Before I do all of the analyzing and narrating, I want to stop and say I miss him. I liked him so much. He was soft and warm and sweet and strong, and he gave me so much pleasure and inspiration. Whatever else was true during those weeks, there was a deep happiness that rang in me like a bell.
After the pool afternoon, my smittenness with J. had both good and bad effects. First and foremost, I was dizzy with joy because A. He was driving an hour each way that Thursday to have a campus on the pretty, Hogwarts-like campus where I work and. B. Our next date was going to include him not only going to my Unitarian church with me, but bringing water from his pool to add to our beginning-of-season water ceremony.
The joy I felt at the idea of him joining me at church cannot be overstated—I kinda lost my mind. Having been married to an atheist all those years, I longed for a partner I could go to church with, and even though none of the women in my family attend church, I knew it was part of my big, almost-too-scary-to-wish-for dream. Granted, he was also an atheist (Unitarians have those) who refused to call it church, but that did nothing to dim my enthusiasm.
Last Christmas Eve, I was sitting in the pew with The Cute Church Couple (on our friendaversary!) and their beautiful baby girl. I joked that I was saving a spot for my boyfriend, in case this was actually a Hallmark movie. Later, when church started to fill up, I started to move over, but the Cute Church Husband said “No. Save that spot.” I was touched at his belief in my not-that-crazy church boyfriend dream, and I still take a lot of comfort in that story.
The bad part was, though, the more I liked J, the more I thought women would be lining up any minute to care for him and the boys. I felt like I had to be more grateful, to spoil him more so he wouldn’t go away. (And that I had to be creative about that, since he purported to not like blow jobs…) I also felt (I can’t believe I’m saying this!) slightly guilty for insisting on condoms when he clearly disliked them so much. To quell my anxiety on the whole question of them, I offered to provide them for our next date, since I was hosting. I had him send me a picture of the package we’d gotten together, since he said they were okay.
Also, I felt a great deal of worry wrapped up in making him a picnic—he mentioned food and health several times and was quite a lot more fit than I am, so I started to have a little trouble with food. (Sample comment: Me: “I always have a treat after therapy, and you’re better than a macaroon.” He: “And healthier for you.”) (Um, no.) I made salads with chicken breast and brought little teeeeensy slices of birthday cake. I worried that he would end up controlling my eating, and also that I was too fat for someone as fit as he. He’d only mentioned it in tiny ways, but it grew a furrow of anxiety in my mind.
Nonetheless, when the work day of the picnic came, I felt like a romance millionaire. It was raining when I got in, so I parked in an off-to-the-side spot and cleared my backseat in case we had to have a car picnic. I spent the morning packing up boxes of books for returns and gazing dreamily out the windows at the rain and the starlings in the tall trees. I didn’t want him to see me behind a register, but we’ll get to why in a later post.
Sweetie/the boss even said I could take a long lunch and promised to be on her best ex-wife/best-friend behavior. That made me a little nostalgic for the poly days, and I wondered if seeing her there with me would make him bolt the way some of my other not-poly suitors had. I wished I was further along in the moving-on process, so I guess I’m working on that now for the next guy.
When he got to the store, it wasn’t raining but it was still wet. I suggested my backseat but he said no, he wanted to walk across campus and get his family picnic basket; he had a present in there for me. The present was this: a glow stick. From the line in my poem that accidentally said I wanted kids. And I wish I could say that I didn’t let myself wish what I wished, which was: That he would be the one. That he would change his not-wanting-more-kids mind someday and give those boys a baby sister. I have a name picked out, it arrived in my consciousness one evening over the summer, as if from nowhere.
“I asked for a glow stick and got one!” I exclaimed with glee, “Should’ve wished for a million dollars.” (That’s what Sweetie always says to me whenever synchronicity brings me surprisingly apt gifts.)
The campus has these red, green and yellow Adirondack chairs strewn around and we tried sitting in those under a pine tree, at first. I felt princessy and cared for as he napkined the rain off of our chairs. As we settled in, though, it started to rain harder, so we made for the porch of the most castle-like building on campus.
“We were too far apart in the chairs anyway.” I said.
“We’re too far apart even when we’re on top of each other, so…” So romantic, but also…not.
There happened to be a table with two chairs on the porch, and he wondered aloud whether we should sit on opposite side or together. Judge John Hodgman disapproves of sitting on the same side of the table, but Judge John Hodgman was not there.
Lunch chat was mostly pleasant and sweet. We took a lovey-dovey my-head-on-his shoulder selfie that makes my heart ache just think about it. We kissed and cuddled a campus-appropriate amount. The STI testing conversation that I had kind of skipped over last date had been hanging over my head, but it was without trouble except that he sounded kind of naïve. I mentioned the possibility of someday going on birth control, which is a huge deal for me. (Just, I’m a delicate machine. And the side effects sound scary. I wish I were more easygoing about it, but not yet.)
He set off alarm bells, though, when he offered some very creepy Svengali-like help to my creative coachees, about whom he knew virtually nothing. It made me wonder again what I might be getting manipulated into.
Still, the rain and magic won out. He said he wished we’d seen a rainbow, and I said we were the rainbow. The rain stopped exactly when I had to walk back to the store, take that, Mr. Atheist. (I don’t really think that’s what god is, but also I felt like god wanted us to cuddle.) On my commute home was download-This-Is-Water miserable, but glances at our selfie gave me almost as much comfort as the 90210 recap podcast that is currently my favorite.
Coming up: Special underpants, hello/goodbye.