I called my girlfriend and asked her to meet in town for one glass of wine. “I can’t just be home and stare at my walls.”
“Of course,” she said.
We had two glasses of wine and split a fruit and cheese platter and then decided to go to the bar we love at the beach, the bar where I met the boy. The boy whose phone number I deleted from my phone–not out of spite or anger, but in self-preservation–so that I am no longer able to initiate texts or calls.
My girlfriend and I chatted with each other at the bar where I met the boy, then we chatted with friends of the boy, because everyone is friends with the boy, but the boy was not there. And this was good. In fact, the evening was pleasant, fun.
My girlfriend left, and I stayed to finish my wine, because I was enjoying laughing as I sat between two friends of the boy and actually didn’t care that the boy wasn’t there. When you delete a phone number from your phone, you are most definitely making a statement to yourself.
Suddenly, an arm snaked around my waist. “Hey, there’s a pretty girl,” said the deep voice, and a kiss touched my lips.
“Oh hi,” I said, as genuinely surprised as I was mostly unresponsive. After all, I no longer had his phone number in my cell. Not that he knew this. But I did.
He seemed only a little surprised to see me sitting between his two pals, laughing as his two pals and I one-upped each other with terrible jokes. I’d like to say the night went on to include his attention as well as his effort to make plans to see me another evening. It did not.
Instead, I chatted far more with the GM of this place about silly guests and their outrageous requests, private dining and food-and-beverage minimums over which guests beat you up–business, if you will, albeit in a hilarious way. I think the boy wondered at this, but only ever so briefly.
When he rose to leave, I asked if he would walk me to my car. He did, chattering about how busy he was at work and how a deal overseas was unfolding. I heard him, but I’d also heard it before.
He hugged me goodnight at my car, wrapping his arms around me, but I did not kiss him. I couldn’t. “You look so great,” he mumbled into my hair. “What were you doing tonight, anyway, out picking up other guys?”
“Should I have been?” I laughed, a laugh that was strained at best.
“No!” he answered, and maybe he meant it. I thought at that exact moment, however, He really thinks all is okay between us. And then I thought about it again. No, it’s simply all okay for him.
“Say hi to Rouletta for me,” he said, hugging me again, his hand caressing my hair.
“Sure,” was all I could say as I twisted out of his arms and climbed into my car. I drove off without so much as a wave. I don’t think he noticed.
I didn’t know that tonight would be the night that all of this would matter a tiny bit less than it had during the storm of sadness I’ve been battling for the past week. That it would matter this tiny bit less so soon after feeling so devastated was a delightful surprise.
I know myself. I likely will feel sad again soon. And again and again. But tonight was good.
Now, here’s the Cinci part:
In the spirit of moving forward, I will be in Cincinnati this Sunday helping my pal at Just Cured dispense his incredible European-style smoked and cured salmon at a Brunch–part of an annual “7 Days for SIDS” event that supports SIDS research. If you live in or are visiting the Cinci area and feel like grazing on great food for an excellent cause, stop by Just Cured and say hello.