Jack and I have these kind of amazing conversations once in a while. It’s usually really late at night and it’s usually after a drink or two, when our natural protections are a bit on the wobbly side. (For we are both mad protective of our emotional selves. Promoters of logic are we.) And sometimes, they occur via text message, since getting together in person often requires him not having to work in the morning (he has two full-time jobs, not because he needs them, but because he wants them) and men are usually not phone talkers.
Apparently, I am at my very wisest between 1:00 and 2:00am, after a martini. The garlic-stuffed olives may or may not contribute. Are olives brain food?
Last night’s exchange began just before 1am when he finished up his second job (later than usual due to a baseball game going stupid long). It had been predated by his message earlier in the evening saying he wished he could blow off work and hang out with me and have a cocktail. So, when he checked in at 1am, I confessed to my buzz, which was caused by a mishap with the Dirty in my dirty martini, which had to be evened out with more vodka so I wouldn’t swell up like a balloon and die of a heart attack in my sleep from sodium intake. It was my Friday, and I was okay with it. It was only his Wednesday (as it was for most normal people), but he told me he was tending to his mental health with a shot of whiskey and a beer back. Normally I would let this go, but as I was buzzed, I went in for the analysis and asked if he had something on his mind.
“Nah. Feel I’m doing too much work – consumed by obligation. Self-created. Need to breathe. Smell the roses, as we say. :-)”
Which means “I have stuff on my mind.” In promoter-of-logic speak.
The next message brought a “by the way” that carried quite a bit of significance in Jack’s language: “My dad’s 75th bday is today, and it’s the 25th anniv of my college graduation.”
Aha. I think I know where this is going. But aware that we haven’t gotten there yet, I wished his dad (whom I’ve never met, and who lives a thousand miles from us) a happy birthday and congratulated Jack on all the things he has to be proud of since he graduated. And I meant that. But I was waiting.
Next message revealed that he’d been doing a lot of reflection. “I get caught up in milestones. Guilty.”
I see… we’re struggling a bit with the emotion vs. logic tonight, are we, love? Emboldened, I invited him to tell me more, at which time he said that his father was 50 when Jack graduated from college, the second of five kids to do so, after his mother died of cancer. Jack is 47 and has no kids. No regrets.
We’ve talked about this many times before. Despite our age difference (which we barely notice most of the time), Jack and I are in much the same place in our lives; amazed by what our parents had done with their families by the time they reached our respective ages, with no real desire to do those things ourselves… but kind of a niggling, if only curious, voice in our heads saying maybe we should have in the grand scheme of spiritual things. We admit to this niggling voice only in the most logical of conversations: we know we might have our regrets later, but we also know neither of us wants kids now. This is truly how we feel; we’re not sugar-coating or whitewashing it.
These are the conversations single people have in their 30s and 40s.
But then, the real thing that was on his mind came out. It had been a year since his break-up with a longtime on-and-off girlfriend. He wonders if he should have a new girlfriend by now, and whether work has prohibited that.
Well, I can tell you the answer to the second question is “Duh…” But he lets his work get in the way on purpose. Occasionally he admits to this. Sometimes he doesn’t. Depends on how vulnerable he’s feeling. The real 800 pound pink elephant-gorilla hybrid in the room here is that Jack and I, by all outsider perceptions and most insider account, should be together. But we’re not, and never have been.
Promoters of logic are we.
I’ve learned to live with this state of being. I’ve learned that it’s possible to love more than one person at a time. I’ve had other boyfriends since I met Jack. I don’t wait, and I don’t hold out hope. I also can’t quit him, despite my best efforts. Truth is, he makes me a better person and his friendship is so valuable, without being difficult to maintain, that I can’t imagine not having him as part of my life. And in case you’re wondering: yes, I can keep it in the proper box when there’s another man in the picture. I am aware of the reality: that despite the depth of our connection and confessed feelings and attractions, he is for whatever reason unwilling or uninterested in us being more than what we are, and that translates to “He’s just not that into you.” So I know the deal, and I choose to stay connected to him because I believe God put us in each other’s lives for a reason. And that’s not BS. God and I have talked it over.
Jack’s only had the one longtime (and sometimes long-distance) girlfriend, and probably a series of attachments of necessity if you know what I’m saying, since we met and began this impossible-to-label relationship. But apparently he’s begun to wonder if it might be unhealthy for him to be this way. Not the first time. He usually quashed it with logic. Last night, though, he felt that he could share it with me.
We know what this means. Sometimes a valuable friendship is a real bitch.
Enter the Wisdom of 1:30am, With Martini. And Olives.
I told him only the heart can answer his questions about whether he should have a girlfriend by now and whether work has gotten in the way. Sometimes the head muddies the waters.
He said the woman who cuts his hair said the same thing today.
What? You’re talking to your hairdresser about this? Are you a girl?
Vodka urged me on, ignoring the hairdresser (wtf?). “you have a good head and a good heart. you have chosen to lead with your head, in my perception. maybe you have reasons for that.”
(Here comes the kind of brilliant part, if I do say so myself.)
“hearts often lead us to heartache. but i find heads never lead us to joy.. only practicality. there’s value there… but usually it’s not enough. :-)”
Damn, that was good. I had no idea I had all that figured out.
(By the way, the emoticon at the end of my text was a knowing smiley face. As in, “I know you know this… and you hate admitting it… but this is where you are right now and I’m calling you on it. Gently.”)
Buzz-buzz-buzz went my phone. “Thats what we discussed,” came back. Him and the hairdresser. “the rare opp to speak fr the heart and how the heart is real and head is safe. Im safe.”
No shit, Sherlock. Nine years, I’ve known this about you. We’re having this conversation via text message, for God’s sake.
I plunged in, telling him he has a big heart that he hides behind his head, and while both sides of him are amazing, I think he worries he’s cheating himself.
Buzz-buzz-buzz. “That’s deep and possibly accurate. Why I appreciate u!”
Ahhh… we’re girding our loins now. She’s getting too close.
Vodka thought about it, and then went for the jugular. “are you scared? (no shame in that)”
Buzz-buzz-buzz. “U can say scared or safe. Not a risk taker. My loss- I know the score.”
Oh, you suck, you know that? Shutting down and going back to your corner. Fine. I’m ignoring that. Brace yourself, baby. Here comes more.
“we all have fears of the heart, often legit and formidable. the key is to be safe with your heart open. not easy to find… but worth it, i think. or hope. :-)”
I believe that. So does Jane Seymour. She’s built a whole jewelry collection around it. Since I sometimes have trouble letting myself lead with my heart for fear that it’s going to get ripped out and danced on like a sombrero on Cinco de Mayo, I’ve wondered if I should treat myself to one of those pieces of jewelry as a reminder.
Then I decide that’s kind of gross and move on with my day.
Buzz-buzz-buzz. “I like the way you think/hope, babe. V much. :-)”
You have no idea, pal.
“sometimes i have to take a deep breath and close my eyes first. :-)” I sent.
(Have you noticed that the emoticons came out when I started trying to lead with my heart even though I know it’s going to get danced on?)
Buzz-buzz-buzz. “Good advice! I will do that as I go to sleep. Xox! Ur the best babe.”
Yeah. I’m the best. I’m swell.
I might be going jewelry shopping today.