I had made the decision to go visit my friend. The flight was booked, room reserved, rental car ordered. When I faced my true intentions, my feelings and desires, I felt doomed. There was no way this was going to work out in my favor. I tried to work through scenarios of what could happen:
1. We would meet at the airport with passionate kisses and be locked in a frantic naked mambo for days. Not likely. Our moony love phase had passed. We had worked out that we weren’t each other’s paths, that we couldn’t have a romance. Maybe.
2. I would see him face to face and realize that he was a total loser and wonder what I had been thinking and spend the whole time trying to politely get away from him and the whole situation. Possible, but then I would know the lay of the land, as it were, and that would be a good thing. And I had my own hotel room and rental car and could escape, if necessary.
3. He would see me and reject me and I would spend the whole time in my room in tears. That would suck, but, once again, I would gain knowledge and, hopefully, be able to move forward in my life.
4. I would try to seduce him and be rebuffed and feel like crap. I would be the total loser in that scenario.
5. He would be indifferent to me and I would spend the whole vacation secretly longing for him without being able to express my desire and leave frustrated. Hmmm. Possible.
Thus began my descent into crazy world. I thought that I was doing the right thing for myself. I wanted to see this guy. I wanted something. It seemed that to go see him would settle things one way or another. I had put myself in the position of being in love with someone and desperately wanting that love in return. I didn’t know how to make this happen. After his “public” relapse, he had been rather incommunicado, focusing on his sobriety and new job. I was unsure of what was going on with him. I realized that I had desire that might not be met and matched. Plus, I didn’t know what I was going to wear. I went on several clothes shopping outings. I had a vision of myself as something, but everything I tried on made me feel inadequate. I was trying to hard to be young, sexy, or at least cute and somewhat desirable. I broke down in dressing rooms. I felt panicky. I cried. Nothing looked right. Who was I? I wanted to be me, I thought, but some more idealized version. I felt that I had only a little time to create the stunning woman I wanted to be. Or the woman he wanted me to be. Or the woman he couldn’t possibly resist. It was too much to ask. I was completely outside of myself, my true self. I was trying to make myself up to be a magazine girl. I picked out a new cologne: Euphoria. I liked that it was amber-y and exotic, but not too exotic. It seemed to be blown into every magazine I picked up. Couldn’t I be that? Couldn’t I be every pretty airbrushed glossy girl?
I felt unbalanced. I felt crazy. How had this happened? I thought I knew who I was. I thought I was OK with myself, but this situation unhinged me. I had expressed my physical attraction to him months earlier (we had seen each other in online photographs), but what had he told me? About all I knew was that he liked that I had red hair. I also knew that his previous love interest was a younger, petite Asian. I was a tall, older, white Midwest farm girl. I had no confidence in my appearance. We were also planning a hiking trip in the Rocky Mountains—more anxiety. Was I in shape? Could I handle the altitude? I had a month to prepare. I began biking 13 miles a day. I read up on altitude sickness. Water Water Water. OK, I could do that. I’m not much for hydration, but if it kept me from dizzy spells and passing out, it could be worth it. I got my legs waxed for the first time and a pedicure. I know. For hiking. I wanted to be a super sexy hiking chick, I don’t know. I wanted to be everything. It felt good to get a pedicure. Getting my feet groomed and massaged was very sensual. I liked my toenails being crimson and shiny. The waxing was easy. My clinician said I was a natural. It seemed better than shaving. I was going overboard, but I justified it by saying it made me feel good. I felt more womanly. I felt different. I hadn’t had sex in ages. I felt I needed bolstering up in my feminine charms. Even if the man I was going to meet couldn’t have cared less about nail polish and smooth legs and hairstyles and shoe styles, I still felt the need to go through this to try and steady some insecure girl part of myself.
The night before my flight, I was even a bit more of a wreck. I had to pack. I had to get it together. There were several phone calls and what I heard from him was that he didn’t know what to wear either. He finally said, “I don’t care what you think of me,” and I laughed with relief. We were in the same boat. We both wanted to impress each other. We both were unsure of how all this was going to go. I relaxed. We had spent so much time getting to know each other from the inside though hours and hours of phone calls and IMs, what difference would our outsides make?
I woke up the next morning happy and excited. I hadn’t felt like this in years. I was going to meet a dear friend. The day was sunny and fresh, as though dawning after a thunderstorm. A little sunflower smiled through the cracks of the airport parking lot, I smiled back. I checked myself in the big mirrors of the airport bathroom. I looked cute. A little heavy on the makeup for 9 AM, but it would fade. I was wearing a somewhat see-through Autumnal patterned blouse with a black lace camisole underneath; a simple black rayon knit just-above-the-knee length skirt and my blessedly comfortable soft black Mary Jane’s. I felt I was a good mix of sexy and girlish. On the flight, I felt that I was running towards him. I’m coming. I’m coming. I’ll soon be there.
The airport was huge. I called his cell phone as soon as I landed, but I had a long way to go before I saw him. I was run/walking as fast as I could, bumping along with my wheeled carry-on trailing. I saw him before he saw me. I was coming up the stairway from the transit trains, and I saw him. Hundreds of people all around, and there he stood in a metaphorical shaft of light, so perfectly the man I loved. Cupid rained arrows down on me. “I’m in trouble,” I sighed inside myself. I knew I wanted him and I didn’t know what he wanted. Not at all.
We smiled at each other and exchanged an awkward hug. We had a bit of time to wait for the bus. So, there we sat in the airport, two people who had talked and talked so openly about so many things over months and months and we were suddenly shy with each other. He let me take his big warm hands; interlace his long lovely fingers with mine. I wanted to kiss them. I wanted to kiss him. I wanted to jump all over him. I wanted to lick his face. I felt like a puppy all wiggly with “Love me! Love me! Love me! Because I can’t help but love you!” I could feel his heart thumping, but he was stiff and pulling back from me. He looked scared. This was a bumpy start.
I still drank him in: slim and pale and boyish and just a smidgen taller than me. He was wearing a beige linen suit coat, a white button-down shirt with a thin blue and black art deco style tie, black jeans, and buff suede shoes. He hadn’t slept well. He hadn’t eaten breakfast. He needed a smoke. I wanted an Italian Soda. We couldn’t find any. I settled for a $5 bottle of water (must remember: Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate!) and we went outside. He had a crumbly chocolate vending donut in his pocket; he offered me half. It was hilarious. Two pastry chefs meet and eat crappy stale donuts. I laughed. Oh god. I couldn’t help but be joyful. I couldn’t help but beam at him. The voice that I had learned to love came in this amazing vibrantly nervous boy/man animated package. I could feel the warmth of his skin radiating. I wanted to brush the small stubble of his chin. I wanted to inhale him. I was fascinated. I completely forgot about my appearance. We got on the bus and he let me drape my arm on his thigh. He rested, a little uneasily, his head on my shoulder. All my focus was on him, and, then, on the beautiful blue brown grays of the snow-capped front range of the Rocky Mountains which were getting closer and closer as our bus rolled forward.