We were standing in the dark middle, watching this band from Toronto. I kept calling the band Toronto but he told me later that they were actually named something else (this was after he’d stood outside and talked with the guys). I’ll still probably think of them, and refer to them, as Toronto.
I’m left-handed, of course, but was holding my drink – an amaretto sour – in my right, leaving the left one free and dangling.
Because my left hand was near his right hand. His right hand was free sometimes, cupping his left elbow other times, scratching his neck, holding his phone… he was texting someone at ten thirty, eleven, twelve and I lightly wondered who.
But when Toronto finished playing, my drink was done (loved the amaretto, didn’t love the sour) and he still hadn’t held my hand. I think I knew then, or that I should have, but we got up on stage and I introduced us and I smiled over at him as we ran through the songs and then we stuck around for the headliner afterwards, this neato weirdo solo act touring the US in a purple van.
The purple van guy played piano like a wizard and sang strangely and beautifully, pointing his finger at me once during a song. I’ll never forget it. He’d also said “you’ve been doing this for years, right?” after I’d gotten off stage. “Yeah,” I’d said. “Your voice is top-notch,” he’d said, and I’ll never forget that either.
Anyways, we – me and the friend I like – walked outside together after midnight, him with his free hands and me with my instrument, and then we paused by my car. I knew he was about to say goodbye – he’d seemed anxious all night – so I just said it to him, fast and straight.
“Look — I don’t know if I should crush these feelings or hold onto them.” I was referring to a text I’d sent the previous night and was sort of asking a question now.
He smiled shyly. Such a sweetheart. “I know… I’m still thinking about it — about what you said.”
I told him he could take his time — to just keep me posted (keep me posted? I thought later, shaking my head). We hugged goodbye and I did it, and I did it because my girlfriend had told me way earlier on in the day that I was TRIPPING and just needed to STOP.
“Think about what you want and good things will come to you,” she’d said. “Quit tripping. Quit trying to make things happen and make things not happen — just let it flow and do you.”
Let it flow. Be honest, real… just do you. It sounded like a good idea so I leaned forward and kissed him and when he pulled away, it felt like he hadn’t kissed me back at all. I felt pretty sure of that. And I was wondering about the texting again, thinking that must be it — where his mind (or heart) was. I wondered why he’d ever bothered kissing me in the first place.
It wasn’t until the next morning that I was ready to accept it. I just woke up and was like yeah — I know. Maybe he really doesn’t but I definitely do.
“I’ll go ahead and call it so you don’t have to hurt my feelings,” I said, inserting a smile. “I’m looking forward to many years of friendship.” He replied much later on in the day, thanking me and saying something else nice, and I realized then that I only go crazy – nauseous, nervous, crazy – over the ones I really like. He was one of them.
Oh well… I’ve still got Ty. 🙂 And one of these days, they won’t like me more than I like them and I won’t like them more than they like me. Right?
I was sad yesterday and the day before AND the day before but not very sad today. Just a little weak, a small heavy, a low-light gray-blue.
I asked my friend Rodger, when we went to lunch on Thursday, if I should text the guy again (at least to check up on him — I was wondering about him and worried about him; I know he’s been depressed lately).
“Are you the one carrying the bulk of the relationship?” he asked. “The one initiating conversation and hanging out?”
Yes, I said.
“Then don’t,” he said.
Then I won’t, I said, and decided – after four months – to get back on the app. Eek!
Friends whose name rhymes with Bellbee: First of all, I already know you’re furious. I know that I’m about to be living the busiest life I’ve ever lived and that dating a boy will only make things more intense, more complicated and more draining and that I should know better by now…
But I’m sad and the idea of talking with someone who might want to hold my hand someday is what keeps me going sometimes. Tycho lets me cuddle her but she doesn’t really cuddle back (which is a lot like kissing someone who doesn’t kiss you back — although Tycho DOES give me kisses, so we’re good there!).
But secondly (and maybe you’ll be less furious now), IT’S ALREADY OVER! Just under 36 hours after downloading the thing (#relapse), I’ve already gone and deleted it. Why?
I attended this event last night — a jubilee for Scalawag magazine (think: southern culture, human rights, diversity and inclusion, art). It was super kickass.
My writer friend had invited me and, deciding it would be a better way of spending the evening than drinking red wine and reading at home while trying to NOT think about him, I went. I’m glad I did.
When I walked into Domestique at ten after seven, there were already people everywhere. I blindly stumbled over toward the drink table and saw whiskey and gin on it. “I already know whiskey so let’s do gin,” I said to the drink man after asking him for an explanation of gin. I’d never had gin. It was nice. Not as good as whiskey, turns out, but still nice.
I walked to the back of the room with my beverage, watched a guy draw someone’s face (he was really good at it) and then returned to the front, feeling aimless. I brushed past a young guy my age during this awkward walkabout.
“Hi!” he said to me, smiling. He was wearing glasses and Vans and a Nirvana hat and all of this was very disarming.
“Hi — I don’t know what I’m doing,” I blurted out, and he started laughing; then he was asking me questions and making me laugh and I wasn’t afraid at all anymore. My new friend’s name is Eric and we’re now buddies on IG… he’s a musician who puts on shows at J Clyde and some other place I can’t remember the name of but I told him I’d come watch him play sometime.
A little later, Sky showed up. My girlfriend (the writer) had actually described him to me like this months before I’d met him: cool writer guy living in Peru. I’d said I wanted to meet him someday and, when he came back into town recently, she remembered, inviting me out to say hi. We talked across the table at this spoken word thing inside Rojo on Friday night and now here he was again on Saturday.
Anyways, we were talking about español and writing habits and unreliable narrators at this jubilee when he told me the prettiest story…
He’d seen one of our professors leaving campus one evening around eleven. This was a few years ago, I guess — back when he was getting his degree.
“No one else was around,” Sky said, “and I was parked at a light. Well when I saw him crossing the street I called out ‘DANNY!’ and instead of looking over at my car, the guy looked up — at the sky.”
I’d met Danny once and this sounded exactly right. “That’s beautiful,” I said, and then repeated it because the gin was working and the people were smiling and everything was becoming very clear to me then.
I made another friend last night: a musician-poet-painter guy named Travis. He had beads in braided hair, wore loose clothes, and danced around me, talking about poetry and sewing and things. He was radiant. Gorgeous, too, but way too gorgeous… I stepped away quietly while he was watching the same guy from earlier paint another person’s portrait. I’d noticed the painter supporting his right hand with his left while he painted and I thought that was interesting.
When I felt like the gin had lost some of its power and I was ready to go home, I began walking toward the exit. A girl standing several feet ahead of me met my gaze, held it, and stepped right in front of me, asking me to dance with her. I was taken back; I didn’t see anyone else dancing and I don’t dance very well, so I stuttered for a second.
“I — I can side step,” I offered finally, setting my scarf and tote down.
“Just feel it,” she said, hair drifting, arms waving. Watching her move, I’d never felt so white and nerdy. (That’s a song, you know.)
I looked over and another girl, a friend of hers I think, was staring at me as I tried to figure out the rhythm of my side step. She was shaking her head, mouth smiling a little while hanging open a little, so I laughed and stared back at her.
“Am I doing it wrong?” I called out and then, looking back over at the girl I was dancing with, the one who’d stopped me and who’d said we were doing this, I asked: “Are we battle dancing right now?” She nodded, smiling… gorgeous, winning.
I left a minute later, got in my car, and thought I’d like to hear some live hip hop, so I drove by Black Market (knowing – thanks to Jakob – that Lobotomix was playing… never been able to catch them live). Parking was nuts though so I kept on driving until I saw Makarios (which immediately sounded like a good idea). While I suspect that the gin was still sort of alive in me bc I’m normally more deliberate with my decision-making, I’d also not eaten all day (#lovesick).
I walked inside, ordered almond garlic ghallaba to-go, and finished Persepolis while I was waiting. Ran into a biker friend of mine while I was there (he was ordering to-go also) and asked how his summer was going. It was going well. I said mine was too and it’s mostly true — life’s about more than just boys, you know!
I realized, feeling very warm (#gin), that I was really enjoying this — getting out of the house to meet people and make friends in real life instead of on screens. I’d shaken hands and danced and laughed with so many interesting folks: Laura, Alysia, Chuck, Mary, Sky, Eric, Travis, Tina…
Just like food changes you from the inside out, I believe handshakes and hugs and words and faces change you from the outside in — that everything is chemistry and that everything is changing everything. I wouldn’t ever forget any of them, any of this.
So I gave one guy I’d been talking with (via the app) my number (because he seemed extra-nice) and then I deleted it on my way home. Why? You just don’t know what kind of chemistry you’ll have with someone until you’re sharing a room with them. And while you can FOR SURE match with folks online AND find that you dig them in real life too (I’ve met some great guys this way), nothing beats making a friend in-person.
It’s unexpected, for one thing (“I don’t know what I’m doing”) and it’s way more memorable. Days, weeks, YEARS later, you can go back to the way the room looked, and the way their voice sounded — what they smelled like and what their eyes did and the way their feet tapped or their legs crossed or their hands did or didn’t know what to do; all of this instead of just words on a screen.
Also (another minor reason why I ditched the app): At the event, there was this cute guy who I couldn’t help but notice was already looking at me whenever I looked at him and I thought that I’d like to talk with him. Didn’t have the guts, though, so I checked the app (it’s location-based) right when I got to the car and after thirty swipes “left” I realized he wasn’t going to show up on there. Good for him, really.
I thought about marching back inside to say hello but decided I’d rather go hear hip hop (and you know the rest from there). My point though: Online dating is largely ineffective, the faces tend to blur together, and it just doesn’t take a whole lotta guts to do it.
But awkwardly introducing yourself to folks IRL DOES and I like to, as much as possible, be brave about things. I believe it’s important to be brave and I like who I am when I’m brave and I like the people I meet when I’m awkwardly trying to be brave… so @ this juncture, the app’s taking a nap, and I’d like to say it’s a perma-nap bc I did DELETE the account — I didn’t just snooze it…
And because I shouldn’t keep something this entertaining to myself, I’m sharing snippets from THE MOST AWKWARD CONVOS I HAD below.
“The lung” as an opening line? You can’t beat that. You cannot. (But if you can, PLEASE share it with me!)
I said I was about to go, didn’t I?
On Tuesday, before I’d gone up on stage and before my friend Esther had gone up on stage (she’s the cool gal who invited me to play w/her @ The Nick), we were sitting outside the venue together, listening in on people’s conversations and watching cars go by.
“What do you wanna do when you grow up, Jace?”
She asked me this after we’d both been quiet for a while. I’d just watched the girl in front of me slide her jeans down her ass so she could show the guy I like her new tattoo. Awesome.
“I’d like to write,” I said to Esther, trying to forget about it, “and maybe work as an editor. What I’d really love to do, though, is travel, listen to people tell their stories, and then help them write them down.” When I asked her what she wanted to do, she said she wanted to keep on making music. And she’s an incredible musician… deep lyrics, killer falsetto. I hope she never stops. I know a musician who’s stopped making music and I think it’s dumb, I think it’s really stupid.
But the truth is – and I think I already knew this Tuesday night and I just didn’t want to say it, mostly because of the cool girl with the tattoo on her ass – I just want to love somebody and go on adventures with them. Writing is beautiful because it helps me connect with everything (as well as connect everything) and study everything and remember almost everything but loving someone — nothing, NOTHING, beats that. I already know this.