Monday, September 8, 2014

Howdy Y'all: Finally, an Update

Hi everyone, it's me.  Remember me?

First and foremost, I want to give you a little rundown of my life in the past few weeks.  I packed up almost everything I owned (leaving some things behind, because not everything fit in the back of my jeep) and left Ohio.  I've never lived outside of Ohio, ever.  My entire family lives there or around there, and same goes for my friends.  Then, I made the 20-hour drive to Texas and moved my things into San Antonio.  My new job started just three days after I moved in.

Fast forward to now.  I'm working a new job in a new field, so there's a learning curve and I'm always busy and exhausted.  It's a great job and I'm enjoying it a lot, but it's also a ton of work.  Every day I come home from work and sleep, pretty much.  I don't know anyone yet, so I don't really go out.  Like I said, all of my friends and family are back in Ohio, and I'm in San Antonio, pretty much alone, for most of the week.

I'm not telling you all this for pity or even to explain myself because honestly I don't need to justify my life or choices.  Many of you have been extremely supportive, which I appreciate so, so much because while this has been a very exciting time in my life, it's also been the most terrifying thing I've ever done.  So, I know I promised I'd try to keep up the blogging schedule.  I completely failed at that, and I apologize.  But I really didn't realize how hard moving and starting a new life would be.

So thank you to those people who have been understanding and kind.  I appreciate your support more than I can express.  The last thing I want right now is to come home from an exhausting day in an unfamiliar city and sit in my room that I still haven't finished unpacking yet and see messages--many of the anonymous--saying they won't read my blog anymore, saying that I'm inconsiderate and wasting their time.  I am all for constructive criticism, and I want to communicate openly with my readers, but reading just plain mean comments is not something I have the energy to do.  It makes my day that much worse and honestly makes me not want to provide an update at all.

Yes, everything is totally fine, for those asking.  I'm luckily not sick or hurt or anything--just exhausted and still not used to being in a new place.  I can't promise anything because it will called inconsiderate, but now that I am starting to get the hang of things in my new life and not fall asleep as soon as I make dinner every night, I want to pick back up with Ryan's story.

Finally, the anonymous commenting option was added for those who are shy and did not want to provide their names or just want to comment without being public.  It is NOT for people to leave rude comments under a veil of anonymity.  I know people have been disappointed by the lack of an update, but just like no one is forcing me to write this blog, no one is forcing you to read it.  I write this blog for free and for fun, and if I lose 75% of my readers because they are sick of waiting, or disappointed in me, or say nasty things because I have just moved across the country to start a new life entirely by myself, then so be it.

Thank you for your genuine concern.  All is well, and I appreciate the understanding from many of you.  I have some ideas brewing, and of course some older storylines need to be explained...

As always, thank you for reading, and I look forward to starting this up again!


Monday, August 4, 2014

Guilt Goes Both Ways

Enough is enough; after over a week of hearing absolutely nothing from Bryan, I decide that I have to see him.  I’m almost positive that he’s out of the hospital, and while I don’t know where he lives, it can’t be that hard to figure out.

In all honesty, it’s not like I yearn for him or want to get back together.  Unlike with Cam, I don’t even want answers about the breakup (are we even broken up??  The last I’ve heard from him was via his mother).  I just want to make sure he’s okay.  

Before I put on my detective’s hat, I call him one more time.  Over the past week I’ve called him no less than five times, and texted him as well.  Not one message has been returned.  It’s not like I’m looking for a date here.  All I want is to ensure his safety.  However, I also realize that he might think I’m going to extreme measures and borderline stalking him, and he deserves a heads up.  

As expected, no answer.  I leave a voicemail.  “Hi.  It’s Ryan.”  I take a deep breath.  “Look, I just wanted to see how you’re doing.  It’s been a rough week and I can’t even imagine what you’re going through.  I don’t want to overstep any boundaries here, but I feel like it’s necessary at this point.”  How do you tell someone that you’ll be finding out where they live without being too creepy??  “I’ll be at your house tonight.  Eight o’clock.  If that’s okay, call me back.  If it’s not, I’ll see you then anyway.”  I swallow.  “I’m sorry.”  I quickly hang up.

Oh God, I’m such a freak, I think, my mind in a panic.  It feels like all I’ve been doing lately is confronting ex-lovers.  I try to reassure myself–I have to do this.  I need answers, and I would hope he would do the same for me if I’d been the one in surgery.  

I start at the only place that makes sense: Google.  I search his full name, and of course nothing comes up other than the expected, such as his Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.  But then… a blog? Bryan has a tumblr?

Resisting the urge to click through and snoop, I go to his LinkedIn instead.  If I can’t find his house, I can find out where he works.  

However, I don’t have to search for long.  My phone rings, and I am shocked to see it’s Houdini himself, Bryan.  

“Hello?”  I answer cautiously.  

“Ryan.”  He sounds a little out of breath.  “I got your message.”

I don’t say anything, still worried that he has called the police and thinks I’m a stalker.  

“Can you meet me in an hour for lunch?”

“Sure,” I say.  I swallow the urge to apologize for my calls in the past week, telling myself that he should have let me know all was well.  We were in a life-threatening accident, I think.  The circumstances are a little different here.  “Thanks for returning my call.”

“No problem.”  He definitely sounds nervous.  We exchange a few more words, but it’s clear the real conversation will take place at lunch.  

Since I am currently unemployed and have no idea what to do with my free time, I spend the next hour straightening my hair and getting ready for lunch.  I’ve talked with my mom about what to do next, and she insists that I search for a new job immediately, but I’m still pretty wounded.  I try not to think about it, but it’s impossible.  The number of times I’ve yelled at Kent in my head is embarrassingly high, and I keep having nightmares about being homeless.  

So, shaking the negative thoughts from my mind, I make my way to Panera, which is where Bryan insisted we have lunch.  I have to stifle a laugh–am I going to be broken up with in a Panera, surrounded by the smells of fresh-baked bread and pastries?

I’m too nervous to eat, so I order a hazelnut coffee and sit in a booth.  Just as I’m getting comfortable, I see Bryan… in a full leg cast.  I wince and hurry over to him.  

“Didn’t see you at first,” I say as a greeting.  “Oh God.  How are you feeling?”

He shrugs, not making eye contact.  “I’ve been better.”

“The surgery was okay?”

He nods.  “It went about as well as it could have.  But I’m in this thing for two months, and then a boot after that,” he says, gesturing to his cast.  

I’m not sure what to say to that, so I take a sip of my coffee.  It burns the roof of my mouth.  

“I’m really sorry if I made things weird…” I begin.  Bryan holds up a hand, signaling me to be quiet.  I’d be annoyed at the gesture if I didn’t already feel so guilty.  

“Don’t apologize.  I should have called you, or returned your texts.  It’s just been… a stressful week.”

I nod.  We have that in common.  

“My mom drove me here,” he continues.  Oh no, I think.  His mother, the woman who was so rude to me while I was in the hospital.  Of course, some of it was understandable–her son was badly injured and needed surgery, and who wouldn’t be a little snippy in that situation?  But she hadn’t given me the time of day and had almost seemed to blame me for the accident.  Not that I was too shocked about that… to be honest, I blame myself a little too.  

“When will you be able to drive?”

Shaking his head, Bryan tells me that he won’t be able to until the cast is off.  “It’s more of an inconvenience, really.  My mom’s been great, except…” He swallows, his Adam’s apple bobbing.  “I know she wasn’t too nice to you after the surgery. She told me you’d called, but said I didn’t have to call you back if I didn’t want to.”

I feel a flash of rage building inside of me.  What is it with guys and their parents recently?  

“I wanted to call you,” he says quickly.  All at once I see how nervous he is.  His upper lip is sweating a little and he keeps fidgeting with his napkin.  I see him tearing it into tinier and tinier pieces and watch with fascination for a second.  “Ryan, I’m so sorry about the accident.”

This shocks me.  “Don’t apologize.  It was my fault,” I insist.  “I was the one who wanted to go for a ride.”

Bryan shrugs.  “I wanted to show off.”  He laughs a little.  “I’m not too proud to admit that.  And I was driving like an idiot.”

“That car hit you, though,” I say.  I’m realizing how ridiculous this is.  I wanted to go on his bike, but so did he.  We may have been in the car’s blind spot, but the driver should have been more careful.  Bryan and I, we both harbor this guilt for something that already happened, something we can’t change or fix.  Still, I know I’ll feel this guilt for a long time.  

“I’m really sorry,” I say softly.  “This sucks.”

“It does, doesn’t it?” he says with that same short laugh.  “What a fucking mess.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.  

We talk a little longer, about hospital bills and work (I don’t mention that I was let go, because I don’t want to compare miseries with the guy in a cast) and life in general.  

Then, Bryan says what I’ve half expected him to say all along.  “I think we should, you know, go our separate ways.”  It’s a stupid line, but I’m almost relieved.  Maybe the accident and recovery could have brought us together, in another universe.  But it’s clear to me that the guilt would be too much.  

I nod in agreement.  We smile at each other for a moment.  “It was fun, though,” I admit.  “Your motorcycle is pretty freaking awesome.”

He laughs at that.  “Well, thanks.  I can’t decide if I should sell it or not.”

“I’ll buy it from you,” I say, deadpan.  This is the weirdest breakup ever, but strangely enough, it’s not too painful or awkward.  “I’m going to run,” I tell him.  I’m not sure what I should say next.  Thanks?  Apologize again?  Go in for a hug?  I settle on a handshake.  I feel like I’m at the end of an interview.  “Hey, good luck with everything.”

“You too.  You’re a good girl, Ryan.”

I’m not sure what that means, but whatever.  I’m so exhausted all of a sudden, like I want to collapse in bed and sleep for a full 24 hours.  It seems like everything–losing my job, the accident, Cam, Bryan, everything–has finally caught up with me, and all I want is a nap.  

I don’t look back after I leave, but imagine Bryan sitting alone, still ripping the napkin into even tinier shreds.  

AUTHOR’S NOTE:  The posts in the next couple of weeks may be a little off, schedule-wise.  I’m moving (!!!) 20 hours away and my house is currently a mess and all of my wordly belongings are packed away.  I’ll still try to get two posts up per week, but they may not be at the expected times!  Thanks so much for your patience, everyone, and of course thank you so, so much for reading!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Not a Dinner Date

For many reasons, it feels wrong to be seeing Cam again. I think of Bryan and how I still haven't heard from him, despite calling him again after my meeting with Kent. Bryan and I weren't official, but it's still weird to be seeing my ex while Bryan could still be in the hospital.  

Then again, Cam had been there for me after the accident. He was there when I woke up. He'd wanted to talk to me and had made effort to see me, so I feel obligated to meet with him. 

That doesn't mean I'm giving him another chance, though. 

I make sure to get to Marcella's--an incredible Italian place--first. This is unlike me, but I want to make sure Cam knows I'm calling the shots now. I pick a round table by the open windows. When he walks in, I want him to see me immediately.  I tousle my hair mindlessly. I didn't do anything to it after my shower, partly because I was too upset from the meeting with Kent and partly because I didn't want Cam to think I was trying to impress him. When we dated, I always made the effort to wear dresses and makeup. Now I'm in jeans and a tank top, but I am wearing heels. The heels make me feel powerful. Like a woman, not like a girl who had just lost her job and been in a motorcycle accident. 

I see Cam through the open windows when he walks by. My eyes follow him, and I have to admit he looks good. Quickly, though, I make my face stony and wait. 

He sees me as soon as he walks in and smiles a tiny bit. I wave him over. 

As he approaches the table, he looks as though he wants to hug me. He hesitates, then sits down. 

"You beat me here." The surprise is evident in his voice. He knows me well; I hate being the first to get to a restaurant. 

"Yeah, well," I say, arranging my silverware, "I'm a new person."

"Accidents do that to a person."

I purse my lips and look at him. "Is that what you came here to talk to me about? The motorcycle crash?"

"No." Cam shakes his head. "But I will say you scared the absolute shit out of me."

"I'm sure my mother would agree with you."

"I saw her there," Cam tells me. "At the hospital, I mean."

"Was she happy to see you?"

Shaking his head, Cam manages a laugh. "Testy tonight, Ryan?"

I lean forward into my elbows. "Let's see. My ex, who broke up with me and left me hanging, all of sudden wants to be back in my life because the timing works for him. I was in a crash this weekend and I am unemployed as of today." I lean back, satisfied. It's almost therapeutic listing all of the woes in my life. "You tell me if I'm allowed to be testy." The words taste good coming out of my mouth. I have more anger bottled up than he thinks. 

Cam is quiet for a moment, and I don't blame him. "Technically," he says finally, "you invited me tonight. It's hardly all about my timing."

I want to argue, but the waitress comes with our drinks. In a few drinks, my sangria is half empty. 

"About the job," Cam says. "What happened?"

So the whole story comes out, from having more work than the office can finish, to Kent only hiring one new assistant, to my complete lack of knowledge and interest in formulas and spreadsheets, to me returning to my writing and ultimately the meeting in Kent's office. 

"That's not fair," Cam says quickly. "You were hired to write, not to enter data."

"I know," I say. My drink is gone, and I ask for another. "But I don't know what to do. It's still so fresh in my mind that I hardly believe it," I admit. 

"I think you should just move on," he tells me. 

I wait for him to laugh. "Wait, you're serious?"

Cam nods. "They completely wronged you, but it sounds like to me you're better off starting over. Don't give them the time of day. Focus on finding a new job." He swirls his drink, thinking. "But what do I know about any of that. Maybe talk to your mom."

That's not a bad idea. I haven't told her about losing my job yet, mostly because I'm embarrassed and in shock. I wonder how'd she'd react? 

Our food arrives and both of us focus on eating. The silence between is isn't tense, as I had expected it would be. It's almost comfortable. 

But not comfortable enough. "Emma said you wanted to talk to me," I say after a bite of meatball. Cam looks up, surprised that I shattered the silence. 

"I did," he says. "I still do." He takes another bite. 

"Why?" I try to keep the bitterness out of my voice. "You finally feel guilty for the way things ended?"

Cam shrugs. "Not finally. I always felt guilty. I was just too proud to admit it." He crosses his arms, a defensive gesture. "I hated that my family split us up. You know I have a rough relationship with them."

"Your family didn't split us up," I tell him indignantly. "You did."

"Because I had to defend them!" He shakes his head. "You don't understand."

I sit back and look directly into his eyes. "No," I say. "I really don't."

The rest of dinner is relatively silent. Our waitress comes by to offer dessert, which we decline. "I'll take the check," Cam offers.

"No, we'll split it." The waitress leaves, and I look at Cam. "This isn't a date."

"It's not," he agrees. "You're still dating the guy that almost killed you."

I feel the blood rush to my face. "Nice, Cam. Real nice. Insult the guy in the hospital."

At this rate, we're never going to be civil with each other. Why did I even invite him tonight? Nothing is going to change. 

"Look, Ryan. I didn't come to yell at you or to offer you job advice or to make up for how I treated you. I'm here to apologize." He reaches for my hand, and I let him. "I'm sorry."

He seems sincere enough. I shrug. "That's more than I could ask for, I guess. Thank you."

Gently, I let go of his hand. The waitress brings our check--just one check, they always do what the guy says--and Cam grabs it. "You don't have to."

"I know," he says, placing his credit card down. "Thanks for meeting me."

"Is this what closure feels like?" I blurt. 

To his credit, Cam doesn't even look surprised by my outburst. "I don't know," he says. "Do you feel any better?"

"After tonight? About us? Yeah, I guess I do," I say after a beat. 

"And you wouldn't... consider giving me another chance?" I can't tell if he means it or if he feels like he owes it to me to grovel a little. His expression is unreadable. 

I look at him and think what would happen if I said yes. Cam was there for me in the hospital, when I was at my worst. He makes me laugh, and there's an undeniable chemistry between us. But sometimes that isn't enough. 

I shake my head. "I'm sorry. I just... don't think it would be for the best. I care about you, but..." I try to word what has been swirling around my mind for weeks. "I needed you to defend me. I needed you to fight for me." I shrug, trying to act more nonchalant than I feel. "I don't think we'll ever see eye to eye."

"I understand." Cam stands up. "Can I at least walk you home since you wouldn't let me pick you up?"

I agree. We start the short walk, and I think about how this might be the last time we see one another for a while. Or ever. 

We've barely walked five hundred feet when I spot someone familiar going the other direction on the other side of the street. 

It's Marie. And a woman. I quickly decide it must be her girlfriend. She's pretty; blonde and petite, with good style. I mentally praise Marie. I almost shout across the road but decide against it. I don't want her seeing me with Cam and assuming we're back together. 

When we arrive at my apartment building, I turn to Cam. 

"I'm glad we got to talk tonight," I tell him honestly. 

"Me too." For a second I think he might kiss me, but the feeling disappears quickly. I'm not sure if I should feel relieved or empty. Right now, I feel a little bit of both. 

I grab his hand and squeeze it. "Thank you for everything."

Nodding, Cam squeezes my hand back. "Thank you too."

I release his hand and start to back away. Our meeting really hadn't gone as planned, but really, what had I been expecting? Cam and I have a connection, but we've dragged our relationship on for too long. 

Maybe he's right. Maybe I need a fresh start.