Dater X: [ne]X[t]

This past Wednesday found me crying at 1 a.m. outside of The Big Easy’s place of employment.

Relax; it’s not what you think.

For one thing, I wasn’t there because it was The Big Easy’s place of employment.  He just happens to work in a massive landmark located across the street from a fancy-pants restaurant where many of my friends (and softball teammates) make their living.  Another teammate and I had long planned to visit said restaurant for a frosty cold martini some evening, and between my recent break-up and her stressful work day – her building is also home to a branch of the DMV, which might explain why someone left a grenade in the lobby and triggered a building-wide lockdown – we figured the universe was telling us that it was time to make good on our long-stagnant martini meet-up plans.  In an attack of blissful memory loss, it honestly didn’t even occur to me that I was setting the stage for an awkward run-in with The Big Easy until I emerged from the subway right in front of his office, at which point I scurried as furtively as one can be said to scurry in kitten heels across a crowded city street, right into the restaurant and up to the bar where my teammate was waiting.

Relieved, I recounted my scamper from the subway with a giggle, and her eyes got wide.  Turns out, she had bumped into The Big Easy on her way there.  He flagged her down on the street to say hello; they made a few awkward moments of conversation; she took off before I came up.  Or at least that’s how she told it, which was just fine with me.  No need to kick off girls’ night by hearing what my most recent ex said about me moments before, if he said anything at all.

We enjoyed our drinks, ordered dinner, chatted about work and softball and the change of seasons.  It was really nice. As we finished our dinner, our other teammate announced that her shift was ending and urged us to stay; her boss sent us out to the patio and kept our wine glasses full, and naturally at some point, talk turned to The Big Easy.

As aware as I have felt of my part in our breakup, it was really nice to hear from two good friends that he had a hand in it, as well.  Both of them had spent a lot of time with us as a couple (one invited The Big Easy to her wedding, for crying out loud), and taking a break from self-flagellation over my role in our uncoupling to hear from my friends that, hey, maybe it wasn’t all my fault, as he said, felt … good.  Validating.  Like the relief of putting down a heavy bag or taking off a pair of too-tight heels.  I exhaled for what felt like the first time in weeks.  And yes, sitting outside within view of The Big Easy’s office window well after midnight, I cried.  (And in an appropriate bit of symmetry, ol’ Mr. Firework, who was taking care of our table, brought me a black napkin to dry my eyes.)

Both friends recounted stories about The Big Easy that I hadn’t known, and they helped me feel less like I’d lost something irreplaceable and more like I’d left behind something broken.  For instance, I didn’t know it at the time, but less than a month into our relationship, he’d been outside having a cigarette at our teammates’ birthday party, and when I came up in conversation, he loudly and abruptly declared how much he loved me, then scurried back into the bar because, “I have to go tell her right away!”  It was the kind of anecdote that might have sounded sweet if we’d been together for years, but as an element of our whirlwind courtship, it felt at best inauthentic and at worst a little creepy.  Both friends also asked me what I planned to do when he inevitably reached out again months from now, and I thought it was telling that they both expected him to do so.  Somehow, in that conversation, I crested the peak of regret and headed downhill towards acceptance and – dare I say it? – optimism.  I stopped mourning what I’d lost with The Big Easy and started feeling excited again about what might be next.

And that’s where I am today.  There’s a certain hopefulness in singledom that I acknowledge I struggled to give up when The Big Easy and I made things official, a sunny sense that the next person you meet might just be the one to change your life.  Adjusting my outlook from “anything can happen with anyone any time!” to “I’ve made my choice and it might be the last time I get to make one” was admittedly difficult for me, and I’m not sure it will be any easier the next time around – though at least now I’ll be ready (and I’ll know to take things as slowly as I need to, no matter how sweet or invested he seems).  I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to remember what I’ve always advised my friends to do: learn from your past, but don’t inflict the sins of your exes onto someone new.  After all, the only thing they have in common is you.

But wait, you’re thinking, what about the parade of available men you mentioned last week?  C’mon, Dater X, what happened there??

Glad you asked. The Fireman and I exchanged a few nice messages, but between his wonky work schedule and my frail but lingering sense of self preservation, I never made concrete plans to see him.  While a no-strings-attached romp might have been fun (and a nice bit of validation, because holy hell you should see his abs), there are things I know about him – like that he’s so sure he never wants kids, he had a vasectomy a few years back – that keep him out of the field of boyfriend candidates, and the truth is, that’s still what I’m looking for.  Flings are fun, but even after getting burned by The Big Easy, I am looking for something…bigger.  More lasting.  Something with potential.

Which brings us to my baseball player look-a-like banker, who someone thoughtfully nicknamed BB and who shall henceforth be known as BB King because it makes me giggle.  Buoyed with confidence after my cathartic girls’ nighton Wednesday, I met up with him at a bar on Thursday and made my way, in short order, back to his place and into his bed.  It’s been almost a year since we last saw each other; back then, I was in the midst of my Summer of Sexytimes and he was mere weeks out of a four-year relationship with no hopes of leaping right into a new one.  I can’t say for sure that things are any different now, but it was awfully good to see him.

BB King is, not to gloat, one of the most attractive humans that I have ever seen in real life.  So I’ve always been a little bit intimidated by him, even though in many other ways, we’re quite similar – we grew up in the same area, went to college in the big city, enjoy spending time with our families and doing things outdoors, don’t mind staying out late on school nights, even live in the same neighborhood (though given the difference in our careers, his domicile is significantly more, ahem, upscale than mine).  He was so genuinely excited to see me on Thursday that it startled me a bit; he joked that I had ditched him the last time, when I thought we’d just fallen out of touch.  Since then, we’ve been texting almost every day, and I’m seeing him again tonight.

I’m not mistaking a night of fooling around for the beginnings of a relationship – promise! – but I’m also not ruling it out.  Especially when BB King damned near managed the impossible and got me closer to an orgasm during intercourse than I’ve even been before.

But we’ll save that story for next time.  Who knows?  After tonight, there may be even more to tell.