Monday, September 19, 2005

Kickball pays off

I tried and tried to make this post shorter, but I couldn't do it. It's funny, because I wasn't sure I wanted to post it at all. Oh well. Feel free to skim.

On Saturday, I had the second longest first date of my life. Depending on when the romantic-date portion started, it lasted between seven and nine hours. (The longest first date of my life happened ten years ago. It started at noon, included lunch, a movie, grocery shopping, cooking dinner at my house, a bout of vertigo (his, not mine) and exactly one kiss. It ended at midnight.) The date on Saturday was not planned, but there is no question that it was a (romantic) date.

I got to the kickball play-offs on Saturday around 2:30pm. A guy (Tim) from another team started talking to me a few minutes after I arrived. A guy who is actually older than me by about two years. He is cute, medium height, fit, slim with crew-cut ash blonde hair and blue-blue eyes. A good looking guy, but definitely not my type. Rather, he is the type of guy who I assume is not interested in me. I'd seen him before--he reffed at the first game I played. And I'd seen him standing around the edges of the drinking games at the stinky bar. But we'd never talked before.

I asked Tim to sub on our team because his team lost in a forfeit due to lack of players. He hadn't played at all. He was out there for no reason. Our team played even though the game was technically a forfeit. But since we lost anyway, it didn't matter.

After the game, Tim asked me if I was thirsty and we walked over to one of the sidewalk venders to get a drink. I wanted a soda and he paid for it. I had an inkling then that he liked me.

We tossed around a kickball and kept talking. I found out that he's from San Diego, he's in the Military, and he's a career officer (professional type). I made a stupid joke and he rushed me to get the ball, blocking me, basketball style--hugging me in the process. I passed the ball away, into the air. I was sure he liked me then.

Around 5:30, we decided to join some of my teammates who had gone to get a bite to eat. We rode our bikes up the hill towards Union Station. I assumed he would be faster than me, but I kept up fine, better than I expected, until he started blowing through red lights. I prefer to stop for red lights. We found the others and sat across from each other, squeezed into a large booth. We ordered beer and appetizers. Tim and I shared.

During the meal, I mentioned that I had a free ticket for the movie theater at Union Station and that it expired on Sunday. He said, "Do you want to see a movie tonight?" I said yes.

We stood outside of Union Station and he said he hadn't seen a movie for a year; that the last movie he saw was Fahrenheit 9/11. He laughed when I told him how many movies I'd seen.

Before we went inside I called home and left a message for Spesh (my houseguest) saying I was heading to the movies and would probably be back by 10:00 pm. That was awkward. Out on a date with a houseguest waiting for me. Was he waiting for me? We didn't make a definite plan for Saturday night. Still, I felt bad.

When we got to the box office, I picked a movie and we had about an hour to kill before show time. Tim said, "I know where the bar is." We had another beer. I learned some about his childhood (unhappy), that he's Catholic, his views on kids, "Don't you feel like it's too late? That we're too old for that?"

"Not at all. My older brother didn't have kids until he was over 40. It's worked out fine for them. Don't you still think you might want kids?"

"I think so. I think I could handle it."

When we got back to the movie theater, my free ticket wouldn't work because it was the opening weekend for the movie. I laughed and apologized and Tim bought the tickets. I got the concessions. In the theater, he put his arm around me and I put my head on his shoulder. After a while, we switched.

When the movie was over, around 10:00 pm, we went back to the bikes and hemmed and hawed about what to do next. I said I had a houseguest so we couldn't go back to my place. Thank goodness for houseguests.

Still not sure where we were going, we got on the bikes. He said he was going to show me where he lived, though I had no intention of going in (he didn't invite me either). It was a very pleasant evening, breezy and almost cool--with just a few clouds drifting around. I knew the evening had to end, but it was only 10:15. And there was no feeling that I wanted to get away or do something else. It was easy being with him. It was good.

As we rode along, he said, "There's something I need to tell you. I am getting divorced. I've been separated from my wife for six months, but it takes a year to get divorced here." He told me he was living with roommates in a house where he moved after the separation. His wife was living with her boyfriend in their old house. My ears were ringing and I felt a little short of breath.

We rode west on East Capitol, side by side, and he told me more about his marriage. I said, "I don't think I can take it. I don't know if I can handle this." He said, "I had to tell you, it's only right. On a first date, it's awkward to talk about it, but it has to be done."

"I mean, you don't even know if you're going to see me again. I might not be "the one" (a reference to something he'd said earlier). You didn't have to tell me, only if you think you want to see me again. I'm going to stop talking now. I don't know what I'm saying."

"You can say anything you want."

He didn't have to tell me, but it was the right thing to do.

My reaction was strong, similar to the way I'd felt when I found out the Republican was separated-but-not-divorced. I felt a tightening in my chest, a difficulty breathing. An urge to be far, far away. Like I was watching myself from above. It had nothing to do with Tim. It had everything to do with my parents, their separation, reconciliation and eventual divorce.

I have no problem dating someone who is divorced. Thirty-eight and divorced sounds about right. In fact, I wonder about myself--36, never married--more than I wonder about him. But I still don't know if I can take it.

I hit the trifecta with this guy: separated-but-not-divorced, Catholic and Republican.

We found another bar. A drink seemed like a good idea. Tim held my hand as we walked down the street to the bar. I told him that I had to call my houseguest. "I know it sounds strange that I have a male houseguest. People get the wrong idea. What do you think it means?"

"I thought he must be an old boyfriend."

"Really? Spesh is not now nor has he ever been my boyfriend."

"Surely he must have other connections here--why is he staying with you--unless he wants to try again."

"We're friends. I'm his best friend here. I want him to stay with me. But there's no romance."

"I get it."

I called Spesh before we went in. He was home this time. I said I wasn't sure when I'd get home.

"You are coming home?"

"Yes, of course, but...I don't know when. Are you ok?"

"Sure, I'm fine, of course. You can tell me about it later."

Tim and I sat down in a corner of the bar. I said, "I've never been married."

"But you've had long term relationships?"

"Yes, sure. The longest was with my grad school boyfriend (vip-ex)." He asked if we'd lived together. I said we didn't, but spent six out of seven nights together. "But it wasn't the same."

"That's probably smart."

"It was purposeful. We did talk about living together once and I told him that I didn't want to live together unless we were engaged and that I didn't think he was ready to get engaged. He took that to mean that I wasn't as serious about the relationship as he was."

"I don't blame him. You need to be more direct. Guys can't figure out what you mean."

"I thought I was direct."

"You should have said, 'Put a ring on my finger and I'll move in with you.'"

"I don't want a ring."


"I don't want an engagement ring. I guess I'm not supposed to say that. I don't like diamonds. But I'd wear a plain ring. I'll wear a wedding ring." I said all that, but I was thinking, "I wasn't ready to get engaged." All these years I've blamed vip-ex for misunderstanding me, but maybe I didn't understand me either. It was so much easier to blame him.

A friend of Tim's walked by and he jumped up to say hi to her. They had played on a different kickball team together. She joined us (he asked if it was ok and I said I didn't mind). While we talked to her, he put his hand on my leg, then on my back, then on my leg. I held his hand, I leaned into him. I did nothing to discourage him. He had a second beer. He put his arm around me. At one point his hand strayed rather far down my back, passing the waistband of my shorts. I grabbed his hand and placed it in the center of my back. (Later I said, "What were you thinking, putting your hand down my pants?" He said, "I'm sorry, I didn't even realize I was doing it until you grabbed me!" Silly boy.)

It turns out that there is a dance club on the upper level of the bar. I've been going to that bar for years and I had no idea there was a club upstairs. We paid for our drinks but he wanted to dance. He spun me around a few times, swing dance style, and the three of us headed upstairs.

He took my ridiculously heavy bag and hung it on a hook on the wall. He led me to the dance floor. The music was loud and there were colored strobe lights. I froze. He asked what was wrong, why wasn't I dancing? I said it was the lights. He led me to another part of the dance floor where the lights weren't as bright. I just stood there. He said, "Let's go." He got our stuff, we said goodbye to his friend and we left.

As soon as I got away from the lights I felt better. I said, "I don't know what happened, I really like to dance. I just had a visceral reaction." He said it was fine and something about feeling older every time he goes there.

"Was the problem that we're still in our kickball gear?"

"No," I said, "but that is pretty funny."

It was well after midnight when we got back to the bikes and tried to figure out how to end the evening. Again, I said I had a houseguest so he couldn't come over. He suggested riding home with me, which seemed reasonable. He asked how my "swerve" was. I said he should tell me, especially since I had no idea what he was talking about. "You can ask me for dating advice, though, everyone is doing it. I'm happy to answer your question."

"Can I get your number? Can I have another date with you?"

"That's not what I meant! But, yes, I'll give you my number."

We stood facing each other across the bikes, making eye contact and I laughed. He leaned in and kissed me. I said, "I'm laughing because I'm nervous. It's not bad." "Why are you nervous?"

"Because I thought you were going to kiss me...and you did."

We rode back to my house and when we got there, we sat on the back steps. We leaned against each other and held hands. He asked for my number and a second date (again). He put my number in his phone and I tried to remember when I was free. "Thursday or Friday, " I said, "Friday for sure."

"So we can go out on Friday?"

"Yes, I think so. Yes."

When he put my number in his phone he told a story about getting a number from a woman and not saving it correctly. "I probably shouldn't be telling you that."

"It doesn't bother me. You didn't waste much time, getting back to dating, did you?" "No. I didn't wait at all."

"What about, you know, the sadness part?"

He said, "There is a lot of sadness. But I haven't really...I'm going to therapy. And I know I have to deal with it. But I don't want to be a single person. I don't know what to do when I'm alone on a Saturday night. I'm not used to it yet."

I said, "I don't want to be a single person either. Or so I say. But I don't mind being alone. I'm used to it. I like it."

There were some more kisses, some more hugs, and off he rode. He only lives a few blocks away, so I didn't worry too much about him getting home safely. I should have asked him to call me when he got home. I slept restlessly but my mind was a blank.

I told Spesh the story on Sunday. I had a long talk with Pele about it too. She could tell that I was distressed. I said, "I know I like him because we spent so much time together. I've been on all those bad dates and I just want to get away. I do whatever I can to get away. But with him, I didn't want to get away. I like him."

"I could tell you were comfortable with him that afternoon. You seemed like old friends." She'd watched us talking at the kickball game.

"Yes, that's right. But the whole not divorced thing. I don't know."

"I'm going to give you some advice. You can't do this until he's divorced. You can offer him friendship and then see. You can be direct with this guy. Tell him what you want. Explain the problem."

"My first reaction to that is...I don't want to share him. But...I don't need a project. Maybe he won't call me. Then I don't have to make any decisions."

"Jamy..." Pele laughed, "That is just so...lame!"

"But it would make things easier..."

I was sitting at home Sunday night, trying to write this semi-saga, talking to Spesh, and Tim called. I wasn't surprised. Half of me hoped he wouldn't call and the other half had been waiting for his call. The whole "him not calling me plan" didn't work out so well. (Pele says: there was never any doubt that he would call you.)

It was a short conversation. He asked if I'd had a good time. I said I had. He complained that he'd done nothing all day. I wasn't sympathetic. I said I was tired and hadn't slept well. He said he knew I was busy this week and maybe he'd call me later, when things were calm. I said I was free on Thursday or Friday, whichever day was more convenient for him. He said, "So what about Thursday? We can go to the movies."

I laughed, "We don't have to go to the movies. But we can if you want to. Two movies in one week--that's a lot for you."

"So we can go out on Thursday? I'll call you on Tuesday or Wednesday, is that okay?" "Yes, that's great. Talk to you soon."

Spesh tried to guess what Tim said, "We got carried away and I don't want to see you again."


"He loves you."


"What did he want?"

"He wanted to ask me out."

"Didn't you already have a date?"

"Yes. I guess he just wanted to make sure I still liked him."

"He can come with us to the baseball game on Tuesday. It will be a double date."

"I don't think so!"

"It would be fun for me." Spesh grinned wickedly.

"I'll bet. I can wait to see him on Thursday. You're the one who said we should slow down." Spesh did not approve of the handholding and kissing. He was worried I would get a bad reputation with my teammates. As if I cared what they think!

"You saw him Saturday, Tuesday isn't too soon. You can take him to the game if you want."

"I don't want to. I want to go to the game with you. Anyone I date has to know that I have a life. He can wait until Thursday."

I keep thinking, what am I going to do? And I remind myself that I don't have to make any decisions. I'm busy this week and I'll keep myself distracted. If I want to go slow and stay on a friendship level (good luck!), it's just as well that I wait to see him until Thursday. That is fine. That is no problem. What I'm worried about is what happens when I do see him.

Someone, please make my brain stop. I don't think I can take it.

Grateful for: a good date.

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