Saturday, 25 May 2013

Aries Redux

Day 289
76 Days Remaining

You may remember way back in September when I told you all the story of The Date That Wasn't, in which I introduced you to the man from my past known as Aries.  Aries, my "sort of" boyfriend way back when I was 18 and he was in his early 20s, with whom I had recently gotten back into contact through social media.  Aries came into town and, aware of my dating hiatus, took me on a "non-date", during which he was incredibly pushy (as I saw it) and I was incredibly oversensitive (the fact that I had no underwear on played a large part...please read the post to see why I had no underwear on!).  After our uncomfortable time together, I grew more and more incensed with how I felt I had been treated on the "non-date", and ended up ended our correspondence completely due to my discomfort.  Aries accepted my explanation that I was simply not comfortable with continuing any kind of relationship - including one through Facebook - without complaint or rebuttal, which I was glad for at the time since it spared me his hurt or his anger at my dismissal of his offer of friendship (my instinct that he wanted more than simply friendship definitely had a lot to do with that final decision).
Over the months, as my hiatus evolved and my sensitivity became somewhat dulled, I found myself thinking occasionally of Aries and his easy acceptance of my basically telling him that he did not belong in my life.  Yes, I was being true to myself, but maybe I had been a little harsh or read something more into his intentions than what was actually there.  Nonetheless, I pushed it to the back of my mind, not really wanting to re-initiate contact or say anything to him; I decided it was best left in the past, even if I had jumped the gun somewhat.

Imagine my surprise when, a couple of months ago, my phone rang, and I said Aries' name on the Caller ID.  I glanced at the phone and actually said out loud, "Why is he calling? Well, I'm not going to answer." (I'm not sure why I talk to myself so's probably left over from the days when I would stand in front of the mirror holding my mother's small replica of the Venus de Milo and practicing my Oscar acceptance speech...) My heart started beating faster because I didn't want to have to deal with an angry call.  I ignored the phone, staring at the screen as the ringing continued, until finally my voice mail kicked in and Aries hung up.  I heaved a sigh of relief, but I was confused as to why he would be attempting to get in touch all these months later. 

And then my phone trilled that I had received a text message from Aries.  My hands shaking, I picked up the phone, opened the text, and read it:  Hey, if you have a few minutes I would like to talk with you (been wanting to for five months actually).

ACK!  He wanted to talk.  After his non-reactive response when I first shut him down after our dinner together, I had assumed that the issue was closed for him, at least as much as it was for me.  I didn't want to talk.  I was scared. I thought that if he was calling now, he must have had enough time to get extremely angry with me and finally felt the need to vent on my sorry behind.  Chickening out, I quickly sent back, We can text.  I knew that texting was totally taking the easy way out, but I worried that I would get yelled at and/or be defensive.

The reply was fast: Um wanted to get a chat in as I need your help in resolving the issue I have been wrestling with for a while...nothing to worry just would like an open conversation.  No future expectation or anything.  I just want to get some things off my mind and to ensure that I have kept my promises...that is all...period.

It was clear that he knew I was avoiding his phone call, and just as clear that he also knew why.  I took a deep breath (several, in fact) and told him to call my home line.  A quick Thank you text, and my home phone rang.  One or two (or ten) further fortifying inhalations, and I picked up the phone with what I hoped was an open and congenial "Hello?"  And we launched into a conversation that should have been difficult, but instead was cleansing and necessary for both of us.

Aries had reservations about the call, I could tell, and I knew I did, but I closed my eyes and prayed a brief prayer that God would help me to listen to him and to be receptive.  I knew that the way I had ended things was probably unfair, and I also knew that it had probably been hurtful to him, despite the strong front I had always seen him put up.  He deserved to be able to say what he had held back from saying five months earlier, and I needed to give him the chance to open up and tell me how he felt.  And he certainly did that.  I felt duly chastened as he opened by saying that while he had accepted and respected my decision not to have him in my life any longer, he had also read my blog post about the evening in question (which I had realized and expected that he would do).  In fact, he said, he had read it over and over, many times.  He wanted, and believed that he deserved, a chance for a rebuttal of the points that I had made in my blog post.  I allowed that it was very one-sided, and recognized that while I had been very closed off to hearing his point of view at the time, I was now at the point where I was ready to hear what he had to say. 

Our conversation was great.  Aries took the time to explain how he had been feeling, and how every point I had made had a reason behind it.  I interrupted on occasion to reiterate that I had been so new in my dating hiatus and had a very thick wall up, and was incredibly sensitive to everything that might appear to be intrusive of my new status as a non-dater.  Aries told me he had been nervous.  He told me that for some reason, I make him feel a way that he doesn't usually feel, and that affects how he relates to me.  That made me feel strange because Aries approaches the world in a way that makes him appear über-confident, and always has.  However, thinking back on the evening in question, and listening to how he was speaking to me on the phone, I recognized the nerves.  Instead of feeling attacked by the phone call, as I had thought I might, I suddenly felt a wave of admiration for his bravery at calling in the first place.  I don't know if I could have done it if the roles had been reversed.

Aries read through all the notes he had taken from my blog, and I nearly died when he told me - as an incidental aside - that he had, in fact, been quite aware that I had no panties on through our entire dinner.  "How did you know?" I squealed, horrified.  Apparently, despite the care I took getting into the car, I had still managed to pull a Britney Spears/Lindsay Lohan/too many drunk starlets throughout history moment.  I can't believe he knew the entire time...and I am never wearing that dress again!  Never.  Ever.  And I can't believe that he managed to get through the whole dinner - and the five months that followed - without using that information against me.  I still flush thinking about it.  How mortifying.  Mortifying!  (And of course I keep wondering what, exactly, he saw...I almost wish he hadn't told me that he had known because my imagination fills in the blanks that most definitely should stay blank.)

Never leave home without them

Despite my shame and humiliation, we managed to get through the conversation, and little by little, the nerves on both sides lifted as we both recognized that neither was out to "get" or hurt the other.  With every point Aries made, I could see where he was coming from, and I was grateful that he didn't seem to need explanations, excuses, or even apologies from me: he simply wanted to make sure that I knew where he stood and what his view of the situation had been.  I also had the chance to explain - with the advantage of retrospect - why I had reacted the way I had, and also found opportunity to see even more clearly how much of a wall I had thrown up, what really were overreactions, and what was legitimate.  To his credit, Aries really was a gentleman (even about the non-underwear I wore to our non-date), and listened and accepted whatever explanation I felt I needed to give.  He also graciously accepted my apology for the way my dismissal of him from my life, and my blogging about his perceived shortcomings, may have hurt him.

I couldn't believe what a relief it was to actually have a full-fledged, completely honest talk with Aries about how we had both felt.  When we hung up, it was as though a weight had dropped from my shoulders - and I hadn't even recognized that it was there.  I was glad that we both had enough maturity to get through an awkward situation, and I thought that we could actually manage to be friends now.  I knew that the next time I saw him, there would be a lot less nervousness and a lot more comfort.

When Aries came to town a couple of weeks ago, he took me out to dinner again.  This time we decided there would be no dressing up; I wore jeans and a light sweater and a comfortable pair of sneakers (AND underwear!) and we went to Ferris' Oyster Bar, where I had a steak, a drink, and crème brûlée for dessert.  The conversation flowed; there were no awkward silences; and we even got into some of the deeper stuff (relationships, religious beliefs, divorce, name it).  It was relaxed and relaxing, and definitely more than made up for the previous dinner.  I feel as though Aries' attempt at explanation and need to discuss the situation was exactly what we needed in order to move past it and continue on without wondering what, exactly, had gone wrong the last time.  I don`t think I`ll have any further difficulty continuing a friendship with Aries now.  His courage in coming to me, and our subsequent necessary discussion, was more important than I had thought it could ever be.

And I hope, if he is reading this blog post, that he feels as though our friendship has been resurrected and some small justice has been served...which has got to be more filling than steak and crème brûlée.


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