Friday night rolls around and I go out with JerkFace and another friend, which turns into barhopping, and meeting a guy JF went to prep school with, who asks me out and I say yes. He asks me to something specific enough that I am in: brunch at a restaurant I’d wanted to try, about which I’ve heard very mixed things. Still, I say yes. Eventually, the Reporter joins me with them for all of five minutes and then we head off to the land of patio bars in our favorite entertainment district.
We are with a lot of his news friends — producers, anchors, weathermen — even though he is now out of the business working in communications for a tech startup. Many of them were with us at the Reporter’s birthday, which is where I re-met and connected with GT. One of the producers with whom I have a somewhat contentious relationship asked me not unkindly: “so, you slept with that guy right?” They were all aware of the attraction and no one was surprised. In fact, they were all somewhat impressed. I laughed, that I had, and we’re now sort of seeing each other. The producer laughed, you’re kind of like a dude, which he meant as a very high compliment.
I suppose that I am in the sense that I date a lot of people, I maintain a certain level of control over those relationships, and I am extremely commitment-phobic.
As that party rolled on, I knew it was time to shut it down. I had messaged GT earlier to ask what trouble he was causing. I was with a bunch of people he knew, so if he were out and available, I would have invited him to join us. He responded back hours later — at midnight, in fact, that he was working late finishing up Q2 financials (so he wouldn’t have to work this weekend) — and drinking bourbon in his office.
I called a car and headed back to the burbs solo. I awoke early around 630 am and saw I had missed a message from GT at 253 am: “So done”
Now, I was sleepy and somewhat disoriented anyway, but that is totally weird.
I assumed he meant with work, and not with me or with life, but it was still rather strange. I could tell from his activity that he’d not been off the computer for long, so I sent back “?”
Around noon, he reached out to say “Oh I was just tired” but assured me that “Q2 is on the books, so things should calm down now.”
A few hours later, at 5:05 pm, as I was settling in to spend the evening home watching movies, he messaged: “I’m going to need a drink tonight. You?”
So, in few words, he suggested a bar and a time and we’re on.
I am not certain this is a date.
I am an idiot.
Because I am an idiot, I end up meeting up with Recently Single Guy and one of his friends for a beer about an hour ahead. I do not realize this is also a date. And then it gets awkward.
RSG and I have a weird relationship. We are friends. We have gone out on dates. We have had sex, though months ago. We are both aware the other is actively dating other people, which is a topic of discussion between us on our dates. I think we are still dating. Or rather, I now think we are still dating. Or were.
So, I have to confess, oh, by the way, your friend really shouldn’t leave as I am bailing on you for a date, that I am not entirely certain is a date because I am an idiot. RSG had made comments earlier about the fact I only date 32 year olds (very true) and acknowledges he is 32. Again, I have failed all of this miserably, not understanding what the hell was happening.
So, now, they are curious. The bar at which I am meeting Gin & Tonic is next door to the bar at which we are sitting. So we walk over there as a group, and the door man looks at my license and gives the best possible appreciative reaction and then looks at me again. It was so genuine RSG also pushed it to twitter. (I really do not look anywhere close to my age.)
We are kind of killing time and I know they are just trying to spot GT. I have confessed, he’s very young and rather small, and now they are really curious.
But, the heat on the patio gets the better of us, chasing me inside and them to their next destination.
GT is late and I realize I do not actually have his telephone number. We message each other through facebook so often I forget we have no other way of connecting.
I messaged him to let him know I was inside and he was en route, but it was not a big deal.
When he arrives, he hugs me, sits for a second and then goes to the bar for drinks: a vodka redbull for himself and a vodka soda for me. My vodka soda, he warns me as he hands it to me, was given an extremely generous pour by the bartender, with just a splash of soda. I drink it very slowly because I still cannot figure out what the hell is going on here.
Are we just playing out a “we got wasted and hooked up rather publicly and all of our friends are friends so we should go out a few times to make this less icky” thing (actual thoughts that course through my brain) or are we actually seeing each other. He has made a very public appearance as my date, and we are out in the busiest entertainment district, a place where hipsters and frat boys and downtown businessmen all roam freely.
Yet, my insecurity has me uncertain. He’s physically standoffish, sitting across from me at the small marble topped cafe table rather than next to me on the long banquette. And we are talking and catching up. He finishes his drink, returns to the bar for a gin & tonic, as he feels he is waking up a bit after having worked all night the night before and then slept all day. I request water, as my drink was essentially a double.
We like this place, and we are just chatting about life and childhood and work and all of the date conversations people have. It gets progressively louder and I suggest — knowing my limited funds — that we hit the bar across the street which has an amazing bourbon selection, live music, and drinks I know I can afford. I should pick up a round at least once, so I do: the downmarket tallboy we all drink as a bit of a hipster affectation for myself, and a G&T for him. He asks for well gin. He’s adorable.
He also saved me about 8 dollars, likely intentionally.
We stand for a while until we see a table we can join. We sit down next to each other on a bench facing the line of bamboo trees lining the patio and with our backs to the rest of the world. We sit and talk for hours.
Mostly, he is talking. He is telling me about his very interesting childhood, raised by a single very successful father, his choice to follow his own path, and yet still finding similarities between them. He admits his intellectual talents are in math and science, hence his two degrees one in science the other in engineering, and I am enjoying watching this picture of him develop.
He is strong and solid, very much like the men of this state, and I can see why he is here and why he is thriving.
He is drinking gin & tonics, and I am sticking with beer, so I am drinking one to every two of his. Every once in a while, he gets up to get another round and I am being careful to not overindulge.
He is sitting on this sweltering patio in a beautifully made patterned oxford and jeans, and wearing flip flops. He looks like a very tan, very exhausted frat boy, which I suppose he is.
I have a life filled with so many aging frat boys it barely registers for me. But this is a very hipster club, and we are dressed in a way that stands out just a bit here. (I am in a sundress and flats.)
Still, we sit for hours talking because this connection is strong. We talk about favorite bars and restaurants and begin making statements a little differently: “we should go there,” “we should do that.”
At some point on this patio, I realized we became a “we.”
We had been a “we” for a while, for him, I am sure.
I go out a lot, more than is probably normal, and I go out with a lot of different people. Sexual monogamy is the important dividing line for me, and I am thinking about the impact of my connection with him on my plans to see the LDF within the next few weeks.
We never talk about our status. We do talk about exes. He dated a stand-up comic (also a successful professional in a doctorate requiring field), at least 10 years his senior, who used to make jokes about him in her act. He assumes the jokes are still there, but likely even worse than when he would be sitting in the audience, hearing about his bad behavior at wineries, etc.
I tell him about the Bon Vivant.
Drugs come up in conversation, as someone near us is openly smoking weed on this patio. I know he smokes weed, he knows I do coke. Neither of these things is considered a big deal. That likely says a lot about the world we live in, I suppose, but they’re just not a big deal. For me it’s so rare I can count the number of lost weekends on one hand.
We talk of adventures and misadventures, and the hour is getting later. I put my hand on his back, but I am not comfortable making any overt physical moves towards him. His body language is very open towards me, but he takes no opportunity to touch me or to hold my hand or anything, so I dial back the physical intimacy. This is likely a thing I am inventing in my head.
Eventually, we decide to leave. We know we don’t have to close our tabs as we have our cards and the bar will just auto-grat what we would have tipped, so we walk out along the side of the patio and say goodnight to the door guy who had greeted GT warmly when we arrived, saying, “hey man, I know you, you’re good” before he had a chance to pull out his license.
GT and I walk down the street towards his car and he asks me “your place or mine?” We decide they are equidistant (they are not, I am closer), and he decides he wants to go to his.
That means, of course, that he has to drive me home in the morning, so the fact he wants to have me spend the night at his place is obviously meaningful to him. I agree that’s cool, and we head north through downtown and through the northern upscale suburbs to his very nice apartment complex.
His place is surprisingly big and well-appointed. He puts on a documentary about a trip to climb a mountain in South America — it’s actually excellent with a great soundtrack — but I suspect he played it in order to tell me that he’s a mountain climber who did a 5 day ascent of one of the most technically difficult climbs in north america that had him sleeping in a tentish thing on the side of a cliff. Scary stuff. And quite impressive.
We are on the love seat, curled up, and eventually we are holding hands as I have my head on his shoulder. I don’t think we have kissed yet. He is a smoker, which may explain his reticence, but it doesn’t bother me.
We watch the movie until it ends, neither of us making any sort of move, until we head to bed, and even then, I am unsure. I am sprawled in his bed while he is in the bathroom. I don’t really know his intentions until he gets mostly naked, as he enters the room, flips off the light and gets into bed.
The sex is good, not great, as we are both rather drunk. Actually, I am only drunk enough to dull my senses just a little, so I am still keenly aware this is not actually great. We are very safe and he slips a condom on before anything happens without discussion or prompting.
I think I need to be a little more aggressive with him. He’s naturally reticent and lives in his own head. It’s likely incumbent upon me to initiate things.
We did not have sex the next morning, as I would have liked. Instead we woke up a little too early and started talking. We each checked our phones and we are so beyond comfortable that it was all good. I told him I realized I did not have his phone number, so he says it to me, and I text him while lying next to him in bed. I even tweeted part of our conversation from bed as he scrolled through the news.
I had a dream that we were barhopping, which I told him. He smiled: “yeah, that actually happened . . .” The rest of it, which I also shared was quite surreal. Later in the car, he recalls the dream he had. We were at a club, listening to one of his favorite (country-ish) artists, and a celebrity walked in, which meant all the crowd gravitated there and ignored the artist, which annoyed him to no end.
It amuses me that we both included the other in our dreams, unsurprising as we were in bed together, but still amusing.
We vaguely talk about brunch and coffee, but I now know I am completely broke financially and I tell him, I’m not actually hungry. We should have at least gone for coffee, but instead we drive south to my place, talking and laughing. I tell him after his show dream that I have a show this weekend friends in a band are playing (PR’s band, as a matter of fact). He thinks he has to go to the lakehouse. His mother is having some construction work done by a local and he wants to supervise . . . as he is her son and it is what he does. He says he will go if he is in town and I wonder about my willingness to continue to include this man in aspects of my life. It feels perfectly natural to say, my friends are playing, let’s go, and for him to agree.
Because, of course it is.
We like each other and we are seeing each other. In fact, to be honest, we are now dating. Not exclusively (obviously), but there is an expectation that we will see each other, that if there are things we want to do, we will invite the other.
It is normal. It feels foreign.
I am not used to being part of a “we” even when I have a boyfriend. My boyfriends are always off conquering worlds and our time together is brief, and often quite private. But now, inviting him to things, plotting which hipster bars we will hit next, all of that seems perfectly normal.
We are not yet at the point where we can just hang out without the pretext of, let’s grab a drink. Perhaps when I move back downtown, it can be easier: just come over, we will watch a movie.
His willingness to show up, be present, and be awesome has been really wonderful. I am not used to it. I am also not used to giving a man in my life that kind of opportunity to show up, be present, and be awesome. But, I think of the parties this summer to which I will likely invite him, and the things to which he has already invited me, and I have to realize that we will be in each other’s lives for a bit longer.
I do not know why I picked him, of all of the people I am seeing. It has just felt perfectly normal to have him here. I suppose he is closer to me than the others because we are actually having sex and sleeping in the same bed, etc.
For all practical purposes, we are in a relationship by normal ways of judging such things. It’s early (three dates), but it feels comfortable, especially now that I am embracing the “we.”
We now have expectations that we will see each other. I think I can finally let go the ridiculous presumption that we are just playing out a social dance for the benefit of not making future encounters awkward. Dating someone among a group of very social friends is delicate, but (so far) we seem to be pulling it off. We actually have fun together, and the more I get to know him the more I genuinely like him.
The next stage is being together in a group of our friends, which is a silly thing to say as we have already done that twice. But, it will be a little weird the next time the Reporter, GT, and I are all together. There is more certainty now, as I try to deal with not whether we are seeing each other, but how we are seeing each other.
I have decided to embrace the “we.”