getting to know him, and see what happens. Maybe in six months he’ll say, “So about the ‘new friends’ thing…” Yeah, six months. That sounds good.

ITNOWIT #7: Music, food, and art

Operation ITNOWIT #7

  • university campus
  • Thursday 5/31/12
  • 11:45am-3:30pm
  • veggie sandwich
  • $3.25
  • Met B at music building

Yesterday I met up with B for the third time. There was a free noon concert in the music department, and it featured cello and piano. I’d mentioned I was going to go to it when B had pulled out that events calendar the last time we were together, but he hadn’t said, “Oh, that sounds interesting” or anything. Later I realized I had done the same thing he did with Yellow Submarine–I said I was going without asking him outright if he wanted to go. So I messaged him on OKC, saying I’d welcome company if he’s free and he answered, “Of course I’d like to join you!” Perhaps a few more “of courses” with exclamation points and I won’t be so nervous to ask.

We met there and both of us were early, so we chatted outside. I’d say we’re about as comfortable as two introverts who are just getting to know each other, and who may or may not actually be dating, can be. I’m not really that introverted when there’s only two people, and I have a tendency to talk a lot if I have something to say on a topic. Plus, I do that bad listener thing where I’m formulating my response instead of actually listening. So I tried to concentrate on listening, and I also wanted to give B a chance to bring up a topic of conversation instead of me diving in to rescue us from silence. I’m not sure I did well on the first goal, because I don’t remember much of our conversation now.

I had to ask B for his arm again because we had to go all the way up the steps to the back row to get seats together. Then he offered to switch seats with me so I could see. We heard some Bach, Brahams, Rachmaninov (romantic sigh), and Villa-Lobos. The place was full of students needing credit for a music appreciation class or something–it was nice   because everyone took their cues from the professor in the front row and did not applaud between movements. =)

The concert was just an hour long and I didn’t have to work until 4:30. We decided to get lunch on campus and try to find a place cool to sit. The central food area was completely updated and different from when we had been students there, and it was strange to be there as non-students. Of course the place was packed so we ended up back outside at a table with an umbrella. We talked about what B told me last time–his heavy family history, and about the conference he’s going to. I asked him about all the places he’s been (he’s very well traveled).

After we ate we sort of walked around awkwardly because it was loud and crowded inside, but very hot outside. When we ended up by the buses I said, “Well, I guess I’ll go to work then…” but it was still very early. So we turned around and walked some more, visiting two of the art galleries on campus. In one of them there was someone sitting by the door, so it was a bit uncomfortable because she could totally listen to our whole conversation. The second one, in the bottom floor of the art building, was completely empty save student work on the walls. So we took our time walking along each wall and commenting on the photographs.

At one point B asked me how I keep cool during the summer (my house is very old and it gets very hot). Later he brought it up again in reference to swimming–there’s a neighborhood pool where he lives. I think he was thinking about inviting me to the pool, and that was his way of working up to it, whereas I’d originally thought he was just making conversation about the weather. Oh, communication, why art thou so awkward?

Again we parted without touching, but with lots of smiling and confirmation of meeting tonight. Yes, prior to my inviting him to the concert, he’d asked if I wanted to go to a student comedy show on campus tonight. I’m not terribly excited about improv, and it’s not until 8pm–which is very night, and dark, and date-y. I’m definitely not sleeping well, and my stomach knots up a lot. And it’s not because I’m all aflutter and swoony–it’s just because I don’t know what I’m doing or how I feel about it.