Will was out of town last weekend and on Tuesday I emailed him asking if he wanted to get together. I got an email back later that night saying he’d just arrived home, and with no mention of getting together.
I was put out and considered not writing back. But then I wrote a brief email, carefully not suggesting that we get together. Then I waited.
This was two days ago. By this morning I was pretty sure I had been dumped, and was offended to discover that he wasn’t going to email me at all! Did he not think I was even worth an email? The bastard! Et cetera, shades of Jeremy all over again.
Work was stressful and demanding in all the wrong ways. After work I met Daniel and could not have been a bigger killjoy. I felt so irritable about my stupid job, about my lack of a good job, about the way my face looked in the mirror on the wall in the restaurant, you name it -- that I had to spend all my energy on not whining and was therefore nearly silent. I was not a very good dining companion. Even Daniel himself was getting on my nerves, and I resented the fact that he loves his job and that everything’s going well with the Virgin Girlfriend. On the train home he practically leapt off the subway car a stop early, presumably to get away from me, and I ended up feeling guilty for being so self indulgent with my bad mood, and abandoned that he had not tried harder to make me feel better.
I thought I had dismissed Will from my mind and was simply brooding, but I’m all about closure and I succumbed after much agonizing. This evening I sent him another email. It was polite and friendly, and closed with “I haven’t heard from you about getting together. Let me know what’s going on.”
So Will just called. And he didn’t fall in love with a bridesmaid during the wedding he went to over the weekend, and I wasn’t misreading the signs: he said he was looking for a serious relationship, and he didn’t think we had a future together.
“Well,” I said, “I would never try to convince you otherwise.” What I meant by that is I don’t want to have to convince a guy to date me. “I wouldn’t want to see you against your will.”
“I’m not seeing you against my will!” Will protested, half laughing. “I have a good time with you. I just … I’m looking for a serious relationship and I don’t see us together.”
“Um,” I crossed my room to turn off the air conditioner so I could actually hear the conversation I would prefer not to be having. “Was this because of what I said? About my social life and not being monogamous?” (I had given him a brief precis of my current, rather complicated, social life).
“No, no…” Will insisted. “That’s not it, you can see whoever you want … I just don’t see us together …”
“Oh. OK.’ I was shaking. “Fair enough.” My voice was steady, though. I mean, it was fair enough. At least he’d bothered to call.
“So,” Will went on, “If you wanted us to see each other, it wouldn’t be seriously, like in a relationship.”
Oh. So we could have sex but I wasn’t to expect anything from it. “Huh.” I get folksy when I’m nervous. I considered, trailing around my room and looking for something to occupy my hands. Then I said, “I don’t know. See, I think of you as more boyfriend material than not, so maybe that wouldn’t be a good idea.” This is true: Will is serious and adult and solvent. But, alas: apparently not that interested in me. There are a number of men I have sex with but do not expect emotional commitments from, but Will’s declaration of intent, or non-intent, sort of rubbed me the wrong way. I think I demurred in part because I was piqued that he wasn’t interested! It’s not as if I’m in love with Will. But I was hurt, or my vanity was wounded. And I might have liked Will a lot, given a little more time and long mornings in his bed: I was prepared to like him a lot.
“Yeah, OK, I thought you might feel that way…” Will said, and I think he was relieved.
What, you think I’m so fragile I couldn’t possibly see you? I’m not that into you! I wondered if Will had decided we weren’t relationship material because I wasn’t smart enough for him or, alternatively, because I am the kind of girl who sleeps with men on the first date or because, given the slightest encouragement, I will talk incessantly during sex or because I don’t have a real job or any prospect of one. These are interesting questions to which, unfortunately, I will never get the answers.
“Well, listen,” I said, full of gentle good cheer, ’cause I wanted him to be sure to regret the good thing he was giving up, “Take care of yourself.” I was also polite because I take pains not to seem like the stereotypically neurotic New Yorker that I actually am. After all, Will is from the Midwest and probably expects all New York women to be unmarried, anxious and in therapy… which would be spot on, in my case. Anyway.
“Yeah, you too,” said the man with whom I had nothing in common, and now not even sex. “… Keep in touch if you want.”
That’s just not going to happen, is it?
“Well, have a good night,” I said with a little laugh in my voice, as though I wasn’t really bothered. And who knows, maybe I wasn’t.
Then I hung up the phone and thought: This has been a terrible day.