I can’t stop tapping. I’m tapping everything. I am fairly certain the man sitting across from me thinks I’m crazy. He’s talking, and I’m tapping. Everything. My silverware, a pen, my nails, my foot. This incessant tapping must be driving him absolutely crazy but he just keeps going on with a smile on his face talking about the Heat.
Who cares? I wanna ask him. What does this say about you? Who you are? What you want from life? What does this say about the man you are? Your character? Your hopes and dreams?
I contribute a one-syllable word or two to the conversation and now he’s back glued to the game on the big screen and I look at my watch. Not at all discreet. I just want this to be over. There is, of course, no such luck that this will happen as we haven’t even been served our drinks yet. As he talks I contemplate random things; is it time to wash my hair again? If I pass my hand over this candle, will it burn my nail polish? Did I turn off my alarm clock this morning? I need to call Childhood Bestie. Oooh we should go to the semi-annual sale at Victoria’s Secret when I get home.
I don’t know what my problem is. I should be very happy, very into this. He’s a nice guy, funny, likes sports. So why am I not into this? He’s an okay guy. A little wack, but not terrible.
If I am to be honest with myself it is because I don’t wanna be here. I know where I wanna be. I wanna be at someone else’s place, curled up on the couch, watching the game and talking more shit than should be humanly possible. But that’s not where I am. And I shouldn’t wanna be there at all. It’s all so convoluted. But at that moment, I am so sad for what I cannot have that my eyes well up with tears. I try to quickly blink them back but the burning sensation that accompanies them makes it impossible to do so discreetly.
“Are you alright?” he asks me, genuinely concerned and I’m not entirely certain if he’s worried or just freaked out by the crying girl in front of him.
“My contact, you know, um, it’s doing, doing, the thing, the thing where- I need to go to the bathroom.”
Oh, Jesus. Did I really just say its “doing the thing”? I’m like a bad episode of Hell Date. Girl who Cries for no Reason at All.
I get to the bathroom and wipe my eyes furiously with the back of my hand. I look at myself, all made up and carefully coifed, wishing my face was bare, my hair in a ponytail, in sweats and somewhere else with who I want to be with.
Stop this! I chastise myself in my head. You are on a perfectly wonderful date with a perfectly wonderful man and you WILL NOT keep thinking about that man that you CANNOT HAVE. DO YOU HEAR ME? YOU. CANNOT. HAVE. HIM. So stop with this stupid shit.
Feeling appropriately disciplined, I try to fix my makeup. When I put my hand up to my face I realize it’s shaking. I’m trembling from head to toe. STOP. THIS. NOW. I take a couple deep breaths and for a moment I swear I smell Burberry.
I walk back to the table, game face on, and ready to give this guy the spectacular first date with the fun, funny girl he thought he was going out with in the first place. When I reach our table, I notice my drink has been put in front of my seat. I pick up the glass and toss back half of it before my butt ever meets the chair.
Just needed a little liquid courage first.
I apologize for the tears, conjuring up some lie much better about my contacts which doesn’t include the phrase “doing the thing.” I flash him my most charming smile just to further placate him and I finally join in the conversation. For a good 30 minutes I am all giggles, witty comebacks and intent eyes on the game. And then all of a sudden the fight leaves me. I don’t want to be here. But I can’t be where I want to be either, where I should have never been there to begin with. It’s emotional purgatory; everywhere and nowhere at once.
Hours later I am home and I long to hear his voice. I send him a text, hoping its breezy and noncommittal, not too vulnerable.
I’m too mixed up inside to adequately assess if this has achieved my purpose. I lay down in hopes of finding sleep but my mind is wide awake with the possibilities of where he could be.
How could I not be insecure? How could I not wonder? How could I not doubt?
This is insane.
I roll over and check my phone one last time. No text, no IMs, no nothing from him. I sigh on the inside and turn off my phone. It’s a damn shame I have to do this to regain a little sanity. But I know I’d better start my detox program now. I need to get control of this.
We only have 12 days…
I fall into a fitful sleep, slapped awake by a dream, the images of which I hope to never see in real life because it might hurt me so much that it actually kills me. Before I know it I am sitting outside chain smoking, furiously writing pages of prose and letters I know I’ll burn before they ever reach an audience. After awhile, the writing has stopped, and I’m drained of everything I had to say. For the moment. I take a hard drag on the cigarette and I shake my head at myself. I haven’t chain smoked in years. I stare at myself in the shiny surface of the lighter in my hands and I don’t recognize me. I look old, tired. Defeated. I knew eventually I’d lose the war.
The sun is starting to rise and I wonder what they day will bring, if the next 24 hrs will be like the last. I am calmer mentally and I begin to plot an escape.
It must be flawless.
There are things I say to myself then, in the silence of the early morning with no one there to bear witness to that which I will never dare repeat. Truths that I speak to myself that I will never again give breath to. I realize then that loving him is much like the cigarette I’m smoking; addictive, temporarily satisfying, but still possessing the ability to burn me to the touch. And it’s also killing me slowly.