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2017-08-18 12:18 am
Entry tags:

Motown

I only write about our friendship when it's going really well or badly. Guess which it is this time?

I don't know how it happened, but I think Bamboo is really, seriously, permanently mad at me. Last night we'd gotten together to make dinner. Cub was there when I arrived. She kinda indicated to me that something was up with Bamboo. We went grocery shopping and I noticed that Bamboo was definitely subdued. When we got back and started cooking, I took a moment to ask if everything was okay with her. She said she had a lot on her mind and was a little stressed about all the upcoming stuff she had to do. That was understandable. She didn't elaborate further so I figured it wasn't too serious.
Cub left a little while after we started grilling. I think she was swapping her car with her aunt for the truck so that we could help Bamboo move her stuff into my storage shed the next morning. These past couple of weeks we've been spending so much time together that I've come to feel completely relaxed and open with her; like whatever barrier I imagined had risen between us last year had finally eroded completely away. I wanted to say something to express those feelings. While we were grilling I said how grateful I was that I'd been able to share my summer with her and also that I was sorry that she hadn't found/made more/better friends during her time in Texas, once the topic came up about how she hoped to move next year.
We returned to her apartment and ate. After dinner we began playing around. The beers were good that night. Youtube was playing Motown and we must have danced for at least an hour. Not even together. Just dancing and drinking. She hugged me for the first time in a long time, saying something to the effect of, “You're gonna have to get used to me being huggy.” She never initiates physical contact so that hug made me really happy. By the time Cub returned, we were sliding across the floor in our socks. She arrived at 11:59 pm. I know because I have a video of her imitating our sock-sliding.
By 12:15 Bamboo had kicked us out.

I guess I should backtrack first. There's a weird dynamic between the three of us that I don't understand. Bamboo is my best friend and I try to get along with Cub because she's important to Bamboo. I don't know if I'd go so far as to call Cub my friend, but we get along well enough. Bamboo and Cub have a sort of big sister-little sister friendship. When it's the three of us, I commonly find myself excluded because they're so tight and they're talking about sensitive stuff or relationships or boys, whatever. It used to seriously irritate me to be excluded like that but I've really been trying to not take it so personally anymore.
Their closeness is matched by how often and hotly they squabble though. They'll fight (over meaningless stuff) and then go for weeks without talking to each other. Cub is a teenager. In the arguments she digs in her heels and sticks up for herself. She will admit that she's wrong though. Even when Cub does capitulate though, Bamboo won't let up. When she drinks too much, she turns into what I call “Bulldozer Bamboo”. Whatever it is that she's decided to do, she stays on it and cannot be stopped until she crashes. I mostly stay out of these arguments because they're unimportant. Like a few weeks ago they got into an argument about whether Cub counted as Hispanic if she was born to Spanish parents in Venezuela. I could tell that the root of the argument stemmed from their differing definitions of “Hispanic” and I tried to guide the conversation that way so they could recognize that and drop it. In spite of that it reached the point where Bamboo was just staring down Cub, who obviously had had enough. I tried being a bit more blunt, requesting, “Can we just move on to another topic?” But Bamboo wouldn't drop it and Cub stormed out.
I find those arguments distasteful. Bamboo is smarter and has a greater education and more life experience than Cub, so she always has the upper hand. It's not a fair fight. So sometimes I do jump in on Cub's side when Bamboo is being unacceptably hard.
The worst incident was when we went to the pool shortly after I returned from Turkey. We'd planned on doing this but Cub was on her period so she didn't want to swim and neither did Bamboo because she wasn't happy with her body. So I mostly swam on my own while they had girl-talk and drank in the shade. Eventually they mellowed out and jumped in, clothes and all. We swam and drank and played together; it was finally fun.We were out there all afternoon and drank an excessive amount. But once we got back in the apartment it quickly fell apart. Now we were all fairly drunk so I don't remember the exact details. But from my recollection and Cub's input it went like this. Cub took the inebriated Bamboo to her room to change into dry clothes or whatever. After a few minutes, Cub comes out and tells me, “She's bad. We need to get her food. She's really bad.” She goes back in the bedroom and I get online to see about ordering some food but before I can even finish, Cub comes back out again with Bamboo on her heels who's saying stuff like, “Give me back my spare key and get out. You're not welcome here anymore.” Cub complies and gets ready to leave while Bamboo's saying ugly stuff to both of us, like, “You both hate me and I hate you. You just like to come here and treat me like shit.” I couldn't even fathom where this bile was coming from. I knew she was drunk but her words were beginning to cut. I was feeling unwelcome and hurt and I was preparing to leave too, but just before Cub left she asked me to take care of her. So I stayed as a favor to Cub.
For the next week Bamboo kept to herself. I could barely get a text or two out of her and she definitely wasn't talking to Cub. I know I hadn't done anything wrong but I couldn't help but feel the silence was born out of anger. The thing is though, she didn't remember what had happened, but she wasn't interested in finding out or apologizing for anything. I don't know if she was holding a grudge or was too embarrassed by her behavior. I was disappointed in her. For the next two weeks she made no effort to talk to her friend nor did she care at all about finding out what had happened. It was as if she felt no responsibility for the fiasco.
Sometime during that two-week hiatus, we talked and touched upon one of Bamboo's concerns. Although she and Cub argue often, it usually isn't serious. When I'm present though (according to Bamboo), those fights always become nuclear. I asked her why she thinks that happens (because I sure as hell don't try to stoke the fire). She doesn't know. I asked if it's because neither one of them wants to lose face when there's a witness? But she said no, they argue without consequence in front of other people. What can I do? I asked. "You two gang up on me all the time. Stop doing that," she replied.
It confuses me that Bamboo thinks I would be the type to pick on her or bully her. Bamboo is my best friend; I'm on her side by default. The only times I side with Cub is when Bamboo is way out of line and we have to try to stop her. We aren't able to, but even I have to try and put my foot down sometimes. But I took her words to heart and have been especially mindful of not provoking any arguments or “ganging up” on her.

That was a long aside. Like I said, last night we were having a blast. A few minutes after Cub arrived I spilled some beer on Bamboo's work laptop. Bamboo was a little concerned even though the laptop was still working fine. While getting it cleaned up I told Bamboo that if anything happened to it she could have my identical work laptop and I'd take the blame for ruining this one. Cub also tried to assure her that the computer would be fine. And I think Bamboo interpreted our re-assurances as “disagreeing” with her worry and we were “ganging up” on her again. Instantly the mood changed. She started storming around the apartment, refusing to talk to us or make eye contact, just furiously texting someone on her phone. She locked herself in the bathroom for a few minutes because she “needed space” and simultaneously telling Cub that she should leave.
So within ten or fifteen minutes of arriving, Cub was leaving again. Once she heard the door close, Bamboo came out and asked me, “Did Cub go home?”
“Yeah, she left.”
“I think you should leave too.”
That flipped a switch in my head. “Fine. Fuck it.” We'd been having such a fun time but it had come to a screeching halt. I didn't see how Cub or I had done anything to warrant this treatment. Normally I would have tried to stay and smooth things over but in that moment I was so disappointed with Bamboo's behavior that I couldn't be bothered to. By the time I got my stuff together and exited, Bamboo had gone to the exterior gate of her apartment building. It seemed like she was looking for Cub or trying to call her. She couldn't go out into the parking lot without her gate key though. As I walked out she asked, “Can you get my key?”
“Nope,” I replied. She had kicked me out so I was leaving.
“Don't be a dick.”
“No Bamboo, you're being the dick tonight.” I kept walking.
I sat down on the tailgate of some truck in the parking lot and ate my orange. I needed a minute before I hit the road. Cub pulled up in her truck and we talked for a couple of minutes. There wasn't much to say. We'd been in this situation a few times before and still had no idea how it had come about.
As I began driving home, the texts began.

Bamboo: I just needed some space.
I don't like being ganged up on
But yes, I'm the dick

Me: No one was ganging up on you.

B: Don't worry about my stuff. Please just make sure my animals get to my brother
Like I said. Just make sure they get to him.
Please?

M: Fine. I'll look out for your pets.

B: Cool.

M: Why is this happening, Bamboo?

B: You tell me. Look how you left.

M: You told me to.

B: You wouldn't even talk to me. I'm a piece of shit.
I don't belong here.
Yet I tried to talk to you and you said fuck you and left

M: I never say fuck you.

B: You did & left

M: You. Told. Me. To. Leave.

B: Yep ok.
So just let me go.
I'm done.

M: Not tonight Bamboo. If you want to kick out your closest friends, fine. I can't afford to treat people like that, but I guess you can.

B: I didn't tell either of you to leave. I was in the bathroom taking space.
And you both left.
I'm done.
Done with life.
I hate it.

M: I don't know why you point this hate at us.

B: Sure.
I was just in the bathroom
Taking space.

M: It's hard for me to understand how a person like you can say such hurtful things.

B: You wouldn't even talk to me outside.
What did I say from the bathroom
That you gang up on me together? That I don't like feeling like the odd person out
I spent hours with you last week explaining myself to you about feelings you had about that
You just left.

M: I never exclude you. Cub was literally there for three minutes before your mood soured.
And then you started hating on the both of us.

B: Yep by going to the bathroom
for some space.
Neither of you care.

M: You TOLD us to leave.

B: I'm done.
Take care.

M: This was what YOU wanted.
Fine.

B: And then when I ran out?
Good enough.
You won't be bothered by me again.

M:You can't have it both ways.



Bamboo is my best friend and I love her, but she makes it hard to care for her sometimes. Normally I would've stuck around or turned around once she started texting but I was upset and hurt so I didn't have the patience for her. I'm tired of our fun times together always ending up in ruin. Last night I was not going to put up with it.
I got up this morning at 7 to go get my storage shed ready for the move-in. I didn't hear from Bamboo. At 9:30 I texted her, “How are you doing?” No response. I couldn't find my wallet this morning so about 11 I texted her again: “I don't know what's going on with you or if you're just ignoring me, but I need to get my wallet. Can I come by?” A couple hours later she responded: “It's not here.” At 2:30 she texted me, “Hey.” I thought she wanted to talk, so I said Hey back. No response.
Since Bamboo's going to be left without a place to stay for a couple weeks, we had been planning for her to stay with me and Robin for that span. Robin had just gotten back in town today so at 6:30 I texted Bamboo, “When you get a chance, can you remind me of the dates you'll need to stay with us? I want to bring Robin up to speed.” She doesn't respond for two hours but does take a screenshot and then later reply, “I'm not on vocab”
Me: “I'm not on vocab”?
Her: You're nothing.
Me: What?
What's going on?


All of this troubles me. I know I didn't do anything bad, so I don't know why she's so angry. And these mean words hurt even more now because she's sober so they might reflect some genuine hate. I've felt terrible all day because I can't clear this bad blood between us. I'm worried that her strange outburst last night might point to some deep ugly shit or maybe even a mental issue that she's dealing with, but I can't tell what's going on with her.
The rational part of me says that it'll just take a week or so for her to cool down or forget her ire (like with the pool incident) and then she'll lower her drawbridge and we'll be okay again. But this feels worse than usual. I'm really worried.
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2017-03-11 04:30 pm

3-11-17

Today was the Friday before Spring Break, meaning that this semester is already halfway over. Considering how distracted from work I’ve been lately, this came as a bit of a surprising realization. This morning came another odd development.
During first period, the kids are taking a test and I’m not even really in teacher mode anymore. I get a text saying, “Check your door,” from B. I was dumbfounded for a moment. I really didn’t even think it was a real text at first, since I assumed she’d blocked my number long ago. After I double-checked that the text was truly from her, I could only guess that she must’ve dropped off some of my belongings at my door. I’d asked her to return some things weeks ago and never heard back, so I assumed she’d thrown them away or kept what she wanted.
Instead, on the front of my door was a post-it note that said, “I really miss your friendship . . .” This confused me further. Did she really leave that, or was it maybe Anna, or maybe a student who knows enough to try some sort of prank? It just seemed like such an odd way to get in touch. If B still had my number, she could’ve just texted that, instead of leaving a note in plain view in the hallway. It just seemed so . . . roundabout.
Once I concluded that it had to be her, the words sank in. It meant a lot to me, to know that her feelings towards me aren’t 100% pure animosity. You wouldn’t write a note to someone to tell them you miss them if you absolutely hate them. I told myself not to read into the message though, to not get my hopes up about reconciliation. I only began to get over this incident a couple weeks ago, when I finally gave up that things could be fixed between us. I’ve been low-grade miserable since then, but this is much more bearable than the emotional weeks that preceded it. If I got my hopes up unnecessarily I’d just go back to that agonizing limbo. One short note doesn’t change anything.
I wanted to respond, “You never lost my friendship,” or, “It doesn’t have to be like this,” but all I replied with was, “Me too. Like whoa.” I’m certain her note wasn’t an invitation for dialogue, but neither could I not respond to it.

I tried not to read into the note, but here I am a day later wondering, “Why would she even write that?”, pondering this note like it’s something significant. Up until now it seemed so clear that all she wanted from me was distance and silence. If she wanted this friendship dead and buried, why visit the grave? At this point we’ve been strangers longer than we were friends. The only way I’ve been able to get over this friendship is by trying my best to forget it. Don’t remind me of what I’ve lost. Don’t show kindness to me.
I don’t get it.
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2017-02-05 04:30 pm

2-5-17

She finally spoke to me this week. She stopped by early before classes had started. She had been reading my letters after all, it seemed. She said that she believed me that this had been an accident, but that she still felt hurt, betrayed, and violated. She would probably never feel completely comfortable around me or ever be able to fully trust me again.
From past relationships, I know that I misunderstand or underestimate people’s emotions often. All along I’d been thinking that if she believed me, we could find some way to save our friendship. For the past month and a half, this belief had sustained my hope. I brought that point up somehow and she responded, “It’s not a matter of whether I believe you or not, it doesn’t change how this made me feel.”
The other important thing she said was that she needed me to respect her need for distance. Weeks of silence, telling me that she can’t trust me, and that she needs distance … all of that can only mean one thing. We’ll never be friends again. This final answer broke my heart for a third time. The first time had been the night her neighbor contacted me and I began to fathom the pain she must feel. The second time was a few days later, when I realized she didn’t trust/believe me enough to give me a chance to explain. And now this.
I thanked her for speaking to me. The silence had been agony. This wasn’t the outcome I had hoped for, but at least I now knew.

I never thought I could love a friend, but this pain is evidence that I do. This has been as painful and difficult as any romantic break-up, made worse by how suddenly and accidentally it came to be. I’ve never regretted a mistake as much as this one. Last weekend I actually prayed, that’s how desperate I was. I haven’t talked to God since my Confirmation when I was 16. I would do ANYTHING to correct this, but there’s absolutely nothing I can do.
So I keep carrying this pain around. In the week since we spoke, I feel that I have a bit of a handle on things. Slightly less emotional, but still utterly devastated. Since I can’t do anything to ease it, I try to distract myself from it. But nothing works. I haven’t touched alcohol this year; I’m afraid to drink when I’m this depressed. I’ve tried marathoning shows but can’t evade my thoughts; is this why people marathon Netflix, so they can ignore unhappiness in their life? I try to bury myself in work, but I just can’t bring myself to care about it anymore. I haven’t seen any of my friends since this happened. It would probably be good for me to spend time with them, but I know I’d be terrible company so I’ve kept to myself for the past month. I have no one to talk to about this. Not even my brother and sister-in-law care. When I told them about this outcome, I got zero response from them.
I can’t do anything for her. I can’t do anything for myself. I hate this unending helplessness.
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2017-01-18 10:36 pm

Burning Bridges

I had said I’d given up, but I couldn’t. None of my letters had gotten a response. I caught her in the hallway as she was leaving her classroom for the day. Either this would be the conversation that began the healing, or the last one we’d ever have. A student was accompanying her for a few steps. I thought she might allow us to return to her room to talk, but she kept moving; she wouldn’t be stopped.
(It was a hurried, freighted conversation and I can’t even accurately recall all of it. There’s gaps, but it’s not missing much.)


“Ms. B, can we talk for a minute?”
“Sorry, I really have to go.”

Student: “I’ll go this way.” *departs*

I drew closer so that we wouldn’t be overheard, but a couple or so teachers still passed by during our exchange. “I really need to speak with you.”
“I don’t want to speak with you.”

“I have to know what’s happening.”
“Nothing’s happening. I told you that I would respond when I felt ready.”

“I know, but the longer this drags on . . . I don’t know what happened. I only know half of what happened. I don’t understand what’s going on. I gave you the truth and I thought if you read that, you would understand that this was an accident.”
“That doesn’t change how it made me feel.”
“No, it doesn’t. I know that. That will never change.”

At one point she mouthed, “Stop this,” and anger flickered across her face

“We have to have this conversation.”
“This is not the right time and place for this.”
“I know, we can do it anytime, anywhere. But we have to . . .”
“I really don’t want to do this.”

By that point she was at the exterior door and I couldn’t follow her out without making an obvious scene.
I know I was being selfish but after three weeks of not knowing, I couldn’t bear the silence any more. Her anger was apparent. The fact that she didn’t deny that this was an accident didn’t feel like a victory or vindication for me. This was a rotten way to find that out. It’s probably made things worse and crushed whatever infinitesimal chance I had. Or maybe this first dribble of anger will open the gate on what she’s been holding in. Even a torrent of anger . . . or hate if she doesn’t believe me, would lead to some conversation, some understanding, some catharsis. I just couldn’t bear not knowing any more.
But I do know one thing now. I don’t dare do that again. It’s clear that I crossed the line, but there was no other way I was going to get an answer.
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2017-01-13 10:32 pm

Giving Up

The tears had almost stopped and I knew that was a bad sign. When the tears stop, you’ve stopped grieving or stopped caring. The wound is closing over with a scab, to be replaced by unfeeling scar tissue. Monday I’d forced a “conversation,” but her reply had been limited to a couple of sentences. And whatever hope and optimism I gained from those non-commital answers faded quickly. This morning I wrote what I knew would be my last message. If I’ve reached the point where I’d rather not care instead of hope, then … it’s almost all gone. This week was the end of our school’s semester. We’d have 3 (4 if you count staff development) days off. A 3-day weekend would be plenty of time to consider my last plea, if she’s listening at all.

******

I keep waiting, hoping for a conversation that I know will never come. My heart continues to hope, but my mind tells me it will never happen. The conflict between the two continues to hurt me and I’m tired of crying about this every day. I could end that turmoil if I knew one thing.

Do you believe I did this intentionally?

If you do, then I must have lost your trust long before this, or somehow planted the seeds of distrust in your mind early on in our friendship. If you believe I’m a piece of shit and I should go to hell, tell me that. I need to know what you feel and think. I need to know definitively that there’s nothing left of our friendship other than memories and regret, if that’s the truth of things.
If you believe me when I say this was an accident, but the pain you felt was too great for you to ever trust me or consider being my friend again . . . I can understand. I can only hope that with enough time, we could once again be something more than strangers to each other.
If you don’t know, then that’s a question that can only be answered by talking.
Any time I’ve lost someone close, a friend, a girlfriend, or a fiancé, it always began with silence. By the time I realized that silence was permanent, any chance at healing and understanding was long gone. I’m not reaching out to you to make myself understood; I’ve already forced my words upon you too much. I want to understand you. Even if you hate me Brittney, I believe you would feel better or unburdened if you told me how you feel, what you think, and what I did to you.
I continue to do wrong in order to do right. I know it was wrong of me to force the conversation in your room the other day. I know it’s wrong of me to ask you for an answer. I know I’m breaking my promise not to contact you. I’m probably only making things worse rather than better.
But I can’t leave it like this. I’m stubborn AND an asshole. If I don’t know your side of things, if I don’t know the truth, then I can’t fully give up hoping. And that hope drives me to seek understanding and reconciliation with someone who is very important to me. Not knowing is agony because I can only assume the worst.
I wish we were talking. I miss you terribly.


******

Part of me felt this message sounded too beta, too supplicant, too pathetic. But time is not on my side. I can’t spend days finding the right words. The words don’t really matter, just my message. I don’t know why she won’t believe me, why she never gave me a chance to explain. But after two weeks of depression and crying, I’m just so tired of it. Hope just hurts now and I have to let it go.
Worst of all, I didn’t even have to wait through the weekend for my answer. Since today was a short school day, the campus hosted a free lunch for all the teachers in the cafeteria. I sat at a table with the science teacher whose room is next to mine. As the other teachers eventually showed up, a nucleus of science teachers sat at my table and the neighboring one. Brittney eventually showed up, made herself a plate, then left to eat in her room. The most gregarious person I know was secluding herself.
A staff meeting immediately followed the lunch. She returned for that, but sat tables away from the science group even though there was room. As the meeting concluded, she stopped by my table to talk to the department head, who was two seats away from me. I didn’t try to make eye contact or talk to her, but she had to have been aware of me. She was practically within arm’s reach. And then she left that room faster than anyone else. She must abhor my presence.
I’ve told her the truth, bared my heart to her, forced a conversation, and tried to reach out one last time. If all of that doesn’t warrant a response, then the only explanation is she must truly hate me now. I’m not even worth the breath or the text for her to tell me to get lost. I just don’t …
If we were friends, why didn’t I get a chance to explain myself? Did I over-estimate what we had? Was it easier to throw me away or hate me rather than consider my side? Why don’t I deserve a chance? I know I have many faults, but goddammit, this isn’t one of them. Why don’t I deserve a chance to save this friendship? I’ve lost her and all the people I met through her. I was beginning to discover new people and new outlets and it was so exciting and I felt that I was beginning to discover new aspects of myself through that. But I’ve lost all that. How did I manage to fuck it all up so quickly and totally? Why can’t I fix this?
I’ve never regretted a mistake as much as this one. Losing a fiance, losing girlfriends, in those cases I could feel it coming on, I understood why and saw the inevitability, at least in hindsight. This hurts so much more though, because … I lost it all instantly by accident and I can’t save it.

In the last letter I wrote her, I promised I wouldn’t contact her again, because I felt that was the appropriate thing to do. I didn’t need to promise this time. I’ve run out of words and hope. There’s no point in trying any more. I’ll never have answers or closure, just silence and hate from the person who was my best friend.
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2017-01-09 10:29 pm

She didn't tell me to go to hell,

So that’s something, at least.
A new Monday, a new school week. I never heard back from Brittney this weekend and my brief feeling of hope faded within a few hours.
This morning I contacted Anna. I still had Brittney’s statue that I’d repaired over the Christmas break. Whatever happens between us, she needs to get this semi-family heirloom back; my belongings at her place are inconsequential in comparison. I hoped that Anna could be the courier and return it to her so that I wouldn’t have to deliver it myself. But when I contacted her, I discovered that she’d de-friended me on the internet as well. That briefly stung, but I still had her phone number and dared to try that.
I was surprised that she came to my room to pick up the statue. I was expecting no response at all. She was cool towards me, almost unreadable. I have no way of knowing how this fiasco had affected her, so I told her as best I could, that if I had ever done anything intentionally or accidentally to hurt her or make her feel uncomfortable, that I was sorry for it. She seemed almost indifferent to my olive branch. She essentially responded, “I don’t have any problem. It’s between you and Brittney.”
I hadn’t asked her there to try and win her to my side, but I couldn’t help but take a minute or two to try and explain that whatever had happened, had been a mistake. And then I thanked her for being Brittney’s friend through all of this. She didn’t seem interested in discussing this matter at all, so I gave her the statue and she went on her way. Along with the statue I attached a flashdrive with various photos and videos of her and her friends I’d taken during our time together. If I wasn’t going to see her again, the photos were more useful to her than I.

I had thought something would happen that morning, or that day. I’d sent my explanation to Brittney via work email on Saturday. So even at the latest, she must have seen my email by that morning. If my missive was going to have any effect, it was going to be now. And maybe with the help of the repaired cowboy statue and the photos, that might help thaw her feelings towards me. I was probably being over-optimistic, hoping against hope that my heart-baring message would stop the door that was closing on our friendship.
I didn’t hear from Brittney.
By late afternoon I resolved to talk to her directly. Even the email wasn’t a guarantee of communication. If she was deleting my messages out-of-hand, then there was still a chance that she didn’t know the truth. I had to know that my words weren’t falling on deaf ears. Even though the advice of my friends had been unanimous: Give her time and she’ll give you a chance to explain, I couldn’t heed it. Every time I’ve lost someone close, a friend, girlfriend, or fiance, I always think the same things towards the end. “I don’t want to hurt them.” “I just want them to be happy.” “If that’s what they really want, then so be it.” etc etc etc. And I back off in order to be gentle and undemanding, to give them “time”. But everytime one of those close relationships end, I inevitably wonder, “Did I hold something back?” “If I’d been more open and honest, would that have been enough?” “Did I not fight hard enough for them?”
I’m not willing to entertain those doubts this time. I’m tired of losing people by being passive and just accepting it. I’m not going to lose someone else without fighting for them. I know I was crossing a line by approaching her at work, the one place she can’t avoid me, entering her space without any sign that I was welcome there, but I HAD TO KNOW. I can’t just lose her without knowing.
As soon as I entered her room, Brittney’s expression was hard. Not angry. “Wary” might be a better term. Anna was there, but she was on her phone. She gave us some space as I approached Brittney’s desk.
Although I’d been working out my thoughts for the past hour and picking over my letters for the past week, I almost couldn’t begin to broach the subject. I hardly made eye-contact; I didn’t want this to be more confrontational than it already was. I definitely wasn’t eloquent, but at least I didn’t cry.
From the jumble of my thoughts I expressed regret that I’d come here, but that I had to know that she’d received my message. How I was willing to accept any decision she made, so long as I knew that she had at least considered my side of things. If I was going to lose her as my best friend, then she needed all the information before she made that decision. I just needed to know that she’d received it.
Brittney had been working on her tablet when I came in and as I spoke it came up to cover the lower half of her face. I don’t know if that was a defensive or pensive posture. In a careful manner she replied that she had received my messages, but that she would only reply in her own good time. She said she needed “a break” to think about it.
That was all I needed to hear. I told her I wasn’t asking her to trust me, or believe me (those decisions are wholly up to her), all I was asking for was that she consider what I’d written. Nothing more. I could give her all the time and space she needed, so long as I knew she was at least willing to consider it.
It was a short conversation, over within 4 minutes. I wish I’d spoken better, but all my rehearsed words and critical points went out of my head the moment I entered her room. Besides, there’s no way a blitzkrieg conversation like that was going to do anything more than barely scratch the surface.
I don’t know if going there made things better or worse. No, actually I do know. It was inappropriate of me. But so often when I do what’s “appropriate,” I feel that I’ve denied my true self. For better or for worse, now I truly believe I’ve done all that I can. I probably went farther than I should have, but now I have my answer. This is a huge weight off of my shoulders. Now, whatever she decides, I can live with.*

*Yes, the rational part of my brain says I may be reading too optimistically into a non-commital answer as she gave. Maybe she just had the good grace to spare me an outright rejection. BUT this definitely wasn’t the worst possible outcome so I’m taking encouragement from that.
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2017-01-07 03:19 pm

I've done all I can

It’s been a long, miserable week. Depression, little sleep, little appetite, and nausea. But by Friday the emotional jags began to diminish in number and length, enough that I could move beyond sadness and shock and begin to think more constructively. Plus it helped that I talked to Cameron and Katherine and some friends about what I was going through. They all sympathized in their limited way and their advice was essentially unanimous: give it time, if she’s a true friend she’ll forgive you or give you a chance to reconcile. That made sense to my thoughts. Really, what else could I do but wait and hope? This was beyond my control. But in my gut, I couldn’t help but think that the longer I patiently suffered in silence, the more it would look like I was slinking away in guilt and shame. The longer the silence drew out, the more her heart and ears would close to me, if they haven’t completely done so already.
I resolved to contact her one final time today, Saturday. Last Sunday was when I sent her my explanation of things. I hadn’t heard from or seen her at all since then. This morning I texted her:
******
I don’t fully understand what has happened between us. I have so many things to say and questions to ask, but after a week of silence I don’t think I’ll ever get the chance. But I have to know; Did you ever read my last message?
******
Brief and to the point. All I wanted to know was if she had received my explanation. If she had and still didn’t believe me, then there was nothing more to be said. If she hadn’t received it, then maybe there was some hope. If she told me “yes,” “no,” or “go to hell,” it would be a conclusive answer one way or another. It would end this agonizing limbo.
Six hours later, she hasn’t responded. I thought that this direct question would have warranted some response, if only to get rid of me permanently. Then it occurred to me that maybe she blocked my number when she discovered the camera-clock. If that were so, then she never would have received my explanation. There might still be a chance that I could redeem myself. I know it’s a thin hope, but at this point I’ve decided that I have to do everything I can to salvage this friendship or else I’ll always wonder what more I could’ve done.
The only avenue of communication that I have left and that I 100% trust will reach her is our work email. That can’t be blocked. I know it’s not the wisest way to communicate personal matters, but this isn’t the time for half-measures. So I sent this brief email with the same Explanation from Sunday attached.
******
I’m sorry I had to resort to using this channel to talk to you. I couldn’t tell if you were ignoring me or if you had blocked my number, in which case I’ve been speaking to thin air. Your friendship is so important to me that I can’t risk that chance.
I beg you to read the attachments.
I know this email will reach you. From now on I’ll know that your silence is intentional and not accidental. I won’t bother you again.

******
Besides the Explanation, I attached a Goodbye message, in the event that she couldn’t bring herself to believe or trust me. In it, I’m not trying to defend myself or persuade her or beg for forgiveness. It is my goodbye to her.
******
This letter isn’t meant to convince you of my innocence. I thought our friendship would have granted me a chance to explain myself, but your silence has told me you’ve already decided. At this point you probably never want to hear from or see me again, but if this is the end of our friendship then I literally have nothing left to lose. I need to say this in order to let you go. This letter is to say thank you and goodbye.
From the first night we met as people, you gave me your trust. I never knew someone who was so free of insecurity and confident without being arrogant. For the duration of our friendship, I marveled at how freely you gave your trust and honesty and heart to other people. I couldn’t help but wonder, “How has the world not taken advantage of her trust, of her generosity? Why isn’t she more protective of herself?” I tried looking for your cracks. I couldn’t believe you were that strong and whole after all you’ve been through, but I couldn’t find them. It made me want to emulate you. To stop being sarcastic and evasive and defensive, old protective habits that I’ve always had. I admire you, not only as a friend or colleague, but as a person.
That’s your gift. That’s why you’re so successful with your students and the world at large. Hell, that’s why you were willing to befriend an asshole like me. You give of yourself without hesitation or thoughts of gaining advantage or protecting yourself.
Even though it was just for a few months, your friendship became one of the most important things to me. I can’t remember forming a friendship as quickly or as strongly as I did with you. You are someone I never had to be different around, or had to second-guess myself with. You quickly dropped all pretenses between us and showed me who you really are and I was deeply touched by your openness and I tried to match it.
But I couldn’t adapt quickly enough. I know I was unnecessarily rude to you at times. Only recently did I realize my rudeness stemmed from my jealousy of your ability with people and how you flowed amongst them, winning jewelry from strangers or phone numbers or friends as easy as breathing. I couldn’t match your talent and I wrongly blamed you when I felt left behind. I should never have faulted you for having those qualities that allowed us to even be friends in the first place. But I was insecure and lonely.
It wasn’t just the new lifestyles or the new people you exposed me to; your very behavior gave me a glimpse that it was possible to approach and see life differently, with less anxiety and more trust and faith. I wasn’t trying to flatter you when I said I had never met anyone like you. You led me to reconsider who I could be as a person.
Throughout it all I couldn’t help but feel that I was a poor companion. I don’t dance, I barely smoke, I’m not that funny, and I’m often downright dull. That’s why I leapt at any chance to help you. When you were bored, when you were hungry, when you were cold, when you were grieving, when you were injured, when you were wasted, when you were stranded, when you were lonely. I may not have been the best company, but I wanted to repay you in any way I could for the gift of your friendship.
That is why my biggest regret and shame is that in the end, I repaid your friendship with an apparent betrayal of trust and the pain that goes with it. I couldn’t convince you that this was all an accident and frankly . . . it doesn’t matter anymore. The pain that I’ve caused you is reason enough for you to excise me from your life. I can’t forgive myself for that and I can’t expect you to forgive me either.
I’m sorry that George and possibly Anna ended up involved in this. They should not have to help pay for my recklessness, but I am truly grateful that you have them close by to help you through this. I would thank them if I could.
I take some small comfort in knowing that you’ll soon be able to replace me and forget me entirely. I won’t be able to replace you. It took me 37 years to meet someone like you. I don’t think it will happen again.
Brittney, I’ll never forgive myself for losing you as a friend. More than that, I hate myself for being the one that makes you trust the world a little less, of dimming the light that you bring to everyone. I wish there was something, anything, I could do to save our friendship, but all I can do for you now is spare you any further discomfort. I promise that I will not contact you again or approach you socially or professionally.

You deserve a better friend than me.
Thank you, and goodbye.

Cody


******
I’ve put it all out there. My explanation, how I feel, and how important she is to me. I’m afraid that baring my heart to her still won’t be enough. But it’s all I could do.
Somehow, sending her this message has eased my burden a bit. I’m still terribly depressed, but now that I’ve done everything I can and held nothing back I feel a bit of calmness and courage to face whatever comes next.
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2017-01-04 03:20 pm

1-4-17

Today was our first day back at work. I’m still torn up about this and a student almost caught me crying in my classroom before the day started. As depressed as I was, once the bell rang, I had no choice but to go through the motions of teaching. Even though I was hardly in the proper mindset, the demands of work at least held my feelings at bay while school was in session.
During the passing periods, when we’re required to stand outside of our door, I couldn’t even look down the hallway in the direction of Brittney’s room. I was both dreading and hoping that I’d run into her today. But I didn’t see any trace of her. I couldn’t even tell if she was here at all. After-school, I half-expected to see her arrive at my room to dump my belongings and vent her hate at me. But there wasn’t even that opportunity to explain myself.
This is extremely painful for me. I can’t bear the thought of someone who is the closest friend I’ve had in decades thinking that I’m scum. I’d hoped telling the truth would have counted for something even if it came late. I can’t bear to think I’m losing my best friend over an accident. I don’t even know if she’s read my admission or if she already made up her mind beforehand and has ignored it. I’d do anything to fix this but I don’t know what else I can do. Pushing my case any further would be selfish. She’s suffered so much more than I have from this incident, my pain right now is nothing compared to hers. I just … can’t accept this loss. How can I lose this great friend over a stupid mistake?
At the absolute very least, even if I do lose her entirely, I just hope that she knows that I never meant to hurt her like this. If I could convince her of that, I wouldn’t ask for anything else.
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2017-01-02 03:21 pm

I've screwed it all up

This all started a couple days before Christmas.
Brittney and I went out to a Mexican restaurant as a belated celebration of the commencement of our winter break. We had margaritas, 2 or 3 each, I think. On the way back to her place, she stopped at a nail salon to fix her nails. I wandered and browsed at the Spy Shop next door. As I was looking at the gadgets, I got the idea that one of those spy cameras could help me figure out how my students were cheating on tests. Of all the things that my students do, cheating is the one thing that I can’t forgive or ignore. And yet, they keep doing it. It burns me up. If I’d been sober I don’t think I would’ve bought the clock with the concealed camera. But it seemed like a good idea at the time.
Back at her place, Brittney felt like taking a long bath and left me alone. I plugged in the camera-clock to my laptop to figure out how it worked. It was much more complicated than I thought. I could get it to work through motion-detection, but I couldn’t figure out all the internet/wi-fi stuff. Brittney came out unexpectedly and asked me what I was playing with.
I didn’t want to tell her that I had bought a camera to spy on my students. I don’t think it’s technically prohibited, but it would have been shaming to admit that I needed to resort to this to combat the problems in my classroom. Especially to her. Even though we’re both first-year teachers (and I have roughly a year of experience substituting), she is a superior teacher. Her failure rate and cheating problems are virtually non-existent. I try not to be envious when we compare notes on such matters, but I am. She has personal skills that I don’t and my teaching suffers as a result. So in that moment, I couldn’t bring myself to admit what it was. I mumbled some reply to the effect of, “It’s a wi-fi clock that my brother bought me for Christmas.” She said, “Oh cool,” and returned to her bath.
As I sobered up I started to have second thoughts about this idea so I put the camera away in my bag with the rest of my belongings I keep at her place.

Both Brittney and I had separate plans on Christmas Eve and Day. On the 26th we went to the BBQ. The 27th was the next time I visited her place. In the mean time I’d tried looking up a better translated manual for the clock online. One resource pointed out that I needed to charge the battery before using the clock the first time. So when I went back to her place that evening, that’s one of the first things I did. I took the clock from my bag and plugged it alongside my charger, where I kept all of my things. This was in her bedroom.
We went out to dinner, sushi with beer and sake, like last time and then came back. Anna came over and we realized we were out of smoke so Brittney suggested that she take a power-nap while Anna and I went to get more. So we did. When we got back, George soon came over and we continued drinking and smoking. But Brittney still seemed tired so after an hour or two, it became clear that she needed to go to bed. George left. I assumed Anna would be spending the night so I headed out. Between the beer and the grass, I forgot the clock was still plugged in in the bedroom.
I didn’t really hear from Brittney the next week. Considering that we hang out virtually every other day and talk to each other daily, after three days of not being able to get a response from her, I started to wonder what was going on. On the rare instances when she would reply, she’d simply say she was “just chilling,” which was an odd response since she’s almost always “bored af” when she’s stuck at her house. My first thought was that she’d gotten tired of hanging out with me and just didn’t want to say that she was having more fun hanging with other people. Or maybe David (her glass-blowing friend) had made her that rig she wanted and she was just getting high as fuck. Or maybe she’d met a guy and they were having fun together. That seemed like a stretch, but I could only guess. My best guess was that she was mad at me. I kept trying to remember if I’d said something offensive or treated her badly at the BBQ. The night hadn’t ended well, but it hadn’t ended badly either so I couldn’t figure this out.
She hardly responded on New Year’s Eve. But the next day we’d made plans to go to a Bloody Mary Brunch together at Katherine & Mark’s, 2 of the 3 people that she actually clicked with at Courtney’s party. She’d asked me to get her an invite weeks ago and I had. So Sunday morning, when I asked if she was still interested, she turned it down. At that point I could no longer deny that something was wrong. I asked her if she was feeling okay or if she was mad at me or … .? I got no response.
Then that night it all came out. George texted me, angrily, with a picture of my camera-clock, essentially saying, “WTF is this spy shit doing in her bedroom?” That caught me off-guard. I hadn’t thought about the camera-clock in days. He proceeded to tell me that it had been recording her bedroom. I don’t know how long, but apparently it had been running. He demanded answers. It looked really bad for me. I’d never meant to use that camera on Brittney, but there was a camera that I put in her bedroom, that had been recording video. How else did it look? My stupid, panicked response was to stick with that lie I’d told weeks ago, that it was from my brother. I said I didn’t know it was a spy camera, that it must’ve been his idea, to get a look at the “secret girlfriend” that I never talked about. George didn’t respond after his first few statements. I could only assume that Brittney was witness to the conversation. I knew my story sounded stupid and paper-thin, but the moment to tell the truth had passed and I wasn’t thinking straight.
I couldn’t sleep at all that night. This explained why Brittney had been giving me the cold shoulder. She thought I was a peeping tom. It hurt even more that she hadn’t confronted me at all during those days. At least then I might’ve been able to explain myself directly. She must have just believed the worst and cut me out of her life. After a few hours of dwelling on it, I realized I had to tell the truth if there was any chance of repairing this. So early that morning I sent her what I’ve written here, with this preface and ending.
******
I told you a white lie two weeks ago that has led to this moment. And in a moment of panic last night I maintained that lie. This accident was all my fault, but you paid for it and I’m so very sorry for that. I lied to you because I was ashamed and I caused you unimaginable pain, so I don’t deserve a chance to explain myself but I want you to know the truth.
I got the camera-clock not to watch you, but to watch my students. I got it the day … [etc.]
… I’ve been up all night thinking about what you must’ve been going through the past few days and I couldn’t hold onto that lie any more. Of course, at this point you may not believe a damned thing I say any more. And I have to accept that.
I can never apologize enough for what this has done to you Brittney.

******
I know I should’ve told her the truth at the very beginning, or if I was doing something I was ashamed of, then I never should’ve bought it to begin with. Or I never should’ve left it at her place. Or I should’ve told the truth when George confronted me. Any of those choices could’ve averted this disaster.
It’s crushing me to be losing my closest friend. I told her the truth, or sent her the truth at least, three days ago. She hasn’t responded. If I had told her the truth from the beginning, we wouldn’t be here but I was trying to hide something else I was ashamed of. And now that white lie has grown into something even worse than the truth would’ve been.
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2016-12-26 10:22 pm

Stacy's BBQ

Brittney and I went out to Stacy’s for a BBQ party they were hosting. We’d met Stacy at the teacher’s Christmas party; she’s the Chemistry Head’s daughter. Brittney and her had hit it off quite well. I happened to run into Brittney at the same grocery store just before the party, which turned out to be delayed for half an hour. We got our snacks and then detoured to Chili’s to get a couple of drinks to kill time with.
It was a small gathering. Other than the three of us, there was also Brandon and James. I’d been under the impression that Brandon and Stacy were together, just from their casual proximity to each other at the last event, but that wasn’t the case. The weather was nice and we had drinks and chatted while they prepared the meat and stuff. Us boys were having beers, Stacy was too busy to drink, and Brittney was having rum. James almost seemed TOO agreeable, like a dog that’s just eager to receive affection. He was just like always agreeing with or laughing at every joke, but rarely ever contributing to the conversation. I couldn’t help but think I wasn’t seeing the real guy.
At one point Brittney gave me the thumbs signal, as in “get out”. I was like, “????” I stepped out, but texted her, “Why do I gotta go?” Apparently she wanted to have a ‘girls-talk’ with Stacy. Which I’m like, “okay, but … . :T” So then for the rest of the evening she kept having girls-talks and boys-talks with the other three people at the party. It seemed she was digging around for why Stacy and Brandon weren’t dating. And then once she hit a dead-end with that investigation, she started coaxing James to make a move.
I was ignorant of all of this, except for when I’d get displaced and shunted to whichever group she was excluding at the moment. That’s how I found out that no one was pleased by her intrusion. Brandon brushed it off with only minor irritation, but later in the evening when Stacy and I happened to be getting some air she expressed how she was genuinely troubled that Brittney was meddling. Stacy had perceived her as someone she could be totally cool and open with, but that Brittney’s current behavior was out-of-bounds. Stacy was trying to understand where Brittney was coming from and mentioned that she didn’t know what Brittney and I were. I told her we just liked to hang out together, because we’re both mostly alone in this new city. Stacy said she was glad that Brittney had a “protector” like me, which rubbed my hackles the wrong way. Friend, yes. Boyfriend? I’m flattered, but no. Protector? What’s with that white-knight crap? What am I, some deluded eunuch?
When Stacy and I got back from our lap around the block, the guys were gone. Brittney was the only one there, on her phone and deep in her cups. Stacy tried reaching out to the boys to see where they were. I stuck around for awhile, but when she started closing down the house (at 7:30, no less) I figured the party was pretty much dead. It might’ve been due in part to Stacy’s “protector” comment that I was inclined not to stick around to look after Brittney. Anyways, she’d told Stacy that she would be spending the night, so she’d be okay. I made sure to tell her goodbye, even though she was busy on the phone. She waved me out with an “okay” and I left.
I don’t mean to sound rude, but I would say that Brittney ended that party. She got too drunk too fast and got into that zone where she just does her own thing, oblivious to everything else. It was unfortunate. They seemed like cool people and it was way too early to end it.
I felt a little guilty about how the party had turned out so on the way home I texted Brittney and asked her if she wanted me to check on her animals. I couldn’t really get any consistent reply from her, so I gave up. But then Anna texted me, saying something to the effect that she had made plans to stay over at Brittney’s, but she wasn’t there. I tried again to get in touch with Brittney, but couldn’t. I don’t know. I tried to sort things out but without Brittney’s help I didn’t know what was going on.
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2016-12-19 03:18 pm

Jess Party

Friday we were supposed to cook our Indian meal. I stopped at a Kroger to get the last few ingredients but I’d forgotten my wallet at home or school. Running around to find that wallet cost me over an hour in rush-hour traffic. That put me in a grumpy and it was getting late so we dropped the idea of cooking that night and just drank instead. Anna came over and we all stayed up till four in the morning. The girls took the bed and I tried sleeping on the floor. Inebriated and tired as I was, I couldn’t really sleep down there.

Sometime during the night I got up to go to the bathroom and noticed how Brittney was curled up almost fetal-like in Anna’s arms. I felt a fierce pang of jealousy at that sight. I was severely displeased. And yet I knew I had no right to be jealous. That’s when I realized that I’m getting too attached to her. I really need to back off.

Fortunately Anna had to go to her shift at Jack-in-the-Box at 6 am so after I dropped her off I could relocate to the bed. That gave me a few hours of sleep, but none of the coveted cuddling. We had breakfast tea together before I headed out Saturday morning. That afternoon I mostly napped to make up for the night before.

Saturday evening one of our science teacher colleagues hosted a Christmas party. Gale has a pretty nice house; I wonder what her husband does. It was a random assortment of science teachers. Brittney and I were the only ones who brought booze, which was a bit awkward but after a couple beers I didn’t really mind anymore. Gale’s husband was the highlight of the party. A few of us (the drinkers) wound up in the ManCave, where Jim regaled us with random stories and general orneriness. I’m not sure if I believe his story that he invented the maxi pad, but everything else he told us seemed plausible. Brittney was officially/unofficially adopted into their family when Jim began to refer to her as ‘bitch,’ his term-of-endearment of choice. I continue to marvel at how easily Brittney acquires new friends at every event we go to. She makes it look so easy.

The other teachers headed out early and we were the only non-family members there by the end of it. We left just before midnight and Anna re-appeared once we were back at Brittney’s. This displeased me. Not because I’d have to share Brittney’s company, but mostly because it boded that we’d be staying up late again. I don’t have the stamina to do that night after night. I tried hanging with them for awhile but soon enough Brittney was on the phone with a friend(?) who was causing some drama. So she disappeared and I presumed that it’d be a while before she got back. I told Anna as much and stepped outside. I went to my truck, turned on the heater, and dozed off. About half an hour later I roused and checked my phone. There wasn’t anything from Brittney so I assumed she was still preoccupied. I decided not to bother returning to the apartment so I bid farewell and headed home. It took another 15 minutes for Brittney to respond, so a total of 45 minutes that she hadn’t noticed my absence. I took that as proof that she wouldn’t mind my absence; she had Anna’s company after all and I didn’t want to attempt sleeping on the floor again anyways. Of course that displeased Brittney but I learned after the fact that she and Anna still had a fun night without me.

I went out to pho for breakfast with Brittney and then returned to her place to work on school stuff until we headed out to Jess’s holiday party that afternoon. It started at 3 pm, which felt a bit early to me, but I was optimistic that we’d be heading out at an early hour, so I could catch up on rest and the schoolwork I’d been ignoring all weekend.

Jess’s party turned out to be pretty big. Their house is decently sized, but soon there wasn’t enough room to sit. And she’d taken a week off of work (alleged) to clean house, so it was a vast improvement from the last time I’d been there. And the spread of food was staggering. She really went all out. Brittney and I’d only brought snacks because the food RSVP list had already covered all the bases. Of course I didn’t know anyone there besides Brittney, but there were some kids there so I played with them when I couldn’t find a conversation to invade (which was most of the time). We ate till we were stuffed and then there was a white elephant present . . . thing, which I’d been unaware of. Brittney was keen on me meeting Jess’s dad, Paul. He seemed to be a stoner carpenter, so I was like, “Ah, I recognize this creature.” He was a fun guy. Even though I told him Brittney and I were friends and teachers at the same school, he was all, “You have a beautiful wife.” Just a joker.

The bulk of the festivities were over by eight and I was honestly ready to go by then. Most of the attendees left over the next hour until it was just us younger people who were still chatting and nibbling. Brittney was toasty so she didn’t quite hear my suggestions that we head out. If it wasn’t a school night I would’ve kept up with her but my Monday was going to be difficult enough without a hangover. When she disappeared around 9 I started to get grumpy. I’m used to being ignored by her after she reaches a certain point, but in this case I had no choice but to stick around. Jess told me that she was getting high with David. If I was going to have to stick around I didn’t want to be excluded from the fun.

When Brittney and David emerged I told her as much and David was generous enough to offer me a dab. Half an hour later I wasn’t feeling anything, only to learn from Jess that he’d made me a small one on account of how many friends they’ve had overdo it on their first time out. I didn’t want to be rude or ungrateful, so Jess relayed my disappointment to David and he made me a regular one. I nearly coughed up a lung that time. Shortly thereafter David turned in for the night and that signaled that it was time for us to leave.

I drove home of course. Brittney was all sorts of happy and she kept commenting on how high I was, but I doubted she was able to objectively/subjectively(?) appraise me. I’m pretty sure it was just her skewed impression. I felt more relaxed, but was in full command of my faculties. I did miss a couple of turns on the way back, but that was mostly because it was dark and my navigator was incapacitated. David had said this stuff would be more “expansive,” so maybe it was just that or I didn’t get enough. Either way, it was pleasant. Brittney was visibly happy that I’d ventured into her hobby. She mentioned that she would gladly give up booze in favor of bud and I replied that maybe it’s something we should do. It’d be a lot less calories I’d be ingesting, at least.

Brittney hit her wall within a few minutes and conked out. I don’t know if it was my fatigue or the THC, but that drive back from DeSoto seemed to take forever. Even though the effects were underwhelming, it was interesting to discover that I wasn’t completely immune to the stuff. All the other times I’d tried it I hadn’t felt anything. Same thing for tobacco and hookah. I was starting to wonder if I was just immune to all types of smoking. Not that I’d want to get into it seriously, though. But still, it’s good to know that it’s an option for fun.
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2016-12-18 11:23 pm

Jess' Party

Friday we were supposed to cook our Indian meal. I stopped at a Kroger to get the last few ingredients but I’d forgotten my wallet at home or school. Running around to find that wallet cost me over an hour in rush-hour traffic. That put me in a grumpy and it was getting late so we dropped the idea of cooking that night and just drank instead. Anna came over and we all stayed up till four in the morning. The girls took the bed and I tried sleeping on the floor. Inebriated and tired as I was, I couldn’t really sleep down there.
Fortunately Anna had to go to her shift at Jack-in-the-Box at 6 am. Brittney couldn’t be roused so after I dropped her off I could relocate to the bed. That gave me a few hours of decent sleep. We had breakfast tea together before I headed out Saturday morning. That afternoon I mostly napped to make up for the night before.
Saturday evening one of our science teacher colleagues hosted a Christmas party. Gale has a pretty nice house; I wonder what her husband does. It was a random assortment of science teachers. Brittney and I were the only ones who brought booze, which was a bit awkward but after a couple beers I didn’t really mind anymore. Gale’s husband was the highlight of the party. A few of us (the drinkers) wound up in the ManCave, where Jim regaled us with random stories and general orneriness. I’m not sure if I believe his story that he invented the maxi pad, but everything else he told us seemed plausible. Brittney was officially/unofficially adopted into their family when Jim began to refer to her as ‘bitch,’ his term-of-endearment of choice. I continue to marvel at how easily Brittney acquires new friends at every event we go to. She makes it look so easy.
The other teachers headed out early and we were the only non-family members there by the end of it. We left just before midnight and Anna re-appeared once we were back at Brittney’s. This displeased me. Not because I’d have to share Brittney’s company, but mostly because it boded that we’d be staying up late again. I don’t have the stamina to do that night after night. I tried hanging with them for awhile but soon enough Brittney was on the phone with a friend(?) who was causing some drama. So she disappeared and I presumed that it’d be a while before she got back. I told Anna as much and stepped outside. I went to my truck, turned on the heater, and dozed off. About half an hour later I roused and checked my phone. There wasn’t anything from Brittney so I assumed she was still preoccupied. I decided not to bother returning to the apartment so I bid farewell and headed home. It took another 15 minutes for Brittney to respond, so a total of 45 minutes that she hadn’t noticed my absence. I took that as proof that she wouldn’t mind my absence; she had Anna’s company after all and I didn’t want to attempt sleeping on the floor again anyways. Of course that displeased Brittney but I learned after the fact that she and Anna still had a fun night without me.
I went out to pho for breakfast with Brittney and then returned to her place to work on school stuff until we headed out to Jess’s holiday party that afternoon. It started at 3 pm, which felt a bit early to me, but I was optimistic that we’d be heading out at an early hour, so I could catch up on rest and the schoolwork I’d been ignoring all weekend.
Jess’s party turned out to be pretty big. Their house is decently sized, but soon there wasn’t enough room to sit. And she’d taken a week off of work (alleged) to clean house, so it was a vast improvement from the last time I’d been there. And the spread of food was staggering. She really went all out. Brittney and I’d only brought snacks because the food RSVP list had already covered all the bases. Of course I didn’t know anyone there besides Brittney, but there were some kids there so I played with them when I couldn’t find a conversation to invade (which was most of the time). We ate till we were stuffed and then there was a white elephant present … thing, which I’d been unaware of. Brittney was keen on me meeting Jess’s dad, Paul. He seemed to be a stoner carpenter, so I was like, “Ah, I recognize this creature.” He was a fun guy. Even though I told him Brittney and I were friends and teachers at the same school, he was all, “You have a beautiful wife.” Just a joker.
The bulk of the festivities were over by eight and I was honestly ready to go by then. Most of the attendees left over the next hour until it was just us younger people who were still chatting and nibbling. Brittney was toasty so she didn’t quite hear my suggestions that we head out. If it wasn’t a school night I would’ve kept up with her but my Monday was going to be difficult enough without a hangover. When she disappeared around 9 I started to get grumpy. I’m used to being ignored by her after she reaches a certain point, but in this case I had no choice but to stick around. Jess told me that she was getting high with David. If I was going to have to stick around I didn’t want to be excluded from the fun.
When Brittney and David emerged I told her as much and David was generous enough to offer me a dab. Half an hour later I wasn’t feeling anything, only to learn from Jess that he’d made me a small one on account of how many friends they’ve had overdo it on their first time out. I didn’t want to be rude or ungrateful, so Jess relayed my disappointment to David and he made me a regular one. I nearly coughed up a lung that time. Shortly thereafter David turned in for the night and that signaled that it was time for us to leave.
I drove home of course. Brittney was all sorts of happy and she kept commenting on how high I was, but I doubted she was able to objectively/subjectively(?) appraise me. I’m pretty sure it was just her skewed impression. I felt more relaxed, but was in full command of my faculties. I did miss a couple of turns on the way back, but that was mostly because it was dark and my navigator was incapacitated. David had said this stuff would be more “expansive,” so maybe it was just that or I didn’t get enough. Either way, it was pleasant. Brittney was visibly happy that I’d ventured into her hobby. She mentioned that she would gladly give up booze in favor of bud and I replied that maybe it’s something we should do. It’d be a lot less calories I’d be ingesting, at least.
Brittney hit her wall within a few minutes and conked out. I don’t know if it was my fatigue or the THC, but that drive back from DeSoto seemed to take forever. Even though the effects were underwhelming, it was interesting to discover that I wasn’t completely immune to the stuff. All the other times I’d tried it I hadn’t felt anything. Same thing for tobacco and hookah. I was starting to wonder if I was just immune to all types of smoking. Not that I’d want to get into it seriously, though. But still, it’s good to know that it’s an option for fun.
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2016-12-11 03:24 pm

Tire Weekend & Courtney's Party

I’ve spent a ridiculous amount of time with Brittney this week. Days are school, evenings are often spent ignoring my responsibilities to hang with her. Tuesday evening we “snuck out” of school early at 5:00 so that we could go buy groceries for our inaugural weekly dinner cooking. Wednesday … why was I there again? Oh, we made tacos just on the spur-of-the-moment. Of course that eventually entailed drinking beer, which led to vodka. I was really tempted to stay the night and I’m sure Brittney wanted me to, or at least not leave as early as I did (10), but I had stuff back at school that I HAD to do. She wasn’t pleased to see me go.
Normally I don’t drink on weeknights and I paid the penalty the next day. I went over Thursday because Brittney had had a shitty day plus we needed to figure out what she’d be wearing for Saturday’s “Winter Wonderland” party that Courtney was hosting. We had drinks again, but this time Brittney invited over her favorite student Anna, who brought her hookah. That changed the dynamic. Anna reminds Brittney of her younger self so they were clicking in an almost sisterly way, listening to their reggaeton music, and talking about students in their class, etc. I felt a little excluded, but whatever. I was still pretty tired from the night before so I was holding back on the booze; trying to drink just enough to be fun, but not so much that it would compound my fatigue the next day. Brittney was going strong and having fun though.
We headed out to find coals for the hookah or something. Brittney let me drive. The tires on her car were seriously low. When I’d arrived that evening I’d noticed and told myself that I should air them up before I left. Brittney needled me a bit about my driving, even though she was getting us lost on the way to the head shop. As we pulled into the shop’s parking lot, we heard a distinct pop. We bought our stuff and came back out. I could tell the tire was dead flat and that we should fix it then and there. Brittney still wanted to get booze plus she needed to pee. I told her that she and Anna should walk to the nearby RaceTrac while I fixed the tire. She said it was driveable and since it was her car, that’s what we did.
By the time we got to RaceTrac, the tire had come off the rim so there was no hope of a quick fix. That’s when my mood officially soured. Brittney wasn’t dressed properly so she stayed in the car with the heater and her phone and the beer while I struggled with the tire. Her tools were all messed up and cheap. I was pissed because I was having to deal with the problem she’d been ignored for who knows how long, tired and cold, while she was in the car texting and drinking. Eventually we had to enlist the help of three other drivers to assemble the necessary tools to get the tire replaced. It must have taken us at least an hour to get the spare on. Brittney was good at approaching these strangers and getting them to help. She thanked them all as they left, even offering to share some of the beer with them.
We drove back. I knew I was in a grumpy mood and so did the girls. Brittney told me to “loosen up.” I was aware that I was being a grump, but I couldn’t let go of the fact that Brittney had thanked everyone EXCEPT me. It annoyed me that her main focus was on maintaining her buzz and enjoyment. While walking through the parking lot to her apartment I made a clumsy joke as I attempted to get back in the mood of the evening. Brittney snapped at me and that exhausted the last of my patience. When she told me to use the keys to open the gate, I told her I would if she would tell me thank you for working on the car. She replied with something like, “Fuck that, just open the gate!” I replied, “Okay, I’ll remember this,” to which she responded, “Yeah, I’ll remember this too.” I don’t know if she was replying in kind to my budding anger, or just drunkenly echoing my words. In either case I knew my fun was over for the night.
I left a few minutes after we got inside. There was no way I’d be able to get back on their wavelength. I don’t know what Anna thought of the whole thing, but I didn’t concern myself with her too much. I hadn’t brought her into our evening. Brittney tried calling and texting after I left but I really wasn’t in the mood to talk to her. Despite being very fatigued, I wasn’t able to sleep well that night. The after-effects of drinking plus my mood kept me from resting. I couldn’t figure out if my emotions were warranted, or based on fatigue and booze and were out-of-line.
Her first text Friday morning was to thank me for my help, but I was no longer interested in hearing it. It’s easy to do the right thing when you’re sober, but your real personality shows when you’re drunk. Eventually she dragged out of me the condensed version of my side of the previous evening. She didn’t get defensive or anything, which surprised me. She sincerely apologized and although normally I hate telling people how they’ve hurt my feelings, I really did feel better after I’d gotten it off my chest. We didn’t talk about it any further. Although I still wanted to make sure I’d explained myself clearly, I was also pretty self-conscious about having this sort of conversation. And after Brittney’s humble apology, I couldn’t in good conscience push the matter any further.
Our planned cooking had been pushed back to that Friday night. I was still pretty exhausted and when I got to Brittney’s place it appeared that she was pretty tired too, but we stuck with our plan. I think we both would’ve liked to have taken the evening off, but I think we both felt that we needed to patch over the misunderstanding from the night before. So we didn’t have as much fun as we might’ve normally had. Brittney barely touched her beer at all, which was atypical. We messed up the recipe a time or two, but overall the food came out nicely. It took us a long time to finish because we weren’t at our best.
When it came time to eat I was all, “I’m more tired than hungry.” As delicious as the food was, my appetite was significantly dulled. I asked Brittney if I could stay over tonight because I was sincerely exhausted. She declined. As tired as she was, she wanted to sleep naked that night. That comment managed to kick my hibernating imagination into high gear. She said, “I know you, but I don’t know you THAT well.” Ha ha. Yeah, I wouldn’t trust myself either.
Things got weird for her after I left. She soon discovered that her wallet was missing. After searching her apartment, she even drove back to school to see if it was there. Not there. She came back home and cracked open the vodka and smoked a bowl of hookah to calm herself. But she didn’t open the window so the fire alarm went off. She climbed a chair to try and turn it off, but between her short height and the booze, she fell and hurt her ribs.
So Saturday morning after she’d told me all this, I offered her any help I could provide. She asked for “a ladder and company.” Done. I fixed up her fire alarm. Apparently she’d even hit the doorbell box on the way down. It would’ve been funny if she wasn’t hurting as much as she was. Mostly I think she just needed someone to commiserate with and listen to her plight. Between the blown tire and the missing wallet and her injury, things weren’t too pleasant currently.
We sat and had tea and talked. We even got onto the topic of her drug-abusing parents. She’d skirted the topic before but now she was willing to share. I offered what anecdotes I could about my dad’s drug problems, but it was like comparing an anthill with a mountain. I marveled aloud at how she could have endured all of their shit and still come out as wholesome and healthy as she seemed to be. I would expect someone with that history to come out with visible flaws or defense mechanisms: anger, insecurity, fear, evasiveness, etc. But she’s always been 100% candid and open and gracious. I still don’t understand how she could’ve kept those traits intact.
Anyways, while I cherished the fact that she was sharing with me, the atmosphere was getting a bit heavy so we decided to head out to get some painkillers from the store. As we got into my truck, we noticed a familiar looking black leather wallet in the back. Ha ha. Apparently it’d been in there from when we went to buy mixers on Thursday. Wow. Brittney was relieved to have it back and that discovery turned the day’s mood around. I wish we’d discovered it the night before so that we could’ve avoided the injury, but this was the next best thing.
I left Brittney on that good note so that I could go get prepared for the evening’s party. I grabbed some last minute costume items and ran down to the hotel to check-in and try things on, etc. A few hours before the party Brittney began texting me about how she was undecided about the party. She wanted to go, but still had no idea about what to wear and she didn’t want to disappoint me or something like that. Part of me thought she was looking for an excuse to not attend, but I know she’s not oblique like that. And she was also hurt, so I tried to be considerate and told her that whatever she was comfortable with (physically and socially), I would be in support of. Eventually she decided to go through with it.
She wore a cute little wintry outfit. (I still don’t get why she won’t let me take any pictures of her :T, but whatever.) I was in my white and blue jacket/dress shirt combo. Despite the big RSVP list, the turnout was closer to 15 people, I’d say. I was worried that I’d be a poor mediator to introduce Brittney to my friends and I think I lived up to that promptly. She did well at mingling on her own but didn’t seem to click with hardly anyone. I wasn’t quite sure how directly I should try to get her introduced to people. If she’d been my girlfriend it would’ve been mandatory business, but as she was just there as my co-worker, the stakes were much lower. Trying to balance my own desire to shmooze while keeping an eye on how Brittney was faring proved to be ineffective at both. She did click with at least one other girl there and I made damned sure to introduce her to Mark and Katherine, who she liked, thank goodness. I had suspected it might be hard for her to fit in amongst this circle of nerds, but I wasn’t aware of how clique-y we were until tonight.
When we ducked out to go get cigarettes, Brittney remarked how she’d never been rebuffed by nerds before. It prompted me to observe that even I remain on the fringes of these social bubbles and I’ve known these people for years. But for someone like me who isn’t social, I don’t mind not being involved. Just being included is enough for me. For someone as universally amiable like her, this was odd. When we got back, the party had been kicked out of the room due to noise complaints and now we were loitering in the lobby. That really killed the fun. Brittney had the idea that we could offer our room as an alternative. I wasn’t too keen on the idea since I wanted to remain in control of when I quit for the night, but Courtney was teary-eyed over the turn of events so we made the offer. She declined and the group set up camp in the main lobby while Kevin began smuggling our booze and snacks downstairs.
If this were an anime con, I’d be okay with loitering and drinking in a public area. But we were all either in costume or nicely dressed and although everyone was trying to make the best of it, I wasn’t feeling it. Maybe that makes me a jerk for wanting to bail on the situation. It looked to me like Brittney wasn’t too thrilled about hanging out in the atrium lobby either. After she said goodbye to her one new friend, we went back up to the room and crashed.
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2016-12-04 03:26 pm

Slender Path

We were almost giddy as were we trying to get out of school ASAP on Friday afternoon. I’m sure it was obvious to the few straggler students that we were up to something. That night we went out to dinner for sushi because it’d been on both our minds. We pre-gamed a bit at her place and then had a good long dinner. Sake, beer, and sake-bombs were had. Back at her place we kept going with the drinks and listened to all sorts of old 90s music. I nearly killed Brittney with laughing when I was karaoking/dancing to Salt n’ Pepa’s “Shoop.” She was losing it and I had no fear that she was laughing AT me. Eventually though Brittney hit her wall and ordered 6 scrambled eggs (a full dozen actually, but I refused to make that many). After dinner she was apparently gravitating towards her bed and I was prepared to make my exit when she asked (told?) me to join her in bed for a few minutes of cuddling.
Of course I was game. Given how direct and honest she is, I knew that she meant exactly what she said and nothing more. I could see that she was wobbling a little as she closed up the apartment for the night, so a small voice in my head said that maybe I should decline her offer, but I couldn’t deny how much I wanted to join her. I figured she just wanted to company, so I held back a bit. But she pulled my arm around her and intertwined her fingers with mine and then she was out like a light. I, on the other hand, could not sleep for hours (I’m pretty sure I didn’t sleep at all). I was dying with happiness. After being single for over a year and a half, I was starving for this type of close, intimate, comfortable contact. And she was so warm, and soft, and smelled good … my mind simply couldn’t relax and fade out to sleep.
As I laid awake I perpetually marveled at the fact that I was here. Less than a month ago we were strangers who worked in the same building. Now I was holding her as she slept, in her bedroom, and it hadn’t involved any kind of trickery. It had just happened. My thoughts stumbled as I attempted to fathom how she could be so open and honest and trusting and … secure. And of course I kept pondering what this meant for our friendship. It was platonic cuddling, sure, but this was right on the border between platonic and intimate. I know I wanted more, but the ease with which we’d come to this point almost seemed to say that this was nothing significant at all.
I had presumed that once she became sober she might regret or be embarrassed by me staying over. But that morning after a false waking, she went back to sleep, with my chest as her pillow. I died again. When we finally got up, she was perfectly at ease with the situation and I continued to marvel at her poise.
I spent my Saturday attending to various chores and tasks, but my thoughts were constantly returning to Friday night, trying to make it fit into my schema of relationships. When I told my brother I’d be going out again that night, he joked that I was dating Brittney, considering how much I texted her and hung out with her. We’re not dating, but his clumsy remark held a grain of truth. That led me to wonder if maybe I’m getting too smitten or … I don’t know. It just kinda underlined my confusion concerning what we’re about. Although I’ve only known Brittney for a month, I can see that she’s ‘universally compatible,’ capable of clicking with a diverse swath of different personalities, with what appears to be great ease. I’m also fairly certain (but less so than the previous statement) that she maintains a host of friends and relationships of varying types and levels; she can give her trust and caring and heart to many many people, without actually giving it away to any one person. This is more of a vague theory of mine, but it’s the best idea that fits all that I know about her. These two ideas explain how we became friends so quickly: because she has that ability. It also forecasts the odds of this friendship turning into what I want: essentially zero. It’s going to take real effort not to misinterpret this unique friendship.
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2016-11-27 03:27 pm

Thanksgiving Week

This week was Thanksgiving holiday break. I didn’t have anything planned; it just sorta snuck up on me before I knew it. I told myself that I’d spend the time off planning for school and getting ahead of things. For the first few days I worked towards that goal but my motivation dropped off as I started to get bored with the ample free time. We didn’t have any family coming over so there really weren’t any demands on my schedule. I killed time the first few days by playing games and going to the movies, but that started to wear thin fairly quickly.
Earlier this month I’d gone to a science teacher conference in San Antonio along with a handful of colleagues. I don’t know if I’d say the trip was worthwhile, but the highlight was the last night we were there and we went out to a comedy club and drinking together. The girls had been drinking it up evening. Unbeknownst to me, my male roommate had been turning down their invites on both of our behalfs. That sucked. But the last night was fun and I got to know those teachers as people. They’re chemistry teachers so our paths don’t cross too much, but it was still encouraging.
So this week I texted Brittney, the teacher I’d gotten along best with, to see what she was up to. If our convention trip was any indication, I figured she might be game for hanging out and drinks or whatever. Sunday we texted, Monday we met up for drinks at her place. Since she’s only recently moved to DFW, her local friends-base is virtually non-existent, which works out in my favor I suppose. And since she’s only moved in a month ago, she didn’t even have any furniture. We drank and went over to her neighbor’s place, where they were grilling. They were kinda an average, almost country bunch, but after a few drinks I talked the talk and walked the walk as well. Brittney joined them in smoking. It amused me that she seemed almost embarrassed to smoke in front of me, when in fact I was glad she felt she could just be herself. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d met someone brand-spanking-new and had the pretenses drop away so quickly.
Wednesday we did it again. This time she’d acquired a table and chairs so we stayed at her place. We drank, listened to music, played Gin Rummy (which she taught me and I won at), she smoked, etc. In this somewhat more intimate setting I had to be continually remind myself not to optimistically misinterpret the situation. As attractive and fun and cool as she is, I had to keep in mind that attraction is not the same as chemistry. Plus, we work together so that’s a whole other reason to refrain. Maybe I’ve just been single too long and now I’m prone to over-react to any gestures of friendliness. But I behaved.
By the end of the night, either Brittney had had too much weed, or booze, or was just tired, but she reached this point where the conversation stopped dead and she was fixated on her salsa and chips. I figured it was just the munchies and would pass, but after a few minutes she went to her bedroom and passed out. We’d been having a great, relaxed conversation, but it was like she hit a wall and was done. I was kinda bummed that the evening ended so abruptly but I understood what it’s like when your body just tells you that you’re done.
Saturday I went to a French-themed Friendsgiving party. I made a quiche which turned out surprisingly well. We ate and ate and ate. The only booze there was wine, which I’m not really into, so about 9 I was still sober and kinda getting bored so I headed out. It was early and this was the last night of my Thanksgiving holiday week, so I felt restless. I texted Brittney and we decided to go out and do something.
We ended up at a “hookah bar” near her place. I use the quotes because it was unlike any hookah bar that I’ve been to, and not in a good way. It was like part sports bar, part restaurant, part dance club, with hookah service. I wasn’t a fan of the flavors we smoked so I focused on my booze instead. Brittney got up and danced a bit, enticing other ladies to join her. It was amusing to see how people just gravitated towards her. Eventually the booze made up for what the atmosphere lacked and we were laughing and having a fun conversation. We gave the place a shot but after an hour or two we were bored and there wasn’t much point in continuing to waste money there so we headed out.
Just as we were pulling out of the parking lot, Brittney said, “I have to take this call.” It seemed to be an ex-boyfriend. It was interesting to hear Brittney’s vocabulary and demeanor change so strongly. Every other word was “bruh.” I was laughing on the inside. She talked the whole drive back, then when we got back to her place she excused herself to the patio and kept talking. I tried to keep myself pre-occupied for the next hour and ignore the conversation but Brittney was loud and animated. The snippets I heard sounded like they were dredging up ancient history; stuff like, “we didn’t work out because …”. That’s not anything I wanted to eavesdrop on. I didn’t like the feel of that conversation at all. What kind of married guy calls up an ex-girlfriend late on a Saturday night to talk about their relationship? It made me uncomfortable and also I felt a bit grumpy. We’d been having such a good time and now I was completely being ignored. After an hour of trying to be patient, I left.
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2015-01-20 05:09 pm

1-17-15: Non-date

I was talking to Jane Saturday afternoon. She was bored at home and floated the idea that I might come over to hang out if I was bored as well. I had RSVPed to Amanda's house-warming party that night but I wasn't too keen on going since I only knew the hostesses but none of the guests. So I was quite fine with abbreviating my time at that party.
After a short how-do-you-do at the house-warming I headed up to Denton. Since this would just be hanging out (a "non-date") I nominated some random fun ideas like driving up to the state line to blow $5 at an Oklahoman casino or just exploring Denton at random. Y'know, nothing serious. I went to Jane's house and then let her take over the driving responsibilities. We went to Chipotle first and then to a coffee shop on the square next. I liked the decor and even though I don't do coffee they had a tasty cider for me. The abundant hipsters were a slight detraction but I soon tuned them out. Jane started talking about broken dicks and roast beef labias (labii?), mostly in regards to her past relationships. It was quite fun; I've never known a girl platonically or romantically that could talk about sex so casually. I was glad to know I didn't have to tiptoe around certain topics with her. I'm sure the conversation bothered some of our neighbors but it was too fun to pay them any mind. I didn't have quite as many sad/embarrassing anecdotes to share; either I've been extra lucky or she's been especially unlucky in these matters.
We stayed at the coffee shop until well past closing and then moved to Paschall's, a nearby bar. Jane seemed almost indifferent to the idea. I don't know if it was because she didn't want to spend money on that or just wasn't a fan of drinking, but I pushed forward with the idea. I knew that if I was going to make up for my relative reticence at the coffee shop, I'd probably need the assistance of some alcohol. We didn't have to wait long before some vacancy opened up and we could go inside.
I liked that it was a small bar with a tasteful but not pretentious interior. Thankfully it was small enough that we could have a conversation AND the drinks were strong. I don't mind paying $7 a drink if those two conditions are satisfied. I didn't really feel the booze due to the burrito obstacle in my stomach but the familiar atmosphere helped to put me more at ease. We continued our colorful conversation from earlier. I mean we talked about serious stuff like our messed-up families and other baggage, but it was more amusing to talk about our past romantic mistakes and misunderstandings instead. We only had two drinks each, but they were serious drinks. As the evening progressed Jane became more playful. Not necessarily more vulgar or candid, but definitely more playful. She was even asking me about my personal measurements and I used a dollar bill as a measuring stick. It was great fun; everything was fair game. If this had been a real date I would've been high-fiving myself in the bathroom and matching her flirt for flirt but I kept reminding myself that we were just hanging out and be cool and not get any ideas or hopes in my head. Even with that collar though it was still a great evening.
Closing time came again and we were cast out into the night. It took us a couple of laps around the Square to find her car. She didn't trust herself to drive but neither did she trust my state of semi-sobriety so we sat in the car for awhile. I didn't mind. It was more time to spend with her. We waited for about twenty or thirty minutes, watching the stray drunks wander throughout the Square. Jane read a children's book from a McDonald's Happy Meal.
Eventually I was cleared for departure and we left. Jane began predicting how embarrassed she was going to be tomorrow when she was sober. I laughed and kept trying to explain to her how I only truly trusted people who had shown me their uninhibited self but I couldn't seem to allay her anxiety. Or maybe she was just trying to pre-emptively excuse any offense I might've taken during the night. I got us back to her home safe and sound. By now it was 3 am, give or take. Jane lingered between the car and the front door for a moment and I . . . thought about it. I felt that I could probably push my luck to make something happen but considering how that's essentially how I started my relationship with Courtney, I was loathe to try and start another one the same way. So I left. I don't think I even hugged her. I'm not sure I trusted myself to.
Of course on the way home a flurry of texts from her confirmed that I had sold myself short. Of course. That's me. Too fucking cautious. But still, that was better than screwing everything up. And as a result I was literally and carnally up for quite a while after that. There was no way I could sleep with so much on my mind.