[Note: I've written two posts about my upcoming trip to Israel and I'm not satisfied with either. The first turned into a complaint fest about my NJ brother. Even I was bored. The second became a treatise on Judaism, sure to piss off a few people (it may yet be posted). There is also stuff to say about my mom that might be interesting, but I haven't had time to write it ("we're fine" is the short version). This story has been in the hopper for a while--I hope you enjoy.]
A few weeks ago, Kristin and I went to a party at a stranger's house. We were invited the night before, so we didn't crash the party, but it felt like we did. It reminded me of the time I really did a few years ago.
I'd just broken up with the 2nd DC boyfriend, Bruce. We dated for about nine months, six of them torturous. He was a good guy, but not for me. (He had a drinking problem and a bad temper, which were problems. He had some good qualities too--he was smart, funny, usually kind and good looking.) What kept me in it so long is that he was the "marrying kind" and that's what I wanted. I tried hard to make it work because I wanted to get married. Within a week of our final break, he was dating someone else. Bruce is what they are talking about when they say "serial monogamist." No time out at all. (He is married now, but not to the woman he dated immediately after me.)
While we were together, we tried to go salsa dancing a few times. I'd been dancing for years, so the first time we went, he took a lesson without me and I met him at the club later. It didn't go so well. We tried one other time and he got angry at me when we danced and he didn't know the moves. I did not correct him; he just blew up at me because he was frustrated. That was it for us and salsa dancing.
A couple of weeks after our breakup, I went to the same club on my own (the place where I still go with CK) and took a lesson. C-Money, who had just moved to town, was supposed to meet me there after the lesson. The lesson went fine and after it was over, I danced a few times. Then I started to look around for C-Money. It was past 10pm and I went downstairs to look for him.
He wasn't there, instead, I spotted Bruce--with his new girlfriend! Great. I ducked into the bar and started talking to the only other white guy in the place. I ordered and downed a drink in about ten minutes and told my sorrows to a complete stranger. I even made the stranger dance with me for a few songs (I asked him to dance and he agreed). But then I started to feel overwhelmed with sadness and frustration. Where was C-Money? How could Bruce show up at MY place? When he KNEW I would be there--or at least that it would be very likely for me to be there? And he's with his new girlfriend? When he and I couldn't go there without a huge fight? I had to leave.
I took off, leaving a befuddled stranger and Bruce in my wake. I took a cab home and the first thing I did upon my arrival was to call Bruce and yell at him. It was about 1am and he answered the phone. I said, "It's me."
"Why are you calling?"
"What were you thinking?" I said.
"I saw you there."
"Right. I saw you too. You have a lot of nerve."
"You can't call now. It's crazy. I'm trying to have a good night here."
"Oh, I'm crazy? You know, it's really not cool you showing up there."
"I'm hanging up now. I have to go." Bruce hung up.
I was fuming and frustrated. I wasn't even sure if I had a right to be angry with him. I looked out my big window and, across the street, I saw people. I heard music. Someone was having a party. I thought, "I'm going to that party." I took a deep breath and walked across the street.
I walked into the house and a young woman greeted me. I said, "Hi, I'm a neighbor."
"Oh, were we being too loud?"
"No. I just noticed you were having a party so I though I'd come over."
"Ok." She tilted her head at me. "Great. Do you want a beer--I'll show you."
And my impromptu hostess walked me to the kitchen and gave me a beer. After a little small talk about the neighborhood, she went back to the living room and I stayed in the kitchen. I drank my beer and watched the group. They were about my age, maybe a couple of years younger. A mix of lawyers and actors. I struck up a conversation with a guy who told me about his depression and why he didn't drink. I told him how I got there and he listened sympathetically. After he left, I decided to call it a night and went home.
The next day, Bruce called me and we fought a little more. He called my behavior psychotic, which I thought was a little over the top. "It wasn't psychotic--I'm not going to murder you. I was angry and I think you can understand why."
"It's totally insane that you called in the middle of the night."
"Look, you were still there when I left. It's not like you were asleep. It's not like I woke you up." If he'd left before me, I would not have called.
"It's still crazy."
"Oh, whatever. It's just not cool that you were there."
"Well, what, am I supposed to clear it with you when I go out?"
"No, of course not. But you know there was a pretty good chance I would be there. That it would be more likely after we broke up. You might have given me some warning."
"It wasn't my idea. [New girlfriend] wanted to go."
"Great. So you're fine going there with her, but not with me."
"You know, just, oh I don't know. I'll talk to you later."
Consultations with many friends confirmed that even though I was being somewhat unreasonable, my feelings were justified. Since I've never bumped into Bruce there again, and I wouldn't care now if I did, it's proved to be a moot point.
A few months later, Pele and I went to see a band in Arlington. I was wandering through the crowd and a strange man greeted me enthusiastically, "Hey--it's you--remember me?"
"No...you look really familiar...wait...that party..." It was the fellow I'd talked to at the party--the depressed non-drinker.
"Right--you crashed that party at my friend's house." He smiled when he said it.
"Oh dear." I said. "That wasn't my best night."
"Hey, it's cool. It was great that you did that."
We hung out the rest of the night, but I never saw him again. Good guy.
Grateful for: kind strangers.
Drop me a line.