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Purgatory - Sunday, Feb. 10, 2019
Thursday, Jan. 13, 2011 @ 7:03 pm
It's as though I'm living in a movie, a romance, a character study, a drama about the nature of being 30 and unmarried but in a relationship.
Back on the road for business. Flying during snowstorms, anxiety-inducing airport scenes of ticket agents handing me vouchers for meals and a hotel, the girl at baggage claims shrugging her shoulders saying that they do not know the location of my bag.
But at least I know how to drive well in the snow.
In the morning, I walk in the door of my destination, and he's the first face that I see. The face that bought me drinks when I was last here. I'm late, but we talk, and I'm flustered, and I have bags under my eyes, and my face is red and sort of damp from vigorously sweeping the six inches of fresh snow from the rental car with my mittened hands.
I head up to my course; he's not teaching me this time. I don't see him for the rest of the day. I go for lunch alone, sitting at a deli counter eating homemade borscht watching more snow fall. The overweight cashier sighs and tucks a strand of lanky dark hair behind her ear.
In the afternoon, I get to know one of the men in the course. He's the only other one there that I can have any sort of conversation with - everyone else is on some other level, some other planet. Living life in a different decade. The man wears a large silver chain necklace and has a goatee and is obviously the type that goes out to shoot a moose and then drag the carcass with an ATV back to his diesel Dodge left idling on the logging road. And he's a bit too friendly. And that's when I become keenly aware of my naked ring finger.
We finish for the day early. I leave the building, glance into the office (it's empty) and head out to my car, wondering if the plow has barricaded me into my spot. I glance to the parking lot, and he's there, getting into his truck.
"How'd it go?" he called out.
"OK," I reply, "but there's a guy who talks a lot..."
He walks over to talk more quietly. The conversation is brief, and then he asks where I'm staying (same as before) and whether I want to come down for drinks again.
I said sure. I didn't say yes. I said sure.
I take advantage of the daylight to drive some neighbourhoods and check out some real estate. I drive until the streetlights turn on, and then I return to the hotel to make myself look a bit nicer, but not too nice because then it would be weird.
I wait until 6:10 before I go downstairs. Let them get 1 beer in. And I walk into the bar and start scanning. I look from table to table. To table to table to table. I scan for a waving arm. Listen for my name. Anything. Table to table to table.
The sinking feeling of being stood up.
I edge out of the bar, face red for the second time today.
And then I start analyzing. Did I wait too long? Was I non-commital? Was I too enthusiastic? Was I creepy? Was I intimidating? I sit in my hotel room for half an hour, jugging all of the what ifs around in my head. I reach a conclusion that I was too early and head down again to see if they are there.
Table to table to table. Old guys at the bar glance at me. Younger guys at a table sort of smile a bit at me. Lone bait. I'm wearing a down vest for god's sake. I consider having a beer alone at the bar. And then glance to the younger guys, make a brief but significant eye contact, and make a hasty retreat for the door.
I have no idea what happened. I have to assume that something happened that made it so he couldn't make it. What am I, 15? Ha, double that. What I am is too sensitive. Too quick to trust. But I wouldn't change it for the world.
So tomorrow morning, when I am sure to see him first as I walk in the door damp and red-faced, will I hold a nonchalant game face, or do I play the golden retriever and ask if something happened?
There are so few people in my life that this is how much one person can impact me. Whoever you are, if we've ever crossed paths, guarantee that I have thought of and about you degrees of magnitude more than you have of me. I have studied your face and learned how your hands move and the way your hair grows around your ears. You have appeared in my dreams some 10 years later. And all we did was talk one time in a grocery store.
And if you've read this far, then I've probably dreamed of you too.