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PERSONAL

A Dark City Street

I lived in one US city that brings back memories of a dark time my life. I was lost, unable to find anyone that seemed right. I went on lots of dates, but none of them were successful. Well, I say none of them, I guess the true gauge of a first date is whether there is a second date – so I guess you could say around 10% of them were successful.

But most of those second dates were unsuccessful. I just did not know what I wanted. I knew what I did not want though. I was not doing well back then. I was not sleeping properly. I was drinking too much liquor. I was very unhappy with myself. I was working hard, for long hours in a competitive sector and not enjoying the environment. Sure I wanted someone to hold me in his arms and be lovely to me – I wanted that so much. But I was in a terrible place emotionally – often not sure if the next day would be the day I ended it all.

It was at that dark, gloomy time of my life that I remember one guy distinctly. It was all very off the cuff. I had not slept well the night before. That day I had gone to work with a terrible brain fog, and felt as if I must have looked awful. I drank way too much coffee to be able to survive the day at work, making me feel nauseous.

At lunchtime when I went out for some fresh air and decided that I could not face anything substantial to eat. I had skipped breakfast and convinced I needed some kind of food in my belly, I went to a sushi bar and picked a small dish up off the conveyor belt. It was just enough for me.

There was a guy sitting a couple of metres away from me. He kept on glancing over at me, just enough to be annoying and make me nervous. Eventually he did the right thing and introduced himself and claimed he recognised me. Sure enough, he knew where I worked, and told me where he worked. It made sense. Yes, we would have been at similar functions and corporate events.

We chatted a little about work related topics, nothing memorable. I do remember his humour though. I was tired, but he said plenty that made me laugh. He kept on looking at the time on his watch, which told me he ought to be getting back to his office.

He gave me his card and maybe because my face was revealing my utter exhaustion after a sleepless night he laughed, “You’re not gonna call me, are you?”

I remember saying something like, “I might call you. Sorry, I’m just tired right now. I didn’t sleep last night, which is why I look so terrible today.”

He replied, “How about if I take your number, because I’m sure as hell gonna call you.”

That was flattering. So I gave him my number. He dialed it into his phone immediately and pressed call. I looked at him and smiled, “Are you checking I haven’t given you a fake number?”

He looked at me, and laughed, “Answer your phone!”

I was enjoying his humour. I accepted his call with, “Hello Jenna, Queen of the Universe, cannot take your call right now. I am washing my hair. Leave a message and I might get back to you.”

I was surprised when he said, “Hi Jenna, it was great to run into you at lunch today. I need to see you again. Meet me after work outside the sushi bar we both had lunch at. If you’re going to be any later than half five, let me know what time to expect you. I’ll be waiting for you. It would be very rude not to call.”

With that he hung up and was out the door in a flash. Jerk! So he left me with no option, I was either going to have to call him with an excuse or a reason I did not want to meet him for a drink, or just go along with it and turn up after work, even though I felt like death warmed up.

On my way out of the office, I saw a text appear on my phone. It was sweet. I cannot remember his exact words, but he made reference to something I had said about looking terrible that day. He effectively said that if I was that gorgeous when I had not slept all night, he wanted to see me on a good day. It was enough to steer my feet in the direction of the sushi bar.

He was clearly glad I had decided to accept his invitation. But he seemed a little hesitant for a moment. Maybe he had not expected me to show up. He muttered a few suggestions about where we could get a drink or something to eat. Then he asked me where I felt like going? Jerk! He should have been more decisive. All the energy drained out of me. I was so super tired, I did not want to have to make any decisions. So I bluntly told him, “Look, I gotta be honest with you, I don’t think I am gonna be much fun. I am so tired after not sleeping last night. Today was a crappy day – except for you. You made me smile and laugh, which is why I am here. But honestly, I would prefer a rain-check.”

Humour flavoured his response. He claimed he had given up the opportunity to have dinner with a hot brunette because he thought I was more attractive. He suggested I wanted to save money on my phone-bills so had come in person to tell him I did not want to go out with him. Although I was very weary, I smiled and laughed, “You shoulda gone with the brunette…I am very careful with my free minutes.”

Then he said something to me, which threw me. He basically asked how I felt about him coming back to my apartment. He was way off the mark with that idea. I liked him. He had made me smile and laugh. The flirting was going well. There was no way he was getting into my knickers that night. Jerk! He read the answer in my face, and he voiced it, “So that’s a no. I still get to walk you to the subway station though – yes?”

After I nodded, he took hold of my hand, which was nice, I admit it felt good, and relying on me to point out which subway station, we began to amble along. He was quiet for about a minute, before he started coming out with little funny stories about his boss (and he knew I knew who his boss was) and all sorts of humorous trivia about himself. When I think back now, I wonder if he was nervous. He was a talker! I was actually enjoying that he was prattling on while I was so tired I could not think straight. There was what seemed a natural flow of humour from him, but it could have also been his nerves.

When we reached the subway station we paused for a moment. It’s a little awkward saying goodbye to someone you have just had a ten minute date with. He didn’t do very well, mumbling about how long he should expect to wait for the rain-check, whether I would answer my phone if he called me the next day, suggesting we could meet for lunch again the next day, suggesting bars and restaurants that might be suitable for our postponed date together. I remember looking at him and feeling slightly bemused by all these words coming out of his mouth that did not make a lot of sense.

I interrupted him with, “Thanks for walking me to the subway. Thanks for being the highlight of my day.” I reached up on my tiptoes and kissed him on the cheek. When I looked at his face – aaw – he just looked so pleased. He took hold of my hands and warmed them a little.

“I know you are tired, but can I just ask for a few more minutes with you. I’m not ready for this to end yet.”

Maybe it was because I was too tired to express my eagerness to be at home and asleep that I agreed for a few more minutes. At that point I did genuinely feel he had been the happiest part of the day and I wanted to give him a chance. I did like him. There were people pushing past, eager to get into the subway station to make their journey home. We took a few steps towards a side street which secluded us from the rush of commuters.

The words seemed to have dried up from his mouth. I looked up at him waiting for what I suspected was going to happen. Sure enough with a few shy smiles, he did everything right, squeezing my hands, stroking my cheek gently with the back of his fingers, delicately bringing his lips to mine, pausing to give me a moment to think, pressing his lips against mine again.

Soon we were making out – all guns blazing – messy, lips smacking, tongues flicking, noisy, hungry making out. It was good. A real good making out session, in the dark, down a side alley just off a busy thoroughfare.

I think I gave him a good fifteen minutes. Thank goodness he had stopped talking, my head could not take any more of him. The kissing was great. I remember feeling excited and thinking to myself that this could lead to more. I decided to break off before it got boring. I said goodbye with the feeling in my belly that we would be seeing each other again and maybe this guy would become a part of my life.

He turned out to a jerk. How? Well, you tell me, when you pick up your phone the next morning and see eight missed calls and four text messages – doesn’t that ring some alarm bells. It got worse every day that week. I sent a couple of texts during that week, the first to explain I was busy the evening he wanted to see me (which was true) and the second to say he was being too intense and ringing alarm bells. His response to that was to dial my number over and over and over and over. I put my phone on silent, and then decided to switch it off. He was there one night when I left work outside the office block I worked with. I just snapped and told him he was nuts and that I would report him to the police if he did not back off. I am glad to say he got the message. After all, I knew where he worked, he knew I could prove true to my word.

I don’t think of him. When I saw the prompt “dark street”, it brought him back to mind, but I don’t think of him. I was in much too dark a place at that time, and I am glad for his sake that he was frightened off by my threat.

11 replies on “A Dark City Street”

There was something not right about him. I don’t mean to be judgemental, because at the end of the day, there is something not right about everyone, and I was in a very bad place back then. But I think there was something about him, his constant jokiness, nerviness, hesitancy – I think at that time, he and I were a complete mismatch. He seemed to be running on adrenaline, whereas I was low at the time. We would have been bad for each other.

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