I Already Know

Our drive up to meet his parents and some of his siblings is rough. Right before we got in our separate cars he had been super impatient. He had been impatient all weekend. Owen was stressed that his friends weren’t doing anything fun. He wanted everyone to get moving. Instead of helping people along and being kind and generous with his behaviors, he would charge ahead, leaving other people to carry all of the things. Frustration without helpful actions. I was tired of it. I hadn’t said anything all weekend, but now that we were alone, I snapped.

His whole demeanor changed. I automatically knew that I had cut deep. I apologized for snapping but the damage was done. He said he was fine and got in his car.

Twenty minutes in to the drive, he calls me.

“I’m not okay”- O

“I know”- LD

“You are 100 percent right. If I’m going to be impatient, I could also be helpful. You’re right. However, you could have told me this when we were hanging out with Big Sexy and HLM or with BFF and BFF’s Wife. Literally, any other time than right before I take someone home to meet my family for the first time. I’ve been looking forward to this. And now I have to figure out how to get over this so my parents don’t notice that something is wrong. Gah, Le Distraire. Any other time.”- O

He’s right. I could have continued to be patient. Shit. He is crushed because apparently he’s nervous. He’s denied it this whole time. But I know he is. Especially now. Mister Chill Fun Party Guy is actually Stressed Out Planner Control Guy.

“I’m truly sorry Owen. I know what this means to you. I wasn’t planning my timing. I made a mistake and let it just come out. I was frustrated and exhausted from this weekend and I messed up. I’m not perfect. I can’t always plan everything. And I’m sorry”-O

We go back and forth a few more times with him reiterating how important this day was. Like I don’t know that. Like I haven’t been a saint of a girlfriend with a smile and open arms for all of his crazy. I’M FUCKING EXHAUSTED. And also sad. Is there anything worse than hurting someone you care about? We talk like this until he’s good and fine. I’ve apologized 5 different ways and he feels good. Me? I’m crying. I’m so tired. Is this what a relationship is? I’ve forgotten how much work they can be. Does he not want me to meet his family now? I would hate that.

“I’m so sorry Owen. We’re about to hit the split in the highway where I could go left to my sister’s…I have been so excited to meet your family. And I was super happy and excited to show you off to my family. I wouldn’t want this moment to feel obligatory to you. If you want, I can go to my sisters?”- LD

“Le Distraire. No. Stop. I don’t ever want you to ask something like that ever again. I am so proud of you and happy that you’re the person I’m taking home. It’s ridiculous that you think so little of us and how committed I am to you that you would question that. I’m bringing you home and that’s it. I said what I needed to say and heard what I needed to hear and I’m okay now. Are you okay?”

I whiff out a little huff. I’m okay. We hang up. I attempt to de puff my red cried out face.

We get there, and I’m immediately greeted by 2 of his 4 brothers. They hug and look thrilled to see him. Immediately, I love seeing him relax. I walk in to a kitchen full of his family. His mom hands me a blended margarita in a “dog lover’s” glass. It’s loud and goofy and diverse and relaxed and obnoxious and everything I thought it would be.

I jump from person to person, especially the ones that married into the family. It’s always good to win those ones over. His mom is quick to ask me lots of questions and stick close. Owen pours himself too much whiskey in his drinks. They all drink a little too much. You can see where he gets it. His stepdad observes me from afar. He doesn’t ask me much. His fully biological brother turns out to be my favorite. He’s sweet and you can tell that his and Owen have a special bond. Owen sits outside with some of his family and they ask if my family is religious. He tells them about our mission trips in the Philippines when I was younger. I get nervous that they’re asking him about this. And hoping that he is gracious and kind about it and doesn’t secretly berate it with him. Later, I joke that he was “talking shit about me outside earlier”. He responds with “oh no no. Only good things” and smiles. It makes me feel better. That night its just his parents, his sweet brother, and me left. We eat leftovers and watch a movie.

We climb in to the same bed that night (I still can’t with this. I don’t care if its a religious thing or not, it still feels very weird to do this at someone’s parents house). I can tell he’s relaxed and feels better. I do too. It’s nice to see how much his family loves each other. We wake up next to each other and he’s just staring at me. We don’t talk. Just holding each other close and kissing and touching and its all very quiet and intimate and pressed together. I’m thinking about how overwhelmed I feel with learning so much about him. About how different our backgrounds are. About how we handle stress and old friendships and deep family connections. And I’m fascinated and scared by how close I still feel to him. I know he’s in love with me. I know I’m in love with him. I’ve been saving myself for a long time. I thought about letting that go with the last guy I dated. But I waited. That morning, we were close. He held me tight and told me how stunning I am. Smart. Wonderful. Beautiful. That he was crazy about me. But he wanted it to be perfect. I did too. I knew that. I also knew it felt like the loveliest feeling to desire someone and also to be in love with them. He holds me back, staring at me with his big brown eyes. He gapes his mouth a few times like he’s going to speak. He doesn’t. I ask him what’s wrong? Is he mad at me? He laughs and whispers he’s the furthest thing from mad. But he’ll tell me later.

Okay, darling. But I already know.

I love you too.

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I’d Rather Go Read A Book

We played catch up the other weekend. Since we don’t live close to each other, we have to cram everything in to one weekend. Plus, Owen wanted me to meet his friends and family so he could tell me that he loved me. Right? I’m right. It’s easier if he just admits it, darling.

Owen met my HLM and Big Sexy and he already knew he loved them. He even met my family, coming to Easter and being nervous that my dad would ask him to pray and he was “trying to remember Catholic prayers from childhood”. Yeesh. But they didn’t. My siblings were funny and kind and the best versions of themselves. My nieces and nephews called him Mister Owen. They asked him mildly inappropriate questions about war and battle and he gently answered their curiosity with kind responses. They think he’s especially cool. He had a particular bond with my oldest niece-relating to her desire to be treated like a grown up. It’s funny how childlike Owen acts, but wants to be taken seriously. The thing is, he’s already enough. Without being ridiculous and pushing buttons and accepting every piece of attention. She’ll learn that soon too. We ended up having some alone time with my parents when everyone else left. We got Sonic and sat in the back seat of the car. It felt like being 17 again. My family loves him. My mom and sister in law are particularly worried about his faith. But then again, so am I. Mom was quick to tell me that he’s a good fit for me though. Funny and interesting. And doesn’t just put up with my shit. That Owen challenges me. Boy, does he.

Gah. I adore him.

Anyways, we spent a weekend with his best friend and his wife and their boring couple friends. The four of them shared a hotel room. I think I may have actually died had he forced me to share a hotel room with them. They literally came to Austin loaded up with super cheap (hangover-for-sure) level alcohol and fruit punch. Like high school. I wasn’t thrilled, especially since earlier in the day, we had celebrated Big Sexy’s birthday on a rented boat on the lake with 10 other people. Owen drank too much. It’s strange to me that he still doesn’t exactly know what that means. And that he would push his limits when he drove me in his car, which is a manual, and he knows I can’t drive that. It was a good time on the boat though. I just wish Owen could fully understand (rightthisverysecond) what it looks like when he drinks too much when he probably should be taking care of me. His values are off. His priorities are wrong. I’ll give him time though. Just not forever.

Anyways, we get to the hotel after that long day full of alcohol and sun. And they want to GO OUT that night. I’m trying to rally and so is he. We go to an Italian place for dinner. We’re so exhausted that the earth feels like its off its axis. We don’t have anything to say to each other that won’t be like the Snickers commercials before they beat their hanger. I’m dreading the evening. However, I rally. I look cute in this skort that shoes off my legs and a swingy spaghetti strapped crop top. Cute. Casual. Austin-y. I wear flats because I’m not a fucking freshman. The other two girls look like a sorta cheap version of Uptown Dallas-ites. My Chicago bff tells me to be nice when I Snapchat her this…it’s true. I try to suck it up. I order my favorite drinks. I join in on the “coolest concert you’ve ever been to” conversation. Little did I know that this would new the most that your best friend actually talks to me. I rally to make it to the next bar when they want to hop. Owen later mentions that he saw lots of men “noticing” me. Well. Yes. That’s what bar hopping entails, friend. He mentions that maybe he should be jealous. I just rolled my eyes. We stand in little circles Owen and his BFF just scream-talk in inside jokes and movie references and basically seem like 20 year old frat boys. No one asks me anything. Everyone pretends they’re having fun. The male counterpart of the boring couple comes over to me and starts hitting on me. No one notices. We finally hop to the third place. It has music! And dancing! And Owen says he doesn’t want anything when I squeeze up to take my place at the bar. Really? YES. I order him a club soda and reach over the bar to get extra limes. This way, no one will bother him. Also, now that I know that he’s staying sober, I loosen up. We’re finally somewhere fun, I feel safe, and literallynone of them dance. Who are these people? They talk about “getting fucking lit” and then are essentially no fun. They order cheap drinks even though we’re all adults. They don’t dance. This is the time to get a buzz as we can walk home, andnow  they choose to stay sober? Like, I’m glad. But also confused about their choices.

We spend that night wrapped up together. He frustrates me. He didn’t cater to me at all that day. His bff had almost nothing to say to me. But I can tell he’s frustrated with their planning skills. That he’s trying to learn to balance this new thing; this not being single and 20. And, grumpy, exhausted, we relax in to each other.

The next morning, BFF’s Wife gets sick in the van to lunch. BFF tells her to hold it in. He unsympathetically tells her to tell the driver to turn up the air. He doesn’t take care of her at all. Owen and I yell from the backseat for the driver to pull over. BFF’s Wife hops out of the car, pukes in the trash can on the sidewalk, then HOPS BACK IN WITH A SMILE ON HER FACE AND SAYS SHE FEELS BETTER. The whole brunch is more of the boys saying super inapprorpriate inside jokes. I have nothing to contribute. Plus, I’m fuming that BFF is pissed that his wife keeps getting up to dry heave in the bathroom. No kindness. “She shouldn’t have mixed alcohols” he gruffs. WTH?! I don’t understand how they could encourage these behaviors in each other and then not take care of each other. Later in the day, we’re napping in our room and Owen asks me about it. He tries to defend his friend saying that she does this too much and BFF is sick of it. “I get that that’s frustrating” I concede. Owen says “but you don’t agree at all do you?” I say I don’t. And that’s it. Not much else to say. I imagine it’s hard to see your BFF look like a complete ass. It’s also hard to see your boyfriend be best friends with someone that treats his wife like that. ANd hard not to think “MY friends would NEVER treat their spouses like that”. But…they wouldn’t.

We hike down to the green belt later. They complain that it’s not deep. It’s a creek. In Texas. In the summer. It’s not going to be flowing. They complain that they’re exhausted. They bring cheap alcohol mixed with punch to drink. The girls are both overflowing their bikinis with their beer fat bellies. They wear the mismatched swimsuit bottoms and tops that girls do when they realize their boobs have massively exploded in relation to their small hips. They wear their sorority tank tops. Owen looks ridiculous in super short shorts and awful green tiger striped sunglasses. Normally, his silly clothes don’t bother me, but in combination with continued exhaustion and nothing to talk about with these people, I am about done. I pour myself a whiskey ginger and take my sexy side scooped one piece clad self out into the middle of the creek and ask the girls lots of polite questions. They’re not so bad when they’re away from their husband/boyfriend. I just keep thinking about how much more fun we’d have with my friends. About how my friends aren’t dependent on alcohol to have something to say to each other.

We get back to the hotel to shower up before dinner. Owen is frustrated because his friends won’t stick to a plan. He gets more upset when he realizes they didn’t make reservations for a Saturday night Memorial Weekend in Downtown Austin for dinner. His other military friend (Johnny Bravo) is driving in from 30 minutes away to eat and go out with us. We end up ditching his friends and going to dinner with Johnny Bravo. At this point, I am SO grateful to see Johnny Bravo and actually be acknowledged. I’m happy to hear them talk about something besides South Park and drinking. And I’m happy to see Owen truly smile at me for the first time in two days. It feels like we can each take a deep breath again. We eventually meet up at a cool bar on West 6th. And then, they sit there. Not really talking. Not dancing.

So, like, why did we choose to have a cool downtown Austin weekend with super boring people?

Owen asks me what I thought of them and I say “I really like how much effort BFF’s Wife made in accepting me and being excited to get to know me. And I really appreciate that you and BFF are so close to each other. I know that means a lot to you. But it was a little hard to get to know him in this partying kind of element. I felt like you were super stressed and everyone was exhausted. I’d love to have a more chill weekend with them sometime.”

“Hmm…well…I mean, we always go out when I see them. Because I don’t see them that often. Well, I guess sometimes we play video games together…hmm…yea…okay…”

I don’t respond. Because, I mean, how is that friendship? That’s your party friend. Just because you like to drink with someone and quote South Park, that does not mean I need to be included. Go on ahead. But I’d rather go read a book.

He told me a few days later “let’s not do that again. That weekend was too full. I was stressed out.” He also told me, “you did so great. I loved every second. You are so wonderful.” So, basically, he’s infatuated with me. And the fact that I nodded and smiled and rallied and didn’t complain even though I wanted to tell him the weekend was SO NOT FUN.

Here’s the thing, he’ll recognize that on his own. It seems like he’s already starting.

Think that’s the end of that weekend? Think again. After all of that, we drove up to meet his family…

My Concerns With Love

Things I’m Worried About

He believes in God but doesn’t know what that means for him.
Uh, nope. Been there, done that. It’s one of my very few deal breakers. I dated someone previously who wasn’t open to it at all. I hated not going to church with someone. I hated that he didn’t/couldn’t try to see why it was so important to me. If you can’t love God/know God, how can you love and know His daughter? I base my entire life off of the bible and God’s promises and directions. I told him as much.
Responds with: Well, I’d still like to try. I hear that you’re wanting someone that sees at least the same shade of blue. Could I come see you in (your hometown) and go to church with you?

Well, ok.

He parties a lot. Drunk eyes, forgetting that he sent snapchats, partying partying. Still calls it “partying”. Who does that at his age? Show restraint and caring for your body and also for others around you. For other peoples’ perceptions. For your safety. For respect. Seriously, so many reasons.
I don’t laugh when he is giggling and telling me that part of his weekend. I ignore the behavior and respond positively to the other good parts.
Responds with: telling me all of the nice things he said about me to his friends and them saying how much they’d like to meet me and would I want to go camping with them all. In two months.

That’s it. Those are my concerns.

Oh yea, and he thinks I’m going to change with.
My response: Hell yeah. Love changes people. Welcome to life, friend.

My Dating Life Is Under Arrest

The Second One was an alcoholic. 6 months after I broke up with him, he has coffee with me. He originally asked me to get a drink but then texted me the next morning to say coffee instead. He bikes up to the shop. The Second One looks sheepish and handsome which is not unusual. We toss a few biting barbs as our way of saying hello-the wounds are still fresh from each other and an easy target in which to pour some salt. 

Then he tells me about his second DUI he just got. 

No wonder we’re getting coffee. 

He had been “hanging out with his friend Richard” earlier he says with a slight wink in his voice, hinting that hanging out may or may not have included clothes being worn. They were drinking all morning and TSO thought he could still drive to work his shift as a barista. In front of the store there are about 6 places in a row for parallel parking. He whips around the corner and plows the sides of all 6 cars. 

He wants sympathy and acceptance. He has God for that. I just feel sad. 

Fast forward about two years. I’ve moved back to my town. I’m swiping away for distraction and entertainment and good ol’ Texas boys. There’s a cop that seems very upright and quiet and has really deep brown eyes. He’s adamant that he should get to know me. We spend a few dates together talking about music and such. He seems a little…slow…but sometimes you just need someone around to make out with. And boy does Cop fill that bill. We have great chemistry. He’s very tempting. He also works nights and is a bad texter, and his family dynamics seem strange, and he doesn’t really have any true friends, and wait-is that racist/sexist/bigoted shit coming out of his mouth? He keeps trying to nail me down and make it official. I dip and dodge and eventually sort of agree. One week later I never hear from again. After he begged, y’all. Makes no sense. 

The best part though? It turns out Cop was heading to a trial of a guy he arrested 1.5 years ago for a second DUI. Turns out that guy was TSO. TSO was suing Cop for a technicality. I dated the guy who arrested my ex. My ex sued a new guy I dated in order to be able to leave the state to move in with his new boyfriend in NYC. 

Dear Lord, why am I even trying? 

Places To Be

Alone is a sad place to be. Alone is singular and harsh and solitary. 
When you spend six years of your life with someone, you take pride in the “we”. Your friends don’t struggle to get to know your significant other. They don’t have to decide if they like him for you, because he’s grandfathered in. No one questions it. It’s an easy place to be. 

When you date someone from ages 14-20, you teach the other person how to treat you. Except, when you’re 14, its not exactly how you hope things will be when you’re 20. It’s basic and bossy and simple. When you’re 20, everything is complex and multi-faceted and you have approximately 328 things to juggle in life and its the time where you answer all of the big questions like Who do I want to be? And who do I want to love? And how do I want to spend the time in my life? And the truth is you’re just getting started. Life gets busier and I know now that I desire to have a busy life with someone else. 

I didn’t want to end things with The First One. He was my whole life. He knew how to hold my hand and he knew my sibling’s birthdays and his niece called me “Aunt” and I knew his mom was abusive growing up. He knew me, until he began to hate me and tell me half truths. He lied to me about failing out of college. Then lied to me about the requirements to get back in. He lied to me about why he couldn’t keep a job. He lied about how fast he could run a 40. Like that was something that mattered?! But the point is, he continued to lie over and over and over. Most importantly, he lied to me about truly caring for me. He had no desire to live a brave life-to try new things, to fail and to continue to keep going-with me. He lied and said he didn’t put me on a pedestal. But he did. Then he began to throw rocks at me. He started telling me that he hated the way I dressed. That he disliked how I cut my hair short. He hated the things I liked. Anything I liked. He wasn’t proud of my success in school, internships, and finding jobs. He was resentful of my new friends. He hated that I moved forward while he floundered. 

I was alone before I was alone. That is a realization that I had years later. He didn’t begin to lie to me. He had lied to me all along. He had cheated on me his first semester of college and glazed over it as though it was nothing. He cut me down and told lies about me to his siblings. He told my best friend that he was in love with her. The First One never challenged me to be better or drove me mad with passion or figured out what books I liked and why I felt that they were metaphors for my life. He was a weight I carried while I worked to put myself through college. He was the guy that stood in the corner while I attempted to make new friends and come out of the shell I had created for myself in college. He was the man who embarrassed me with his inability to read people, so much so that I mothered him and consistently shushed him by pressing the heel of my hand into his knee. It turns out that I wasn’t there for him either.

I left when it became too unbearable. When the words he said cut me down more than they loved me. 

I am alone again. Except I have a best friend, a dog, a family, a post-college family, friends around the world, girls that I can cry with and laugh with and drink with until we’re silly and full of happiness that pushes up through your gut and makes every breath you take feel full. Friends that send you books that say things like this:

“Fear of being alone is not a good reason to stay. Leaving this man you’ve been with for six years won’t be easy, but you’ll be okay and so will he. The end of your relationship with him will likely also mark the end of an era of your life. In moving into this next era there are going to be things you lose and things you gain. Trust yourself. It’s Sugar’s golden rule. Trusting yourself means living out what you already know to be true.” 

— Cheryl Strayed

My new era began when The First One ended. And it’s definitely a much better place to be.