The Saddle

I have a lot of words that are swirling around in my big, dumb head, but I’ve come to the recent realization that I think I’m ready to at least entertain the idea of a committed relationship. Obviously, putting a label on something as quickly as I can isn’t really the priority right now. I am a lot more comfortable with the idea of actively looking for something in hopes of it turning into something a bit more serious along the way, though.

2019 was the emotional equivalent of getting stabbed in the kidney while watching someone simultaneously piss in my cereal and kick my dog. It was a dark time for me that left me couch surfing and ultimately back in my childhood home for a stint. I had quite literally lost nearly everything but the clothes on my back.

Now, I’m out on my own, living by myself as a single guy for the first time in my life. After countless hours of writing, therapy, and tears, I can really confidently say that I have stumbled across an elusive peace that I have never truly known. In this time, I have tried online dating on Tinder to very little success (arguably no success at all). About two weeks ago, however, I matched with this cheeky little so-and-so, and I shot my shot…. I was met with no reply.

Until I was! She responded finally but detailed her dislike for texting and most of the people on those kinds of apps in general. That was understandable, but we exchanged SnapChats and eventually phone numbers. Her texting habits are weird to say the least, exacerbated primarily by her third shift hours. Honestly though, I figured she just wasn’t that into me which is fine. Ya’ know; to each their own.

I offhandedly mentioned my plans to see a string band that was playing here this past Saturday, and Miss not-that-into-me took me up on the offer with no questions asked. I won’t bog you guys down with too much detail, but after sweating bullets for a half hour, drinking two fingers of cheap whisky, and knocking on wood, she finally arrived. The chemistry (as far as I can tell) was nearly instantaneous. We wound up spending the whole night talking, only venturing into the actual music venue for about ten minutes before retreating to somewhere quieter to continue talking.

Eventually, she had to go, and I offered to pay her tab and mine. By that time, the venue had filled with jocks and their accompanying woo-girls. The bar was packed, and these muscle shirt laden neanderthals don’t understand the concept of getting out of the way once you have your drink. I stand there for a good ten minutes until she hunts me down, crams her way through the crowd, and asks what’s up. I tell her that I’ll probably be a while, and that if she is in any kind of hurry, she may just want to go.

She says she will stay, and again, I mention how long we might be waiting. Another wave of frat boys file in, and she wriggles into my arm and smiles. Her chest presses up against mine. She pierces me with her big, slate blue eyes and quietly says, “I want to be here with you.”

Smooches followed, but that’s not the point. The point is, I don’t know if I have ever heard such sincere words out of anyone’s mouth directed at me. Words mean so much to me. They are everything to me frankly, and those seven little words washed over me in a flood that I would gladly drown in a thousand times over. It was a first date, and we aren’t anywhere near anything serious or official. My head is buzzing though with that strange tightrope anxiety of wanting to be serious and sincere and earnest but not be smothering or clingy.

Inexplicably, she’s special to me already, in ways I never anticipated and ways she will probably never know. Special in a metaphysical way I suppose, like a touchstone for how I like being treated, but I frankly have no clue what she thinks about all this or if those couple hours made a real impression or not. She could ghost. She could disappear in an instant, and I may never hear from her again. But I want her to know me. I want her to know that amongst the calls for more drinks, the cheers, and the droning beat of house music, her whispered voice was the loudest of all.

It was a nice break in the general tedium and monotony of online dating, but I’m not dense enough to just assume this is actually going to go anywhere. People are enigmatic, and I’m willing to admit that this whole thing could blow up in my face.

That was all Saturday, and it’s Tuesday now. She had mentioned being interested in hanging out with my friends and I this Friday, but her working hours make communicating weird. It has me wondering what she is thinking. It also has me wondering if this is what dating as an adult is like.

Basically since I had turned 16 I had a partner. I went almost a decade without being single for any extensive period of time, and I’m definitely out of practice with this whole scene. The simplest things almost inevitably lead me to over analyzing unless I’m careful.

Example: I sent her a SnapChat yesterday just saying that I had a good time on Saturday, that I liked her whole deal, and that I hope I can see her again soon. Immediately after the send button was pushed, I wondered if he sounded clingy. I wondered if she would perceive that as smothering. I caught myself, cleared my head, and bought a salad.

The thing is, I really don’t know what I’m doing. I’m not really one to mince words, and I prefer to just be direct and engaged with really anything that I am concerning myself with. People aren’t projects though, and I don’t expect this process to be a walk in the park. Maybe it’s just my luck to have a fantastic date with someone who just so happens to work a polar opposite schedule than mine and dislikes texting. There is a great irony there, but if this is what I cut my teeth on, then so be it.

Who knows. Being back in the saddle is a strange ride where I feel like I’m not actually sitting on anything and the horse is off cleaning burn wounds at four in the morning. The horse also has a cute smile.

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