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Anonyst Man

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Journal: 02/10/17-02/12/17

Fri, 10th – Totally slacking on my time logging, I don’t have anything to remind me what I did during the day except for starting to completely wipe all connection to her from social media and my photos. Plenty happened that evening to remember though. I tried a highly rated Indian place for dinner and was joined by Mom & Scott, Rach & Matt, Brit, Leah & Steven, Gramma, Heather & Jeff, Doreen & Andrew, Rob & Anne. I got to sit between Leah and Gramma and had fun catching up with them. Gramma was very interested in my upcoming travel to Columbus, Chicago, NY, Barcelona, and Morocco. The more I think of it, the crazier it is, and the more I’m a little nervous able being prepared and having the energy for all of it. Gramma’s birthday card and her note (my featured image) is so awesome that I’m 100% sure that I’m going to get it as a tattoo, probably on my front ribs under the outside corner of my chest. After dinner, we all headed over to Village Tavern where Mike & Pon were ready for us. We started dancing and I noticed Gramma showed up and looked uncomfortable so I made sure she got a seat, that she knew where everyone was, and that someone was getting her her glass of wine. After a while she started to feel comfortable and I convinced Rob & Anne to join me on the floor by reminding them that Rob’s dancing was what first got Anne’s attention before they started dating. That worked and they were the wildest of the family on the floor while most of the others kept Gramma company and tended the bar. Leah, Pon, and I tore it up  and got all sweaty for the next few hours while I also made friends and danced with some new friends there. One was a girl named Hilary who when I first saw her she had her ams crossed so I went over, reached out for her hands, and she uncrossed them and gave them to me, and we danced a little. She started smiling and softened up and I thought she had a cuteness in her dimples and soft looking skin, but since I was there with friends and family, and there was something that just didn’t feel right enough, I didn’t really try to go anywhere with her. I’m not really sure when family left, the very end of the night started to get a little fuzzy. On the way home, Pon was apparently emotionally drunk and either saw Mike flirting or completely overreacted,  but was looking to me for some comfort and affection. I think because she was feeling the insecurity that comes with the turf and I was a man who she knew wouldn’t do anything inappropriate. I vaguely remember getting home and out of the car but that’s where the night ends for me.

Sat, 11th – First order of business was to find my phone which I knew was in the house thanks to the find my phone app. It turned out to be hiding under the pillows in my bed. For breakfast I whipped up some eggs and guac for me and the Momma. She was asking about my new cooking and my fresh salsa she really liked so I showed her by making it with her. I know I worked on some random stuff before my date with Rori, but nothing memorable enough I guess. After showering and getting ready, I was with her around 5:30 I think so we had a good amount of time before we were planning on skating. We ended up walking down to a park where people were ice skating, and then down to the river where we sat and swung on a swing. She helped me remember or realize that this is the last weekend living in Cincinnati and will only be back when visiting. On the walk back to start heading to our plans for the night, we took a detour to swing by a Hustler Hollywood store because she lived right by it and we had texted about any more interesting or adventurous things we’d tried and that it could be fun to look at together. We spent probably an hour and a half in there. To me it was a legitimate educational experience on the level of visiting a museum and examining artifacts from a large, and foreign world that was both ancient in it’s origins and raw needs, but futuristic in its technology and design. Every conceivable shape and tool for uses in different purposes and combinations. There were at least 10 times where I had to stare at something for an honest minute before it clicked to me how the product was intended to be used. The level of creativity and innovation was honestly mind-boggling. Once we’d seen everything, Rori made it real to me that she was willing to try anything I was curious to learn about first-hand and that this might be a rare opportunity. After probably another half-hour reconsidering everything I’d seen and the decision fatigue that comes with shopping for a wide variety of unfamiliar things as someone naturally very frugal, I had my little basket full and was ready to checkout. My little haul included drip candles that are made of a wax that peels off easily, handcuffs, little rubber cups that you can squeeze to suction anywhere on each other, some black rope for learning to tie each other up, and some rope accessories like a book that teaches basics and a little tickle tool to make sure make sure there isn’t any loss of circulation. Since that took longer than expected we had to head straight to our plans for the night, which was roller skating, immediately. The place was very interesting in that it looked like a castle, but on the inside it was like any rink I’d ever been to. It took a little time to adjust to the skates but we eventually both got comfortable and had a pretty good time. On the way home at around 10pm, I found out she hadn’t eaten since 10am. We tried to think of places open on the way home but ended up deciding that making spaghetti at her place was the fastest option that wouldn’t make her sensitive and already upset stomach even worse. After we’d eaten and she was feeling better we hung out on her couch drinking wine and talking and then started getting close. We decided to move to the bedroom where I nervously tried to think ahead about how and when to use the things I’d bought. Among the conventional things, we tried the candles first which was kinda scary but exciting, and the actual drips didn’t feel enjoyable but basically just burned me. We decided maybe I’d enjoy dripping on someone else more, but naturally being very afraid of hurting others, I didn’t really steer us there. Next we tried the little suction tubes. They didn’t really do much but they were fun to just play with and try different places on each other. Those were actually much more innocent and cute to play with than I expected and would easily use them again. I think the cute fun had us just enjoying each other so much that we didn’t get to the handcuffs or the work of ‘learning the ropes.’ I’m glad we stepped out of what was easy to try some new things and I’m looking forward to see how things go when we see each other again on Valentine’s Day.

Sun, 12th – Waking up with someone else is always so much better than alone. Rolling around, snuggling, being against each other, and helping each  other wake up probably lasted a half-hour. When she said she was hungry but didn’t want to ruin her brunch appetite so I suggested we dip the strawberries we bought at the grocery in chocolate like we’d planned on doing the night before. She introduced me to an amazingly easy microwavable little cup with chocolate which makes dipping anything in chocolate super easy. After a while of snacking and talking and holding onto each other in the kitchen, we ended up on her floor briefly since she had to be leaving for brunch. I kept my promise not to make her late and we headed out, said goodbye, and that we’d see each other in a couple days for Valentine’s and that I’d try to get my rope skills ready enough for some trial by then. I took a four hour nap shortly after getting home. Even after I woke up it took a while to get up, get some food and get a couple little things done. It was difficult, but I got myself to the gym for a short workout before they closed. Once back home, I worked on very slowly trying to get caught up on my journaling while being distracted by the Grammys and texting Dan about music.

 

Journal: 01/29/17-02/01/17

Wow. REALLY let the last month get away from me. Not for no reason, but I’ll have to figure out how to stay on top of journaling when I’m back in the craziness of school.

Sun, 29th – I left her place relatively early for us. It took some resolve not to initiate anything physical again that would end up keeping me there for longer than she needed. Getting home early in the afternoon I did some stretching, listen to podcasts, and spent several hours that evening and night writing my posts about the weekend and completing a longer 1-off post about a big conversation that had happened weeks ago but I hadn’t been emotionally ready to relive until then.

At home, Carly also sent me a song on Spotify that was about the singer asking if there was another man. As I listened to it, it said a lot of things that I had been feeling and actually included lines that were almost identical to the ones I’d written in songs. She told me she would only listen to it in her car for a week or two feeling sad and guilty because she wouldn’t listen around New Guy. Although I do care about her and want to remain, there is a small voice that pops up and asks why I am choosing to stay in touch with someone who made a plan and left me for someone else, even though she says she didn’t leave me for him because she didn’t think he’d follow through.

Knowing that I would be visiting Chicago over the coming weekend, I was curious and asked Rori how she is expecting me to operate on the occasion that I meet someone that I am attracted to and want to get close to. Her response was that we aren’t in a relationship and to do whatever I was comfortable with as long as I wouldn’t feel any need to lie to her about it. That confused me since I’ve always been in a relationship where the line of what is appropriate is always clear ahead of time. I started thinking out loud about how we aren’t nothing, and realized maybe the best way to put it was that I am dating and that she is someone I’ve gone on dates with and that’s really all the expectation there is. In that moment my mind kind of exploded and expanded to understanding a whole new bigger world of reality that everyone else had known, but I’d manage to avoid really understanding.

It was like learning Santa isn’t real: beforehand, you kind of know but aren’t sure what the alternative means, then the whole world looks different and makes more sense with this new information, and there is simultaneously a kind of loss of innocence that tends to come with the steps of growing up.

Mon, 30th – I spent the majority of the day around the house, communicating and thinking about plans for my birthday celebrations in Cincinnati and Columbus.

Tues, 31st  – Mostly I continued to confirm people and plans for my Cincinnati birthday and my upcoming visit to Chicago. In the evening I had accidentally started preheating the oven with the pans that end up getting stored there still inside. I decided that I’d find a new place for them soon, which I knew could mean rearranging other storage areas to make room for them.

Wed, Feb 1st – In the morning I decided to move some of the items I decided to bring back to Chicago that I’d left in the living room down to the basement. Doing that reminded me that I’d meant to rearrange the pots in the kitchen. As I suspected, in order to make useful room for the pans and cooking skeets in the oven, I ended up going through all of the cabinets that held other kitchen ware, pots, tupperware, and appliances. I guessed what could be thrown out and re-organized things along with other items they’d likely be used with. As I was going through the kitchen, I found seasonal serving bowls and other items that made more sense in the basement with other seldom-used items. After bringing those things down and putting them in the best place I could think, I kept finding other areas to straighten up. The laundry area had a heap or two of trash rags and items that needed to be thrown out. Since I was there, I also re-arranged and organized the shelving and other laundry items. Next to the laundry is the “utility closet” kind of area that contained a heap of paint cans and home improvement and car supplies. I moved and organized all the paint cans out of the way and organized the separate car, home improvement, and yard care items. I headed back to the kitchen where I’d left a bunch of plastic travel cups to find a place for. I realized the closet where the reusable/lunch bags are would be a good place for them. As I went through the closet to make room I started finding stashes of candles that I started gathering on the table to bring into the basement later. As I had worked my way through the basement and closet, I also kept finding stashes of papers that had indiscriminately held onto in case they ended up being necessary. As I collected these, I realized the spare room closet might be the best and biggest place to keep all theses things together and close enough to sort through easily. Making room for all those papers meant clearing room out of the spare closet and it seemed the upstairs hall closet would be a better place for a lot of the clothing. By the time I had fully done all the reorganizing and straightening-up, I checked the time and realized that I had been working for over ten hours nonstop. The sense of accomplishment felt really satisfying, but part of me wondered if this was a symptom of a pattern where I feel compelled immersed in completing a task I’m focused on to the best and fullest of my ability. I decided I would bring this up with my therapist to see if this should raise any flags about bipolar or something not diagnosed yet.

At the end of the day, I got to help my technologically challenged Momma set up her own bitmoji that she’d been wanting for a while.

 

Journal: 01/28/17

Reiterating her need to get things done today, but not seeming to really want to do much about it, Rori and I got up and moving around 10ish. She had her leftover Gomez for breakfast and I made myself a kind of breakfast burrito from fried eggs, salsa, black beans, and a tortilla.

After we’d eaten she finally got to show me the poem she wanted to the night before but couldn’t because we had to leave for our date. The poem was very powerful and covered a lot of what is really important and meaningful in a human life. I highly recommend anyone reading give it a look. It’s called The Invitation by Oriah Mountain Dreamer.

We talked about which lines of the poem we felt like apply to us more than others right now, listened to music, and sat in her big sunny windows while she kept asking herself what she really needed to get done today and how.

This went on for probably a couple hours while she went in circles rehashing the same handful of to-dos in her mental list of things to get done but then conceded that some of it just couldn’t be scheduled and done during the weekend but would have to wait till the week. During this time we also did some rolling around on her living room floor and she challenged me to benchpress her so I did a handful of times and then tried to hold her up like an airplane with my legs. I was able to do it, but not with much control or any grace.

We kept getting side tracked by fun little distractions with each other and would keep coming around to what she was going to decide to get done. At one point I was going to drive her to get her car worked on and then we’d go to a place nearby to play laser tag but it wasn’t in walking distance. Eventually she gave up on almost everything and we had gotten hungry so we went to grab lunch.

When we got to my car we saw that I had a parking ticket from misinterpreting the street sign. Since I had to move my car anyways I drove and she directed me to a lunch place that didn’t exist anymore so we turned around and went somewhere close to where we started.

After a big lunch that filled me up I think I was feeling a food coma coming on and said I needed some coffee. She guided me to a nice unique coffee shop she liked and we almost got in a couple accidents on the way. Once we had my drink and her cookie we sat on a couch and discussed our feelings about the different love languages. I accidentally crossed the line and pulled back a couple times from being too affectionate with her in public since she was concerned about being a distraction to people working.

went somewhere else before getting her grocery shopping done together. She was fast, didn’t get much, and bought some stuff for her kids that she didn’t have to which I admired.

This time when we got to her place I parked at the cheap 24 hour library lot a couple blocks away.

We put the groceries away, then almost immediately took some back out when we decided what to make for dinner. Some kind of burrito bowl thing I think. Good though.

Rori decided to send her friend Michelle a photo of both of our bowls to see if she put together that she was on a date. Rori makes it seem like she’s very reluctant to let almost anyone know when she is seeing anyone, and I’ve heard her say more times than I can remember that “I don’t date.” She seemed to me making some kind of exception for me, but I don’t know what that means or really what to think of it.

We moved to the couch and watched a pretty good movie after dinner. I’m sure we were talking about other things now and then throughout the movie but I don’t remember what exactly. She kept checking her phone waiting for her friend Michelle’s reaction and eventually decided to take another photo where just my hand wrapping around her arm was visible. Michelle finally put it together and I think sent a few messages and then called. Rori gave me the phone to answer and I said hi to Michelle and there was just a confused and maybe stunned silence on the other end. Rori snatched the phone back, told Michelle she’d talk to her later, and hung up. It all felt reminiscent of the kind of ‘reveal’ moment that I haven’t had for a very, very long time.

I forget exactly how we got to this topic exactly, but shortly after the movie was over she mentioned her crazier college days. I wasn’t really able to share similar stories, but could only talk about how I was able to retain so much of my innocence through undergrad and how I actually like my innocence but how I think it can cause confusion with women specifically. Though I’m very honest and straightforward about my interest in them, I think they assume that comes with more expectations than I actually have. When they might think that I’m trying to stick it in, in reality I am trying to just cuddle and kiss them all night.

She’s very smart and insightful so she asked some good questions and I ended up telling her about my current feelings about sex and partner selection. How the only person I’d been with since was someone who I met at a  philanthropic event, who I found out volunteered and I could tell was a good person, but, kinda like Rori, had some walls up. We laughed about that a little. I talked about how thoroughly I tried to explain my situation to this girl out of fear of hurting her and she told me to shush, that she knew my situation, and to let it be. That was a gift. I also had a lot of meaning and personal conversations with her that I later found out meant enough for her to write me a letter thanking me for showing her it’s ok for her to be herself and how grateful she was for having met me. That has kind of set the standard for how meaningful, if temporary, I would want any future sexual relationships to be.

We headed to bed right after that conversation because she was wanting to go to church in the morning. I really couldn’t say exactly what I picked up on, whether her body language or verbal responses were distant or short, but once we got into bed I had to ask her why she felt distant.

It took some encouraging and questioning, and for a while her responses were too vague and evasive that I couldn’t understand what was happening. It became clear that our conversation about my innocence and commitment to holding onto it had brought something up. At first I thought maybe she was remembering and feeling the loss of innocence for mistakes she felt she’s made. I tried to tell her that I thought as long as mistakes were learned from that she didn’t have to lose anything, but could gain it back. Her response was that the mistakes she’s thinking of were someone else’s, not hers, and that she had any choice in the matter taken away from her.

I told her I was sorry and that I understood now. Knowing that there was really nothing I could say to her, the only thing I could think that made any sense to say was to tell her about the ways I had been taken advantage of as a kid and how it has been a source of guilt and confusion for me.

Her response was pretty funny and typical of her, giving her professional social worker opinion on how textbook my case was and that any guilt or shame on myself was misplaced. Regarding her own traumas, she shared a little more of how they happened. I didn’t show any reaction but let her know it made me want to kill someone and cry at the same time. She told me that she doesn’t like telling people because then they feel a need to protect her, even from themselves, and she doesn’t need to be treated differently like that.

Not long after that, in part to prove to both of us that I wasn’t going to treat her any differently, and mostly because I just wanted to, I climbed on top of her and started thoroughly kissing her. She weakly tried pushing me off her with a smile on her face so I didn’t let her move me. She’d previously told me that I do a good job of knowing when she’s wanting to play-fight, and when she really wants me to stop something. She does a good job of flatly using her words if I’m accidentally doing something she doesn’t like.

I kept kissing her and let my hands roam all over her. Again, I knew that I wanted, and was ready, for something, and that she could easily stop me if she wanted to. I led my hands around her hips and steadily between her legs, paying close attention for any indication to stop. She gave me none that I could tell, and instead gave signals of acceptance and encouragement, so I kept going. As much as I’ve fantasized about meaningless sex, I don’t know if, in reality, I could enjoy it very much or in the same way. To me, the trust, gentleness, and acceptance that is required for physical intimacy makes it just as much, if not more, emotional than anything else I can think of. Being let into knowledge of someone’s body is an incredibly personal and irreversible thing. That is even still the case in “meaningless” sex.

Once it seemed she was satisfied, I stopped and she almost went right to sleep, but she fought it and started kissing my chest. Working her way down my stomach, she had a lot of fun playing with how I would involuntarily twitch if she kissed me in the right places. She kissed her way down my stomach and kept kissing as she passed it. The knowledge that someone is choosing to take care of you in a way that doesn’t give back to them except for the knowledge that you are putting your trust in them is pretty emotional and beautiful too when you think about it.

Maybe I’m putting too much into all this, but when you’ve been in one relationship for the entire nine years of your adult life, it’s easy to take those things for granted unless they are violated, until they become fresh again, or both.

After a while, she said she was ready and would rather have me somewhere else. I told her I’d been thinking the same thing. This wasn’t the first time I’d been with someone since my relationship ended. There had been one person before, but this was the first time since I had made major steps in  grieving and fully moving on from it. It felt a little different; more real, since I’d gotten to know Rori better in a way that I have a great amount of respect for her personal values, honesty, integrity, toughness, and kindness.

I did my best to pay attention and do right by her, and from her non-verbal cues, I think I did an acceptable job, but her inability to verbally express anything positive that insinuates someone else has any power over her keeps me from really knowing for sure.

I went to sleep happy and content.

Journal: 01/27/17

I’ll fly through all the boring stuff about actually getting up and moving almost at my target time, stretching, trying to catch up on some of the big side-story blog posts, and taking care of my final medical bills.

I will say, if anyone actually reads this and you ever receive medical bills while you aren’t currently making any income (even if you have savings), apply for financial assistance on the back of your bill or by calling in about it. I had over $1.5K of expenses written off by doing that.

During the day I spent a good amount of time texting groups and people to coordinate travel plans to Chicago to visit friends, and New York to record. I finally got Dan to respond and we whittled it down to the first weekend of March, still waiting for exact timing though so I can book.

Throughout the day Carly initiated a conversation so we went back and forth about her hair color and potential associations with porn stars, which turned into a conversation about the morality of the porn industry and the concept of porn itself, which became a personal discussion about our stances on casual sex from brief mentions in recent conversations, which became a discussion about what is meaningless sex vs. just uncommitted but still has meaning, which turned into talking about how she has raised her standards after making at least one mistake.

The conversation to a bigger tangent to the subject of how men and women are expected to behave in public vs. private. That got me talking about how I think I accidentally scare women off when I’ve spoken with them for a while and then plainly tell them that I like them. I now guess that the assumption is that as a man with wiener, I must be a heartless fuck-driven animal instead of someone content to get close, kiss, and better get to know her as an actual human being. Absolutely mind-boggling concept huh? It saddens and disappoints me how culturally sexist so many people are in this way.

Anyways, since we’d gotten on the subject of my struggling with being understood, and she had in recent conversations been clear, confident, and casual about being over me, I didn’t hold back asking her opinion on how to communicate with women. At first she had not problem with the issue and told her self reasons why she shouldn’t have a problem with it, but her reasons slowly turned into remembering how hurt she was by us and reasons not to talk to me about this. I apologized and explained my position based on all the information she had been giving me. It seemed that perhaps in that very conversation she was realizing that she may still have baggage from us since she no longer had another relationship or as much distraction of dating as she had previously.

By the end of that topic she acknowledged that I hadn’t had any reason not to take her at her word previously which I took as her accepting my apology for accidentally bringing up a subject that mad her upset.

Her mention of her baggage moved us back on the debate of how much of the real her I actually got to see and be with during our relationship. She said that I got all of her, but when I brought it up it seemed she’s almost forgotten that she herself had previously confirmed that I had not when I asked, and reminded her of the painful explanation she had given me about how other people, including men, had gotten to see the real her more than I did. She said I did start to get more of her again towards the end but that isn’t the most comforting and who is to say how much that really was.

It was probably getting close to late afternoon by then and after the conversation we had I was glad I hadn’t brought up the fact that I had a second date with someone I’d previously spent the whole weekend with. I had been glad not to hear about any dates she’d gone on or been going on either. I confirmed what time I should arrive and got ready before heading out.

I was super excited for the date with Rori. I wasn’t sure how much of it was her, or that we were going to have fun and do an escape room, or just the feeling a new milestone in moving forward.

Thinking about the initial contact made me nervous since it would only be the second time seeing each other ever and under much different circumstances this time than last time.

When I navigated my way to the right door and was let in I tried to act and feel as comfortable as I could, hanging up my coat and I think just giving her a good long hug and squeeze first while asking about how she felt about what she was trying to get done before I arrived.

That girl is impossible sometimes. Thankfully she was honest about it and knew she was impossible, and I’m a very patient person for this kind o thing, but apparently the 6-7pm hour for her is when she just gets tired and grumpy and doesn’t want to do anything but just be tired and grumpy until. So essentially we just hung out in her kitchen doing nothing while I was trying to learn how to deal with her in this condition. She was pretty helpful though and I learned pretty quickly not to suggest any kind of activity. Instead I basically just entertained myself by pulling her in, swaying with her, and grabbing each others butts. She did get tired of being smothered by my kisses so I tried to meet her in the middle and think I did a pretty good job.

We also got to talking about how crazy her job as a social worker was. I think it was earlier that same day she said that she had to “do a restraint” on a kid who was flipping out. Apparently the kid was ten years old, not small for his size, and just turned into a complete animal when restrained. So much so that it took three adults to execute a restraint without getting covered in spit or anything else gross the kid could think to use against them.

Somehow our silly conversation got her to ask what I would do in a hypothetical situation where I had to choose to try to shoot her with poison dart, otherwise she would try to kill me with a gun. I felt like guns are more difficult to use than most people think and that I’d like to think I would take the chance to save us both by not trying to use the dart gun but using non-lethal defense. At some point we moved the conversation to laying on her bed where she essentially tried, yet again, to tell me that I either have too high standards for myself or too low for others. She also tried to tell me that I should somehow demand more respect somehow or something like that to which I explained how my standards change the closer I choose to let someone get to me and that if people don’t give me the respect I’ve earned then I’d rather look for other people then demand respect. The topic reminded her of a poem that she wanted to show me but we had to be on our way if we didn’t want to be late for the escape room.

We found the place easily enough in time to sign waivers and find out that we were going to be the only two people participating. There could have been strangers in our group but instead we were on our own.

The escape room experience was a lot of fun overall. I’d chosen one where we started blindfolded and handcuffed. Most of the entire challenge was a series of combination locks based on clues. A couple times we got stuck for a long time and needed to use a clue to point us in the right direction which would give us a burst of progress before we would eventually get stuck. I was pretty reluctant to use clues at all, but after a while of struggling, Rori pretty easily convinced me to accept a couple. Some clues were a little iffy in their execution also which ended up needing to be kind of freebie clues.

We were only one or two clues away from completing the challenge when time ran out. The guy running our challenge told us by far that we had made it further than he’d seen any two people go, and that only 1/3 of larger groups were successful. She was pretty grumpy anyways about not winning because she’s pretty competitive. Although she told me about it, I think she was trying her best not to let me really see it. It was pretty clear that she had a good time.

I think we made a pretty good team too. We worked individually to cover more ground when we needed, and came together as partners when we needed also, or taking turns when one of us got stuck on something. I also learned that although she’s dyslexic, if her mind isn’t rearranging the numbers, she’s very fast with mental math.

After we had our picture taken and left, we saw a wine and coffee bar on the way home and thought that sounded good so she told me how to get to one that she liked. The place was nice and comfy. We took stools at the bar and ended up sharing a 3-glass flight of Spanish red wines which was very good. I tested the limits of her comfort with public affection while we shared thoughts on the differences between the glasses.

On the way out, we agreed that we were hungry so she suggested a hole-in-the-wall place she’d told me about before and talked up quite a bit. I got lucky with parking on the street in front of the window and after waiting a while in the car and in the cold, we got our food and headed back to her place.

The place we’d gotten the food from was called Gomez, and they have things called turtles which are a lot like quesadillas, but are packed with a lot more and are dome shaped like a turtle shell. It was exactly what I needed. I ate my whole one in the time Rori had eaten half of hers and felt just the right amount of full.

I think we pretty much headed to bed pretty quickly after our late night meal. It had to be probably midnight and 1am and Rori kept mentioning that she had things she hadn’t gotten done yet that she wanted to take care of tomorrow. I’m not sure how much of her reiteration was to prepare me mentally or herself.

Compared to the last weekend it seemed like we got comfortable and settled into sleep faster and easier.

Journal: 01/23/17

A pretty eventful day starting with a visit to the psychiatrist who extended my meds with some extra refills. We discussed how much I was feeling better and better but still didn’t quite feel at full speed. I also asked a little about how if I was feeling up to going back to school in March how that transition would work. He seemed to think it would be easy to manage but did recommend that I start looking for a doctor in Evanston now since they would probably be booked up for the next couple months.

On the way home I went to the gym, and after I showered and changed and ate, I started making room in the fridge for this week’s groceries and prepped meals. I found 6 different tubs of butters and margarines that had somehow accumulated from being bought without realizing there was more left I guess.

Before actually doing my grocery shopping, I puttered around, texted a group of friends about getting together on the 18th, and reviewed my meal plan grocery list to sort the items by their respective sections of the store and taking note of what was already in the fridge.

The second time grocery shopping for my meal planning was so much faster knowing what I was looking for, and having revised my list to make it easier to grab things in one clean sweep through the store. Some other notes I made about some adjusted amounts and knowing what I was looking for made it easier to know the correct sizes to look for to avoid wasted and over paying. That combined with the fact that there were a handful of items already at home that I didn’t have to buy brought my total cart for an entire five days’ worth of food (25 meals) to a mere $59 and change.

After unpacking my groceries I’m sure I took some kind of a break to message some people and listen to more podcasts and fiddle with my devices or files or something, but I think I got to cooking around 6ish.

I was a little more familiar with the process of making the same meals a second time, and I do feel like I did a much better job at individual parts like selecting better tupperware sizes, and not overcooking the pasta for the lasagna, and the portions of ingredients and cuts in some of the sides. However, I did have to check the cook temps and times and seasoning mixes for almost everything and I made a couple new mistakes by possibly irreparably burning the seasoning on the sweet potato baking sheet. Maybe half way through I was getting worn out so I grabbed a beer and then had a couple of glasses of wine while I finished cooking, cleaning and listening to music. Having not really eaten that evening I got a little buzzed.

At some point during shopping and cooking I was texting with Tori about random stuff and asked if she wanted any input on our Valentine’s plans. She was difficult about it because she in principle she doesn’t like how prices for things go up for the holiday. I told her we could do something unconventional which would be fun and after some tedious back and fourth she admitted that she’d been wanting to go trampolining for a long time. Of course I had no problem with that and was excited since one of my suggestions was a roller rink, but for some reason she was tentative whether I would be ok with that activity. Weirdo.

Since I’d been cooking and thinking about how I’d like to cook for other people more often too, I told her I’d like to cook something for us as part of the date. She has a bunch of allergies and sensitivities to things and she’s not good at thinking of things to ask for so we had to put that decision off for later. I’m hoping I don’t forget to bring that back up until it’s too  late.

I think by about 11 I had completed all the cooking/prep, portioning, and a lot of the cleaning to feel complete for the night. I plopped down for a while to rest a bit before eating one of the lasagnas I made and heading to bed feeling pretty accomplished and wiped out.

Journal: 01/21/17

After the kind of sleep that I haven’t had in a long time, negotiating temperature and the tangle of limbs that comes with sharing a bed, we woke up and spent what was probably a couple hours just talking and working up the motivation to get out of bed while I got right back to smothering her with kisses.

The night had been as innocent as we had both agreed to and I was mostly thankful for that, but there was still a part of me that wasn’t fully satisfied that was easy to quiet down.

I wasn’t really paying attention to the time, and our conversation covered what I think was such a variety of topics and just flirting that almost all of the details are lost to me.

Eventually we did get up after getting close several times and failing. I was not really in any hurry since I had nothing to do so I did not make it easier. She did tell me that she would kick me out if she wanted or needed and I fully believed her.

When we did get up we took our sweet time to dig through her food and throw together a breakfast of a smoothie and some eggs. The smoothie was frozen fruit and shavings from a gigantic 12lb. chocolate bar that she had as a gift that was probably super old. All the while in the kitchen I kept touching and kissing her in between and during preparation steps.

I think it was after our ~5pm”breakfast” that she pointed out the pumpkin she still had from halloween that was still fresh since it had never been  carved. She said she’d been thinking about carving it now and baking the pumpkin seeds. When she asked if I would want to do that I said we should do it immediately.

Once we scraped out the inside and collected the seeds, I carved the deathly hollows into it by hand and was pretty satisfied with the result.

We seasoned the pumpkin seeds in three groups with paprika, garlic salt, and himalayan salt. While those were baking we took showers and started looking for her credit card which had gone missing since the night before.

That girl can’t keep track of anything. Every time she needed her phone was an easter egg hunt, and we never did find the basketball game ticket that had the only record of what her wifi password was on it. I was confused and amazed at how much of a contradiction she is. She’d owned a house at like 20 years old and was a very capable person who had done and seen a lot of the world, but you definitely wouldn’t say that she was particularly organized or had everything figured out. I can’t help but feel like there’s a lot for me to learn from that.

While we were making and eating the pumpkin seeds, she was trying to figure out whether she was going out for the plans she had previously made for the night and was no longer wanting to go to because she didn’t feel great from the late night before. When her friend was also said she wasn’t really wanting to go either, she decided not to go and we laughed at the fact that I would probably be staying the night again. It was probably close to 9pm around this point.

We spent the rest of the night sharing stories and photos of the little kids in our lives and listening to a little bit of music until we were hungry again and decided to make some spaghetti. I think by the time we were done with dinner it was about 10:30 which blew us away and we said we guessed we should start heading to bed then since she had brunch plans and didn’t want to get up so late again.

So we did get settled in bed again and laughed at how I was going to have spent almost 48 hours with her. However, instead of going to sleep, we got into another long discussion about our lives and values and thoughts. It was kind of strange by this time to have heard her say a handful of thoughts and perspectives that I have said to other people. Her thoughts on things from money, children & adoption, clothes & makeup, helping others, food, and more I’m sure.

We asked each other a bit about our past relationship(s) also. She had more questions for me since there’s a lot to my one big relationship and how I’ve been recovering from it. We discussed what a rebound is and isn’t and how I have been working hard not to have one because I don’t want to define any new relationships based on the end of my last one but to do the real work on myself. She also shared some of her past relationships and another way that she is similar to me in how she puts honesty and transparency as most important, that it doesn’t matter what the nature of a relationship is as long as both parties are honest and upfront about it.

She also asked me about my school and career plans now. When I told her that I feel comfortable with the direction of protecting and caring for the oppressed and/or defenseless she shared a really good idea with me about something that doesn’t exist but should which I can’t stop thinking how of a good and beneficial idea it could be that I might ask her thoughts on maybe actually trying to make it happen.

We eventually decided it was time to actually get to sleep since it was probably much later than we’d intended even though neither of us checked the time, and we went to sleep.

Journal: 01/20/17

Among the normal things to take care of myself to get up and stretch and go to the gym, I spent a little time working on music since getting excited from my conversation with Dan the day before.

During the day I was still thinking I wanted to go to the charity cocktail party meetup. On late notice, I did see if anyone I knew in the area would want to join me at the meetup. After thoroughly striking out with a handful of people I decided I was still going anyways.

After being directed up from a couple guys at the main entrance of the building, I met Stacy who organizes the group collecting. She complimented my appearance and vocally told another girl that I was single. I figured that people met at these kinds of things, but I wasn’t quite expecting it to be so much of a brazen meat market. I think Stacy told me later that night that last year there were seven marriages that had resulted from the group, and about four anticipated this year.

I got my first drink and sat down next to a group of four friends who were also attending for the first time. A nice girl named Kate sat next to me and I got to talk with her for a little while too. A couple more drinks and snacks later they started playing quarters and I joined them. It was a fun game and other people kept joining in.

When the raffle was finally about to start I was persuaded to buy some tickets and ended up winning twice. I picked the two prizes left that contained the most alcohol: two bottles of wine and four beers. I didn’t need them and didn’t really want to have to take care of them so I decided to share them with anyone who wanted. A bunch of people accepted and I ended up making a handful of friends out of it. One was a guy named Brian, another was a girl named Rori, and I made friends with a girl named Bernadette and her boyfriend.

After the cocktail party was over, the group migrated to another place just down the street. I talked with Bernadette for a while about my story and that I would have liked to meet a nice, cute girl to be pretty innocently affectionate with. She thought about people in the group and tried to help me out which was nice, but the girls she liked for me weren’t there that night.

I went inside to refill some popcorn and ran into Kate again and got to talking with her more. She was nice, cute, smart, and the more we talked the more I thought she might be someone I wanted to cuddle with. Eventually I just told her that I thought I liked her and I don’t remember her immediate reaction but not long after someone new joined the area and she moved closer to the bar. I kind of took the change in proximity to mean that she wasn’t interested even though I thought we’d had good and lengthy conversation so I apologized if I made her uncomfortable. She told me I hadn’t and conversation did start up again a little but not long after she said she was heading outside.

Not long after I, ended up outside too and talked with my new friend Brian who seemed to develop a man-crush on me so we had fun and found out our 30th birthdays are 3 days apart next month. If schedules line up we talked about having a joint dirty-thirty party. We also talked with a guy who was in town on vacation from Lima, Ohio with his wife. I’d heard she was inside talking with my friend Rori and I was curious so I went in to meet them.

Rori was at a table kind of alone so I said hi and she showed me her new friend’s bag on the table which was from Hustler and contained some sort of attachment that makes it possible for one man to provide double penetration. I’m not sure which one goes where, I guess either way could work depending on your preference. Her new friend who I’ll call Jessica came back and we got to know each other a bit.

I went back outside again but can’t remember why and talked more with Brian. Not long after, Jessica came out also and reintroduced me to her husband. They got to talking about heading back to the hotel and the implications of that, and for some reason Jessica kept touching and putting her arms around my chest and back and telling her husband how much she liked me and was going to take me home tonight. I was pretty sure she was teasing him, but her commitment to touching me so much did make me a little uncomfortable about the situation.

After they left, Rori came out and when I told her what Jessica did to me we got in some weird, mostly playful I think, but confusing discussion and little disagreements. From the conversation I could tell that 1) she was kinda drunk and 2) she was someone who just liked to argue sometimes. She said she was cold after a while so I moved us by the outdoor heater where Brian joined us for a while until a homeless guy came over and asked for some food.

I agreed to walk him to get food and Rori volunteered to come with me. Once we got there the guy didn’t even want food but asked for a drink and some change. He seemed annoyed that I only had my card and left after he had his drink. Then it was just Rori and I. I gave her some pizza and we got to talking about how she was glad I got him food so she could come because she would help people like that more if she wasn’t a small girl alone at night.

We sat there for a while and I got to know her better, hearing about her job as a social worker with kids, and about her nephews that she’s in love with. Somehow we got on the topic of being able to say not to things so she tested and teased me by being flirty. Eventually that turned into us making out at this random cheap pizza place at around 3am. It felt good to hold hands with someone and really observe their hands’ shape and size and texture, to lean against them and feel the presence of their face just before kissing.

At some point it felt like time to go so I walked her back to her place and asked her if I was going to my car or if she wanted me to stay over. I told her that I would be happy just getting to keep kissing her the rest of the night and she agreed that’s where she wanted to draw the line and also warned about how messy her place was.

Inside her big high-ceilinged apartment I asked if she’d ever climbed on the walls that didn’t go all the way up to the ceiling. She said she always wanted to so we did. Unfortunately there wasn’t the kind of structure that you would trust to hold much weight like she was hoping to set some kind of nest up there. We got ready and climbed into bed.

I don’t know how long we were up talking and kissing and snuggling before we actually fell asleep. Having only touched her hands and jeans and face so far, when I was able to touch her arms and back and chest it was like my hands were hungry to constantly run up and down them to collect the incredible softness and warmth. There were moments where I was tempted and wanted a little more, but didn’t, and it was still exactly what I needed after being so long without expressing that kind of affection.

Journal: 12/26-28/16

26th – Met up with JJ and Brandon in the morning. I didn’t talk too much about how things have been going. I mostly just talked about being on an extended break and going back in March. As much as I tell myself that I just didn’t want to put all the attention on me and start a long conversation that might come up again at lunch, I can feel a part of me that is still afraid that people will think less of me if I tell them what happened.

I should be secure. I will be secure. I will not be afraid to talk about my story. My story may be able to help someone else, so I am not going to shy away from sharing what I’ve learned about mental health and hopefully reduce the stigma of talking about it honestly.

At lunch with the rest of the Arkeologists, I glossed over the real story as well for the same reasons as above. Hanging out was ok, I didn’t really even get quality time with hardly anyone except maybe Savvy and JJ after most of the parents had left. Getting to help Lepsch announce their pregnancy was an honor, but the reaction was pretty disappointing.

While I was lingering and playing with the kids, Arie asked if I could stay the night there. That made my heart so happy. I talked to my Andrew and Kyria to make sure that wouldn’t be a problem and agreed to stay, although I would be visiting another friend that night before coming back. Before I went out, the kids dressed up and performed a play for me. It was long and chaotic and adorable. Their personalities are almost identical to Rachel and mine so much that it kind of freaks me out.

After the performance was over, I headed to Whitney’s. It was the first time I saw her in 7 months. It was just like every other time we hung out: easy, comfortable, meaningful conversation while she putters around and I watch her while I lounge and talk. The conversation was great, and then I helped her make some new furnishing decisions which was fun, and kind-of relationship-y which I think is what got me thinking. While she was doing some stuff I got the urge to walk up behind her and kiss her on the shoulder. That surprised me but it was a nice feeling. I started thinking about how intimate our friendship is already, how much trust I have in her, and admiring the person that she is. These thoughts made the prospect of being in a relationship again feel real. I knew and know that I’m nowhere near ready or in a place to have any kind of relationship with all the work I still have to get to know and love myself. However, there are parts of my friendship with Whitney that I really like that weren’t there with Carly. That gives me some validation that breaking up was the right thing, and also confused me about my friendship with Whit and if I would ever want to try being in a relationship with her down the line.

27th – Waking up at the Helmlinger’s was a pretty magical thing. Their house is beautiful and getting to hear and see the little ones in the morning is so precious. Little Cullen’s first word in the morning is “Coffee” and is super snuggly. I love it. Seeing Andrew with his kids helped realign my understanding of what’s important to provide for a family. As much as I can say it, being able to see and feel and be part of it brought a connection to that truth that makes me feel more comfortable with pursuing a lower paying career in social impact. Andrew is a teacher and Kyria stays home, but they are able to give their kids much more than any preoccupied businessman could.

After some nerf gun fighting, the kids left while Andrew and I made some barn doors for his closet. It was fun and I got to learn and help. It felt good to make something material since I usually just create musically. I wonder if I would like getting into some kind of craftsmanship like woodworking or leather making at some point since I do really like those materials.

During dinner, Arie told me to “sit up straight” and Kyria got her talking about whether we were going to get married. Arie went on to plan our wedding guests and arrangements. Our cake will be white with blue polka dots. Cullen also decided to call me his boyfriend a couple times.

While the kids were taking their baths, Andrew and I had a conversation about God and what my beliefs are now. I didn’t hold back and hope I didn’t come off condescending. He asked me what I do believe and that was a good and difficult question which I didn’t have a very good answer for. He also asked whether I consider myself a christian and I said that I still see something in it and that I consider myself a extremely minimalist christian, but thinking now I’m not sure if I would really say that or how to know. I’m not sure how important my spiritual beliefs are to my personal values or core identity.

I was able to meet up with Stacy later that night after dinner. The conversation was good, and she actually had some topics on her mind which I wasn’t expecting but enjoyed. We talked about parenting and how she feels like she doesn’t have a choice but to yell at her boys all the time. She asked me how my parents screwed me up and she was able to relate with hers also. I wonder if she’s working through some larger things right now and is evaluating her life in general.

28th – Another beautiful morning with the family. This time we played with the silly string in the yard and played checkers. During the day we went for a walk and jumped on the trampoline. I snuggled with Arie on the couch while we watched Bob the Builder. She made a move on me and put her arm around my shoulder. Being able to give the kids innocent affection was really good for me to be able to do since I haven’t been able to express my affections as a single guy. I also took a nap since I’d been out late and had trouble getting to sleep.

After dinner and getting the kids to bed, I hung out with just Andrew and Kyria for a while and got to ask about Kyria’s interests in functional medicine and what all that means. I see value in it, but I don’t know how much of it to fully buy into. Driving home wasn’t too bad, and I’m looking forward to get working on the practical side of things more now.

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