I talked about this a little earlier this week in what, in retrospect, reads like a rambling fit to me. Give me a break, it was like… 2:00 AM when I wrote it, and my head was in a weird place. A couple quick things up front. A) This is going to be a longer post than usual, so skip to the “too long; didn’t read” in bold (tl;dr) at the end if you think reading is for suckers. B) The comments function of my blog is completely fucked by spam and I’ve been too busy/lazy to fix it. If you have something to say to me about this subject or any others, hit me on Twitter (@onehobowine) or drop me an email (email@example.com). Or if you actually know me, and there’s a fair chance you do, just text me. Obviously. C) This is pretty sappy and might reveal me to be both more of a romantic than I like to let on and somehow more of a scumbag than is really acceptable. D) If you’re worried that I’m putting this out there and the wrong person might read it, know that none of the other people involved read this and I think only one is even vaguely aware that it exists (and doesn’t know the url). So your job, if you know them, is to not fucking tell them. Got it? Good.
I’ve been into a woman for a while. My feelings for her have been brewing in spite of so many reasons why they shouldn’t and that pot has started to boil over. The foam started dripping onto the burner this week as I have tried to not think of her and mind my own business. But it hasn’t been easy, nor would it be to continue this strange boiling pot metaphor.
I don’t know when this all started. I can point to very specific times when I felt very specific things and I can tell you that those feelings were good and they were real. That doesn’t change the overall situation, but I hope it gives some perspective. Or at least adds a little color, ’cause there’s nothing worse than reading something bland. Around the beginning of this year, she and I hung out a little at work. She took me to lunch a few times. In the Spring, she was having serious allergy troubles, so I brought her local, raw honey (google it). That was the first sign that I was feeling something, because as I was walking to her desk to hand her the honey, I suddenly felt incredibly nervous. As I walked back to my desk, my head started racing with questions. “Why did I just do that? I really went out of my way yesterday to spend ten bucks on a jar of honey for a friend? I mean, yeah… maybe that really is the kind of guy I should be, helping my friends or whatever, but… Would I do that for my other friends? That other friend has allergies pretty bad, too, would I do that for him? Should I do that for him so this doesn’t seem weird? Wait… is this going to seem weird?”
I started putting in a more concerted effort to go on actual dates and try to find a lady that I could try something serious with. Those never really went well, mostly because of conversations falling flat, unreconcilable differences in views, or because a phone would come out for something obviously more important than meeting someone for the first time.
There was a while that I avoided her. There was a while that, I think, she avoided me. In both cases, when we started talking again the supposed offender had some seemingly legit reason for why they have been away and have acted distant. Hers seemed pretty believable. I don’t remember mine, but I remember that once it came out of my mouth, it sounded pretty bullshit.
We have been talking a lot, lately. I’d say for the past few months we’ve talked almost every day. Sometimes it’s a simple IM of “Hey, how are ya'” or “Got any cool weekend plans?” Sometimes it’s more interesting content like views on things, shows we watch, podcasts we listen to, music sharing, etc. Sometimes we catch each other in the hallways at work and stop to chat for a while. Once we carpooled to and from a work lunch/outing for our department. I had asked a few other people if they wanted to pool, but for one reason or another, noone else joined. When we were dicking around at the event, having fun, I started really getting those feelings back for things about her that I started to realize were lacking from the women I had been trying to date. On the ride back to work, we talked a little about weekend plans. I told her about an injury my brother had and how I was worried about how his surgery to fix it would go. It’s an odd quirk about me… I don’t like giving up that I’m worried to people. Not even the people that I am worried for. I don’t think I even expressed my worry about my brother’s surgery to him, chalk it up to wanting to keep a strong front for others. But I let it slip to her.
Sometimes we both end up working late and one of us will stop by the other’s desk before leaving. One Friday she left on time but I stayed late to work on an important project that I really wanted to wrap up that week. She came back to work to help out someone else after what I understand to have been a frantic text or phone call. On her way back out, she stopped by my desk and told me to go home. She stuck around for a few minutes to talk about whatever, and I’m a little ashamed to write this, but she lit up my whole dreary day. Earlier that day we were talking about exercise and health and I confessed that I had skipped my morning jog and that I shouldn’t have because I always feel good afterward, to which she agreed. We made a virtual pinky-swear over gTalk that we would both go for a jog after work (though separately). Back to when she popped by while I was working late, the conversation turned to how it was Friday and neither of us had any plans. I feel like I might be reading too much into this, but I got a strong impression that she really wanted to hang out with me. And I really, really wanted to hang out with her. But I felt like such a scumbag even feeling it. I made up some excuse and said if she was bored again the next Friday I would hang out with her. I regretted saying that because, well, I really shouldn’t have. Also, I find leaving open-ended plans to be bad form. Even if the exact time and place aren’t established, give a framework if you are the one suggesting a hangout. Anyway, she pressured me about not staying too late and I tried to brush her off with a bullshit answer of, “I just gotta wrap this up, I’ll get out of here in five minutes.” As she gracefully breezed out the door, she made me promise that I would go home. I turned back to my work, thinking nothing of it. But at minute four, I realized she was right. I have been in this situation before. Busted my ass for a project, stayed late, made everyone else look good and received little to no recognition for it. I have also stayed late and had other friends, coworkers, even a boss or two tell me to go home. Each time I stayed and each time I finished what needed doing. But not this time. At minute five, I saved my work, logged out, and shut down my desktop. I walked out the door and popped in the car headed for home, project left incomplete and an email or two left unanswered. I went for that jog that I pinky swore over and when I got home, I felt great. I actually slept alright that night, and I gotta tell ya’, I don’t sleep well most nights. If at all.
When we started talking about real, actual, important things, I probably should have realized that I needed to step back. I mean, we talked about family. I gave up some deep, intimate knowledge about my family, some that I don’t generally tell anyone. I talked about my father and how I love him, am proud of him, and worry about him (maybe a post for another time, but not now). I don’t tell that to anyone, ever (accept all of you now, so… guess the cat’s out of the bag on that one). She started reciprocating, but we were at work and a meeting was starting so like good school kids, we finished one more sentence and turned to the head of the class. It was important information so I’m glad we stayed, but all I really wanted to do was ditch to the hallway and continue our conversation. We talked about how many kids we wanted at some point. I should not be talking to a woman that is in a relationship with another man about how many kids I want. I’ve been craving to know more about her but I’ve also been feeling guilt over even having those conversations. Over even having feelings for her at all.
There are more examples but I’m pretty sure I’ve painted a good enough picture to jump closer to present tense. A few people in my life are aware of this. They know how I feel about her and what I would want from her. A handful of friends and family have encouraged me to go for it, though they typically at least have the tact to agree that now is not the time. In all conversations about it, I am always the first person to say that it can’t be and for more than one reason, not the least of which being that she is currently in a relationship. In that case, I frankly don’t have the right to even hint to her that I have feelings. Plus, what happens when I do? Either she tells me that she has a boyfriend and doesn’t share those feelings or she breaks up with him, I’m responsible for ruining a relationship, and some of my best friends hate me. This is not a good plan.
Jump to this week. I haven’t been able to shake my feelings for her. I’m sure it isn’t helping that she keeps stopping by my desk and I keep tagging along with her to company meetings, in which we crack wise and voice concerns in each other’s ears and basically pass notes in class. I took today off (it’s Friday when I’m writing this). Earlier this week we had one of our standard check-ins and I found out she also has today off. I asked if she had plans and told her that I didn’t. I think I suggested that we hang out which, yeah, I probably shouldn’t have. Thinking this is just some schoolboy crush (which it probably is), I proceeded to brush off an old bit of mine and tried to wash the feelings away with a good night video games and drinking. I even cooked myself a rather nice steak, if I do say so myself (and I do). And at the end of the night, the feelings were still there. And I was determined that I was going to text her to hang out and I was going to tell her exactly how I feel. And when I woke up in the morning, a little jacked up from the night before but definitely still harboring those feelings, I strapped on my stupid creepy toe shoes and prepared for a combination walk and jog. As I strode out the door, a friend responded to a hint I made of my plan on twitter telling me, not in so many words, not to execute my plan. Through the first half of that walk/jog, I texted the friend that warned me with what was going on in my head. He had some very good points about why, exactly, what I was thinking and planning was not only a terrible idea but something that I absolutely cannot do. I’ll paraphrase, as I don’t think what I have written about this so far really conveys the gravity of the situation, but his words do.
- She has a long-term boyfriend
- Her ex-husband is one of my best friends
- She and her ex-husband are still friends
- There was a shitty thing that happened between us that fucked up a lot of friendships and it was my fault and this would basically be me doing the same damned thing again
- I’ll be losing at least three friends
- I’m not her guy
- She’s going to tell me to fuck-off anyway and for at least two very good reasons
*There’s a sticking point in this piece. It’s not what happened that truly bothers me. We might disagree on timing or some fine details – truth be told, I was being sold a different story from the woman in that triangle than I think was actually going on. But we both agree that it was ultimately my fault (and should maybe be another blog post). What bothers me is that I never should have created the situation in the first place and I really need to tell that to him.
What my helpful friend told me was right. And it sucked knowing it. So I picked up my pace to a full on run back in the direction of home. It wasn’t a matter of urgency, but rather a matter of need for, I don’t know, some kind of meditation. When I got through my front door, I did some light calisthenics and some light weight training as a way to keep the pseudo meditation going. No, that’s not true. I first sprinted to the bathroom because I had to piss like a racehorse. Then I continued my pseudo meditation. I took a long drink of water and sat down to revel in that weird high you get after a good workout and convince myself to feel smug for making a good decision, granted that the decision needed some help from a friend. And then I cried. A real, honest, “What is all of this and who the fuck am I really” cry.
I cried? Really? What the fuck is this? There’s no crying in baseball! What am I, a goddamned little girl? No! I am a large, semi-muscular, adult, human male. I am a fucking man, or at least do a pretty good job of acting like it most of the time! I can’t fucking act like this! Did I fall down and scrape my knee? No! I got talked down from doing something stupid, something that I should never have considered in the first place. I am fucking 31 years of age, have a mortgage and car payment, and have been to fucking war. I should not be crying in my bedroom because I don’t get to date the pretty girl. What in the actual fuck is wrong with me? Am I crying because I almost did something catastrophic and I didn’t have the wherewithal to know how bad it would be? Am I crying because there are actual, real feelings there and I feel like I’m closing the door on something that could be good and worthwhile? Or am I crying because I got a good goddamned look at myself in the mirror and see myself for monster that I really am?
Alright, let’s calm down and skip the pity party. Let’s talk action. Well.. lack of action, really. I am not going to tell her how I feel. I am not going to text her to hang out today. I actually feel a little bad about that one, because if there is one legitimate thing here, it is that she is my friend and a damn good one, and I would really like to hang out with her. She’s a good influence on me. Plus, I don’t want to keep offering or suggesting to hang out and then never follow up, but let’s get back to what I’m not going to do. I am not going to talk to her as much. That really fucking sucks to say, and I kinda hurt from saying it. It probably means I’ll have to stay signed out of gTalk, but I guess I could use fewer distractions at work anyway. I am probably not going to go to lunch with her alone anymore (at least for a little while). That also sucks, because I do really like going to lunch with her.
There are good things I can take away from this. I get to keep my friends. I won’t make (more) of an ass of myself. This is going to sound jive, but having her as a friend has legitimately made me a better person. Did I already say legitimately? Like a dozen times? I need an editor. Anyway, I exercise more, I eat healthier, I drink less, and a portion of that (how big a portion I do not want to admit to) has been her popping in my head and reminding me that there are better options. Through all of this, I have learned some important things about me. I don’t want to cat around anymore. I do want a family. I have a much better idea of the kind of woman that would actually work for me and that I actually want. And I can sometimes be a selfish monster.
I don’t know if I mentioned, but the relationship she is in right now is actually kind of rocky. Part of my feelings are tied into that as well because she really is my friend and I want her to have something better. And I’m not saying that guy is bad. Actually, he seems kind of alright, except in a few places that I think she needs him to be. So what does it mean if they break up and she becomes single? I don’t know. But going through the list of reasons why this is bad makes things a lot clearer and more easy to navigate. I can’t pursue her even if she becomes single. I know I might be reading too much into our friendship, but I really do think she shares at least some of these feelings. If so, it’s possible that she might pursue me. I don’t think I’ll have to worry about that one, though. It seems highly unlikely as, I’m sure, if she does have any feelings than she has already gone down a similar list and has come to the same conclusion. If the unlikely happens, it’s probably the easiest decision I can make, at least on paper. If it break or hurts either of our important friendships, the answer absolutely has to be “no.” And I haven’t talked to the one person it stands to hurt the most about it, I suppose because I don’t want to hurt him by even bringing it up. I can never bring it up with him. So I guess the other answer doesn’t even matter.
tl;dr – I have very strong feelings for a woman who is my friend, in my closest circle of friends, was married to one of my best friends, is currently in a longterm relationship with a decent guy, and I got pretty close to fucking it all up by telling her I have said feelings; a friend talked me off of that ledge; it really fucking sucks and honestly hurts; gotta man up and move on, other things are more important
Goddamnit, this sucks. Where’d I put that bottle of hooch?