Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Never Stop Thinking About Him

It really is true; the moment you stop thinking about him is the moment he will decide to pop back into your life somehow. I expected Scott to reach out to me, but that expectation disappeared after a week of radio silence. Sure, it made sense, but I was really hoping that things magically went back to the way they were after a few days. Maybe he'd tell me that he was abducted by aliens and they did experiments on his brain. To be honest, I would've accepted any excuse if he had just called and said he wanted me back.

I know. You are all allowed to take a fat magic marker and write, 'DESPERATE' across my forehead, but I missed Scott like crazy the first couple weeks. And while I still loved him after going on my first post break up date, I knew I couldn't go back to him. Besides, I really liked California, especially now that my friends at home were bitching about the cold and I was wearing sundresses to work on Casual Fridays. It was time for me to establish myself out here a little and that included dating.

So, yeah, my heart skipped a beat when I saw I had a new text message from him on my phone. A million things went through my mind. What could possibly be his opening line after not reaching out to me for a month? Did he want me back? Did he know I was literally just on a date? You know they get a sense when we're moving on.

It was simple. "Hey." I put my phone away after reading it without even thinking about whether I was going to respond or not. I was going back to work and I'd figure it out later.

I got back to work and sat down at my desk. I actually did have a lot of work to do and planned on staying until 6 or 7 to catch up on some. Shelby and Peggy had different plans.

My butt barely made contact with the seat before I saw both their heads pop into my cubicle. I wanted to be nice, but the last thing I wanted to do was comply to answering their questions.

"He was nice," I said with a half smile before they even had a chance to say anything. "He said he wanted to set something up for next week, so we'll see if that pans out."

"We're you not into him?" Peggy hesitantly asked. They seemed to pick up on my mood and I felt really bad for being so short with them.

I quickly confessed that Scott had texted me after the date and that it kind of just threw my mood off. "I'm sorry, guys. I really just want to get back to work and not think about it. I promise to bring in coffees early tomorrow morning and we can talk then. Sound good?"

They both agreed and didn't seem too bothered by it. I'm trying to be more direct with people about my needs. The old Caroline would've sat there and cheerfully answered all their questions just to please them, while secretly wanting to crawl under my desk and bang my hand on the floor. Maybe if I had been more direct with Scott, I wouldn't be going on uncomfortable first dates.

I put my phone in my bag and swore I wouldn't look at it until I was ready to make my way home.

It was getting late and I was finishing up the last of my work when I heard someone clear his throat behind me. I nearly jumped out of my seat, before turning around and seeing, who else? Pete.

"Hey, number one," Pete said with a smile as he leaned against the wall of my cubicle. Pete had gotten into the habit of calling me, "number one," because my customer ratings and match successes were still currently the highest. I know, I'm a super star. I was just glad he didn't hunt down the employee with the second highest numbers and call him or her, "number two."

"Hi," I replied. "I swear, I'm heading home soon." Pete had been teasing me about staying at work too late the past few weeks. Little did he know that I did it to keep myself from crying in my apartment while eating eating raw cookie dough straight from the giant jug I bought.

"I just don't want you to burn out," he said with a laugh. "I hope you have fun plans this weekend."

I shrugged. "I don't know," I replied before trying to politely turn back to my work. "You?" I asked over my shoulder.

"Eh, might go meet up with some buddies tomorrow," he casually replied. "You haven't been taking off at all to go to New York. Everything all right?"

I felt the lump in my throat forming. A small part of me hoped that Pete had seen my online dating profile and connected the dots. I mean, it was kind of his job to be on the website. I knew that was unlikely, though. I just really hated having to tell people that Scott dumped me.

"Yeah," I replied, trying to sound as normal as possible. "But Scott and I are 'taking some space,'" I said as I put the last several words in air quotes. I still wasn't ready to admit that we were completely over and even if we were, Pete didn't need to know the full story just yet.

Pete didn't give one of his signature laughs. He was silent for a moment before saying, "Oh, I'm sorry to hear that."

I turned and said, "thanks," and I meant it.

"Okay," Pete said as he shifted his body and stretched out a bit. "Well, in that case, you're coming out with me tomorrow night."

"Really?" I asked, surprised.

"Yeah, it'll be fun," he replied. "Look sharp and I'll see you tomorrow."

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Jumping Into The Water

"How are you almost 25 years old, in 2015, and you haven't tried online dating?" Shelby asked, more stunned than annoyed. "And how," she continued, "have you worked here and not thought to try out the product."

I shrugged as I picked at my boring turkey sandwich in the cafeteria. "I was dating Scott for almost a year. And before that, I had thought about it, but I don't know." I really didn't have a good answer other than never two it wanting to put myself out there. "Isn't it kind of scary?" I asked.

Shelby frantically shook her head. "Not at all," she replied. "It's kind of exciting. I thrive on the rush." I never realized that Shelby was such a fan of online dating, but apparently it was her main source of social entertainment. "Promise me that you'll try it at least once."

I slowly nodded, still hesitant. "Okay, I'll definitely give it a try."

When I told Anna about my new challenge over the phone later that day, she practically screamed with excitement. "I always told you to try it!"

I rolled my eyes, even though she clearly couldn't see me. "Yeah, but I was with Scott. Plus, you only boned guys from Tinder. I wouldn't classify you as an online 'dater.'"

"Once you realize that there's no stigma anymore, you'll totally love it," she continued. "Plus, I met Charlie on Tinder, so I still got to the same end point. I just had a lot more fun along the way."

I nodded to myself. "Maybe I just need to screw a bunch of guys until one is dumb enough to date me," I joked. "And I don't think there's a stigma," I elaborated. "Peggy made the same comment to me. I think it's great that people date online and I wish I was more comfortable with it, but it makes me so nervous."

"Why?" Anna asked.

"At least when I meet a guy in a bar or through mutual friends, I get a feel for his presence. I know right away if he's awkward and what he actually looks like. What if I meet a guy from online and he's strange or I'm simply uncomfortable around him?"

Anna laughed. "Then you tried and you'll have a great story!"

Anna's words comforted me and while I didn't tell Shelby that it was actually Anna who convinced me to take the plunge, I don't think I would've had the guts if Anna's last statement wasn't replaying in my head.

So, with the help of Shelby and Peggy, I made my first dating profile. I didn't want to fill out the information, but they insisted. "Hello, you fucking work here," Shelby said quietly over my shoulder as I sat at my computer pouting. "You should know better than anybody that the more full profiles get more traffic."

It was true. Not only did I know that tidbit of information, but I was constantly going over information about what made certain individuals more successful at online dating than others. I also spent a lot of time talking to men and women about what they were looking for in a partner. I had this incredible advantage, but why was it so hard to use this knowledge for my own personal happiness?

So I schedule a date. He works as a high school teacher in a neighborhood right outside Santa Monica. We quickly bonded over a mutual love for Harry Potter and within a few exchanges, he asked if I'd be interested in meeting. I was hesitant, figuring that simply talking to guys online was a comfortable dipping of my toe in the pool, but I knew I had to eventually take the plunge. Why not just jump right in without stressing about it?

I agreed to meet him on a Thursday around 4 for coffee. I kind of wished we were meeting for an actual drink, but this meeting was perfect. I told him that I had to go back to work after our meeting, so I had an easy out if the date was a bust.

I arrived at the coffee shop two minutes ahead of schedule. I saw him sitting down, looking at his phone, and before I even had my hand on the door, he looked up. We made eye contact and I tried my hardest to give him a genuine, care free smile. On the inside, I was freaking out.

"Hey," I said when I walked in. He mimicked the word back to me as we mutually went in for a friendly hug. This was one of the things I wasn't sure about the etiquette on. I had asked Anna earlier in the day how I should greet him. He was essentially a stranger, but a stranger that I had been flirting with for almost a week now. She assured me that it wouldn't be awkward and, so far, it wasn't.

He had ordered me a coffee and I thanked him for it. We began to make small talk as I went to pick up my coffee cup. My hand was shaking so much and I prayed he didn't notice. Why was I so nervous? It was a simple date.

We talked about our jobs and past schooling a bit; nothing too deep, but it was nice to sit down in person with him so I could get a feel for who he actually was, besides a expressionless conversation partner on my computer screen.

It was nice and our conversation seemed to flow relatively well. After about 50 minutes, the alarm I set went off and I told him that I unfortunately had to head back to work.

"It was really nice to meet you, Caroline," he said to me with a hug outside the coffee shop as we went our separate ways.

I agreed and the date was over. I didn't think my heart could speed up any faster, until I looked down at my phone.