Friday, June 10, 2005

I don't believe it either

Have you ever met someone and thought, "That's the man I'm going to marry"? After years of meeting guys and thinking, "I know this won't work out, but it's worth it anyway" or "maybe this will last a couple of months" or "he's great, but I don't know how I feel" or "wow, I really like him, too bad he's married" it happened to me.

I know it's crazy and I keep trying to talk myself out of it. Exactly how absurdly unrealistic can I get? I'm also a little superstitious and afraid of looking like a fool. How can I seriously write that I think I've met my future husband? How can it not be a joke or a little tongue in cheek? (It's not.) What happens when it turns out to be a complete bust? Will you laugh with me (I hope)? Will you pity me (please don't)? Will you think I'm an idiot (well, that's actually no big deal)?

I've had this thought running around in my head for a few weeks: when I meet someone and it's right, I'm going to know. That's why all that craziness with Fred was so discouraging. I thought: is it always going to be like this? Is it always going to be so hard to figure out, so hard to tell how I feel, to tell how he feels? Will it forever require impossible deciphering? The weight of that possibility just stomped all over me and I felt like crying for a couple of days (no actual tears shed over Fred; some crying at not very sad movies did occur). I thought: if it is always going to be like that, I'm not sure if I can do it anymore. A friend said, if it's a puzzle, it's not going to work. It shouldn't be a puzzle. And that's exactly what Fred was.

It's paid off that I took charge of my life and found someone to go to the baseball game with (more on that later), confirmed that CK will hang out with me on the 4th of July, and embraced that I prefer going to parties, gallery openings and happy hours alone.

Most importantly, I'm not anxious, I'm not in pain. I'm not crushed. I'm happy. I'm walking-around-with-a-silly-grin happy. I'm smugly happy. The feeling is real. Even if I don't marry this man, I'm still grateful that I feel this way.

Usually when I meet a guy I like, I go into fantasy production mode (you just saw me do it with Fred). I think, "now I'll have company for the 4th of July," "maybe he'll go to the baseball game with me," "I can take him to that party." I start fitting "him" into all those plans where it's so nice to have a default companion.

Fantasy-production mode is where I usually go, but I haven't gone there. I don't quite understand it. It's not like me. It's not like me to have so few expectations. Are all those expectations just products of doubt and anxiety? (Are you laughing at my claim that I have no expectations when I've just declared that I'm going to marry someone I've met once? Yes, me too. But, besides that thought, I haven't created a fantasy around him--I have imagined the first kiss, and what the evening of pub trivia would be like (see below), but that's it.)

I met him Thursday night. It wasn't a rush, or a whoosh--it was a quiet click. It was almost as much about the group as it was about him--he was with his brother and sister-in-law. I fit into this group like I was the missing piece of a puzzle. They were friendly and familiar and it took almost nothing to get talking to them. Nothing except proximity.

The scene: Dupont gallery on Thursday night. The place is swarming with people. It is hotter inside than outside because it is an old row house and the front door is wide open. I'm coated in a sheen of wet. Wine is handed around by white-shirt, black-pants wearing servers. I can't imagine how uncomfortable they are. I squeeze through the gallery, trying to actually look at the art--it's an exhibit of New Yorker covers--and I, along with all these other folks, have received a special invitation to the opening.

Glass of red wine in hand, I move through the gallery and strike up a conversation with a cute guy about one of the covers. Turns out that he has a girlfriend, who I meet a bit later. She's not pleased but plays friendly. They discuss their dinner plans in front of me and leave with no invite, but handshakes all around.

After getting my second glass of wine, white this time, I spot a group of two guys and a gal. One of the guys says, "People who are into Christo are interesting." The gal does not accept this statement. He insists. I laugh and say, "But do you know enough to say for sure?" He smiles and says to the gal, "She knows what I mean." She says, "Look at him, he's already pulling people into the conversation." I take that as my signal to exit. I am dying of the heat so I go stand on the front stoop for a minute before wading back in.

Upstairs, I talk to two guys, friends, one looks Indian/Pakistani, the other is super-duper white guy. Both cute enough, but clearly members of the nerd patrol. The white guy is wearing his cell phone on his belt. I hate that. Our conversation is odd--I repeat a comment that I heard earlier--that's it's most interesting to see the older covers. The Pakistani guy says something about the newer covers having more resonance with our generation. The conversation goes nowhere. I say I'm really hot and the Pakistani guy suggests I get a glass of water. The white guy gets grapefruit juice. Oh my. I'm stuck to them, but not firmly. I wonder where my Christo-discussing trio is and I think, "I want to talk to them." I see them right next to me and I turn away from the nerd pair and look towards my trio. They are discussing the cover that depicts Monica Lewinsky as the Mona Lisa.

The gal (CC) is telling a story about her issue with that cover. It was ripped to pieces when it arrived and she tried to get the New Yorker to replace it. The guy who I'd first spoken to, her husband, says, "Do you read the New Yorker as carefully as she does?"

"Well, if you judge by the stacks of unread New Yorkers all over my house, I'd have to say probably not." Everyone laughs. The two guys are brothers. The single brother is Jay. Tall, thin, dark, cute and maybe a little shy.

Jay and I discuss one of the covers. CC jokes about Nick's outfit, he was wearing shorts and a black t-shirt. "You get married and you stop trying," Jay says. I say, "You could have at least dressed at least this well." as I gesture to Jay, who is wearing a short-sleeved button down casual dark purple shirt, jeans and Tevas. Yes, I manage to insult his outfit.

"Oh, you don't like this?" Jay says.

"No, no, I just mean, the sandals make it...more casual. I like your shirt."

"Thank you." I'm glad they didn't comment on my outfit, which was a tad ridiculous: blue ankle socks with black comfortable closed-toed, open heeled, shoes, black straight skirt, blue sleeveless shirt with Johnny collar. And yes, the blue socks matched the blue shirt. Yikes.

We go downstairs. Jay and I go to the basement to find the bathroom. We snark about the ugly paintings. He says he likes cats. He is impressed that I figured out the bathroom was downstairs, "You're smart."

"Well, I did go to grad school."

"That wouldn't make me think you were smart."

"It's smart that you know that."

I know that soon they will leave and we haven't actually introduced ourselves. I say, "By the way, I'm Jamy."

"Oh! I'm Nick...this is CC." We shook hands.

"Jay." Handshake.

Nick: "I can't believe we didn't do that! We've been talking for hours!"

CC: "It's like we've known you forever." We leave together and there is talk of dinner. They don't really ask me to join them and I mumbled something to Jay about "I guess I'm going too."

"Aren't you?"

"I am!"

At dinnerJay and I sit next to each other (CC's doing). We order together--neither of us is very hungry--heat and alcohol will do that. They pour me saki. Jay tells me his childhood growing up geography, which is more varied than mine. It includes Holland when he was 10. I mention that I was in Amsterdam in November (not recommended--cold and wet 100% of the time). He asks why and I say I went with friends for fun. "I don't really see you as the hash smoking type."

"They were!" Later, I ask him why he said that. I explain that I didn't smoke much and it just put me to sleep, which was perfect the first jet-lagged night there. He tells of similar indifference (and occasional use of) such substances.

I tell stories about how my parents smoked pot and were very excited when they purchased a tiny bong. He asked what the point of a tiny bong was. I say, "They didn't know any better, they were too old to be hippies."

Jay: "How old are you?" I just looked at him.

CC: "What are you doing?"

"What, what--she just said her parents were really old..."

I say, "My dad is 10 years older than my mom. She's not so old! How old are you?"

"Thirty-one, but I haven't been thirty-one for long."

I laugh. Quietly I say, "I'm thirty-six." Not a flicker from Jay. I hope it's a non-issue.

CC mentions pub trivia, "You must be good at that."

Jamy: "If the category is old TV westerns I can win. It happened once."

Nick: "I'm no good at it, but it's fun."

CC: "But, you're good at drinking beer." Both guys agree to that.

She says, "You have to come play with us. Tuesdays at Stetsons, that's when I want to go. Do you have a card?" We exchange business cards.

The bill comes and I wave some money around. Jay says, "Oh no, this is on us. You've put up with us all night. The least we can do is take you to dinner." I think, "You've put up with me." I smile and say thanks.

Outside the restaurant, Nick and CC say goodnight and I mention the pub trivia. Jay and I are left standing there. He asks if I'm going to take a cab. "I probably should."

" was fun to meet you."

"Yes. A lot of fun."

"Did, um, CC get your number?"

"She has my card. We exchanged cards."

"So...I'll get your email from CC."

"Okay." We stand there, facing each other. Making eye contact.

"Let's get you a cab. I would offer you a ride home, but I shouldn't drive. Too much to drink." He hailed a cab. "I didn't think I would meet anyone there."

I smile. We hugged.

From the cab, I send Princess this text message, "I think I met my future husband for real." She calls right back and we stay up way too late talking, though not quite as much about me as I'd anticipated.

When I woke up, I felt the same. I hoped CC would email on Friday, but she didn't. I didn't expect to hear from Jay. I'm sure I'll see them again. I don't have a problem emailing CC, but I don't want to be pushy, so I thought I would wait. Maybe Monday? Princess said I could bring up the pub trivia or just come right out and ask how to contact Jay. "I wasn't thinking about asking her that at all!"

"I just want to put all the options out there."

"I don't know. I want her to email--but I'm a little worried."

"Don't make yourself worry if you're not worried. Just because you want to worry."

"But that's what I do. I worry."

"Are you really worried?"


"Then don't do it."

I don't know yet what I will do. Email this weekend? Wait until Monday? Ask about the low-key social possibilities or ask for Jay's number? I'll figure it out.

In the meantime, I have plenty to smile about.

Grateful for: smiling.

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