I miss my LA escapes. To clear my mind, I’d wake up on an early morning and go for a solo hike. Leave the worries or angst behind, and enjoy the path before me.
This short week turned out to be one of my longest in NY so far. Saturday, I went on a friendly walk with a girl who showed me around a part of the city. I really liked her but she said that she’d been going through the motions of a recent breakup, and sent me a message Monday afternoon: “Hey will just wanted to get this off my chess. I know you want more and I would be stupid to pass up an opportunity like you. I just don’t think I’m ready for more right now… I still need some time to process stuff, and study for my test. If we tried for more now, I would probably just freak out and pull away. I would be very willing to try in early july, after my exam. You should continue dating, and if something is good, you should definitely take that opportunity. Just wanted to clarify, don’t want to feel like I’m stringing you along. If you want, we could continue for now as friends and joke about OKC….. or not …just wanted to manage expectations.”
We’d talked on the phone since the initial meetings, and while it was friendly, there were undertones that both of us enjoyed each other’s company. I really liked her, but also was trying to give her space. I responded: “We’re quite in tune. You basically responded to what I wanted to ask and talk about. I honestly don’t want to date around and would rather wait as I like you, a lot, but that might feel weird if it makes it feel like it’s setting up an expectation which wouldn’t be appropriate now. Anyhow, I haven’t figured that part out yet and I’m glad I’ll be busy w work and the performances in the interim. I hope we do get a chance to see how great we can be, but neither time or people stand still for long. I’ll try to tone down the flirting, but let me know if you need more (which in this case would be less). To be clear though, I think we’d be able to find a way to make it work now despite your test or other feelings. I’d rather try to be with you, knowing you as I do now, working on things together than expect you to have it all sorted out before we try.”
It worked… for about 24 hours. Tuesday night, she messaged me, do you mind if we touch base another time? She needed some time alone to think. I immediately thought, not a good sign, but at the same time, decided to give her space. She ended up coming back to me with a bunch of questions about just how settled I am, and wanted to meet the next day.
Wednesday ended up being quite a long day. Woke up early and took the train into Penn Station, then into Newark, NJ to a client site for work. Consulting tends to be long hours when needed (often), and I really didn’t know when I’d be back or if I could meet. I finally got the thumbs up to leave early and could meet her, but I already didn’t like the set up. I didn’t have much energy, dressed up more than normal, and at the end of a long day carrying around two laptop bags… but more than that, I didn’t have a good feeling that the night would be too successful. She picked a pizza place and ran about 10-15 minutes late. Throughout dinner, she asked me a lot of questions, and I told a few stories trying to carry the conversation. But I could tell she already had let some skepticism sink in, and the way she asked her questions were almost a bit forced. Things were off, and I kind of blamed myself for allowing her to blow this up (shitty timing and as far as dinner goes, shitty pizza). Anyway, I thought there still might be a chance, so when the bill came, I covered it. And about a minute after the waiter walked away, she told me she didn’t find enough of a spark over dinner to want to continue. [sidenote: she had talked about guys being tools, and a few minutes later, as I stood outside in the seconds after she walked away, I felt like one, even if it wasn't her intention.]
After she told me that, I took a few seconds to question her for clarity. Quite an interesting and a little awkward conversation to have as most people aren’t as directly open about such things, but I’d been pretty open as well thus far. She said sorry and tried to pad it some, but from past experience, I’ve realized I’m usually too nice or self-sacrificing… so I avoided the “don’t worry about it” or “thanks for letting me know” lines that might make the other person feel better. “Okay, I understand…” but I still wanted to question things more or argue. But in that moment, I realized it was pointless, so we got up and left.
When I got outside, she reemphasized more of her excuses. I patted her on the back and told her to feel better. She walked away saying something along the lines of call me if you ever need someone to talk to. I didn’t really care to finish listening as I needed to move on, and was trying to avoid letting it all sink in.
I went into business mode and made a phone call. When I turned down my last offer, I took some time to really let them know how much I appreciated the opportunity. The CTO wrote me an email and asked if I could call her to discuss what went wrong. We talked candidly and I agreed to reopen negotiations. That made me feel better, but during the long train ride back, sitting next to a screaming baby, I went through quite a range of emotions stemming from how dinner went.
“In some ways, you can find the excuses you look for.” I realized that on the train, and sent that to her. In life and especially with emotions, we sometimes don’t know what we really want. And out of fear, we find excuses, then look for them. She might not agree, but I think that’s a large part of what happened. Either way, I had a hard part telling myself that I made the right decisions, but I’d find no peace as the analysis wouldn’t change the reality.
On Saturday, I was picked as one of the supernumeraries for an upcoming ballet performance. I was excited… The first time I tried this back in LA, I had no idea what to expect but ended up with a new and much greater appreciation for ballet. And now, I’d get to actually see and be on stage at the Met!
That excitement ended today. While the rehearsal and performance schedule was technically doable, I called the stage director today to let him know work was ramping up and it’d be safer for me to remove myself from the role. I wanted to be fair to my current work commitments, but still quite bummed. The casting director said he understood, but then to my surprise, encouraged me to come out for more productions.
Work… I can’t say too much, except I feel like I’m outside looking in, and I’m getting tired of it. I may have to push or make an ultimatum to have them convert my contract, but I’m wondering how much of a difference that would really make in terms of how I feel. And right now, I mostly feel like I’m just a named resource on someone’s list. Actually, scratch that… I’d be lucky to even make it to the normal list!
There was a dinner for the entire team tonight at 8 PM and as I’m a consultant, by default I wasn’t on the list. My group had some last minute work to do so I ended up staying later than expected and finally said good night to them around 7:45 PM. I walked out to the elevators and had a coworker rush out to ask me about and invite me to dinner. He was worried that I might’ve taken it the wrong way, and I said I didn’t, but I didn’t want to assume I was welcome either. I was too tired from a late night getting over JC, as well as having to pull out of the Met performance, and work almost 11 hours… to want to go meet more new people. I admit, being left out sucks, but it was still a nice gesture by the coworker to let me know that it wasn’t intentional.
And perhaps I should be thankful tomorrow is Friday. I really have no plans for the weekend. Costume fitting would have been on Monday; I realize that even though a lot of these emotions, as depressing or unsettling as they may be, make up the beauty and trueness of the human experience. To feel strong attraction, to lose it, to feel rejection, be left out, have to walk away from something you do want out of obligation for something else… [holy crap, listing that and realizing it's occurred over two days!] and then, being able to exhale, sigh, tear up, or even reminisce on a better time, and then move on. That speaks to the strength of life, its scars, and eventually the flashes of joy and peace within.