2. fresno: monday

It’s sometime after midnight, maybe near 1am, and I’ve found myself a small wash-closet on the second floor of a white stucco building in Mykonos, Greece. “Is Mimi here?” I hear. I squeaked out in complete disbelief, opened the bi-fold door, and locked eyes with Fresno. “Do you want to go get a drink? Or hang out?” he asks.

“Do you want to go with him?” my girlfriend C asks. I nod with a smirk. I was tickled to have a steamy make-out session in the cobblestone streets of Mykonos with a marginally more masculine son-of-a-banker Ken-doll. C turns her attention to Fresno, “Give me your phone number. I expect to be able to reach her at any time on either one of your phones. You will walk her back to us and she will have had a nice time. Do I make myself clear?” Fresno is beaming as his dials his number into her phone. “I’ll cut your dick off” C calls out loudly as we make our way out of the tattoo parlor. The thing about Mykonos is you never know exactly where you are but you’ll recognize certain shops and know which direction you’re facing. #happiness is one of those shops. It was the last thing I remember from that night.

happiness

“Well I want to add you to Facebook.” I hear a man’s voice, weird. My eyes are closed and they’re glowing light pink behind my eyelids. Uh. It must be daylight?

“I don’t use Facebook.” I say with my eyes still closed, certain I’m dreaming.

“Yes, you do, I’m looking at your profile right now. Mimi Middlename. But it won’t let me add you. Also, you didn’t tell me you had a kid. You two are so cute.” My eyes shot open and I sat up in king sized bed in a large white marble hotel room to see Fresno, shirt off, sitting against the headboard looking at his phone. Looking at my Facebook. He looked over and smiled at me. “I searched by your name and city and boom there you were.”

“Ok. First of all no, get off of there. And also, what the hell happened last night?”

He looked somewhere between concerned and offended at my query. “Uh, you don’t remember? We went to a Skandanavian to dance, I had a drink, then we came back here and had sex. Uh … it was really good sex. You don’t remember? But anyway then we passed out. Your friend hasn’t even checked on you yet I’d like to add. Advil?” He opened a bottle of white pills that sat next to a scatter of condoms on his nightstand. We chatted a little while about our night and Fresno told me he’d also met a local girl, V, who had hand rolled him a cigarette. He said he left her to come find me at the tattoo parlor and that he was glad he did. I admired his honesty, it went well with the condoms on the nightstand. Fresno insisted I at least accept his Facebook Messenger request as I drank from his water bottle in bed, I told him I’d think about it before we agreed to venture out to fulfill his duty of taking me back to my friends. As he dressed he found 10$ euro on the floor. “Is this yours?” he asked me.

“Ha. It might be.” (It wasn’t.) “Tell you what, we can use it to buy us both a coffee on the way.” Afterall I was keen to float financially by flirting my way through Mykonos.

“Deal.” Fresno smiled warmly and we gathered ourselves and our things and headed out into the hallway of his hotel. I remembered nary a stitch of the all white lobby, front desk, or the girl seated there answering the phone. We walked past without a word, into the streets and Fresno led me down towards Akti Kampani, the shoreline street along the sea port. We ordered two double greek coffees with milk, as the youth there are wont to do, and sat out front on a bench, side by side with shoulders pressed together, facing the water next to my directional landmark the Manto Mavrogenous Statue.  I told him we were as close as I needed him to take me and that I knew my way back from the statue. He lamented that he needed to pack his suitcase to move into his next hotel room, shared with his incoming cousin. The coffees arrived and Fresno looked at me sheepishly. “I guess this is goodbye. Don’t turn back to look at me when you walk away.”

I blurted “Ha. Don’t worry I won’t. Thanks for the coffee, and the sex, I guess?” I stood up from our bench and hugged him before taking my leave. As I rounded the corner I smiled to myself as I thought. I just had my first vacation fling, my first intentional one night stand, and I’m not going to look back. And then …

blessed

Fresno: I was sad. Til I found this. Do this on purpose?
Me: That’s not mine. Bahahaha. You just got #blessed?
Fresno: Lmao. Fuuuuuck
Me: Calm down … it’s finnneee
Fresno: You can have it if you want
Me: Ask V later. It’s so nice out. I’m on the cusp of a hangover, that feeling like you’ve been on a boat all day.
Fresno: She means nothing to me lol.
Me: They had locked me out .. had to call to get let in. Some friends.
Fresno: I feel bad for taking this now. Should I bring it back to the hotel in case someone asks for it?
Me: A Canadian would.

I was out in Mykonos walking with my girlfriends, stopping for lunch and vogue-ing for photos in the all white streets. Fresno has started texting me about how he hates his new hotel so he’s sitting on his suitcase somewhere in Mykonos trying to book some place he likes better on his phone. He’s telling me about his cousin and roomate. And he’s reminiscing about our night, all the while, I thought we’d agreed not to look back.

Me: No. You’re an anomaly. I don’t do one night stands. But #bucketlist I guess.
Fresno: Then don’t start now.
Me: Don’t start what? Don’t tell me what to do Fresno.
Fresno: Don’t start one night stands now. You can see me again.
Me: … I CAN?
Fresno: Omg. Fuck you.
Me: You did already.

Fresno waxed poetic about how good the sex we had was. I confessed it was foggy for me. “It doesn’t help that you’re totally cool as well.” I couldn’t help but feel like the blackout-sex Sleeping Beauty to his Prince Charming. Eventually, my group and I made our way back to the shoreline and into a cafe called Gelarte. As I sipped a freddoccino (an iced greek coffee) and my girlfriends enjoyed crepes and gelato I heard my phone buzz on the table. It was Fresno. He vibrated with an energy that was neither exactly  stress nor excitement. He’s telling me about his whirlwind morning trying to that was apparently more stressful than my hangover had processed over text. I didn’t know what to say beyond that I was glad he had found a better spot to stay. He made his excuses to get off the phone as unexpectedly as the call was in the first place. I set my phone down and almost immediately received a text with apologies for interrupting my girl time to vent, and also, his hanging up abruptly.

Fresno: What are you up to today? You going out tonight?
Me: Fresno. Duh
Fresno: I hate you.
Me: You’re talking more like you love me but ok.
Fresno: I like you. I don’t love you. Not yet at least. Lucky for you I need at least a full week for that. Gonna get some food now.
Me: It’s fine California. Have fun. Were gonna do dinner later by windmill side.
Fresno: Don’t give me too much info or I’ll find you again.
Me: I don’t recommend it. I’ll act like a clingy gf and you’ll have to explain why we’re eloping.
Fresno: Doesn’t sound too bad.

Fresno continued texting me all evening, throughout our respective dinners, and into the night hours. Scattered in between meaningless text messages were the efforts of a man intent on seeing me again: When are you coming over? You wanna meet up tonight? I just want to know if your intention is to see me again tonight. We can meet at a bar. You’re also welcome to pregame here and head out with us and if you feel like splintering off, I will understand. Worth the voyage. If you want to meet up (and I do) let me know where you go and I’ll make sure we stop by. If not then maybe you and I can meet up later at least. Dance here with me. You and me, dancing at Skandanavian again, if we don’t find somewhere better. Later that night I told him where I was, one of the larger bars with an all-windowed back wall that opens up to the ocean.

Fresno: Heading to Caprice. Look hot.

I was just down the cobblestone street in a bar a few doors down; I ran back to find him. As I walked through the french doors the men I’d seen earlier there were trying to get my attention, I leaned my eyeline past them to see Fresno standing with his cousin ordering drinks. I walked up to him and he wrapped one arm all the way around my back and his hand squeezed my side. He whispered in my ear “you look so good”. I smiled and greeted his cousin, asked how their evening was going and chatted just a moment before telling him I had to go find my friends. He kissed my cheek and I left but this time I tossed a smile over my shoulder as I turned the corner.

There’s only two texts for the rest of that night:

Me: Fall in love?
Fresno: No. I need more time with you. Don’t tease me where tf are you?

I never replied to his question, but he found me that night.

 

1. fresno: sunday

I sent a text message to my sister from a cliff-side pool in Greece the morning after I told a man that I’d met on vacation two things: goodbye and I loved you.

“Meet Fresno. I’ve been eat, pray, loving his dick all week.”

Fresno is of course a pseudonym as ever with my stories, only this time you’ll be pleased to know I call him Fresno and California to his face. Fresno is, as you would expect, from Fresno, California. He’s just a few months younger than me at 32, single, and in Mykonos for his sister’s Instagram-worthy wedding. It’s the off season in the hedonistic party town so the vibe is decidedly nightlife-lite. I feel a little “girl next doorish” compared to the svelte thin European goddesses clicking down the cobblestone paths past me but I’m here with three girlfriends celebrating my best friend’s 30th birthday. We’d made a pact for this trip to do exactly two things: kiss each other a bit, as we do, and tan topless. 

I met Fresno on my second night in Mykonos while talking to the owner of a small dark hole of a bar called Addiction where I’d been moonlighting as a bartender. I’d discovered that if I flirted with the bartender under the guise of him teaching me drink recipes, I could ensure my girlfriends cups runneth-over and over to the cool price of zero euros, and the price I paid to secure such a steal was to drink a few jager bombs and occasionally hop up on the bar to dance or have my photo taken. As I stand against the black wood bar, the bartender decides to show me a video of the high season in Mykonos. His phone lights up with a gorgeous scantily clad dressed twenty something, grinding her lingerie crotch against the very bar corner my elbows are placed on. My arms recoil instinctively and I look up to realize I’m not watching the video alone.

addiction

Fresno, a lone wolf, watches my arms pull back and joins in the conversation effortlessly as he orders a whiskey straight. When the bartender turns away Fresno says something to me that I can’t make out. He’s North American for sure, taller than me, handsome, with over glossed hair, a clean shave, and dressed to take home to mom. I don’t bother to care what he’s tried to say. I nod once and non-respond with a “mm” and look to see how my friends are faring on the dance-floor. Every vacation murder I’ve ever heard of starts with an unreasonably goodlooking stranger alone in a bar. The barback returns with Fresno’s drink and a possessive man’s posture; I don’t like it and I know it’s because of Fresno and I’ll be damned if free drinks are worth an ego. I turn my body towards Fresno and ask where he’s from and the bartender skulks. Fresno and I exchange home Provinces and States. And in all my Canadian politeness, when he tells me that he is from California I look down his outfit, and say “… oh of course you are.” Despite my unwelcoming demeanor the banter between us felt natural. We talked about our respective trips and groups, and he tells me he’s arrived first from his party and he’s trying to get a read on Little Venice, the nightclub district of Mykonos, before his cousin arrives the next day. He offers to get me a drink and I explain my dupe on the bartender, he laughs and finishes his whiskey and asks to exchange numbers.

“If you find any other good spots let me know, and I’ll do the same.”

His reasoning was ridiculous to me. I scoffed as I tossed him the most sarcastic “ok” nod and eyeroll, but surprised myself as I took his readied phone and popped my number in. I was not going to hear from this guy and if I did I was not going to reply favourably. And yet I knew if I heard from him I’d add him to my contacts as “Robert Pattinson with the dock shoes.”

Fresno: Skandanavian picked up. I may have 1 or 2 here then head to Queen of Mykonos then Astra. Let me know if you find something better. –Fresno
Me: I’m fiscally ahead with the free drinks at Addiction. When you change venues next I’ll suggest it to the girls. PS good for you for doing this down solo. BDE fosho.
Fresno: Lmao! I had to look that up. Thanks. Suggest it now or wait til I confirm it’s good?
Me: I’m a discerning investor.

And about half an hour later …

Fresno: I didn’t see you at Addiction.
Me: What? I don’t even know where I am. The girls decided to get tattoos. Is this normal?
Fresno: Um no lol. If you want to meet up give me a location. If not I’m heading back to Skandanavian.
Me: It’s fun there. I have no idea where I am.
Fresno: I know! I want to hang out with you though.
Me: California, I’m sitting in a tattoo parlour. Trying to figure out if they need an ATM.
Fresno: Ass to mouth? Nasty.
Me: American, I’m a nice Canadian.
Fresno: Cut the bullshit. Do you want to meet or not?

Let me preface what comes next, I’m not myself on white wine and jager bombs.

Me: You’ll question the existence of God if I ever blow you.
Fresno: Holy fuck I hope that’s a yes.
Me: Ugh. Just go. I’m not gonna abandon a girl about to get a needle.
Fresno:  I didn’t say abandon. I’ll come to you.
Me: Oh? We’re gonna fuck around in a tattoo parlour? Cool vacay. Tell your siblings.
Fresno: Give me a location fuck lol.
Me: You’re so cute. Go home omg. You look like you work in finance.
Fresno: I’m not going home. No fucking way. Tell me where to meet you.
Me: I was zero percent surprised your name was Xxxxx. And I told you … I don’t know where I am.

You’d guess Fresno’s name was Blake, Tanner, Greyson, or Preston to look at him. His real name is  as rich and white a boy name as they come. I was being unnecessarily rude to tease him about that, but he was wearing dock shoes you guys.

Fresno: I’m zero percent surprised you are being difficult.
Me: I’m on the second floor of a stucco building on a cobblestone street in Mykonos. It’s a tattoo parlour. (Intentionally vague.)
Fresno: Give me a place and I’ll go.
Me: To do what? We can’t fuck around on a bench in a tattoo parlour. Does this even look like an address? (I sent him the blurry screenshot of my Google Maps.)
Fresno: We can but if we don’t that’s fine. Tell the artist to give you something I can plop into Google Maps. Stop being difficult.
Me: Little Venice Studios
Fresno: I hate you. ❤
Fresno: I’m here.

tattoo

professor: the poem

Writing of newness, unexpected prologue
of a Sunday morning with a london fog,
of saying hello to a cheeky smirk,
of the two times you ironed your shirt,
of a baby sister and an eldest brother
of two shy people not shy with each other,
of unknown last names, of a new playlist,
of a tarot card queen, of a parking lot kiss,
of my summer diamonds, of your winter rink,
of cowboys and worms, of junk that is pink,
of bucket lists, of fears, of asking the stars,
of opposites, as if from Venus and Mars,
of umami and caesars, of karts and of flights,
of gratitude, of warmth in my cheeks on a lit nights,
of a night I drove to tell you the last time
that your disrespect won’t be a burden of mine.

4. professor: infrequency sequencey

You know that thing? The thing you and so-and-so do together. The thing you and so-and-so used to do together. The thing you could never do with another person. The thing you avoid (and/or miss) after a breakup. The thing you didn’t know would be a thing the first time you did it. Things like kebabs and fruity cigars in the park, renting DVD documentaries to debate all night, or getting ludicrously high to the Beatles during sunset. They were all things that belonged to my boyfriends past and I, the epicenter of whatever relationship I was in. But what’s in a thing? Would a thing by any other name being so … thingy?

5 days after our impromptu road trip to a hockey game the professor and I shared our second date. That date would replay, nigh identically, 18 days later on our third date and again 10 days after on our fourth. We’d inadvertently found some “things” of our very own:

Thing One: I never really knew what the hell was going on.
Thing Two: Everything with the professor would involve alcohol, with mixed emotional results.
Thing Three: Every meal we shared would be unreasonably delicious.
The Last Thing: The professor wasn’t who he seemed.

Wait – that didn’t go the way you probably thought it would right? That’s the thing.

The sequence of our dates made it feel special, until I really looked at the emotional pattern I was involved in. I never knew what was going on ahead of time, just the city I was driving to on a specific day, but I never knew the time, so I’d often find myself ready to leave my house at 9am for dates that didn’t start until 1pm. Why? Usually because he was hung over. And there’s thing two right? He was hungover all the time, so when I’d see him, we’d hair of the dog him a little, just enough to take the edge off of the emotions I was feeling that I didn’t share with him because, well, I never saw him to do so. We didn’t talk about our feelings or see each other often. We’d order some ridiculously delicious meal at whatever restaurant I’d googled after finding out what city we were dating in that day. And then he’d say something during the date that made me realize I was sleeping with the enemy, or at the very least, I was sleeping with someone who was putting on a major front.

unnamed
The Professor called me Yums.

Over the course of five months of dating I saw the professor, what I’d wager, is only twenty times. We’d talk daily over text, and occasionally on the phone, but the longer we dated, the more he took me for granted and those texts and phone calls became less frequent, and the dates, followed suit. I wanted to make excuses for his schedule being too difficult at first telling myself he has three kids or he’s busy with his career. But the reality would hit me like a freight train in our time apart. He would frequently have a babysitter on weeknights so he could go out drinking with his friends (remember this detail for a moment). And what’s more, I only heard of him going into work less than 10 days in that time span. I realized all our relationship’s progression was coming from a really fabricated place.

I met his brother and university friends because he wanted to go to a concert on his birthday. His brother called him an asshole in front of me, and the sister-in-law got a little drunk and insinuated that I seemed too kind of a heart to be with the professor. It caught me off-guard. But you better believe I thought to myself “he really wants me to meet his family” the entire time. I never saw them again.

I met a group of his professional friends, most of them divorced and dating much younger women, because he’d spent the morning golfing with them and didn’t want the social call to end. They insisted he bring me to dinner and called their respective girlfriends. All of them loved me and I noticed it visibly grated the professor to see me so welcomed to his peer group. When we were apart they would take the phone from him and call my number, asking why I wasn’t there, I avoided the reality that it was because he didn’t ever invite me.

His text messages in-between dates got more and more passive aggressive. He stopped calling at night. Then he refused to take my calls at all. And once a week or so I’d get a phone call in the morning with a halfhearted apology and excuses about how his divorce is weighing on him, I’d offer a break to dating and he’d insist it was unnecessary. It continued like that for weeks and eventually it degenerated to the point where I’d just receive a middle finger emoji text in the evenings, to find out inevitably he was drunk, I’d ask him not to text me at all if that was the tone, and the apology train pulled into station in the am.

The the final straw came at the end of summer. I hadn’t seen the professor in a month, it was all but over in my mind, but we hadn’t officially called it quits. I came home from one of my sports teams and saw a text from him, on a Tuesday night, at 9pm, and he was drunk at a pub with the group of friends he didn’t want me to meet, the hockey dads, and I knew exactly the kind of response I would get as I offered to drive up to share a drink with them all.

“My friend is moving out of town. It’s a going away party. It would be weird of you to show up. So, unless you have something to prove get over it.”

I got out of bed, got dressed in an army green romper with the shortest shorts imaginable, tousled my showered hair into the bouncy natural waves, and glossed my lips. I drove 45 minutes and pulled into the pub parking lot. I was going to breakup with the professor before he had the chance to make an excuse for how rude he was with me the next morning, I’d had enough of the sequence, I’d had enough of the infrequence.

Through the window I could see he was sitting at a table with three friends in the almost empty pub, it was going to be closing at 11pm. I texted him, “I’m in the parking lot.” He picked up his phone, looked at the message, and set it back on the table. He was calling my bluff. I dialed his number and watched as he handed the phone to his friend to his left. The friend picked up the phone and spoke Polish to me, ah, Adam, he’s the one who the party is for. Adam seems to think it’s funny, pretending to not know who I’m calling for, pretending not to speak any English. So I call him out:

“It’s Adam right? Your son does Muay Thai. Listen, I just want to speak to the professor, it’ll take less than a minute, I promise, then you can get back to your evening.” The phone goes silent at the revelation that I know who he is, that I’m not being unreasonable, the nonsense stops entirely and he hands it to the professor. He says hello and I tell him I’m in the parking lot and want to say something to him.

“You better not be” is his response as he thinks he hangs up the phone. Instead I can hear him say to his friends “She thinks she’s funny. I’m just going to turn off my phone.” A smile spread wide across my face. He’s drunk, again, and I’m about to make him understand that as young as I am, I’m not scared of middle aged hockey dads on a Tuesday night. I hang up and call again, this time he hands the phone across the table to another friend Mike, who of course begins speaking in Greek. I don’t wait for his schtick, I greet him by name.

The tone of his response gives him away. He doesn’t like it that I know who he is. “Hey, it’s Megan right? I have a joke for you. It’s a kid joke. You’ll get it.”

“Yeah? I’ve got a joke for you too.” I chime back as I get out of my car, near laughing at the kid insult coming from a forty five year old sweaty overweight mess of a man who’s drunk on a Tuesday night. I’m walking, completely confident that the batshit crazy thing I’m doing is just what the doctor ordered, despite it being entirely out of character for me. Two men smoking outside of the bar, ask how my evening is going in a flirty manner, I laugh and respond that it’s not getting any less interesting. As I yank open the door to the bar I hear Greek Mike, my new friend, say clear as a bell “Holy fuck she’s here” as I hung up the phone.

The professors face goes slack and white at the sight of me, his friends look astounded, and I feel the shit eating grin creep along my cheeks. I stride up to the table, nod politely at each of his friends, I think I muttered “gentlemen” in their direction before turning my body to face the professor dead on from the end of the table, and asked if he wanted to step outside for a second. He blathered out a bunch of grievances, how entirely inappropriate it was that I showed up, how he was not going anywhere to talk to me because he was with his friends, how the night was not about me and how selfish it was of me to show up. All of which I nodded along to in absolute agreeance before saying with finality “Ok well I came to say exactly one thing to you: you’ve disrespected me for the last time tonight.”

“Ok.” Was all that came out of his mouth.

The professor sat there looking at me like he was waiting for me to offload some huge monologue, none of which I had prepared, all I knew the entire drive down was that I did not want to hear from him in the morning with an apology. I smiled and said “Good. Well now that that’s taken care of why don’t I get you boys a round of Jagermeister on my way out, that’s your favourite right Mike?” The looks I was getting around the table from his friends were enough to fill my confidence gas tank for months. Adam, the man of the hour could not have look more ashamed and sheepish. The James Cordon lookalike at the end looked, well, frankly, turned on. And disrespectful glassy red-eyed Mike looked like he’d never seen a woman talk back to him, he was seething angry and frankly, seemed unnerved that I knew his favorite shot was Jager. It was apparent to them that I knew a great deal about the professor’s life, and that I was perhaps far more involved with him than they had known.

I ordered the round of shots and told the waitress I wasn’t staying for a round, slapped some money on the table and wished Adam well on his move. “Chicago is beautiful. I was just there last weekend. You won’t regret the move.” His smile was sincere, apologetic even, and he thanked me and asked me to stay and have a round. The professor shrank into his shoulders. I declined and said I’d taken up enough of their evening. I didn’t say goodbye. I just walked towards the exit, and as I did, wouldn’t you know, the two guys who’d been smoking at the patio door when I’d arrived called out to me and wished me a good night, you know, in that tone of voice. I tossed a thank you and unnecessary hair toss over my shoulder as I pushed through the door. I didn’t look back at the professor.

I did get a barrage of angry nonsensical texts that night. But the only ones that mattered were these:

Prof: Just because I go out with my friends does not mean I’m trying to score poontang. You’re volatile.
Me: Wow, that’s not why I showed up. You missed the point entirely. I have nothing unkind to say to you.
Prof: You are. It’s just an observation. That was not the awesome move.
Me: I’m just curious, what am I losing here? You’re losing someone who tried to love you. I’m losing someone who couldn’t pick up the phone for me.
Prof: You have issues. You should work on those. I’ll be fine.

The next day, in the sober light of his afternoon hangover, the professor and I spoke on the phone for the last time. He admitted he wasn’t ready for a relationship and that his divorce was causing him to act out. I agreed a few weeks later he texted an apology.

“I appreciate the apology” is the last thing I said to him.

I had intended on writing about the premium shelf dates I shared with the professor. About what a selfish lover he was. About the curious conversations we shared about his ex-wife’s accusation of his sexuality. About the way he looked at me when I gave him a handmade gift. About the curiosity of a twelve year age gap. About the times he compared my behavior to that of his ex wife with her new beau. But in the end I just wanted to be done with his story. Nothing terrible happened, but nothing really emotionally good happened either. The professor was as superficial as a relationship could be. It’s was always about him. About his things. About his feelings. About his schedule.

And that’s what will make my next story that much more interesting to you. When you hear from me again I’ll be writing the story of my trip to Mykonos. Where I had a whirlwind affair – that ends in a wedding.

 

3. professor: interstate puck songs

A few days after our first meeting over London Fogs I wasn’t sure what to think about the professor. He’d joined Instagram, presumably to get a better look at the photos I’d shown him at Starbucks. But he was seemed aloof in his suggestion that I let him take me to dinner sometime and he hadn’t actually called like he said he would. So you may remember I had thrown a variable to test his interest and intent; to paraphrase:

Me: One day I’m sure you’ll hear about something and think, that’s weird, and you can tell me about it. Something bucket listy that your friends will say is totally random. Dinner is fun but a story is priceless … it’s just an idea. I’m going to crash. Have a good night.

I woke the next day without expectation for the challenge issued and enjoyed both the sensibility and whimsy of my morning routine: coffee, vitamins, makeup, hair, and lastly, a quick shuffle of my tarot deck. I flipped the a card; hello Knight of Swords. He is handsome, fearless, motivated, and driven to action, and I wondered if his presence would guide a project at work today. I posted a photo to my Instagram and after my quick commute I rolled my office chair across the grey carpet to my desk … *ding* … a text from the professor. Or was it … the Knight?

Prof: Hey there Queen of Cups. Hope you’re kicking butt today as always. I’m cranking out work stuff at the office. I need a list of your fears and phobias etc. I want you to be comfy and enjoy stuff that we might do …

I’d never told the professor I use tarot cards so I knew he’d seen it on my Instagram Story. But his greeting gave me pause. The Queen of Cups is a beautiful, calm, and connected to her emotions. I pondered what, if anything, he knew about her meaning. Did he know the compliment he was paying? I replied, trying not to get ahead of myself.

Me: I call myself a “band-aid ripper”, even if I’m terrified, I just do it anyway … but I know your schedule is crazy so take your time.
Prof: Mother nature isn’t helping … but we will find something fun and hopefully a bit exciting. Can you get away on a weekday?
Me: Generally … yes.

And a few hours later, close to 2pm, the professor Knight showed his gallantry.

Prof: What’s going down at work? Any plans tonight?
Me: Zero presently.
Prof: Give me a second.
Prof: Ever been to a hockey game … last minute tickets … good seats by the glass … please don’t feel obligated … [US city] a bit of a haul.

For context, the professor was proposing a 7-hour date crossing an international border.

Me: Let’s go.

Roughly 3 hours after he’d asked my plans for the night, with only a few quippy logistical texts about where to meet, what to wear, and where we’d eat, I watched the professor’s grey pickup pull up in front of my white hatchback. We greeted (though I can’t remember exactly how), we put my coat in his backseat, and as I buckled my seatbelt I watched as he poked through the audio menu on his dashboard and chose a playlist. “Mimi Stuff” showed across the screen for a moment, then he tapped back to the GPS of our route. Songs I told him I liked in the two weeks of chatting came through the speakers. I was rendered completely speechless by the gesture.

The professor flexed his teaching skills as he explained the rules of hockey and we shared our experiences with sports in general; the near 2-hour drive was filled to bursting with effortless conversation. Our undeniable connection was ironically challenged in peculiar fashion soon after. While looking at each other’s passports while waiting to cross the border the professor asked me something entirely unexpected, “Your last name is Xxxxxxx?” I laughed out loud at the absurdity of the question before the reality hit me, we actually didn’t know each others last names.

Mr. and Ms. Just-Found-Out-Each-Others-Last-Names crossed an international border and soon parked in a lot beside the arena on a cobblestone lined street. We walked shoulder to shoulder towards and through the venue to find a beer concession stand. I ordered us two citra beers and as the cashier asked to see my ID I heard the professor teasingly tut over my shoulder. Her eyebrow raised “You’re born in September?” she asked and I nodded. “VIRGO” she whooped at me, remarking to the professor “Aren’t you lucky?” He asked if she wanted to see his ID as well and she declined with as much cheek as I could’ve hoped for.

The professor leaned his right bicep into my left shoulder when we took our seats second row from the glass and elaborated on his Hockey 101 lesson. It was as close as we’d ever been physically and I took the opportunity to take him in: dewy skin, slightly gelled short shorn hair, and smelt wholesomely of laundry detergent. He asked me to cheers our beers, and as I obliged he stopped my abruptly. “It’s bad luck to look away.” He scolded me gently and I admitted that I break eye-contact frequently but never intentionally. “It’s ok. You’re shy. I’m shy too.” I managed to hold eye contact as we clinked cups again and he explained the German superstition of seven years of bad sex. During intermission a little while later as we ventured back upstairs for arena grub I felt the professor’s hand on the small of my back as we wove through the crowd of beards and jerseys. “Does this happen to you a lot?” he asked. I turned over my shoulder to ask him what he meant. “Every guy in here is looking at you.” I dismissed his observation externally while taking in its validity internally, unsure if it was me or us, but in truth, all I could think about was the warmth of his hand through my sweater. We returned to our seats with handfuls of chicken wings, fries and beer and watched through to the end of the game. We agreed to have drink nearby and the professor tugged my shoulder tight under his arm in the lobby and began scrolling through his phone to find somewhere interesting. It was another moment that just immediately stuck; being held close while we found a reason to stay together just a little longer. Just a short stroll down the road we sat together at a high-top table in a dimly lit pub and talked about our extended families a while before we made out way to his truck.

The soundtrack of that drive home included the professor’s very varied music taste as well as what seemed to be an endless list of restaurants, markets, villages and activities he wanted to take me to. I told him how good the date had been for me, “the tarot card … the playlist … I don’t think you know how special that was.” He admitted the Queen of Cups was something he researched that morning when he saw my Instagram; he’d wanted to find the card that most reflected what he thought of me.

I was completely enamored. Smitten. Stupid.

We rolled up to a lone hatchback in a parking lot by the highway and hugged across the console of his truck. “Wait, no, oh my god no, a hug?” I thought as I breathed him in. And then suddenly … you know the kind of kiss that makes you dizzy? You know the kind of kiss that comes with an existential crisis? You know the kind of kiss that makes your climb over a pickup truck console? I found myself locked in the kind of kiss that I’ve never known how to get out of either gracefully or with my clothes intact. So I did what any reasonable and socially-unawkward adult woman would do: mid-kiss I blindly reached backwards in the darkness for the truck doorknob, clicked it open and tossed my feet out to the pavement behind me. That is how I ended that kiss … ridiculously. “Goodbye” I shouted insolently, knowing full well how entirely bewildered and flushed I looked. The professor rolled down his window and teased as I fumbled my keys for longer than humanly possible. I texted the professor when I’d got home as he asked and then said goodnight.

Sometime in the week after our international first date my wish for “something bucket listy that your friends will say is totally random” came true when the professor had a “dude night” with a single-and-dating-dad friend:

Prof: I told him the whole Match story about how I met you and our journey to [US city].
Me: Did he think you were nuts for going international with a stranger?
Prof: Yah, he said that. I didn’t. It wasn’t too international and you’re not that strange.kiss emoji

Prof: Life is pretty damn good. Good night! You get a kissy emoji. I want to just grab you and kiss you right now.
Me: Same. A lot a lot.

 

Until next time.

2. professor: foggy like sunday morning

The professor + me + London Fogs on a Sunday morning.

Two weeks after receiving the first message from the professor on a Sunday morning I put on high-waist blue jeans, a pale pink knit sort-of cropped sweater, and maroon heeled Timberland boots arriving with enough time to grab a table and second guess (re: wipe off) my bold lipstick. I saw the professor in the parking lot adjusting the collar of his coat looking noticeably nervous but as he walked through the door he smiled brightly. I stood up and hugged him before he removed his coat revealing a buttoned shirt and fitted jeans.

We sat down across from one another at a table with two chairs in the middle of a Starbucks, my Starbucks in fact so while I felt at home, I also felt just a little on display. My baristas see me every day (sans gentleman accompaniment), recognize my daughter, and know our orders upon sight. The tables are oft filled with faces I’ve seen a hundred times one of which, a white-haired businessman, was seated beside us with a quizzical brow in piquedly eavesdropping. I consider the 12-year gap when I see the white-hair’s gaze dart away sheepishly as I catch his eye. I don’t feel the gap but for just a second, I wonder if others see it.

london fog

Context, chemistry and consideration.

Before we met, I’d told the professor I had a knack for interpersonal context, an ironclad memory, and explained to him that I use language and anecdotes to help inform the way I communicate and understand the people in my life. Thus far the professor had opted to share his experiences as a father and of travel, so I wasn’t surprised when he pulled out his cellphone to show me videos of his ski trip; as we chatted, cheek to cheek over his phone I mobile ordered two grande London Fogs. I would eventually reciprocate and scrolled through my Instagram sharing my own sort of context. We drank our teas and chatted without pause from 9:30 until about noon. It was plainly apparent that we had conversational chemistry. Agreeability aside, I wondered what minutiae might make us incompatible.

Our lifestyles are similar, but 50% custody of one child and majority custody of three makes for a very different level of “availability” for dating. I decided to ask him bluntly, “You’re very busy. Is how your schedule has been since we started talking fairly typical for you?” He seemed to know emphatically what I meant. “No not at all … I swear.” He looked me right in the eye so I believed him.

Good manners, good intentions, and goodbyes.

The Starbucks tête a tête ended as the professor smiled warmly across the table at me and lamented that he should get back; I remarked on the thoughtfulness in his coming all the way to me. He suggested he’d like to take me to “dinner soon and I agreed (for the record, he pumped his fist in a winning gesture, it was adorkable). He asked if he could call me on the phone that evening and I agreed. He walked me to my car, we hugged and he shyly kissed my cheek, insisting we’d be talking later.

And I felt really good about it … until I didn’t, like 10 hours later.

Because? He didn’t call that night. Or the next. Or the next. Or the next. What did he do? He texted without making plans, asking my schedule, or offering his availability. He texted what he was doing, where he was, who he was with. Each text a tiny little green bubble of contraction. The assurance that he was never normally that busy was demonstrably false.

I know myself better than ever before – I just hadn’t put my mouth where my mind was.

I’m learning if I want to have any sense of self, I should be able to define what “my terms of engagement” are.

  • First, without clearly expressing exclusivity and monogamy, sex a nonstarter. I told this to the professor week 1 of chatting on Match, which is to say, I give exactly zero fucks if it’s inconvenient or unrealistic of me to have such a rule.
  • Second, within reason I would need to see a person once per week and two weekend days a month to consider our investment in romantic interest (time, emotions, money) worthwhile. Basically, I have enough friends and hobbies plus I’m the proud owner of a really good vibrator, so I’m no longer entertaining friendships or text messages from failed dates.

That’s not to say my expectations or requirements aren’t malleable, they are if and that’s a big if, I’ve got a good vibe about the whole situation. And I can tell you, at 10pm, three days after an unfulfilled phone call, and about 500 texts exposing a man’s true availability and/or intent, I didn’t have a super good vibe when I received yet another non-committal suggestion at the potential of seeing each other “sometime”.

Perhaps we’d both literally and figuratively met our match.

Prof: … just hang with me sometime or let me take you for that burger.
Me: Let’s do something weirder than eat. Something bucket listy that your friends will say is totally random.
Prof: Let me consult my nonexistent bucket list … or do we work from yours?
Me: One day I’m sure you’ll hear about something and think, that’s weird, and you can tell me about it. Dinner is fun but a story is priceless.
Prof: Can I still talk to you until I find said priceless thing in my thought cave?
Me: I want you to … listen, I have my own money, I trust you, I’m trying to learn to not be so sheltered … it’s just an idea. I’m going to crash. Have a good night.

About 24 hours later I (unexpectedly) had my first kiss with the professor.

Until next time.

1. professor: opposites attract

Yours truly is back, after a winter dating sabbatical, with a brand new dating dissertation to dissect. I want to introduce you to my current beau, with no promises on how long I will write about him, but also without too much ado, so … class is in session:

Meet the Professor.

  • The professor is occupationally just that, with his additional time spent doing medical research; which is to say without saying too much, that he’s academically decorated, and extremely intelligent. (And ludicrously humble about it.)
  • The professor is 12 years my senior, extensively traveled, and passionate about sports, craft beer and fine dining.
  • The professor is the oldest of three brothers and a father of boys whom he has majority custody of.
  • The professor lives in metropolitan-adjacent suburbia just shy of an hour’s drive from me.
  • The professor has proven to be a consummate gentleman, endlessly interesting, a skosh romantic, patient, and consistent.

To say that we are different might be an understatement.

  • I work in a creative role in a financial firm and I romanticize my cutesy career, flitting around boardrooms full of three-piece suits with a scrunchie in my hair and a quip on my tongue. My office has just one honours college diploma on the wall.
  • I’m a 32 year old that spends the majority of my time writing, reading poetry, eating tacos, dieting, and drinking an ungodly amount of coffee.
  • I’m the youngest of three sisters and a mother to one daughter, whom I only have half of the time.
  • I moved back in with my parents after selling my condo last year and squirreling away equity to begin living an intentionally nomadic sort of lifestyle in my time without my daughter.
  • I described myself to him as awkward, fearful, with a penchant to over-analyze but since we’ve been together he’s referred to me as a humble, witty, sweet, outgoing, funny, unpredictable, and a really intellectually deep girl.

To say our differences make all the difference is absolutely an understatement.

The professor is Roman Catholic; I post a picture of my tarot card each morning to my Instagram story. The professor likes hair bands from the 80’s; I listen to electronic bops and pop. The professor showed me travel photos from beaches in Hawaii and ski hills across the continent; I showed him my Instagram feed of downtown Detroit, margaritas and dive bar dancing. The professor wears button up shirts every day and loves his Sketchers; I wear ripped jeans (that he bashfully admitted he thinks are sexy) and almost exclusively wear Timberlands. The professor is an unbelievable chef, literally astounding; I had to try three times to rip into the foil wrapper of my protein bar last week. The professor won’t put stickers on his laptop; I have tattoos because “it’s just a body.” The professor looked at me in wistful astonishment over dinner one night and said “I’ve never met anyone who thinks the way you do”; when I was feeling particularly amorous one night I told him “You’re my jam, P.” I feel unequivocally his equal opposite.

In one text conversation shortly before we met I said to him: “I’m going to try to ruin this … what’s your sign?” “Cancer.” “No you’re not. You’re one of the signs I’m supposed to be looking for.” And over the next few days the professor, who knew nothing about astrology, sent me screenshots and asked questions or commented to quantify our traits, through astrology. He got to know me, through the lens he knew I’d use to analyze us. He’s left me utterly speechless, more times than I can count, for efforts just like this.
yin yang

I knew then that what we had could be what yin/yang feels like:
small parts of sameness reaching into mirrored opposites. I have to admit I was geeked that the ’69’ symbol for cancer, looks the same.

 

How I met the Professor.

“I remember reading your profile. You are interesting and funny which made you stand out. I was talking to a few girls … but then I started talking to you and I didn’t bother writing them back. I felt bad but … I was just too smitten by your witty sass.”

When the professor first contacted me on Match.com he was outside of my distance settings and I was staunchly against messaging men first. I had spent the majority of that first week on the app liking profiles and then backing out of the ensuring lackluster banter until this came through:

“Hey I’m [Professor] … I’m new to this but thought I’d reach out. Your profile is really clever. Mine, not so much. I am a bit #hockeylife but like all sports, and for some reason hot dogs as well. Did you grow up in [city]?”

I’ve since told the professor that this first message was exactly what I wanted to receive. Why? It felt like what I’d want a man to say if he approached me in real life. Direct, honest, casually compliment, a chance to connect. Despite my admission of being terrible at math, the professor noticed I view a lot of the aspects of life as an algebraic equation, I’ve since wrote the following in a journal:

Each chance at love is just x’s and y’s being added by circumstance, multiplied by attraction, subtracted by deal-breakers, and divided by intent. 

I don’t think I’ve been without a text from him in any day since that first message. We met online just before spring break, taking us both out of our respective cities with our children. We exchanged phone numbers on the eve of his departure:

Prof: Anyways, I’m leaving tomorrow on the mystical journey and I would feel much safer knowing that I had a potential lunch or dinner date lined up with a girl called Mimi. So hopefully you’ll consider it and get back to me if you don’t get a better offer before.
Me: Pack your bag. I will see you when you’re back.
Prof: Is that a yes? Very cavalier.
Me: It’s a fuck yes. I didn’t mean to be cavalier, cheeky yes … my penance … [my number].
Prof: Cheekyness appreciated. In case you need to get ahold of me [his number]. Can I text you?
Me: Of course you can.

The professor and I spent the next week of evenings, a province between us, our kids tucked in bed, sharing our days, interests, extended families and bonding over parent’y nonsense like Mariokart and the bland carby diet that children live on (I call it “beige food”). And after agreeing we were both monogamous relationship types, he said:

Prof: I’m not on Tinder.
Me: I’ve never been on Tinder.
Prof: I’m not a parallel dater.

It was another check in his favour; one that he offered without knowing I would require it to proceed past date one. We discussed how online dating was bizarre, and the parts we couldn’t wrap our heads around. We concluded we were both very picky with dates and at morally at odds with the sincerity of casual dating. I’d always wanted to meet someone who was “new school” enough to online date but “old school” enough to date one person at a time, you know, like 2005.

How the Professor asked to meet me in real life.

The professor made good on his promise the night he got home, offering up a date to drink a tea he was fond of or a meal he knew I liked. I was geeked on this approach as it showed enough interest to do an entire meal, while offering the casual investment of a café meeting.

Prof: Now that I’m back to reality life, I’ve got a hankering for a London Fog, and I was hoping you’d like to get one at your favourite Seattle establishment … or a burger caesar at your favourite place.
Me: Yea of course. Whatever wherever! What’s between us? [Halfway City?]
Prof: I’ll come to [my city]. It’s close. The question is when … are you busy this weekend?
Prof: And don’t reply too quickly … and hold back the excitement.
Me: Stop it. I’m doing my Virgo nervous thing. Let me, lol. But yes I can make time this weekend for sure.
Prof: Pfew. I was preparing for the big rejection. My Saturday is sort of crazy, can you do Friday or Sunday?
Me: I have a cousin visiting Saturday, so that lines up. Sunday fun day?
Prof: For sure! Today is shaping up good. Need a lottery ticket. Catch you in a bit.

And that, dear readers, is where I’ll leave us off. I’m excited to share a bit about our dates with you in the coming blogs because they’re without a doubt the best dates I’ve ever been on in my life. You’ll see why … until next time.