12. fish: affection & ambiguity

Through writing out the strange tale of fish and I, I’ve gleaned a lot more perspective on his character, and somehow, less on what we’ve been doing with one another all this time. We wear our insecure hearts on our sleeves, just a little, for the right people. We both feel safe with one another emotionally. But we don’t always know how to respond if the other is being vulnerable. Something keeps fish and I entangled; what exactly that is remains to be seen, it could be nefarious or worthwhile. Without direction or intent we seem to be flowing alongside one another, sometimes closer, sometimes less so.

I can only conclude for certain today that I’m not afraid to lose fish to another woman or disinterest; wherever he ends up if he’s happy, I’m happy.

Unbeknownst to fish, by early October I had to gotten out of dating completely, some of the reasons include: the number I’d done on my own heart with a guy I call eight, accepting that I was using attention from men to fuel my self worth, but most of all recognizing that I do suffer from a crippling fear of being alone. I know now that I have no choice but to face this fear alone. I’ve come back to this this quote, so many times:

Learn you way around loneliness. Make a map of it. Sit with it, for once in your life. Welcome to the human experience. But never again use another person’s body or emotions as a scratching post for your own unfulfilled yearnings.  – Elizabeth Gilbert

In the days that follow our last date, a la “Cafe & The Bay” I’m legitimately caught off guard when fish sent me a bunch of duvet cover photos and asked me which I liked best:

pattern
The duvet, uh, we picked?

Fish: Any of these hype?
Me: I don’t know – it’s your bedroom!
Fish: Whats the point shopping with u if u dont voice ur opinion Im not gunna autobuy But if I like one u like its easier
Me: I read somewhere that blue is calming. Haha what?
Fish: Which ones u like?
Me: This is bizarre … the middle one!
Fish: That was in my top 3 Thanks
Me: You sir are welcome.

Fish: But if ur not down to help with anything i wont ask, sorry for bugging
Me: It’s not bugging!!! No ones ever asked me that before is all.
Fish: Its just helpful advice Since i do everything on my own
Me: I’m happy to help. You’re independent, I admire that in you.
Fish: Stamp of approval nice

In the weeks that follow its just us … talking … about anything … except seeing each other … or our feelings, naturally. We talk about the gym and his car window motor repair. I tell him about volunteering with the police where they got me drunk then students practiced administering field sobriety tests on me. Our dads run into each other at the bank and talked briefly (neither dad acknowledged that they both know their kids are, well, you know). He bumps his head at work; I tell him I’ll get him a helmet. I get the flu; he tells me it’s fish withdrawal. His first niece is born and their entire family is head over heels, it’s so sweet. He asks me where to buy pistachio nuts in bulk the cheapest. He asks if I give good groin massages after a hockey game. You know, normal stuff. (Ha.)

Then December comes. I notice he begins to circle back a few times about his experiencing a lot of stress lately; he’s vague and never tells me what is going on, just that he snaps more lately and wanted suggestions for calming down. So we talk about teas, pot, and proper sleep. He starts to talk a lot about Christmas, we talk about our family traditions, I confess I’ve never been single during Christmas. He send me a photo of a drinking game to play while watching Home Alone but something, probably anxiety, kept me thinking, its just about being drunk together. We talk about football, I’d been to most of the Buffalo Bills home games this year and he asked why I never bring him. We talk about hockey and how I still don’t understand the hype. And then …

Then I don’t hear from fish from December 18th until January 1st. Two weeks was the longest, by a lot, we’d ever gone without speaking. He’d asked me to play hooky from work to spend the night with him, and I suggested he’d have to take the day off as well, and he said he would still go to work. “No dice” I said, “Well sometime soon stranger” he replied. I didn’t understand. I still don’t.

Then January comes. And the new year brings new confusion when it comes to fish. New Years Day at 3:00pm starts an interesting exchange:

Fish: Happy New Year!! Should we meet up this year? East sides does buy one take one home Sounds hot
Me: This year sounds doable. Lol happy new year! Have a good nite?
Fish: Yaa just over at a buddies house party Even got a kiss Kicker was … it was a boy lol
Me: Romance!
Fish: He got pretty drunk lol!
Me: Not you?
Fish: Enough that I cant move today Think ima order some za tn
Me: Ah good idea
Fish: Come share if u want … but i may not greet you at the door. Im lazy lol

My mom and I had already planned on burrito salads so I declined. And he doubled back on the East Side Marios deal, letting me know that it was over January 20th, so we’d have to go by then. I tell him I could’ve done that week but my daughter had just called and asked to come home early. And then, this next bit, this left me entirely dumbfounded:

Fish: She can come lol
Me: No she cannot lol
Fish: How come!? But ya lemme know What u do for nye?
Me: She would say I’m not allowed to be friends with boys. I stayed home solo. Drank mimosas, smoke joints, and went to bed early. It was heaven.
Fish: What a meanie. Doesn’t she know I’m best friends with kids?
Me: Im sure you’re great with kids. Mine just prefers I only speak to girls, ever.

As I told my mother about this exchange I saw a tinge of something cross her face. “His family would love her you know, dote on her.” “That’s nice to think about but he’s not my boyfriend. He’s not been my boyfriend.” “Well what’s his alternative? To see you, she comes. Or not see you at all.” She’s not wrong, about any of it. It softened me to fish in a lot of ways I didn’t expect.

So with dinner off the table, so to speak, we talk football again. All my teams were out of the playoffs, he asks me to start cheering for his and tells me their next game day/time. I agree. We talk gym stuff and about the love of my life, Starbucks:

Me: Yea but I drink like four coffees a day minimum.
Fish: When should we have a coffee date then, or even better fooood.
Me: I love food so much. It’s legit so good.

We talk food. He knows a lot about my weird diet and the fasting I do; he says he admires my willpower. I tell him the diet stuff comes from a shitty place but at least the outcome is better health; he said he has his shitty places too. It was weirdly comforting? On the weekend I texted him quickly from a restaurant while I was with my daughter, the football game he had asked me to watch was on and his team was on fire:

Me: Touchdown.
Fish: Hahaha yaaaaaaa ur watching 🙂
Fish: Whatta win.

Fish must’ve been out. And drunk. Because he continued:

Fish (@ 2:44am): Soooo happy. *gif of brad pitt dancing* Hello then?
Me (@ 10:43am): Ola

It was a Sunday, I had spent the morning at a little Psychic Fair in town with my sisters, nieces, and daughter, and now, in the early afternoon we were grabbing a quick bite to eat at a populat greasy spoon diner. I, quite literally, threw my phone across the table when one of these messages came through, you’ll know it when you see it:

Fish (@ 1:30pm): They won 🙂
Me: I saw! Happy boy. I was out for dinner with [my daughter] watching while we ate
Fish: I love you 🙂

Until next time dear readers.

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