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I came within an inch of breaking up with the Pittsburgh boy this week. I was going through waves of realizing just how great he is to realizing how much I hate being in relationships. And then there was the whole thing where I was thinking about Pete on a daily basis, having incredibly vivid dreams that I was back together with him, finding photographs of times we were together. I lined up all of the negatives in my head over Pittsburgh boy: that he lives so far away, that he’s a Republican, that everything feels so quick. And then Pete emailed.

Pete and I talked on the phone later that evening and while it made me miss him, it also made me realize what I have now. I have a guy who is packing up and driving three-hundred miles after work to spend the weekend with me. Who specifically got a hotel room at a hotel nearby the restaurant where we had our first “date” (It’s a very, very rare chain. Four or five restaurants on the east coast. The other one was in Harrisburg two weekends ago).  He’s bought a bottle of champagne, I bought a bottle of red wine. He’s called me every single day since we met, told me how beautiful I am, how crazy about me he is. I just cannot pass this up. The day after we met I came home and couldn’t stop staring at our pictures together. I don’t want to keep worrying if the person I’m with really cares about me, or whether he just doesn’t want to be alone and is “settling” (his words, not mine).

So I’m going to forget all of that and reaaaaaally appreciate what I have this weekend: an incredibly handsome, charming, intelligent, funny man driving across the state to see ME. A weekend of romping in a hotel, of enjoying crew races and a night out on the town. As Peter said: “let yourself be appreciated, twerp.” I’m going to do just that.

And mayyyyybe I’ll post some pictures on Monday! And maybe by then I’ll have thought of a good name for the boy. Any suggestions?

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I think I was leaning towards hoping that the email was an apology from the night before. It, instead, was more of the same from the night before. In fact, he asked me to visit him. Offered to buy the plane tickets, pick me up from the airport.

I tried to look for the most honest way to decline- how was I supposed to make enough sense of what was going through my head? “I’m in love with a guy who couldn’t care less about me, and that has made me apathetic towards even the slight prospect of any other relationship”? For some reason, that sounds crazy on paper.

I tried to be polite and say that my schedule was too locked up with daily practices and races every weekend, knowing that he of all people should understand the lifestyle. “We’ll wait until the season ends,” he suggested.

Maybe by then I’ll have more of a grasp on all of this. The truth is, I’ve never felt like this in my entire life. Usually I’m the first one out of relationships, ready to date new people. Ian, when we were discussing it this morning, said he’d never expected me to be like this. “You’re in love,” he explained. And I’ve gotta say, this is the shittiest I’ve felt in a long time. “But what if Brad Pitt walked up to you and wanted to have sex with you for a million dollars?” he asked. I wouldn’t, metaphorically, be able to get it up for him. “You’re a fucking idiot,” Ian responded.

So for now, this girl is staying single and is not traveling to reconcile with any (adorable) ex-boyfriends. He’s great to talk to, as he’s in the same position I am post-graduation. But beyond that, I don’t feel anything.

This morning I woke up to an email in my inbox from my ex boyfriend, subject: “Can we talk about last night?” I haven’t read it yet mostly because I’m scared of what it’s going to say.

Last night had no intentions of being an ordinary night for me. My college roommate happened to be in town and I’ve only seen her at rowing events since college. (A quick disclaimer: the majority of my friends from college were either on the rowing team, had something to do with rowing, or I met them through other rowers. Several of them are still involved with rowing, either through racing themselves or through coaching.) My roommate and I (obviously) met through rowing- she was the manager and ended up helping with coaching. When we were roommates, we were dating two best friends from the guys team.

College Roommate actually came to visit my rowing practice yesterday and got to meet the freshies that I coach. We made plan when she left to call another rower and have him meet us for drinks. I called the guy, Gay Rower, who is exactly what his name states. He was openly and proudly gay, and he was in my boat during college. When I called him, he squealed and said “you girls can be my fag-hags tonight! Oh wait, is that derogatory towards myself?”

We all got together at a back-neck bar about ten minutes from my house. The first drink became our catching up: we talked about Gay Rower’s new boyfriend, we talked about College Roommates bad breakup last year and subsequent making out with my ex-boyfriend’s (her ex-boyfriend’s best friend’s) brother. They were wide-eyed when I told them that I hadn’t been with anyone except Pete since October. “But you’re a serial dater!” College Roommate protested. “Holy crap, you must really like him.” I shrugged and explained that it wasn’t going anywhere.

Another two rounds later, as Gay Rower started dancing in his seat, College Roommate’s cell phone went off. It was my ex-boyfriend calling, and three drinks in I was ready to talk to him. When she tossed the phone at me, he started telling me how much he missed me and that he hoped to see me at a race soon. He told me that he was coaching a high school program, just like I am. “Except my team would demolish your team on the river,” I pointed out. We hung up as the next round came, and I turned to trying to convince Gay Rower to do karaoke.

College Roommate’s cell phone lit up, a text message: “What’s Cait’s number?” A minute after she responded, my phone went off: “I really do miss you, I want to see you.” Meanwhile College Roommate’s was going off, with him asking her to bring me to visit him. She asked if he was serious, and he responded that us breaking up had been the worst decision of his life.

I started letting Gay Rower (who of course in a twist had a crush on my ex) text with the ex. I regretted that decision ten minutes later when he cooed, “Oh! He wants to tie you up!” College Roommate and I both grappled at the phone, her winning, laughing at the screen, and then passing the phone to me. I shrugged again and passed the phone back to Gay Rower just as College Roommate’s phone went off again. She answered, and passed it to me. “He wants to talk to you,” she said, winking.

I ended up outside on the phone talking to the ex for a half hour. Long enough that Gay Rower and College Roommate came out and grabbed me as they left the bar. We stayed on the phone while the three of us walked to the nearby 711, and as College Roommate ate a giant iced donut. College Roommate eventually grabbed the phone and said that we were getting ready to leave, so that he’d have to call me in an hour.

He did, at one in the morning. We talked about everything: college, rowing in college, rowing after college, life after college. We compared the programs we coach, the rivers we coach on, the boats we use, the rigging we have on the boats, the lengths and makes of our oars. In a rower’s world, this is the dirty talk.

And then he suggested that I come spend a week with him to scout his team. Plus, he said, he’s missed me and he hated how things turned out. When we hung up around four in the morning, he instantly messaged me. “I couldn’t say this over the phone,” he typed, “but I want to make it clear just how much I’ve missed you.” He listed the things that he’s missed about me, the mental, physical, and emotional characteristics. We talked for another forty-five minutes there until I pointed out that I needed to wake in the morning.

And so now the email. I’m not sure if I’m more scared of the idea of him saying more along those lines, or the idea of him taking everything he said back.

There have been times where I’ve seriously doubted my memory. Why I can’t remember the names of every single terrorist I’ve read about, for instance, or why I can never remember all three names of Columbus’s ships (I wikipedia-ed it just now). I’ve read dates and times and names and I wish to God that I could remember it all like this guy.
To digress a bit, I got to spend some time with some old friends this weekend. These were some of my closest friends for two years, a boyfriend and his gaggle of lost boys. I loved these boys, I loved them like brothers (except for Joeybones, of course. I didn’t spend THAT much time in the south.) And admittedly I’d been nervous to see them again; the last time I’d seen Tommyboy and Johnnycake was a bit before I started college (or maybe a bit after? Again, with the memory). And Joeybones, my first love, I’d seen once or twice since our horrible breakup. And it was horrible, so much so that I spent the next two times we’d seen each other trying to be back together (Did I end that one? I’m fairly sure I did).
The point is, I’d been fretting for the past week about seeing them again. After all, I’ve changed quite a bit. I don’t have my old black hair, and I’ve lost the studded belt. It’s true, I had them. Along with a heaping pile of anger and teenage angst. I lost them somewhere in the transitional college years, and this was the first time that I’ve been nervous about the change. Would they think I’ve turned into a haughty bitch? I didn’t wear my pearls.
And of course I overreacted. Seeing them felt exactly as it should; the matured version of what we used to be. Actually, the only mature parts of it were that we’re all now legal to drink and were at Jonnycake’s apartment. We’ve all come a long way from where we used to be, but it felt good to relapse into old memories. We’re able to joke about the time we had “car trouble”, and every time someone threw out an old memory, we’d laugh and add to it.
With the exception of one memory. Joey and I, having dated for a few years and having been fairly serious (as serious as first loves go, sans pregnancy and gunshot wedding) found ourselves bickering over one specific memory regarding the more intimate side of our relationship. It started with me mentioning something that we’d done, and him swearing it had never happened. This lasted the rest of the night, with his drunken butt not able to remember it (it happened dear).
And then I took it to the next level, and asked if he remembered our first time. Now I’m not sure if this is a gender thing or not, but every girl I’ve met can remember her first time down to the exact details. Not to get too personal (Who am I kidding? I’m already there), but I can remember the movie we were watching beforehand. The boy? Remembers nothing. Not the day, not what it was like, not what he said after. That became my weapon for the rest of the night- if you can’t remember one of the most important nights of your life, how can you remember one not-so-important nights?
The moral of this long-winded and overtly intimate piece? I’m right, he’s wrong. No, that’s not it. The moral of the story is how absolutely great it feels to reconnect with old friends, even if it is just to watch movies, eat pizza, listen to music, and drink.

We’d been reciting it since we had first learned to talk, had spent years of school learning to shape them, form them. It’s been embedded in almost every person’s childhood, sung sweetly as a chant.

But I sat there listening to him recite the alphabet to the police, overtly turning his mouth at an angle so that his beer on his breath wouldn’t go straight into the officer’s face. A-B-C-D-E-F-G! I thought angrily, willing him to remember the song from childhood. My thoughts raced from thinking about whether I knew anyone that didn’t know the alphabet to my bank account. Did I have enough money to bail him out if it came to that?

“A-B-C-D-F,” he said, and instantly realized he’d made a mistake. “Sorry officer, I’m just nervous.”

“He gets like this when he gets nervous,” I promised the officer, collaborating some story I didn’t even know. In fact, Country and I had only been dating for a few months. Our lives foiled the others’, and in some sense that made it romantic. He, as the name suggests, grew up in the country, and was raised on hunting and recklessness. He was a Conservative, and in the many times I struggled to understand why I was answered with “Because my dad and his daddy are.” And then there was me, the bleeding liberal who had been a vegetarian for more years than I have fingers. I would never, ever understand hunting, not the kind for sport. Not the kind where children learned to end the life of an animal and to have their pictures taken holding up the necks. And I grew up in the suburbs outside of a city, a life he would never understand.

“A-B-C-D-E-F-G-I, Fuck!” He knew again, and my worry grew. Why had I allowed him to drive? Why had I gotten in the car? My mind flashed back to a time when, in high school, my boyfriend had flipped the car we were in while drunk driving and speeding. I thought to how time had slowed down as we hit the curb, as the car had rolled and rolled, to suddenly us hanging in the air by our seat belts. I had been dumb enough to make the same mistake again, by why? Did I think that they wouldn’t care for me if I didn’t get in the car with them? And why would I care enough for some guy who was willing to risk our lives?

“Please step out of the car,” the officer said, and Country slowly complied. He refused to make eye contact with me, and I wasn’t sure if it was out of embarrassment or anger. Just before we’d been pulled over, I’d made him promise to be careful driving the few short blocks from the bar to my apartment. And Country, in his own fashion, decided to speed. “But this is where all the cops are!” I’d protested, as we raced down the main street of town on a Friday night. And of course, as the words spit out of my mouth, flashing lights went off behind us. Country had tried to pull over and, in doing so, had driven onto a curb and barely missed hitting a telephone pole. Why did I think we had any chance of getting out of this one?

I tried not to show anticipation on my face, and instead sat calmly against the leather seats, arching my back so that I could watch in the side mirror. Country was doing surprisingly well, walking the narrow line without a single misstep, and, in his comic fashion, bowing before the police. He must have practiced these things, I thought. I knew he’d been pulled over many times before, always narrowly evading actual trouble. I tried to think back on how many times he’d been pulled over for this before, always told in humorous stories at the bar: the time he got pulled over in the golf cart, the time he drove into a ditch and through his neighbor’s fence, the time he flirted his way out of a ticket. He was devastatingly charming, and before these stories had always been the cause of uproar amongst our friends.

Really though, he must have practiced. Every step was precise, and his coordination was impeccable. My window was cracked slightly, and I could hear the break in the silence, “Ok, you’ve passed.” My stomach finally calmed momentarily, and they came back over towards Country’s car. I relaxed my face, set it so there was no trace of surprise.

“We should breathalyze you,” the officer said. I pounced: “But you can’t, you’ve already passed him on the physical without choice. You’re not allowed to administer that.” My thin amount of knowledge regarding the state’s law came from the fact that my thesis was being conducted using breathalyzers, though it must have seemed to the officer that I knew more than I’d presented. He hesitated a moment, but then asked me on what I’d drank for the night. “One beer, over four hours ago.” It was true; I’d been more interested in playing pool and watching basketball than going drink-for-drink with Country. The officer advised me to drive home and I did so. I hadn’t realized just how drunk Country was until he was trying to get his clothes off to go to bed. I had walked to the kitchen to get him a glass of water, and came back to find him sitting on the floor, pants around his ankles. The morning would find him back on the floor, this time in the bathroom, sheepishly promising me that it wouldn’t happen again.

Country and I broke up soon after, but I guess that this all stirred in my memory the other night. I had met a guy at the dog park last weekend when his lab started romping with my Willa. We fell into step, and found out that we have a lot in common. He’s an avid kayaker and runner who had rowed in college, and, like me, had a fondness for drooling labs. “I’m here every day at this time,” he said slyly. “Come meet me later this week?” In my usual way I was already looking for an excuse not to. “Just so that the dogs can play,” he finished. I ran into him two days later, and despite the fact that I was wearing huge sweatpants and a guy’s undershirt, he asked me to get drinks that night. We picked a bar and time before I left the park.

By the time that I met him, I could tell he had been there for a bit. I had walked the few short blocks to the bar and wasn’t late- he must have gotten there early. The server cleared his three glasses and took my order. We got along great, talking about how we had both gotten our labs from shelters and what it was like having an older brother. He made me laugh, but I couldn’t help feeling wary as his glasses lined up against my two beers. “Looks like you’re not much of a drinker,” he joked, eyeing my empty glasses. “Oh no, it’s just that I have to get up early tomorrow, and I don’t want a hangover,” I lied. In fact, I had nothing but a run in the morning and, to date, have never had a hangover.

He walked with me out into the parking lot, and I said goodnight. “Wait,” he said, grabbing my hand, “I’ll drive you.” And then I got the images of Country in my head. His face as he stepped out of the car. My fear as we almost hit the pole pulling over. “That’s alright, it’s only a few blocks.” I turned around before he could protest, but then flipped around to speak. “And you should call a cab.”

Perhaps I should have done more in the situation, perhaps I should have insisted that he get a ride home. But regardless, it felt good walking the few blocks home, even in my two inch heels.

I came home to these messages the other day on my computer:

Jordan: cause every time I see your bubbly face
I get the tingles in a silly place
Jordan: is “silly place” supposed to mean the genitals?

Jordan is an old boyfriend, pretty much the ideal guy. Tall, handsome, athletic, intelligent, funny, caring… Did I mention that he’s gorgeous? I met Jordan two years ago when a mutual friend asked me to join his all-guys club soccer league. They needed one more person for their team and, unable to find a guy, figured that they would stretch the rules and have a girl on the team. Not being timid, I agreed. Plus, they bribed me with promises of beer.

I remember seeing Jordan for the first time, shirt off, sweating in the summer heat. Even after the first few practices I caught myself staring. By the first game I was nervous. I showed up a bit late from work, threw on a sports bra and a tank top in my car, and met the boys on the field. There was immediate arguing about my presence, the other team pouting that we couldn’t have a girl on the team. I pointed out that technically, there were no rules against it. They finally settled on insisting that they play shirts, we play skins. This joke got old quick- just about every team insisted on saying it.

The first game was a blur, I don’t remember if we won or lost. I do remember going to the bar, sweaty and grass-stained with the boys after. Jordan and I retired to one end of the bar, the other guys hooting at us between drinks. We got on the topic of books that we both loved, our mutual love of dogs, and a movie that we both wanted to see. By the time that we stumbled out of the bar we’d made plans to see the movie together.

Of couse Jordan would be the perfect gentleman, picking me up from my house (despite it meaning that he had to go out of his way to get me). And of course he would insist upon paying, upon buying popcorn, upon holding every door we came to open for me. He was so gentleman-ly that I first took it as a ruse to get me to sleep with him. But after the third and fourth dates, after he still didn’t push me to kiss him, after he still high-fived me after one of us scored, I realized that he was actually a good guy.

Three weeks went by, and Jordan and I were spending just about every night together. We’d grab a basketball and shoot around, we’d take his dog, Tan, swimming. And once, when we were throwing sticks for Tan to fetch, he twisted my fingers in his palm, grinning his perfect lips wide. This, I realized, should have been a moment when I swooned. I didn’t.

The following day we had anothe soccer game. The typical joke at the beginning had led our teamate Tim to making us all shirts that read “Skins” on them, our adopted team name. [Sidenote: At the office I was working at that summer, there was one black woman. She and I ended up taking every day and taking our lunches together, and she told me that she wanted to “blackicize” me. Every day she would tell me phrases that she felt I should learn, including one that I ended up using in this particular game after getting mowed over by a 6’4 should-be-linebacker: “He all up in my Kool-aid and he don’t even know the flavor.”] Jordan and I worked perfectly together, him at left wing, me at right. In that last few minutes of the tied game, I had a perfect throw in that set him up at the 18, and he scored. He ran over to me, our usual congratulations. But this time he picked me, and the next thing I know he’s kissing me. Another moment where I should have felt like my chest was melting into my stomach. But again, I didn’t.

Jordan and I ended up dating for two months, and he was perfect in every single sense. But something was constantly nagging me. I remember the night that he figured it out: We were at his father’s restaurant (did I mention that his family was incredibly wealthy as well? And that they gorged me on Italian food at every possible moment?) and he brought up Hunter S. Thompson. My stomach felt as though it were trying to dissolve a lump, and suddenly I’m not there with him in the beautiful restaurant. Instead, I’m with PK. He could tell then that I was not ready, not at all ready to try to move on.

We’ve stayed close, and he eventually moved to Massechusetts for graduate school. Last week I received a call from him on my cell phone. “I’m home for break, what are you doing right now?” I admitted that I hadn’t showered, that I was cleaning my room. “Great, I’ll see you in a few minutes.” He hung up (I swear that I could see his smirk on the other line) before I could protest. True to his word, he showed up a half hour later, arms laden with bags of food from his father’s restaurant. And cannolis!

We spent the next few hour cleaning my house and sprawling out on my bed with my Ipod on. He was holding my hand, with his thumb rubbing the stretched skin between my thumb and forefinger.  And then that song came on, and he’s pulling me up to dance. His hands on the small of my back, rocking me against his body. He brushed the hair from in front of my ear and told me “I’ve missed this”. I stopped and looked at him, and he knew again. I’m still not ready.

I’m debating asking him to come as my date to the cocktail party that my girlfriends and I throw every year. He’s yet to meet my friends, mostly because I’ve been hesitant about making things seem to be more than they are. I wish that I were ready for something because, as I’ve said, he’s practically the perfect guy.

Is this a situation where I should be pushing myself to get over it? As Brizzle put it so crudely, “you have to get under someone new to get over someone old.” I don’t think I’d take it that far, but 1. would being with Jordan help me get over PK and, 2. Is that even fair to do to Jordan?

I cannot believe that it has been almost a week since my last post. The holidays were, well, hectic. And trying to catch up with life that got put on hold during the holidays? Even worse.

I should probably write about the date that I had last week. We originally had plans to go out that Tuesday after class, but Brian called me while I was on the drive to class and sounded so upset. Eric’s funeral had been that day and he wasn’t taking it well- none of my friends are. He asked if we could get drinks when my class was over, and I felt like it was more important for me to be out with him than to be on a date. I talked to the guy during our break, and he asked if we could do lunch the next day then. We settled on a restaurant, and then I spent Tuesday night with Brian.

I’m going to go right out there and say it, I looked adorable on Wednesday. He was grinning like the cat that got the cream when I met up with him in the parking lot. The restaurant was one of his favorites, a Thai place in the city. We had a table right in the corner, and within minutes we were having a heated discussion about the Timal Tigers. I kept thinking about how great it was that there was a guy on my level, you know? That we had something that we were both passionate about in common. So of course this is where it goes bad.

“Was your old boyfriend into this stuff?” he asks. I know he’s referring to Peter, because on the night I drove up there my class had been teasing me endlessly. On that Tuesday I had mentioned to my girl friend in the class that I was nervous about meeting his parents, that I was never nervous about meeting parents. This guy and another of our friends walked in during the course of that conversation. “No, he wasn’t,” I say curtly, because I want to be off of this topic. I mean, who brings this up on a first date?

“Well what was he into? What was he like?” Really? You’re going to be asking me these things? I answer politely but try to steer the conversation away. Apparently I am not subtle. “I understand that you don’t want to talk about it,” he explains, “but I want to gauge how attached to him you still are.” Well knock me over with a fucking feather.

Aside from that the rest of the meal was pleasant. I didn’t really feel any chemistry, but to be honest that interlude had me thinking about Peter for the rest of the night. He kissed me on the cheek afterwards and I told him to have a great holiday, that I’d see him in class the following week.

I really cannot see myself with him. He’s incredibly attractive, witty, and intelligent, but we just didn’t have that flare. I wasn’t dying to talk to him again the next morning and I didn’t stay up all night thinking about him (I did, however, stay out all night drinking. That’s another story.)

It’s 1:30 in the morning and I? I am still up and completely unable to sleep.

I just got off the phone with an old college friend. He and I met in the very first days of college, forced together because my friend liked his roommate. We ended up at a party together that night awkwardly playing as beer pong partners while our friends flirted in the other room. He hardly said a word to me and of course I took that as my cue to ramble on incessantly.

Back at his room his two roommates were with their respective girls so he and I wandered to the porch of his dormitory. We stayed there for hours in the warm summer air talking about our families, our high schools, our friends at home. I told him about my problems with my boyfriend at the time (who by the way is absolutely awesome and you should check out his site), he told me about his problems with his parents. Maybe it was the excessive alcohol that night, or maybe it was the fact that we were both new to this whole life, but he was crying. And against my usual pattern, I loved that he was crying.

We ended up dating for a few short weeks, a relationship that I really can’t remember the details of. I don’t remember our first kiss, or what happened when I spent the nights there. I don’t even remember us ever breaking up. He was my first college relationship. I do, however, remember how we ended up together again the next year, my go-to guy after I had another bad breakup. And again several times in our junior year. We shared all of the same friends, we shared six packs and bar tabs. We shared bonfires in his backyard and s’mores. We share a thousand good memories.

I love making him smile, but I’ve always hated that it takes so much to get it there. During one of the times we were dating I discovered that he was ticklish on his hipbones and would tickle him mercilessly just to see him smile and laugh. Despite all of this, the guy is always seemingly depressed.

So it wasn’t a surprise tonight when we had one of the most serious conversations to date. How he is racked with depression, just as his mother is, but that his family refuses to admit to these things. How he’s considering joining the army because he doesn’t know what else to do with his life. At one point I asked what would make him happy. “I want to jump out of a plane,” he said. I told him that I’ve always wanted to go skydiving, that I’d be a willing partner for it. “I only want to go once and I won’t need a chute.” I never realized it was this deep.

So we talked, I questioned and he answered, I begged and he agreed. The things he said, well, they shook me up. To a point where I’m worried that I should tell someone. When I asked if there was anything in his life that was making him happy he said, “well you, obviously”. But I’m worried that isn’t enough. I convinced him to call the counseling center at the school tomorrow and said I’d try to come down this weekend to see him. But what I really don’t know is what to say. I feel like I want to say the right thing to flip some switch in his head, something that will make him feel completely different. I want to have the solution but it’s not my place to solve his problems.

Maybe it’s the fact that Philadelphia is finally starting to look and feel like fall, but sitting in a cozy, low-lit bar last night with Habibi was perfect. We had plans for drinks ahead of time, but my terrorism class got out early so we changed plans for dinner too.

This bar? It is perfect. It would feel cramped if there were ever more than a handful of stragglers there, sitting at the carved wooden bar. Morrocan tea lights hang over tables that, even though they are pressed against the next still manage to feel personal. Habibi is a regular; the bartender is talking to him across the room as I walk in. He smiles, we hug, and I order my usual beer.

Aside from a slight miscalculation (the waitress said that they accept my credit card- after we order it turns out that they don’t) we had a great meal. He ordered his usual burger and fries, I ordered the tomato and broccoli quiche with a salad. The food is surprisingly good; surprisingly only because I have yet to see where the have a kitchen tucked away in the building.

And the conversation? It was intense. You see, Habibi and I dated years ago. It wasn’t serious but it had moments of feeling that way. He traveled to Spain for a month while we were dating and sent me some of the most beautifully written letters I’ve ever received. In one, he sent me a dove’s feather, wrote about how the beaches are covered with doves instead of seagulls. He wrote about how he dreamed about a black-haired girl, who he supposed to be me. We had a great relationship, but we also had a sudden breakup. Not because something was wrong with us, but because he had problems in his life to sort out. We’ve managed to stay close, and I still feel like we have a strong connection from that relationship.

So of course our conversation wasn’t the typical outside-layer talk. We talked about my inability at relationships, how after the Fiance I lost any idea of what a relationship should be. We talked about his mother, about his father. Analyzed our friends. There are few people that I can speak so honestly and so comfortably with; he is one of them. Of all of my friends, it’s his advice that I trust the most. When he tells me that things are toxic, that I need them out of my life, I know he’s right.

We left a few hours later and walked down the fall streets of Philadelphia. It had just rained, so a mist was rising off of the road. And then I realized that I can’t remember a time that I’ve felt calmer, more relaxed. Even my breathing has changed. I slept completely through the night last night, a rarity for me. I woke up this morning still feeling this enveloping sense of calm. Not worried about basketball or crew, not worried about classes. Not worried about Peter or about dating, nor about how my health is. Just calm.

The growth of intimacy is like that. First one gives off his best picture, the bright and finished product mended with bluff and falsehood and humor. Then more details are required and one paints a second portrait, and a third–before long the best lines cancel out–and the secret is exposed at last; the planes of the pictures have intermingled and given us away, and though we paint and paint we can no longer sell a picture. We must be satisfied with hoping that such fatuous accounts of ourselves as we make to our wives and children and business associates are accepted as true.

It’s hardly possible for any two people in the situation to perceive that situation in exactly the same manner. Of course there are going to be discrepancies between the way I saw things and the way Peter saw things.

 

The truth of the matter is that I actually met Peter before we were ever members of the same newspaper staff. Well, rather we had seen each other at parties that usually consisted of him guzzling beer and trying to coerce some girl, ugly or not, into bed. And then there was the fact that his name was notorious on campus; he’d wanted it that way and he’d made it that way. By the time those late nights in the newspaper room occurred, I was on the opposite end of the spectrum. I was dating the Fiance, whom I was in love with. I’d climb back into bed with the Fiance afterwards and the first thing he would ask was what Peter had said to me that evening. We actually used to joke about it, the fact that Peter shamelessly tried to flirt with me. I despised Peter at this point, I thought him to be incredibly self-obsessed (which, of course, he is).

A messy breakup with the Fiance in the next year left me devoid of almost everything regarding men. I remember the night that Peter referenced, the night I “picked” him up. He failed to mention that his friend Ben was with him, that I sweetly offered them a ride, and that Ben actually got my number, not Peter, to get me to join them at the bar later that evening. Peter’s “game” ended up being a few messages on Facebook, and finally instant messenger conversations. He did, as he mentioned, convince me to come to the movies with him and his friends; I convinced my friend Brizzle to come as I refused to be alone with Peter. He still annoyed me, but in all honesty I was bored that evening.

I ended up loving that pathetic date. I remember being in the Wawa on our way home, remember the way that Peter put his finger on the tattoo on my hip, the way he put his arm around my waist. I remember how embarrassed he was when he was pulled over for speeding, remember how he stuttered when the cop handed him the ticket. We came back to play Boggle, which he boasted of being a champ at and at which I beat him terribly. We went into his room discussing authors, and I remember loving his bookcase, loving that we had identical books lining ours. I still remember what I wear wearing that evening, the exact jeans that I wore that would later be on his floor. I remember how intense it was, how heated we were. And I remember how, afterwards, all I wanted to do was leave. I didn’t want to see him again.

Unfortunately at a small school like ours it was impossible. I don’t remember the second or third times, I don’t remember why it continued. I remember going to see him in a play (he’s an awesome actor), and I remember baking cupcakes for him for an Eagles game, though I’m not sure why. And I remember the night he first told me it was “just sex”. He was drunk, texting me, telling me that he wanted to see me. I wanted him to come back to my apartment- my roommate was away and I guess I was starting to like the idea of having him around. I actually wanted to wake up to him this time. I drove to his place to pick him up and, in his drunken stutter, he told me that he didn’t want a relationship, that he thought I was pushing it. I froze- how could he have known that? But I had gotten my hopes up about seeing him, and swallowed down the idea of it being more than that.

His friends seemed to bond with me more than he did. One in particular. We began to talk every evening, and I remember that oh shit feeling of realizing that I liked Peter’s best friend. We held each other on an intellectual level, something that was lacking with Peter. It also helped that this friend shared common friends with me, aided in us spending more time together. The friend worked the angle, telling me that Peter didn’t care about me, telling me about the girls that Peter was seeing. I was obviously hurt, and here was a guy that cared enough about me to spend time with me. I regret to this day what I did to him, regret that I went back to Peter the first time he showed interest.

Peter also failed to mention the first time he told me that he loved me. That night alone is the reason why I’ve been around for so long, why I keep believing that there is something between us. I had been convincing myself to stop caring for him, to let him graduate college and be out of my life.  

We’ve had a sordid relationship since then, with him pushing one moment and pulling for me the next. We can’t get rid of each other, but in some sick way neither of us actually wants to. I’m not obsessed with him, as one faux-hipster reader likes to think/ stalkingly blog about, but rather I know him well enough to have seen his other sides. I’ve seen past the self-obsessed, beer-guzzling, sex-monger Peter. If I’d truly thought that his personality consisted of just those aspects, I never would have stuck around. There’s a reason why we keep coming back to each other.