Dater X: A Long December
I have a strangely-encompassing love for the end of December: not just the holidays themselves, all twinkling lights and delicious things to eat and wine with lunch, but the chill in the air, the ever-so-slightly melancholic songs about lost loves and returning home, the sense that the entire world is preparing not just to start over with the new year, but also, to reflect on the year gone by and mine its remains for lessons and ways to better ourselves. There’s the promise of the first snow (which, this year, was more like a poorly spun rumor, quickly debunked) and the choosing of gifts to put smiles on loved ones’ faces and the festive flurry of preparations for a home full of family, punctuated by the lighting of a cozy fire and hoots of laughter as A Christmas Story plays in the background.
Most wonderful time of the year, indeed.
But I’ll be damned if there isn’t something a little like fumigation to the end of the year, as well, chasing the most elusive roaches out of the walls and into the holiday fray. Case in point: who among us hasn’t received a text from an ex – or several – under the pretense of wishing us a Happy Hanukkah / Merry Christmas / Non-Denominational End-of-Year Fond Tidings??
As I wile away the hours until I see The Bartender again (three days and counting, for those like me who are keeping score at home), my phone has been a chirping hub of activity. We’ve stayed in regular contact while we both spent Christmas weekend with our respective families, but he’s hardly the only one reaching out. My freshly-divorced high school boyfriend, who regularly goes years without texting me only to reappear and invite me over for the weekend or to attend a mutual friend’s wedding as each others’ dates, wrote to wish me both a happy Christmas Eve and a merry Christmas the following day. The Fireman surfaced after several weeks out of contact to report that, in between rushing into burning buildings and heli-skiing in Alaska (the dude is an adrenaline junkie to say the least), he had logged onto Instagram for the first time and found both my photos and my personal blog hilarious and entertaining.
I heard nothing from BB King – hardly surprising, and frankly not altogether disappointing – but at 3 a.m. on the 27th, The Big Easy wrote to say that he meant to text me the day before (presumably Christmas, though who knows how much he had had to drink) and to say, “Merry Christmas, Kid,” a patronizing little diminutive that was both a) annoying and b) inaccurate, since I’m older than he is. A number of dismissive responses scrolled through my head (“Go home, The Big Easy, you’re drunk,” or maybe “Who you calling ‘Kid,’ kid??,” or just “Who is this??”), but ultimately, I said nothing. I had no interest in getting drawn into a text battle with him, and I rolled over and went back to sleep. The next morning, I deleted his message and sent a quick note to The Bartender, instead. Affection, instead of confrontation. I steadfastly believe that this is progress.
The guy from the alumni event wrote to wish me a happy holiday, as well, which was sweet, but just didn’t inspire any excitement on my part. I’m torn between writing back and frankly explaining that I’m not interested and have met someone else or just apologizing with a smile if I ever see him at another event. It’s not like we ever went on a date, so I’m having a hard time feeling too bad about not getting back to him, and it’s really only the possibility of bumping into him at a mixer in the future that gives me pause.
As I putter around my apartment for the next few days, tidying up and preparing for New Year’s Eve with The Bartender (read: buying a bottle of bubbly and putting freshly laundered sheets on the bed), I’m also mulling over a surprising turn of events in my sister’s dating life: her boyfriend, the one so beloved by the family that we had taken to calling him my future brother-in-law, has apparently been cheating on her. She finished work early on the 23rd and got home in time to overhear him chatting rather explicitly with some girl; rather than barge into the apartment and confront him, she marched back to the elevators, then paused to think. A few minutes later, a scantily clad woman got off and asked her which way to apartment 613 – my sister’s apartment. Little Sis X gave the girl the wrong directions, went back to her apartment and gave her boyfriend an earful, then grabbed cash, keys, and a copy of the lease (which is in her name) and moved herself into a hotel. She spent most of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in bed, unable to face a family meal and explain her boyfriend’s absence to our many gathered relatives, and is now in the process of kicking him out of their apartment. And somewhere in my empathy for her as she prepares to start over is the faint flicker of doubt that any of us ever really get a happy ending and the reluctant acknowledgement that being with someone might mean accepting behavior that we swear we never will.
If anything, it’s another reminder – one among many – to take things slow and steady with The Bartender. And more on that in 2016!
Happy New Year, readers. As we kiss 2015’s sorry ass goodbye, I hope that you have as much to look forward to as I do.
Until next week,
Dater X 3.0