Friday, February 17, 2017

New Year, New Man

It was January 3, 2017 and it was surprising, but I had a date.

I had kind of fallen out of my "seeing what's out there," phase after so many promising young men just didn't work out for one reason or another. Plus, work got super busy and I couldn't really focus my attention on keeping my job AND finding a boyfriend. 2017 had to be different, though. My sister had made fun of me while I was home and when she called me a "spinster in training," I really didn't have a comeback.

I know there's nothing wrong with being single, but I still owed it to myself to at least have some fun. At least, that's what I told myself, even though my version of fun is staying at home with a bag of pita chips and watching HGTV. I will say, my tiny apartment looks absolutely amazing, since my weeknights and weekends in the fall were basically consumed with working out or decorating.

But to get back to the point, I was making good on my resolution only 3 days into the New Year. I made arrangements with a nice young man through an app. I decided not to go with WebMatch because even though my membership was free, it made me feel a little better to not be indirectly supporting Mr. Larson.

My new suitor, Tom, suggested a wine bar that I had actually been to. I got to the restaurant five minutes early, parked my car, and began fixing my make up when I heard my phone beep. He was waiting in front of the restaurant for me.

I don't know about anyone else, but first meetings still make me overly anxious. I don't know how people can be so calm about meeting someone for a first date. I can rationalize it, but it still makes me incredibly uneasy. It's probably why I'm so picky about who I actually let take me out.

The first thing I noticed about Tom was that he looked shorter than his pictures. I was wearing heels and ended up being almost his height. I'm not a height snob or anything, but it threw me off. I also noticed that he really didn't look like his pictures. I mean, I found him extremely attractive, but it didn't feel like I was meeting the Tom from online. He had short brown hair, brown eyes, and a great smile.

I didn't take this as a bad sign or anything, even though I've had friends who would completely discredit a guy who didn't fit their expectations, but it's something I often wonder about my own pictures. I know I post my best ones, but do they actually look like me? I don't think I'll ever know.

We sat down at a high top table right in front of the bar and a waiter came over relatively quick. We both ordered wine before getting into the typical, interview like questions you ask on a first date. What do you do? Where did you go to school? What side of the bed do you like? (Obviously kidding on that last one).

Conversation flowed pretty well and when it came time to order another round, he turned to me and said, "it's up to her."

"Sure, I could have another glass."

Tom told me about his job as a conservative biologist. He worked for the government and it all sounded very interesting. It was really nice being out with someone who not only did something he was passionate about, but he was also making a difference. The more he spoke about it, the more I could see the passion in his eyes. After I was about halfway through with the second glass, I started feeling a little buzzed, but it only made the date better.

"Well, I think I should be heading home," I finally said after my second glass was done. "We both have work in the morning."

Tom looked at me and smiled. "Yeah, I'll have to take you out again on a weekend."

I felt my cheeks getting red as I tried to keep myself from smiling too wide. "I'd like that."

After he paid the check, Tom walked me to my car. I had butterflies when we were a few feet away from my car, wondering if he'd kiss me or not. I'd be okay if he didn't, since he already told me he'd like to take me out again, but I was really hoping he went for it.

And he did. He kissed me softly as he wrapped his arm around me and placed his hand on my lower back. I didn't even care that we were standing there, making out, in a public parking lot. I didn't want to stop kissing him.

I was excited for our second date. This time, we went out to dinner. Our conversational topics broadened and I felt like we were moving at a good pace. About halfway through dinner, though, I started to feel lightheaded. He was talking about something that happened with his friends and I kept telling myself to just nod. I thought it would pass, but it didn't.

I don't know what happened next, but it felt like I blinked a few times and then Tom was in my face, on my side of the booth, looking terrified, with a huge glass of water in his slightly shaky hand. A concerned bus boy was scratching his head behind Tom.

"Caroline, are you okay?" He asked.

"Um, yeah, I think so," I replied as I weakly reached up for the glass. It just then occurred to me that I really hadn't drank any water that day.

"We were talking and you just fainted," Tom replied.

The only thing worse than how I physically felt was how I psychologically felt. What a way to make an impression on a new guy?

So I was glad when he still texted me the next day.

Friday, February 10, 2017

It's Not Easy

"I don't know why I even got a Christmas tree," I sighed as I wrapped up the last ornament to pack away.

"You were trying to be in the holiday spirit," Shelby replied as she picked up her wine glass. "It was well intended." She finished her glass and I saw her pouring herself a hefty second glass out of the corner of my eye.

I shrugged. "Yeah, it's a bummer packing it up, though."

"It might have something to do with you packing it up on December 23rd."

She had a point, but what else was I supposed to do? I was going home in the morning and wasn't going to be back until after New Years. I didn't need a tree rotting away while I was gone.

"Enough about me throwing away my time and money on this stupid thing," I replied. "How're things with you? How's the job search going?"

Shelby took a long sip before answering, though I felt the amount of wine she was drinking was an indication of the answer. "Okay," she finally replied with a sigh. "I have an second interview with a place this week and I could start right after New Years if things go well."

"That's awesome!" I responded with a smile. I was genuinely happy for her. Mr. Larson, the jerk face executive who I first encountered as a rude airplane traveler, had been at our branch of WebMatch in Santa Monica for months now and none of the employees had any idea when he was going to leave. There were apparently a lot of internal adjustments going on in the company that were out of my lower level awareness, but what I did know was that they laid off about half of my department the Friday after Thanksgiving. Shelby was one of the employees to be let go and I felt so awful, while also being thankful that I still had my job. But for how much longer?

"Yeah," Shelby replied with an unenthusiastic nod. "I don't know, though. I've been thinking about going back to school." She began telling me about how she had always wanted to be a lawyer, but couldn't stand the thought of three years of law school. "There's a program for paralegals and I applied this morning."

"I loved school, so I'm always a big supporter of anybody going back." We talked about that a bit more before I began telling her what had recently been going on at WebMatch.

"So, Larson has been having a lot of meetings with me and Pete. The other day he brought up one of our less than great customer feedback forms." I paused to pick up my own glass of wine. The thought of the meeting already had my blood boiling.

"Why is he saying that he feels like you didn't take his preferences into account?" Mr. Larson asked me as we sat at the long conference table. Pete was sitting in between me and Mr. Larson, but he might as well have been invisible, because Mr. Larson wasn't berating him about anything.

"Well," I began as I pursed my lips. "Most of the traits he asked for were purely based on appearance and I tried to take those into account, but there were also personality characteristics based on the most recent research that I had to consider." I passed him some of the papers I had with me, but he waved them away without giving them even a mere glance. "He's been with us three years and while some of those relationships have worked, him and I have discussed that we need to try something different if he wants to find a serious, long-term relationship." 

Everything I had presented to him was true and it's not even like the customer feedback was that bad. He just didn't give us perfect scores and that was something the customer had written in his comments at the end of the survey, along with excellent reviews about me.

"I don't need excuses, Caroline," Mr. Larson replied without considering any of my perfectly valid points. "We just can't keep losing clients like this. The personal matchmaking takes a lot of resources to keep running and if we lose clients we won't be able to maintain the department. Does that make sense to you?"

I was ready to quit right there and after hearing the story, Shelby didn't understand how I didn't blow up at him.

"It's not easy," I insisted. "But I've decided to channel all that energy into kickboxing. Plus, I've started doing deep breathing exercises at my desk."

Shelby and I finished up the process of taking down my Christmas tree. Then I forced myself to go to sleep so I could wake up super early for my flight.

It was really nice to see my family for the week. I missed being home, but I did not miss that cold. I spent a lot of the time inside with my sister, who was also off for the week.

Then New Year's Eve rolled around. I went with my friends to a catering hall, like we had done a few times already. It was fun to get dressed up and see them. Not to mention that I killed in my crop top and skirt combination. Thanks were due to kickboxing, yet again.

Moose was there, though. He didn't try to talk to me and I was thankful he didn't. I was so busy catching up with everyone that I don't think anybody noticed, but I did. He was giving me weird looks all night, but he was also glued to his cell phone. Anna told me him and Jacky had broken up, but he was already back on Tinder. "He's talking to a lot of girls," she informed me, without any prodding. "He's kind of being sleazy with it."

Moose? Sleazy? No way! I was so glad that things hadn't gone further with us. He wasn't worth it.