The Guy We Pity: Mr. Temporary

Upon returning from my summer internship in New York after my sophomore year in college, I found myself incredibly bored.

Though I had a fantastic group of friends, a demanding associate editor position at the school newspaper, and a college town that welcomed me back with gold-and-black open arms – I  missed my city, and nothing seemed to measure up to it. It took me a while to adjust and return back to a comfortable state so I could settle in for another one-and-a-half years of college. And to help me pass the time was Mr. Temporary.

That year for my sorority’s (yes, I’m Greek, no judging) semi-formal not only was I dress-less, but also date-less. Though I tried to project the impression that it didn’t bother me, I did hope that suddenly, out of the framework, someone would appear for me to dance the night away with. To my surprise, my sister, B, hooked me up with a friend of a friend whom she thought I would at least enjoy the company of for an evening.

She was right.

At first glance, Mr. Temporary had the stats of a promising boyfriend: tall, olive skin, green eyes, killer smile, and well-dressed. If you like the cowboy-type-of-thing (I’m not a huge fan), he had that special little twang that’s only derived South of the Mason-Dixon. He was also talented, had goals for himself, and he told me I looked beautiful when he first laid eyes on me. That’s a brownie point in my book.

However, as we continued to see each other after the semi-formal and I learned more about him – I realized how far from my type he actually was. Though he was very intelligent, he was closed-minded about the issues that mattered the most to me. He did want a career with children, which is admirable, but just the thought of New York made him want to gag. He had a very attractive physique, but his kissing skills were way below par for his age. Or really, for any age.

So why, sitting across him over Spicy Tuna and Shrimp Tempura rolls, I agreed to turn my Claddagh ring around, is beyond me.

Maybe it was being lonely and enjoying just having the company of someone, or the way he seemed to be smitten with me, or the safety net of not having to be labeled as single – but something, against my better judgement decided to be an item with a man who I knew would never be the one for the long run. While I really don’t feel like I have any regrets thus far in my life, I will say I made a very poor decision by being “exclusive” with Mr. Temporary.

In the two or three months we dated -I lost interest day-by-day. When we introduced sex into the relationship, I was horrified at how awful it was and how much it lacked passion. When I met his mother, who didn’t know how to stop talking for the entire time we were at dinner, I couldn’t imagine how anyone could stand to be her daughter-in-law. When I met his roommate for the first time, it took every ounce of restraint in me to not flirt with him – for he was miles more attractive than Mr. Temporary. And when it was time to celebrate Valentine’s Day and I knew the girlfriend-thing to do was to buy him something, I couldn’t find any card (even in the “I like you” section) that was appropriate for what I felt.

Mainly because I didn’t really feel anything. That is, anything but fear of being alone.

Sadly, the thing to release me from clinging onto something because I was so terrified of having seemingly-nothing, was the death of my best friend L’s mother. On Friday the 13th, the day before St. Valentine’s infamous day, she lost her 10-year battle with breast cancer, and after I received the bad-news phone call, I rushed out of class and back to embrace L. I sent a quick text message to Mr. Temporary letting him know I would be missing Valentine’s Day and the entire weekend – and then ceased talking to him for four days.

I didn’t even respond to worried texts or calls or Facebook posts because not only was I mourning the loss of a beautiful, wise, and strong woman, consoling L to the best of my ability (there really aren’t words you can say, even as a writer) – I was also using this time to liberate myself from Mr. Temporary. And perhaps, I took that liberation a tad bit far.

I happened to run into Mr. Fling right after the funeral, tears still slightly plummenting down my cheeks, and needing to get back to school for a newspaper meeting that I sincerely didn’t want to attend. He comforted me, held me close, and kissed my eyelids so very tenderly. And in that moment of weakness, in that second of sincerity and care that he offered me, I allowed myself to fall into him. A kiss led to snuggling, which led to a black dress on the floor, which brought us to…

Needless to say, with a million different feelings running haywire in my heart and soul, I knew when I returned back to school – the very last thing I needed was one more headache, especially when I knew I would be causing a heartache. And so, with integrity and honesty, I confessed what I had done and things ended with Mr. Temporary as easily as they began. I made no excuses for cheating and don’t accept them if it’s the other way around, but I was truthful by telling him the reason I strayed wasn’t due to him, but was completely me. I didn’t cry, I didn’t get upset, and I didn’t really mind him being gone. Because that weekend, I learned a very important lesson about life and about love.

It is true that life is short and if you ever enter a relationship with the mindset that it will only be an in-between type of love or someone to fill the cold spot in your bed – you are wasting your time (and their time). Even if you are not seeking a forever partner, marriage, or happily ever after – if you’re allowing the romantic part of your soul to be captivated by someone who doesn’t satisfy, excite, or really match you, the ending will only be hurtful the longer it continues. While some relationships are not meant to last, our hearts are built to endure pain, and the intensity felt at midnight isn’t always as strong when the sun peeks above the skyline – in terms of love, if you know before you even get started that it is fleeting feeling, save yourself the trouble.

Break free of the bounds of fear, of those nagging voices in our heads that tell us that Mr. Right Now is acceptable if we aren’t having any luck meeting Mr. Right, and of our bodies who lust for attention and petting, even if it isn’t the most enjoyable of experiences.  Allow the love you have for yourself to gain momentum, take pride in the ability you have to depend on your own person, and for his sake, don’t lead Mr. Temporary on. Especially if there is a Mr. Fling readily available.

Just Go With It

And so, I decided to be spontaneous. Yesterday was an incredibly stressful and long day -I spent 10 hours at a trade show and then went to the gym (like a crazy person, as my boss said), and then…Mr. Sushi texted.

It started casual and then we realized we were both free, and he asked if I wanted to grab a drink. I agreed, but only after I made sure he was throwing an appetizer in the mix too because I was starving. We met near Columbia and the conversation was effortless, and the food was great (the sangria even better). I found myself having a very nice time…and trying much less.

As I said before, I am the master of the first date. I know what to say, how to say it, what to look for, and where to spot it. But this time, after all my progress, I let my guard down a little. I just let the conversation go and I didn’t try to take control. I listened to what he had to say and he asked me questions in a natural flow. It was easy and it was simple…and I’m not exactly sure what I think, but it was one of the best first dates I’ve been on in a long time.

I’m not picturing a wedding in the Hampton’s or picking out the names of our imaginary children, like I usually do. And that’s good. In fact, that shows me that I’m actually gaining sincere and true confidence in myself. It proves that my carriage is not in front of my horse, but behind where it belongs. Or maybe it shows that I’m not smitten yet -either way, I think it is a positive result.

Mr. Sushi walked me home, kissed me at my doorstep, and apparently, we’re watching his favorite movie on Monday with a bottle of wine and takeout. My guess is that he’s a fan of the kisses and wants more, which for my trying-to-not-be-addicted-to-love self could be a good or a bad thing. We’ll see (and of course I’ll update you).

Step 4 is about going back and figuring out where problems originated and I think it’s a healthy discovery. A few of my ex-boyfriends have been contacting me this week (I think my higher power likes to play with me sometimes), and honestly, it has gotten me a little down. I’ve felt that longing and that intense sadness, and I’ve missed them. But – it is because of my newfound security and (if I may) bravery, that I’ve been able to overcome these thoughts.

Nevertheless, even though Mr. Sushi is a possibility, what’s more important to me is finding self-love. So no, I’m not cold, I’m just focused. I like where I am at in this process and I love the person I’m becoming (or maybe just finding?). With or without any of the past loves or any loves-to-be – I want to know that at the end of the day, the journey, the story – I can always, always, always, depend on myself.

I want to know that if his movie sucks, the wine is awful, and he picks some icky takeout place, that I won’t be disappointed, but instead, like I have been lately -I’ll just laugh and call it another one for the book (you better believe there is a book!). I want to know that I can just go with it.

Just simply, effortlessly, and sincerely – just go.

Am I Becoming Cold?

A few days ago I was asked out on a date.

While out to dinner at one of my favorite NYC restaurants, my friend, S, and I were hit on by an adjacent table of 10 guys celebrating…who knows what? Saki bombs and sushi rolls were plenty, and so was the level of annoyance. However, there was one guy, who I’ll call Mr. Sushi, who was a little different and stood out from the pack of immature “men.”

Mr. Sushi is nearly 30 (which is fine by me), tall, and has a good career. He just returned from a three-month trek around the world to discover countries, places, and people he has always wanted to see. He lives in the Upper West Side, originally from New Jersey, and we both share a love for this tiny little diner near Columbia (his alma mater).

Once he asked for my number, I told him, “Now, you better wait the allotted three days to use it, ok?” He laughed at my attempt at a joke and promised he’d put my digits to use. As my friend and I stood up to leave, he stood up too, to hug me. As we embraced, his friends started chanting “Kiss her! Kiss her!” A little tipsy from the evening’s spirits, I couldn’t figure out for the life of me what they were talking about, and Mr. Sushi couldn’t either –until we looked at each other and it clicked.

Then, the hole-in-the-wall restaurant caught on and every table joined in saying “Kiss her! Kiss her!” Mr. Sushi leaned down to my ear and said “We have to or we’ll disappoint everyone…and never get to come back here.” I agreed, and there in the middle of everyone, he dipped me and kissed me. Yes, there was a little tongue.

The next morning, I realized how little it bothered me. I told my mom about the exchange, she got excited (mainly because he’s a Taurus) and she asked me about it the following day, when he had yet to text. I thought the kissing-in-the-middle-of-the-restaurant was a cute story, but I wasn’t a nervous nelly because he didn’t contact me.

And once he did, three days later (of course), I was surprised to hear from him (mainly because I kind of forgot). He asked me out the following night, but I already had plans, and unlike the former me, I didn’t break them just to go on a date. I gave him my availability and he worked around my schedule. After the exchange, I left it alone, and it didn’t consume my thoughts.

Progress? I’m not getting my hopes up –which is good (right?). Or was I just not that into him? And is it bad if I don’t get my hopes up period anymore?

I’m praying this process doesn’t take away my lavish optimism and admiration for love. I still want to desire falling in love and having that once-in-a-lifetime romance, but I don’t want it to overpower my thoughts and my confidence. I want to be completely content and in love with myself, but I still want to get excited about possibility with someone else.

Is there a happy medium? Or does being un-addicted to love mean you lose that hopeful whimsical nature? Can I be okay with not being in love or having a relationship and still get those incomparable butterflies-in-your-tummy feeling?

Should I be getting excited about this date or is it bad that it doesn’t faze me at all? Am I becoming cold? Or is it just the weather?