Out Of My League

Its been couple weeks since I’ve posted. Life happens sometimes. Things have changed and ultimately stayed the same.  I met her family last weekend. It was a very fortunate situation in that her niece was having a birthday party. So my presence was made known but no one had time to really question me too hard.

She met my family this past weekend. We made a last second call to crash a family cookout. I was more hesitant about it than I thought I would be. Every step forward we take like that is even more of an investment in my feelings for her. Obviously, I’m all in. But her hesitation to talk about anything farther than the next date certainly causes me pause. For the record, they adored her. Because of course they did.

Two weekends from now we’re going to a music festival. Three straight days of her should answer whatever lingering questions I may have. Its not an ideal situation. It’s me, her…and three of her friends. I honestly wish it was just us but her time is limited and I’m honored to have it at all, even if it’s split with others.

We went to dinner with her friends last week. When I picked her up she was wearing a seersucker dress. She looked absolutely incredible. We went to a night festival afterwards and we walked around, hand in hand, checking out the local vendors. I have no idea what really happened because I couldn’t take my eyes off of her. I was incredibly proud to have her on my arm. I stopped and thought, “I’m literally with the most beautiful woman here. I’m waaaay out of my league with this.” It was an incredible and terrifying feeling.

The universe found it fitting to insert this song into my playlist on the way home. It couldn’t be more true.

 

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Electric Love

Confirmation.

The hardest thing about quasi-distant dating is that you’re forced into two relationships. One present. One in your head. I’ve spent the last few days living out the worst and best outcomes of the mess I made this weekend. So much so that I think I lost touch with reality.

I do that all the time at work. I over-analyze things to such an extent that I lose focus on the facts in front of me. I need to do a better job of taking the facts as they are and dealing with them.

I was convinced that I was going to arrive at her house yesterday and then head back home fairly quickly. Alone. When I got there, though, her eyes were still the same ones that I think about before I go to sleep every night.Her smile still shook me to my core. It was a little awkward at first. But after a pizza and wine dinner (I paid. No complaints. Boom.) we settled onto her couch for an episode of Newsroom. (Amazing show.) We went horizontal after an awkward attempt at sitting up straight. She put her head on my chest.

It was electric. There were fireworks just like the first time she walked out of her house, my knees week from her smile, clubmasters, and little black dress. Not a whole lot was said. But her smile told me everything I needed to know. I must have kissed her head a thousand times.

We talked about the weekend later. She was concerned. She didn’t want to date someone with tendency to get so sideways that he loses control of his words and actions. She stewed too much on it after I left Saturday. She was over it, now.

She was still on top of me, but it felt like someone backed my truck off my chest. I don’t think I had taken a deep breath in three days. As much as I hate to admit it as a man who prides himself of toughness and self-dependence, I just needed some confirmation. Some reassurance.

It’s funny how touch works like that. So much can be said. Explained. Promised. But at the end of the day, feeling the person you love next to you speaks things to the soul that couldn’t ever be expressed verbally. I got a text on the way home about us moving forward. The term “fender bender” was used. Certainly not ideal, but so much better than “totaled.”

I listened to this song on the way home. My love for her IS electric. It runs through every part of me. It’s shocked me into doing and saying things that just don’t come out of a conservative southern man. It has flatly jolted me off my feet. I’m sitting in my office still buzzing from feeling her skin on mine.

For lack of more corny electricity puns, I’m incredibly happy to be back in the hunt for her heart. Next up — her family’s. But that’s a post for another day.

I Just Wanna Pay For Pizza

We were talking about our past week this morning. We’ve both been really busy, a little beat down by some long hours. I told her I was going to be in town to run some errands and offered to stop by. She said she would like that (progress.) I suggested wine and pizza. My treat.

Sudden pause. Shit. I’m obviously pretty oblivious to the workings of the female mind but I know one thing for sure: when a conversation about plans is flowing and there’s a delayed response she has either 1) gotten busy or 2) paused to think about something. Maybe this is a glass half-full attitude, but a “pause for reflection” tends to end up poorly for me.

“It always ends up being your treat. You never let me buy anything”

Uh oh. I feel like I explained myself pretty well in slew of desperate recovery texts. She seemed to accept the answer. But as a man of my profession with a tendency to over-analyze, I have to wonder if maybe that hit a nerve. She’s pretty upfront about what she’s thinking so I’m not particularly worried about it.

This has been an issue for me on dates in the past, though. I picked one female up for a date and, out of habit, went and opened the door for her. She looked at me like I had a male reproductive organ growing out of my forehead.

“Am I not capable of doing that?”
“Uhh…well…sure you are…just…uh…trying to be nice.”

Obviously the ride to the restaurant was a little awkward. Things got better over dinner. C0nversation was fairly pleasant. Then, as things wound down, the waiter handed me the check. I pulled out my card, threw it in the folder, and put it down. I smiled at her and put my napkin on the table.

“I had a pretty good time tonight. So can I take you for ice cream?”
“What the hell was that? I’m JUST a designer, so I can’t pay for my half of the food?””Ya know…I should really watch my calories.”

Obviously I didn’t pursue a second dinner too aggressively. I’ve got to be honest, that confuses me a little bit. I have no issues with feminism. I don’t understand what it’s like to be a woman because I’m not one. I believe them when they say there are barriers in place that prevent them from being treated equally. I have sisters and a mother that I adore, and God forbid anyone were to ever mistreat them because they’re women. I’d be the first get redneck in their defense. And I’m sure there are legitimately chauvinist men out there who make being a woman harder than it should be.

I’m just not sure that war is best fought on the grounds of a first date. I could give my soapbox on the dying ideals that made men honorable. It’s antiquated and backwards to some people, and I’m aware of that. So I’ll save it. I could also lament that fact that most men who call themselves “gentlemen” only concern themselves with that term when it comes to impressing a woman enough to get her into the sack. I’ll save that too.

Here’s my simple truth: I pay for dinner, open doors, pull out chairs, etc. — because I care about the woman I’m doing that for. Even in the context of a first date, I’m pretty honored that she’s decided I’m interesting enough to give up a Saturday evening to meet me. So I care. Care so much, in fact, that I’m willing to put aside my absurd cheapness and splurge a little.

And here’s the thing about caring: I can say all I want, but actions speak a million times louder. One of the biggest problems with our country and our world is that we’re willing to talk about things until we’re blue in the face. Very rarely, though, are we willing act on those words. So I make a conscious effort to defy that norm. Add that to the fact that I tend to be a little (a lot) awkward with women in a romantic setting, and I feel like paying for dinner is a perfectly acceptable token of gratitude. “Thanks for allowing me to stumble through casual conversation with you while trying to avoid eye contact.”

I’m not saying my girlfriend is a feminist taking a stand. Or that I could ever blame her for questioning me for always paying for things. The more I think about it, she probably just feels guilty. She’s caring like that, and that’s why I love her. But I hope I can make her understand that everything I just said applies to her but in a much bigger fashion. I don’t just care about her. I love her. I want her to know that I can take care of her. I want her to know that she’s bigger than money to me. I want her to know that I’m never going to get so comfortable that I’ll stop dating her, even if we’re married. My time and money talks. It says “I love you, and I will do anything to make you happy.”

Maybe that’s antiquated. Maybe that’s backwards. Maybe I’m even more clueless than I suspect I am and I’m running around offending people and I’m a total jerk for doing so.

Or maybe — just maybe — I just wanna buy her some damned pizza. She can get it the next time if she wants. I love pizza either way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Time For Me.

I made time for me today. I put it in my google calendar. Got all my menial tasks done early. And went to the track.

I’m a triathlete. Not a very good one, mind you. But I’ve run a couple races. Even a half Ironman. I’ve invested enough time and money at this point that I’m okay with calling myself that. “Triathlete.” Or maybe “Tri-Geek.” It is the most painful, time consuming, obsessive compulsive hobby that I’ve ever been a part of. But I love it. You get so lost in the sweat, the heat, the exhaustion, the beep of the heart rate monitor, the stats on my Garmin, the music in my headphones…that everything else melts away.

I picked it up after the breakup. 1) I needed to lose weight and I know myself well enough to know that I need something to compete in for me to stay motivated enough to stick it out. 2) It’s one of those things that you see people do and think, “They’re crazy, I could never do that…but what if I did?” So I did.

This has been a shit week. I don’t know of a more eloquent way to put it. Work is crazy, my family is crazy, and all of this with her. Well that’s next level crazy. She’s made it very clear she wants a step back to feel things out. I deserve that and don’t blame her. But I sent her a simple text in the middle of court today. “I miss you.” The response: “I know. ”

That’s a certain type of crushing feeling that I’ve never felt before. I appreciate the acknowledgment of my feelings. But to have messed up so bad that I can’t get something other than “I know,” back? Well. Devastating.

In the past, that would have been a great excuse to do some terrible things to my body. Bourbon. Beer. Whatever. Whatever it takes to dull the edge of the realization that this may not work. If I’m truly honest with myself: probably won’t. I confided in a good friend about the whole situation. The type of friend who will give you a real, honest assessment of a situation. “Yeah, I’m sorry buddy. It doesn’t look good,” she said. Now, I trust God. But I’m also not sure that even God understands the intricacies of a woman’s mind more than another woman. (Kidding of course.)

So I laced up the Asics. Grabbed my headphones. Turned the music up loud enough to drown out all of my racing thoughts. And just ran. Jogged. Sprinted. Laps. Hills. Bleachers. All of it. One hour and one soaked tee-shirt later my mind slowed down enough to process the last couple weeks.

I haven’t made time for me recently. I’ve been so lost in her and doing whatever I could do to win her heart. Add that to seventy-hour work weeks. Add that to the family responsibilities that come with living in the small town where you grew up. Me-time got lost in that shuffle. God, being the friend that he is to me, inserted this song into my playlist.

“I’m giving you up for now.” I think the song is probably more about calling the whole thing off. That’s not how I took it. It spoke so much truth into my heart that I actually slowed to a walk. (I hate walking). If only for the time it takes to make sure that I’m physically, mentally, and spiritually healthy — I’ve got to give her up sometimes. Give everything up sometimes. I’ve got to sweat all of the stress and doubt out of my system. I’ve got to give up the weight of it all to God. Even if just for an hour. I said a quick prayer. “Thanks for that, Big Guy. Check myself more? Got it. Thank you — for everything.”

I don’t want — and she doesn’t deserve — for me to be this trembling mess of a man that this has turned me into at times. If she’s going to love me. If I’m going to get the ending I’m praying for. I want it to be with a version of me I’m proud of. Capable of shouldering not just my own burdens, but hers. I worry about that sometimes. Whether I’m mentally capable of that. I’m training for it, though, just like I’m training my body. With a little help of course.

I’m not giving up on her. I’ve defied the odds more than a couple of times in my life. And no matter how confusing things have gotten or how badly I’ve screwed up, the gut feeling is still the same. She’s it. If not the one made for me, then the closest I’ve ever seen. But for an hour it was good to give her up. If one day I truly get her, I’ll be better for it.

 

Blow Me Away

Corey Smith has been around for a long time. I started listening to him when I was 18. In a lot of ways I’ve grown up with his music. I discovered pretty early that there’s something that appeals to me about a guy with an acoustic guitar in a smoky bar room. That’s often caused me more trouble than happiness.

His music has changed a lot of the couple of years. It’s less friday night shenanigans and more sunday morning reflection. I like that think I’ve made that change too.

She and I talked a lot yesterday about letting things happen how they will. Lots of apologies from me, and even a few directed at me. I’m grossly undeserving of those. It’s pretty clear that the next few weeks will flatly make or break us. That’s on me; I put us here. But for her to give me the grace of another chance — to be willing to look past my flaws and truly give me a chance to be the man she deserves. Well. That blows me away.

I’m fully aware that I can’t ever be what she truly deserves. Perfection is an ideal, not a reality. I’ll chase it for her, though. Regardless of the sleepless nights. Regardless of how many hours I spend anxiously staring at my phone waiting to hear from her. The anticipation is worth the chance, if small, that I can call her forever.

 

If You Can Hear Me

I was sitting in Church today trying to pay attention to what Pastor Scott was saying. It’s hard not to; he’s got a southern delivery that is hard not to watch in awe. But sometimes heavy hearts lead to closed ears.

I’m a Christian guy. You may not know it if you’ve read much of this. I curse. I drink. I have a strong sarcastic streak. But my faith has always been important to me. I make time to pray everyday. Maybe not on bended knees with closed eyes. Usually driving in my truck with the music turned down. Sometimes in my head when I’m mowing my lawn. I tend to skip the formalities and get right to the substance. “I need you on this, God. Show me where I need to go.”

I think some people need the big, formal God. The suit, tie, and stained glass windows God. Not to sound like Ricky Bobby, but I prefer my God riding shotgun in my F-150. Or next to me and my basset hound on the porch. God is my confidante. He’s my bent ear. It took a long time and for real life to get pretty heavy for me to realize he comes to me as a friend. Maybe that’s not the “correct” God. But he’s gotten me through many hard times. So I think I’ll keep him where he is.

All of this with her has me acting in ways that I don’t like, certainly in a manner that I’m unfamiliar with. I’m pressing way too hard. Upon reflection this has been entirely too much about me. “Show ME what to do God. What can do to get her to trust me…to love Me.”

That’s not what any of this about. Love isn’t a goal, another block on my checklist. It’s not another degree I want on my wall. It’s bigger. It’s more humble. It’s a process. And more than anything, it’s a blessing. Now, I may not be a biblical scholar, but I don’t remember being taught that extra prayer will force God’s hand on anything. No matter how bad I’ve ever wanted something, it has always come it was supposed to. Or not at all. And much to my chagrin in the moment, retrospect has always proven that the divine plan was better than my own.

So. Mid-communion God made it very clear what I need to do. Not like a voice in my head or a burning bush moment. Just a moment of clarity. “Listen buddy, I made you a type A and there are times and places where I’m going to use that. But on this. Well. You’re gonna have to let me handle it.”

That’s not the answer I wanted, sure. Everything I have ever achieved is due to pure and simple hustle (with his help of course). I’m very proud of that. But this isn’t about me. It’s about her. And Him. So, here you go, God. I’m gonna back off and see what you do with it. I think I’ve made my intentions with her very clear to her. And very clear to him. All that I can do now is continue to pray. Continue to love her. Continue to grow and hope.

If I needed any reassurance about this conclusion, this song came on as soon as I got in my truck. I laughed out loud. “Okay, big guy. I hear you. Do what you think is right.”

 

Foot. Meet Bullet.

I met a woman. And I’m trying really hard to blow it.

Last night was our first night out to the bars. We had a nice reception and then headed downtown. She looked incredible. I caught myself several times wondering how in the world I deserved to call her my date.

I’m a dumb guy. Maybe more so than most. Certainly too dumb to be as educated and old as  I am. So. I drank way too much. Work has been rough. I was a nervous wreck. So I took to the bourbon hard. I’m not excusing it. I know better. I’ve had PLENTY of experience in the state of sideways. So I knew it could happen.

I spilled my guts. I told her everything I’ve written on this silly page and more. I told her she was the one. I told her I loved her more already than I ever have anyone else. After a month and some change. I told her I had reevaluated every plan that I ever had. I told her that I had never been so sure of anything in my life — that I never wanted to wake and look into any other eyes but hers.

That’s all true. But when delivered at a waffle house through slurred speech with eyes half open. Well. You have to question the sincerity. You also have to consider that it’s pretty fucking crazy. Add the fact that I may have had a jealous moment with one of her friends. There’s some reevaluation on her part.

I’m physically sick over it. That hangover is bad, but knowing that I got blackout drunk when I had everything to lose. That’s a million times worse.

When dealing with firearms we always talk safety. You can’t call that round back. It’s the same with drunken words and actions. I would do literally anything to do last night over. To be smooth. To hold my tongue. To just stand in the glow of the woman I want to be my wife. Instead I’m sitting at my kitchen table in the dark trying to think of what to do or say to avoid what would be the worst day of my life. Losing my chance.

I wouldn’t blame her if she called it. She is the type of woman who doesn’t have to — and shouldn’t — accept anything less than someone who does all the right things. Even if my words were true. It wasn’t the time. Surely wasn’t the place.  That’s what is hardest about this. Knowing that I wasn’t worthy of her when that’s what I want more than anything in this world.

So tonight I’ll pray really hard that we move past it. I’ll try to mend the bullet hole in my foot. I’ll apologize and hope for the best.

I met a woman. I’m hoping I don’t have to say goodbye.

 

It Must Be Love

I love old school country. People disparage it a lot: it’s too simple, there’s no substance, etc. But I don’t music always has to be a heady experience. Sometimes it’s best served as soundtrack to a cold beer on a porch during a summer evening.

It’s a lot like how I feel about her. I can delve into the complexities of it. Or I can just let it flow over me. There a million things in life that require intense thought and consideration. But to me, she just IS. She’s everything. She makes me happy in a way that I’ve never experienced without trying. So today I’m just gonna bask in it.

(I like the Alan Jackson version, but I’m all about crediting the original.)

For Love of the Commonwealth

kentucky

I met a woman. A woman who loves where she comes from. Which is also where I come from.

I’ve talked a lot about what she’s done for me. The crazy one month transformation that has changed everything I thought I knew about where I was going or what I wanted. I haven’t talked about what it is about her actually caused that.

The truth is that I can’t fully wrap my head around it. I love everything about her. But pointing to one of the wonderful things about her and saying THAT is the reason I love her — well. That’s like trying to figure out why lighting strikes where it does. It just does. And whatever it touches is never the same.

One thing we talk a lot about is Kentucky. We were both born and raised here. That’s very common, for people from here to stay here. It’s hard to truly say why. Statistically it’s not high in any category. At face value it’s a poor state. The landscape can be inhospitable. The weather is maddeningly inconsistent. We get the extreme colds of the north and brutal heat of the south. Its not considered a particularly educated place.

But when you live it. When you wake up and breathe it. You can never really leave it. It’s poor but the people are kind in a way that you’ve never experienced if you haven’t been here. The rough landscape is breathtakingly beautiful. The weather is…well it’s nice to fully experience the four seasons.  And for what people lack in education they make up in ingenuity. Presumptuousness  is never a concern.

I wax poetically only to say that I could never leave. I’m too tied to my family. Too in love with this place. I find God in these hills in a way that I haven’t anywhere else. So why leave?

On our first date she looked at and said “I just don’t think I could ever leave. I love this place to much. It’s my home.”

I could have fallen out of my chair. This beautiful, ambitious woman wants to stay here? And not just here but HERE. In the particular region that I call home. I married her and built her a mansion in the country in my head. I saw little barefooted children running in the hills of my family farm.

I’m proud to be a Kentuckian, maybe above all things. I’m proud of the people. I’m proud of the values we still take seriously. I’m proud that we make it work where others couldn’t. To love someone who is just as proud? Well that’s more than lucky. That’s the God who I find in these hills…at work in my life.

I met a woman. A Kentucky woman. The best kind there is.

 

 

All My Heart

I send her Spotify screenshots constantly. I struggle with finding the words for her, so music bridges the gap. Maybe she thinks it’s super awkward. But that’s the wonderful thing: she tolerates my awkward. She’s always looking back. Smiling. Hand held out for me to hold. Waiting patiently for me to catch up.