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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

 

Money: Meet Mouth

I met a woman. THE woman. The one you never think will really come along so you prepare yourself for the fact that you’ll end up settling for the closet alternative.

And really, that may be kind of ideal. You never really anticipate your soul mate showing up in your inbox. You definitely don’t consider the implications of what happens when she does. Few of us operate on the day to day with everything to lose.

I never have. I’ve never edited every text I send four times. I’ve never paused before everything I say to consider the second and third order effects. I’ve never checked my nose hairs and ear hairs every time I leave the bathroom. This is a sad but true conclusion: I’ve never cared that much.

I care about her more than anything in the world. And I think, especially for a man, that’s a particularly vulnerable place to be. We all like to fall back on the “fuck-it’s.” We accept less than perfection from ourselves because we don’t see or care to see it in our partners. So “fuck it.” We allow ourselves this notional gray area to operate in because she can’t really ask THAT much of us. I’m not throwing stones. I’ve lived in that glass house for a very, very long time.

I don’t want to be that man anymore. She doesn’t deserve that. And frankly, I don’t think she would accept it. She is the blessing that I’ve prayed for every night since I felt I could even ask for it. And I won’t repay God or her for that blessing by giving her anything less than what she deserves.

This is where it gets creepy though.

I’m saving for the ring.

No, I’m not going to propose soon. I concede my batshit craziness. However, I’m not stupid.

$250 a paycheck. Its enough that it stings. It’s so much that I’ll lose my house. It’s a tangible representation of the fact that I love her more than money. I love her enough to plan for our future. I love her enough to forgo starbucks in the morning to make her smile in some distant future. I love her  enough that the moment I have any inclination that she’s willing to spend the rest of her life with me — there will be no hesitation. There won’t be grumblings about money. There won’t be any reason to waste a moment without my ring on her finger. Just a check happily written and signed by the luckiest man in the world.

I met a woman. And I have plans for her. Shiny ones.

Walking The Tightrope

I met a woman. And I have no idea what I’m doing.

How do you begin a relationship that you want to be your last? How do you sustain it?

I could beat around the bush about it. Hem and haw about how much I love her and how sure I am she’s the one. But none of that matters if I can’t keep her.

Its funny how this all works. I, frankly, am fine with women. I know the right things to say. I know how to present myself. I always get the second date. It’s always my desires that determine how things play out.

Not with her.

Every time I look into her eyes I want to roll over her with the wave of what I’m feeling. “I love you” has been on the tip of my tongue every second of every hour I’m with her. I can’t say that though. I can’t even call her my girlfriend.

She’s been hurt and I can see it in her eyes. She wants to take it slow and I want that for her. I don’t want to force her into anything she’s not ready for. But saying anything other than exactly what I’m feeling is lying. I try to say “I’d like that” as much as possible. When really all I want to say is “I’d love that, and everything else you’ve ever done or will do.”

None of this is to say I’m not pressing. I tell her everything up to the precipice of what I think will run her off. I tell her she’s beautiful. I tell her that I want her in my life. I tell her that I have no idea what I’m doing because I’ve never met anyone like her. I tell her that when she’s ready, I will be too. I send her songs that remind me of her. They all do.

Grace and a smile. That’s what she gives me in return. She tells me I’m sweet. She tells me she is cautiously optimistic. She says she wants to be sure for my sake. That she trusts what I say, but not that I’ll mean it later.

It crushes me. A feather on your shoulder is comforting. A million feathers break the legs beneath you. It’s a ridiculous situation, trying to convince the person that you want to die with to just go out to dinner next weekend. But that’s where I am.

So how do I walk this tightrope? The answer is slowly. One foot in front of the other, taking care not to swing to far in either direction. One text at a time. One dinner where I can’t sit still because my legs want to run to the nearest church — at a time. One kiss that I want to hold until neither of us can breathe — at a time. One long goodbye in her doorway, breathless with the fear that it will be our last — at a time.

I pray about it every night. But not for me. For her. That she finds the strength to trust again. That she finds the love she deserves. That she meets the man who has the capacity to understand her worth. That she wake up every morning next to a man who has already been up for an hour thanking God he got to watch her sleep.

Who am I to even pray that I’m worthy of being that man? I’m simply a guy who has stumbled upon the glow of the greatest blessing I’ve ever experienced –just praying that I can stay in the glow a little longer. To call that blessing my own? That would truly be an act of God.

Im suffocating on the things I want to say. Because I met a woman.

 

Permanent Art

I met a woman. A woman willing to sit through a three hour tattoo.

Body art isn’t really my thing. A combination of excess body hair, body image issues, and a strong inclination to keep a clean cut image kept me away from the idea.

But this year sucked. And was awesome. I wanted a reminder (permanent) that things seem to work out how they’re supposed to…if you’re willing to put in the effort. Full disclosure: I lost 50 pounds so this was kind of a reward. And motivation to avoid ruining it by getting fat again.

When I met her, the appointment was already in place. She had a tattoo. She wants another. She uses the same shop so she wanted to come sit with me.

Alright, now. I’m a love sick puppy. There’s literally nothing I wouldn’t do to impress her. But for the first time she sees me shirtless to be writhing around on a table with some hipster lady defaming my body in the eyes of the Lord? That’s a pretty bold play. She seemed genuinely interested tho. So. Fuck it.

We got there and I was a nervous wreck, didn’t take the pain like I was hoping, etc, etc. I don’t remember a lot of that part. Here’s what has stayed with me —

I was laying on my stomach with my head towards her for three hours. She smiled at me the whole time. She held my hand. She let me viciously hit on her. She rubbed my back. She reassured me. I was so damned proud to have her next to me.

There was nothing else going on in that busy room but her eyes looking back into mine. I got lost in the moment. I was reflecting on the fact that there was something being put in my skin that’s going to be with me for the rest of my life. Permanent.

I want to tattoo her into my life. I want her to always be there to reach out and hold my hand when things get hard. I want to tell dumb jokes and hear her laugh even though they’re not funny. Forever. Even though every bit of the pain I felt was totally self-inflicted, a choice I made that will probably seem ridiculous in a few years, she stood by my side.

Towards the end I was pretty exhausted. Three hours is an enternity when you’re being stabbed repeatedly. She could tell. She ran her hand slowly through my hair and kissed me on my forehead. It shook me to my core. I hope she didn’t notice, but I welled up with tears. It had nothing to do with the tattoo. It was a physical reaction so the truest, most sincere love I’ve ever felt for someone.

Weve been together for a month. We don’t have a lot of time to spend with each other. But I can say with more conviction than I’ve ever had for anything that I’m deeply, madly in love her. My heart has found its counterpoint in her. I’m scared shitless by it. It’s the most vulnerable position I’ve ever been in, to feel in my soul that, if God really makes someone for someone else, his pick for me is 30 miles down the road and mine to lose (no pressure). It’s terrifying. I love it. And her. So much.

I will pursue that feeling and its origin until my last breath. I marry her, raise a family with her, and grow old with her in my mind every single day.

I am the happiest nervous-wreck of man in the world (with a silly tattoo). Because I met a woman.

 

 

The Context

I met a woman. The woman who has changed every plan I’ve ever had. But she wasn’t the first.

She’s the first and only I’ve ever felt this way about. It’s new ground for me. But to know happiness you’ve gotta endure some not-so-happiness.

I spent five years with a girl. We met in college and got along well. So we made it work. She moved to my city and we lived together pretty quickly. The overarching theme was “it seems like the right thing to do.”

As all new things do, it faded. I’m far enough away now to know that I was to blame for a lot of it. I’m a type-A, me-first, ten year plan since I was ten, type of guy. But she hung in with me. She supported me and made sacrifices for me. She was at every graduation. We had some very lean times. She was there when I didn’t deserve it. She’s in the background of so many pictures that I hang to remind myself that I’ve accomplished some things. Smiling. And for that I owe her a lifetime of gratitude.

The end gets blurry. It’s a haze of things we shouldn’t have said. The smoke of hurt feelings still stains the walls of that house. I would bet the shattered dreams still riddle the floor. I wouldn’t know. I had to leave.

It was a hard year. Just because your heart makes a decision doesn’t mean your head follows. I grew up in the safety of our relationship. I tried a couple (many) times to get it back. I didn’t know life without her — what sort of life do I choose now? I was alone and I didn’t know how to handle it. So I did what every normal man does. I drank too much. I tried to force relationships that wouldn’t work. I made things worse on myself and everyone around me.

Then life happened. I moved out west. I put the bottle down and picked up a couple books, the good book being one. I picked up new healthy hobbies. I met some incredible people. I met a new me. Or maybe the old one? Either way, he’s an okay guy. I’m not embarrassed to have him around. I don’t spent my nights on social media wishing he was more like the people on the screen.

I certainly wasn’t perfect. But I sure as hell wasn’t broken. I was okay. And in the grand scheme of things, okay is okay.

Then it was time to come home. I missed my family and my friends. I really missed my hound dog. I still made dumb decisions after I got back. Had some really bad dates. Some decent ones that I built up as awesome because loneliness still finds even the most “okay” among us.

Then I met a woman. And for the first time in my life I’m thankful for everything that got me where I am. She chose me for who I am, and like it or not we are all the sum of our experiences.

I look at her like a traveler who sees home in the distance. Road weary. Wearing the strain of the journey on his forehead. There’s a smile though. The relief of getting where he was going, even when there were times he wasn’t sure he would make it. Especially because of those times. The undying thirst is quenched even though he isn’t to the spout yet. Because he knows it’s coming.

Im better than okay. I’m truly happy. I’m home. Because I met a woman.

How We Met

I met a woman. And this is all dramatic for how it started.

She sent me a message about Netflix documentaries. No idea why I put that on my match profile. “Hey I’m really boring, and that’s reflected in my streaming preferences.” She also mentioned PBS. A democrat. I snickered.

There was something more though. A confidence. A grace. So I sent a couple messages back and got a number back really quickly. Suspiciously quick. This a some guy in Africa milking me for my social, not this absolute #smokeshow in the pictures.

I sent her a text and we talked. I was on military orders so a date would have to wait a couple weeks. So we talked (texted, my generation’s talking.) And talked. And talked. She lived with a good friend of mine from high school. She’s also a young professional. A go getter. An audiophile. Funny in the right ways, not the obnoxious ones.

At some point my outlook goes from “she seems cool” to “wow she’s awesome.” And then “wow we have a whole lot in common.” To “hmmm if I made a physical list of my preferences it would be filled with check marks.”

By the end of the two weeks I was a wreck. We planned a date for a Cuban place. Dissected everything the other had ever out on social media. Called in every possible connection to see what the other was about. She was the real deal.

I drove to her place with a knot in my stomach. I practiced questions to myself in the rear view.  I bought a new outfit — my money talks. I’m cheap as they come, but no expense spared. New haircut. Shined shoes. Because this was important. Something told me this was a big deal.

Then she walked out the door and smiled at me.

In that moment I felt something I’ve never felt. She was talking but I couldn’t hear it. I wanted to say something but there was no air in that whole damned city block. My mouth must have been hanging open. “SAY SOMETHING DUMBASS.” Nope, nothing. Well played.

There was nothing in the universe at that second besides dirty blonde hair. A little black dress with some clubmasters. A smile that collapsed my world in on itself and then shot it back out all over Central Kentucky. The Big Bang of the rest of my life.

Ive managed to say a couple things since. I’ve seen her three times. I’ve kissed her. I’ve touched her. I’ve learned more about her and fallen in love with every detail she’s given me. But I’m still there on her doorstep. Everything else in my world is on hold because she’s everything I never knew I needed. I’m still speechless on a porch and drowning in the fact that this is who I’ve been searching for. When a magnet meets metal it doesn’t pause and reflect on what it’s doing or hesitate in consideration of what could happen. It just connects like it was always meant to be connected.

That’s me. Connected and sure. I met a woman. The woman I’ll never let go.

I Met A Woman

I met a woman. THE woman. The woman I’m going to marry.

A month ago I called my mom. “I’m done dating. I’m tired of getting hurt. I’m tired of hurting people. The love you keep telling me about isn’t real. It’s all Hollywood drama and poorly written at that. People date for a while, decide it’s time to get married, and then just hope for the best.”

I’d prayed for someone to come along. Well. That’s not true. I prayed for clarity. I wanted to know what the fuck to do. How does someone who truly believes that a man’s purpose on this Earth is to be a good husband and better father make it to my age and still have (absolutely) no idea how to get there?

But then I met a woman. A silly message on a shitty dating website with an expired account. She was beautiful though. So I paid my thirty bucks for one more shot.

A month later and I’m starting a blog to say everything I can’t say to her because she would think I’m absolutely batshit crazy. I am batshit crazy. But I honest to God, Babe Ruth in game five of the ’32 series, sure as I’m sitting here, know I’m going to spend the rest of my life with her.

Shes the same as me in all the things I like about myself. She’s better in all the things I don’t.

I’m a professional speaker but my voice is constantly cracking. I’m a professional writer but for the life of me I can’t figure out what to say. Im a professional convincer but my deepest fear is suddenly that my biggest case will be convincing her to be with me.

Everything makes total sense. But absolutely makes zero sense. Because I met a woman.