Once Upon a Tuesday, Six Months Ago

21 Jul

“Have you heard of Margaret Atwood?” He asked. He was holding my credit card in his hand, tapping it repeatedly on the counter.

“No.” I answered, feeling uncomfortable, like this was some sort of test.

“And Haruki Murakami?” Now I realized that Margaret Atwood was a writer, and I immediately felt at ease. A bookworm like me, with a Masters in Literature, this was my territory.

“Sure.” I answered bravely.

“What have you read by him?” He asked inquiringly.

“The Windup Bird Chronicle,” I responded a little too quickly, please don’t ask me about specific details, I begged in my mind. It had been ages since I read it.

“And?”

“It was good. Though weird, I mean a little too weird, for me that is.” Apologetic smile.

“Weird is an understatement.” He answered to my relief. “I’m going through a Murakami phase right now. I’m reading everything he’s ever written. Have you read Hardboiled Wonderland? You should. I mean, it’s even weirder than the Windup Bird, much weirder. But you’d love it. I think.” A thin dark haired boy, who seemed barely 20 to me took my credit card out of Skating Guy’s hand.

“Two tickets?” He asked, looking at D who smiled and nodded beside me. A minute later my card was back in SG’s hand, and he was writing the closing time on the receipt and explaining to my friend and I where to pick out our skates. He was shorter than the dark haired boy, and seemed older. His hair was light and drawn back into a tight ponytail. He had enormous brown eyes, with long auburn lashes drooping over them heavily, which matched his oversized lips, the bottom of which I found especially tempting. Despite his overgrown features there was a softness to his bristly face.

“Have fun.” He said with a smile, and just as I turned to leave he added, “Maybe I’ll come skate with you later, if you want.”

“Was that guy hitting on me, or was he just being friendly?” I asked D.

“Hitting on you.”

“Geez, I’m so out of practice.” I smiled. “He was kind of cute, wasn’t he?” It was exciting to be noticed, and even more so by someone who seemed intelligent, someone who seemed to be interested in someone intelligent, and much more so now that I was single for the first time in thirteen years.

We stepped on the ice, our legs wobbly, attempting to stabilize ourselves, grabbing onto the rail. A few rounds later we were a bit more confident on the ice, and that’s when T joined us, sexy and energetic in her skinny jeans, tight top and perfect hair, bouncing about, giggling like a school girl as she stepped on the ice. Behind her was my guy, with his hair, and his lips and his Margaret Atwood.

“Huh. I guess he found T.” I told D, only slightly bitter.

“Actually it looks like he found you.” She laughed as the skating instructor popped up behind me with a “Hey.” I nearly lost my balance, which made him ask, “You OK there?” He’d be asking me that same question in the future, and the answer would be no, but right now it was “I’m starting to get used to this, but I’m counting on you to show me a few tricks.” Which he did. He had the appearance of the shy-quiet type, but he was actually rather talkative. We discussed books we liked, and books we despised, and books by Margaret Atwood that I promised to read.

“How old are you anyway?”

“Twenty-five,” The boy answered. “You?”

“Thirty-one,” I answered honestly. Screw it, if he wasn’t into me because of my age, he was welcome to leave. Pop music was blasting in the background, and I was feeling high on adrenalin. Half an hour later I was explaining the benefits of my Kindle to him, and he was defending the old fashioned paperbacks, and the irreplaceable feeling of flipping through their pages. “With my Kindle I can change the font size and read while I do stuff at home, like umm laundry.” And breastfeeding, I thought to myself.

“Laundry is important.” He laughed. Where do you live? I told him. “Roommates?” I smiled. “You could call it that.” He waited for an explanation. “Forget it, we just met. Let’s wait a bit longer before I shock you.”

“Uh-oh, you’re married with two kids aren’t you?”

“Not exactly.” I had a nice time flirting with him, and that’s what counted. It couldn’t last forever. I might as well tell him now, I thought, and go back to skating with my friends. “I live with my son.” I said. “Separated.”

“Ah.” Well? “He must be cute, how old is he?

“Seven months.” Nice of him to stick around and not bolt. So he’s polite on top of everything else, I thought.

“So, separated, is that like divorced?”

“Pretty much.”

“And that’s supposed to shock me, huh?” He smiled mischievously and we continued skating. “He must be grabbing stuff now, right?” He asked knowingly. “I read about that. Or is he putting everything in his mouth?” It took me a second to realize he was talking about my son.

“Both!” I laughed with relief.

It was ten o’clock and we were exchanging phone numbers, and setting up a date for Sunday. It would be my first date in thirteen years. I was as high as I’d been in a long time. I couldn’t wait.

It’s been six months since I first met SG at the Skating Ring. Five months, three weeks and two days since we sat at that bar on our first, magical date, since he kissed my shoulder and told me I was beautiful, and turned me on so bad that I had to follow him home and lie to the sitter that I had decided to watch a late-night movie. It’s been four months since we broke up for the first time because BD wanted to get back together and I was confused. Three months and three weeks since I told him I loved him, and he said it back. Three and a half months since we gave Baby a bath together and made animal noises, making him laugh hysterically. Three months since I cried into his shoulder, after a sick friend was told she’d have to have surgery. Two and a half months since I told him I was going to go to couples therapy with BD. Two months since I changed my mind but continued going nevertheless. Six weeks since I stopped therapy and spent and insanely passionate night with SG. One month, three weeks and six days since he told me he wanted to end it because he couldn’t be in a serious relationship with a woman who had a son. One month since I texted him miserably, desperately, and was answered with a straightforward, though kind goodbye. Four days since I found his email and foolishly wrote him a letter and got no response.

Less than a minute since I last fantasized that I might ever have him back.

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