A whole new world

“When she thought it over afterwards it occurred to her that she ought to have wondered at this, but at the time it all seemed quite natural”
—Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass

Boy, I’d forgotten just how difficult being in a relationship is. My plan was to stay single for awhile and just date some interesting men. I’d been on my own and enjoying things, then a year ago I meet this guy who turns it all inside out. Before I know it, I’ve committed myself to monogamy to a man who actually wants to work on the relationship. This is a new world for me, and there are plenty of issues to be worked on.

Recently, the issue about spending more time together with Drummer Boy once again cropped up. I’ve been really trying to open up time for him, but for some reason, my heart’s not in it. Between being extra busy at work with a high profile project, and dealing with some issues my kids were having was just wearing me out. I wanted to be by myself at least once during the week and it wasn’t happening. This is becoming a problem for me and for the relationship. One Saturday night, Drummer Boy is again being distant and I asked him about it on the way to meet my brother and his husband for dinner.

Me: So what’s up—is there someone else? (My own insecurity peeking its ugly head out)

Drummer Boy: —No!

Me: Have you lost interest?

He didn’t, or rather couldn’t, answer that. I took it as a break up sign. (In hindsight, it was his surprise at the question that had him tongue-tied.)

He looked shocked when I said,
…then maybe we should end it. (Was I feeding an unconscious wish?)

His answer: So this is it?? Just like that???

We arrived at the restaurant and went in, and since we were early, talked a little more over drinks. It was pretty difficult. The boiled-down gist of it was this:

Me: So apparently you’re no longer interested. Do you want to go home? My brother can drive me back.

Him: I can’t just leave you here like that.

At that point our dinner companions arrived and we had to put our game faces on and try to maintain a pleasant conversation. Boy, was that evening freaking hard. And I could see my brother and his husband glancing at each other every now and then. We weren’t fooling them one bit. Needless to say, I could barely swallow my food I was so hurt and upset. Drummer Boy kept up his end of the conversation at dinner way better than I.

After what seemed like hours, we all finally got up to leave. I was also feeling badly about ruining dinner with my brother who I totally enjoy being with. We got into the car and I sat in stunned silence. As he drove out of the parking lot, I could feel my eyes welling up with tears.

Once on the highway, he turned to me and again said,
—So this is it?

Me: I don’t want it to be.

Him: Shit, neither do I.

Me: Well then, what’s the matter? Why are you ignoring my texts and being so cold? If something is bothering you, please tell me, you know I’m bad at reading people—don’t shut me out.

Him: It always seems to me that you don’t make me a priority in your life. I just get what time you have left over. Sure, every Saturday night is great, but I need to be with you more than that. How will we ever get to know each other fully?

Me: You’re right. But you know how I’ve been working late on this project and it really wears me out. It has nothing to do with you—you know I’m kind of a hermit. You’ve been the only one who’s really broken through.

At this point, my eyes were tearing and my voice was breaking. Apparently that got through to him.

Him: You know how much I care about you—let’s not let this misunderstanding ruin things. If anything, I feel closer to you seeing how emotional this makes you. We can work it out.

After getting home and shutting down the house, we got into bed and he held me all night.

All in

“Oh, ’tis love, ’tis love, that makes the world go round!”
—Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass

I think I might be falling in love with Drummer Boy. So is it really love? I’ve been questioning this for months now. I pretty much lost interest in seeing other men; I let my subscription to the dating site expire. Or rather, had to cancel it since they get you hooked by something called “auto-renew.” I think about him daily, although I haven’t had the need to be with him constantly—and this has become an issue which I’ll get to in another post.

I’d been struggling with the decision to go all in with this guy this for awhile. After two failed long-term relationships, I’d come to the realization that I didn’t want to be back in one just yet. But being with Drummer Boy has turned that all topsy-turvy and I’ve been so damned confused. Is he the right one, or am I settling because I’m afraid of aging out of the dating game?

While there are things about Drummer Boy that are wonderful, there are also characteristics about him that I struggle with. The past few weeks I’ve been ruminating on all of this and I needed some clarity, so I called my best friend. The one who’s known me since we were 10 years old. She suggested I make a list of the pros and cons of being with him. Even though I listed some of his great qualities in my last post, I think it’s necessary for me to explore it further.

Here are the pros:

  • He’s a solid guy, willing to help out in any way. He recently took apart a portion of my rotting fence in the backyard. And I never even asked him to do it. He also helped fix a large split on the front bumper of my car. (Both casualties of our recent severe winter.)
  • He’s a gentleman: opens car doors, makes sure he takes my hand when we cross a street; treats me like a princess.
  • We’ve found a number of activities we both like to do and have learned together. No one has ever taken me swing dancing before.
  • We are extremely physically compatible. This is a big one for me and I’m thinking should be number 1 on my list.
  • I like having him sleep next to me. And it’s so comforting when we’re touching all night.
  • He’s thoughtful about our relationship. He’s obviously trying to analyze it and find ways to make things mesh—he really wants to talk things through. It seems to be working.

And now the cons:

  • His sense of humor is more Jerry Lewis than Jerry Seinfeld. I outgrew the Three Stooges around the age of 10. And I don’t know if I appreciate his Elmer Fudd, or Daffy Duck impersonations either.
  • He claims he’s very spiritual and believes that “God is his Father” (his words, not mine). I, however, am an atheist. This has never sat well with him, although I feel I’m tolerant of his beliefs. I have friends of all faiths from fundamentalist Catholic to Quaker and everything in between. We all get along just fine. While I’m not afraid to engage in debate over the issue, I don’t believe I’ve ever attacked anyone over it, and am perfectly happy not to discuss it at all.
  • He’s been married three times. The last two happened within six months of the previous one. I find that troubling—he’s been afraid to be alone. However, I know it’s something he’s working on.
  • His two daughters (they’re grown; the same ages as my kids) have not spoken to him in over four years. That’s also been troubling me. What’s their story? My daughter says that it’s been too long for their mother to have that much influence over their opinion of him.
  • He gives the impression that his financial situation is precarious. He makes a good living and doesn’t pay alimony or child support any longer. Apparently his second wife ran them into deep debt with credit cards and I know he’s still gun-shy about that.
  • He doesn’t communicate when things are bothering him. Unfortunately, neither do I, so this makes for a precarious situation. To his credit though, in the past, he’s drawn me out and helped me express what’s been on my mind.

So there’s my list. In reading it over, I see I’ve also given him an excuse for almost every con item listed. Hmm. I’m certainly old enough to know that there’s not going to be any man who’s perfect. So maybe his sense of humor is goofy. Maybe he thinks mine is too dry and sarcastic. I know I’m not an easy person for men to understand, and I’ve been told by one guy I’m kind of like trying to catch lightening. But underneath it all, I think I’ve really fallen for him. I guess I’m all in.

Just in time

“I dare say you never even spoke to Time!”
“Perhaps not,” Alice cautiously replied; “but I know I have to beat time when I listen to music.”
“Ah! That accounts for it,” said the Hatter. “He won’t stand a beating. Now, if only you kept on good terms with him, he’d do almost anything you like with the clock.”
—Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass

My weeks with Drummer Boy have been passing in a pretty routine way. We see each other every Saturday night and go out and do something fun like dancing or bowling, dinner, a movie, and then end up at one of our houses. Sunday mornings we have breakfast and head out to the gym. If we’re at my house, he comes to my gym with me, which doesn’t charge anything for guests. His gym charges $10 and he has yet to invite me. To be honest, I’m usually ready to head home when I’ve stayed at his place to have Sunday to myself. I keep wondering why I’m so eager to leave. Shouldn’t someone in love want to stay with their object of affection as long as possible?

All week he texts cute little messages every morning and often during the day. We talk on the phone every night during the week and send goodnight texts to each other. It’s all very sweet. This arrangement has been just fine with me, although I’m not a person who needs to be in constant touch with my partner. For me it’s like that Willie Nelson song, “You Were Always On My Mind.” Just knowing he’s in my life and knowing I’ll be seeing him regularly is good.

I do think about him all the time. A lot of my thoughts are still confused as far as how I feel about him, though. There are so many things about us that might not be compatible. Our religious and political views are pretty disparate. While it’s not an issue for me, it might get to a point where it could be a problem for him. The only place our musical tastes cross-over is swing because of our dancing. He loves all the old stuff my parents liked: Sinatra, Dean Martin, Herb Alpert—that whole generation of music. Music is a big deal for me and to not have him share my love of contemporary alternative is a little uncomfortable. We don’t share the same taste in movies, although I’ll go see pretty much anything. But I’d prefer it if he enjoyed science fiction and horror as much as I do. And kind of a big difference—we have very different kinds of intelligence. Growing up in a pretty rough area in the city, he has street smarts. I have more of the kind of smarts that come from formal education. (And yes, he is a college graduate.)

That’s not saying any of this will ultimately matter. But being with him sometimes makes me feel like I’m wearing shoes a half size too small—I can walk in them but not for too long.

On the flip side, there are so many things that I love about him:

  • He’s always telling me how hot he thinks I am—this makes me feel beautiful.
  • He’s willing to help me with anything. Recently I banged my front bumper and tore it apart on the fencepost which was hidden under 6 feet of snow. Drummer Boy ran out and bought some epoxy and welded it back together for me.
  • He opens car doors and makes sure I walk on the inside of the sidewalk—how many guys do this any more?
  • He wants to know what I’m thinking and draws it out of me.
  • We are wildly physically compatible. Enough said about that.

One evening he was being very quiet which was not like him at all, and it frankly made me very nervous. In my experience, whenever a normally talkative man goes quiet it doesn’t bode well. The funny thing is that usually he’s the one asking me what was on my mind. My friends tell me I’m the guy in this relationship. So I voice my observation that he’s not being very communicative and he starts to lay out what’s bothering him.

It turns out he’s really upset that I don’t make time to be with him more often during the week. I reserve Friday nights to be by myself, and during the week I like to catch up with friends at dinner or see my kids who are both nearby. I have to explain to him I need one night to decompress from my work week. I put in long hours and have a pretty demanding job, whereas he’s in at 7 and out at 3 and that’s the end of his day. No panicky employees or bosses with last minute emergency projects that need attention. I have a large network of family and friends who I like to keep in touch with, I’ve always done this.

Needless to say, I’m now feeling really guilty and remorseful. I hate to be the reason anyone feels hurt. I put my arms around his neck and promise to reserve at least one night a week just for him.

We agreed that it would make more sense for him to stay at my house during the week since the commute to work will be better for both of us. It’ll be nice to get up in the morning together, go to the gym, come home for breakfast, then head out to work.

Of course the tricky part is scheduling. He rehearses with two different bands on Monday and Tuesday nights until pretty late. Wednesdays I work with a trainer until 7 so he could come with me to the gym and do his own workout and we could have the rest of the night at home. Thursday would work too but he’d prefer not to wait until Thursday. I guess I have to be flattered and happy that he’s so eager to be with me. This is going to take some getting used to.