9. eight: destiny’s denouement.

Post 9, that’s more than one too many blogs about a guy who I never did date, not really, but multiple months of my life were spent, in a strange way, together. But in the interest of story telling, and taking up my time in a more productive manner, you got all the dirty deets and now we’ve come to the end. Towards the end of eight and I’s brief nothing every single day had become increasingly confusing and frustrating. I don’t know what changed but I don’t really care enough to ask; I know this one is not my issue.

One night after asking me how my day was, the normal chat turned sour. Eight said he was chirping me for fun and I told him “if he’s going to chirp, to do it nicely, fucker”. He doubled down on the nonsensical one liners. I tried to soften just a little “to be honest I don’t know what is going on”. He tells me that’s OK and he’s going to bed. I really do hate misunderstanding someone more than I hate confrontation, so I just picked up the phone and called him to clarify. I’d never called him before, he’d never called me. He ignored the call of course, he’d only texted me that a minute before, but the next morning, sometime on his break I assume, I get a text from him “Hey you called last night? I put my phone on silent when I go to bed.” I think I told him that was smart of him and wrote it off as I was going to ask him to come for a smoke walk with me. He says that would have been nice.

Ten days later he snap-chatted both to me and to his story: a video of a fancy cottage he was staying at, videos of the wake of a boat full of dudes, a photo of steaks marinating, and another video of him walking to a tennis court. I only replied to the steak photo because duh steak. What did I say ? I sent him TWO steak emojis, it’s friendlier than one steak emoji, after all.

What was interesting to me was that our last conversation, spanning over a few days, is basically us tying up loose ends with each other, and that gave me a lot of peace.

I was out shopping and see that eight had sent me a snap of an earring that I had left in his apartment on my birthday. Side note: I always wear “disposable hoops” when I’m going out to a bar, a fact that I shared with eight during our patio drinks. “Oh haha, just chuck it, disposable remember?” He replies back, “I didn’t know if this was a tactic to see me again.” I’m direct so of course I just blab out, “Yes I would see you again. But I don’t need a tactic.” Then, ding, an SMS comes through:

8: “Much rather talk on here. I didn’t think I asked any questions but I like the way that sounds.”
Me: “Talk eh? How’s your week been?”
8: “It’s a 2 way street. My week has been good thanks. I’m hurting today though. And yours?”
Me: What do you mean? Aw gnarly what’s wrong? I took a day off the gym because my ribs are shot. Work is insane this week for me.”
8: “I tied one on last night. Self inflicted. What did you do to your ribs??”
Me: “On a Wednesday? What a trooper! Oh some stupid gym class. I’m jazzed – I ordered a pink skipping rope.”
8: “Yea it was my bday so I got into it a bit. Still went to work today though.”
Me: “HAPPY BIRTHDAY”
8: “Thanks yo!”
Me: “You should’ve told me I would’ve bought you a drink.”
8: “I like keeping my bday lowkey.”
Me: “Lowkey is good too!”
8: “Yea I like it way better than going over the top for the bday.”

All of this honestly felt like a knock against how messy I had been on my birthday and to be perfectly honest fuck him if that’s what he was saying. But I don’t know for sure – I’m coming out of a 10 year relationship where I wasn’t allowed to have male friends and was discouraged from spending any time outside of my home – when I say this is new to me – this is NEW to me. I had been waiting to say what I type next until him until I saw him in person because I’m an adult but I was over whatever he was playing at:

Me:“Yeah about that, I was meaning to say to you I was sorry about the state I was in on my birthday. To be perfectly honest I blacked out that night. I actually don’t drink very often in my regular life. I legitimately had no recollection of speaking to you that night at all. My bad.”
8:
“You weren’t bad at all. You were speaking coherently but no worries. Not sure if you remember but we did have sex. Just wanted to throw that one out there.”
8: “I’ll take that as you weren’t aware.”
Me: “Ah sorry. I just got home. No, I pieced that together by the morning. I remember getting in your car and not knowing how you’d got there. You’d been texting cheeks all night. Not me. I remember you asking if I wanted to go to your house and me saying that I did. And everything else is hazy.”
8: “Nice, well that’s a bonus. I would have felt a bit weird if I just broke the news to you.”
Me: “No you didn’t. I honest to goodness meant to say something to you but texting that is awkward. Plus I assumed you’d bounce since I came off like such a trainwreck in that state.”
8: ” I don’t think you know what a trainwreck is if you consider that trainwreck worthy.”
Me: “Trainwreck for me.”
8: “Bah don’t be so hard on yourself.”
Me: “I’m learning to but it’s a journey man. I’m in the best spot I’ve ever been as an adult. It’s peace.”

The following day, after more nothing texts back and forth, I was as direct with eight as possible, using some fluffy astrology (it falls flat) to ease into my straightforwardness:

Me: I was thinking how funny it is that our birthdays are close.
8: Yea I know a solid handful of people close to mine. How was your evening?
Me: I didn’t mean coincidentally, moreso that your personality fits Virgo junk. Like analytical and blunt. I just got out of the shower, going to roll a few joints and walk shortly.
8: I don’t follow that kind of stuff but I’ll take your word for it. That sounds like a great plan.
Me: Oh I don’t follow it persay but it peaks my interest when its accurate. Anyway I wanted to say that I appreciate you reaching out about the sex and being kind about my trainwreck birthday. It’s all good. I’ve not gotten the vibe you’re particularly interested in me – and I’ve done the FWB thing with disastrous results – so I’m not sure what else there is to say really.

Two days later …

8: Hey! Sorry for the mia’ness, been max relaxing this weekend and sleeping a tonne! No worries. I’m not exactly sure what to tell you either. I don’t see why we still can’t smoke one from time to time, and if we see each other out or whatever and are both up for some fun then we can cross that bridge when we get there. Like friends with partial benefits.

Uh, partial benefits(?) whatever the fuck that means, from a ‘friend’ I never see. 

I wasn’t jazzed to send a response and it’s not that I care who gets the last word, but I don’t like to be misunderstood. It’s not that I want to burn bridges either. I think of it as I want some bridges marked as condemned/heritage property; they’re still nice to look at but they are decidedly retired structures from the past that we know can no longer bear weight safely and shouldn’t be crossed. 

I waited a day and then I sent this last message. The last message actually. 

Me: Sounds chill level 9000! And that’s cool, I’m definitely down for smoke/friends whenever but partial benefits isn’t at all what I’m trying to get into. I need potential in the air, its what pulls me in and excites me the most, if that makes sense. Anyway, hope your Monday is baller productive guy! 🙂

And that’s it. We stopped texting entirely.

For a while he continued to like my Instagram photos but eventually stopped that too. One day out of the blue he sent me a Snapchat photo while I was posted up in a Starbucks, coincidentally, I was writing these blogs, so it extra caught me off guard. It’s a mirror selfie of him shirtless in a change-room wearing a furry vest that was almost as hairy as his chest. I replied something along the lines of “Haha what’s this about?” He chats back something like “I can’t help myself when I see weird clothes, I have to try them on.”  I can’t remember what I said, if anything in response. I went on with my day, and the next, and the next. I never did get another SMS asking “How was your day?”

If eight texted me today, I’d reply. I was absolutely interested in him romantically and a part of me still is. But it was only potential that drew me in. I can’t say for certain that his proposition, if we see each other uptown and are both up for some fun, won’t happen in the future, because frankly, I want him. But that’s the unhealthiest part of me: wanting to prove my value, to a man who isn’t interested, with sex. So whats the last thing I can tell you about eight and I’s brief nothing? This is where were at:

Eight still watches my Snapchat and Instagram stories.
Every. Single. One. Of. Them.
We still have Snapmap locations on for each other.
Probably uptown rendez-vous reasons.
I still smile when I see his name.
I associate eight with a really happy summer afterall.

eight5
dad and I at eight’s last game.
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8. eight: destiny’s sudden death.

Six months after breaking off a 10-year relationship and engagement with the father of my child, I’ve found myself dating a gaggle of lifelong bachelors. It’s surreal. It’s adventure. It’s confusing.

I remember at the beginning of the summer being so peaked over the sheer number of similarities between eight and I. We felt like the same people in every way except relationship experience. Maybe that was the only thing we needed to be more in tune on. I don’t know. Either way it seems fitting that we should end the same way we began. He’ll watch my life unfold over social media, I’ll write a blog, we’ll swipe new matches, and we’ll keep each others numbers stored in our phones, just for a little while longer, just in case; a dating tale as old as time 2018.

I had told eight I would attend his next (and last) game in town, and I still wasn’t sure how much damage I had done with that little white lie. Our texts had been clunky ever since we slept together, he checked in daily still, I had no real reason to think anything could come of us, but I had a shred of hope left so I him a snap on game day:

tiger
I went to the arena early, sat in the top row, within twenty feet of his teams’ bench and watched him warm up; he’s dancing again. Everything we’ve talked about over the summer felt too good, like destiny: sports, family, late night joints, tea, manners, car karaoke, sleeping with the window open when it’s cold, but always most of all, unabashed-for-the-love-of-it-dancing. The best way to describe being there that night is bittersweet.

In short time eight is on the line, close, with his back facing me. The anthem finishes and the announcers’ begin bantering over the loudspeaker and list off sponsors for the game. Eight turns around, looking into the stands and immediately spots me. He takes a step towards the wall, his hand comes up and he points out to me. He says something I can’t hear, but if I read his lips correctly, “Hey, I see you, you came!” You want it to be meaningful, right? I did too. I just sit there, smiling at him. He’s smiling too, he lowers his pointing hand, nods at me, his smile turns to a cheeky grin, and he returns to his teammates. If they don’t win this game the championship goes to their opponents on the spot; a sudden death scenario, and believe me, they laid everything on the line.

Halfway through the game “The Middle” a song by Zedd comes on the loudspeaker for a moment. He’s dancing again near the bench and starts singing or lip-syncing along with the song. He’s looking directly at me, singing: “Baby, why don’t you just meet me in the middle. I’m losing my mind just a little.” And then, dear readers, my dad catches on. Yes, I said my dad, who is sitting to my left side. Eight doesn’t know it’s my dad, and my dad doesn’t know which player I’ve been “talking to” all summer. “That’s him isn’t it? That’s the guy?” Eight is still singing this song and still looking at me so I can’t say anything to my dad, who’s now chuckling like an idiot and I can feel a razz coming on. Excellent, super cool … this was a terrible idea. There are still faces in the rows in front of me, quizzically looking to see who eight is fixated on. The only reaction I can muster is the faintest of head shakes and smallest of shit eating grins.

After what will probably go down in my life as the most surreal thing to ever happen to me at a sporting event … the game unfortunately took a turn. It was tense, hard fought, and wrought with bad behaviour on both teams’ sides. It started with a bad call, a shove that turned into both teams rushing out, a long delay for penalties, and a player gets ejected. Eight’s team loses in the aftermath and I watched the life suck right out of his body. I watched him as he threw down a piece of equipment. I watched as two teammates came and wrapped their arms around him. I slipped out of the arena, I’ve never skedaddled so fast in my life. As I walked to my car I could hear the announcer mentioning each player, and the fans cheering for each. I don’t know if I should’ve stayed that day – let him see that I was there until the bitter end. But it just seemed like he should be with and focused on his team in that moment.

He sent me a lot of Snapchats that night as I slept, singing karaoke in one of his teammates homes; if memory serves one of them was “Friends in Low Places.” I texted him the next morning and congratulated him on a season well played. He mentioned in passing that a big part of his moodiness was “because it’s the longest stretch of time until we play again.”

“It’s bittersweet I guess huh?” I asked him.
“There’s nothing sweet about it.” He said.

And that was enough to shut me up for the night. This was the new pattern and conversational tone; after initiating contact with me, his texts were regularly dismissive and decidedly curt. I did try to understand his melancholy, I knew he was disappointed and already missing this big thing in his life even though it felt very much within reach still. Those exact words describe how I feel now, now that it’s been weeks since we spoke last.

Imagine him saying to me about our brief nothing:
“It’s bittersweet I guess huh?”
Imagine me saying back to him, after all you’ve read in these blogs:
“There’s nothing sweet about it.”

I get it eight, I really do.

7. eight: destiny’s deception.

The truth is eight was around, and never far from my mind, during what’s been a period of immense personal growth and relearning to love and value myself. My personal growth in the last few months is completely unrelated to him, but none the less, his presence over the course of it all feels like a somewhat meaningful timestamp in my life. I did good things for myself and he was just there; everyday, nearby, checking in, and orbiting the peripheral of my journey. Now … back to destiny’s walk of shame.

When I got home from those 5.5km, I pulled off my sandal heels to find blood all over my feet. There was a morbid satisfaction in what I felt was a deserved and self-inflicted punishment especially considering I had precisely zero other symptoms of a hangover. I had analyzed everything I could – any further information would have to be gleaned from speaking with eight or cheeks, so I showered and blow-dried my hair, allowing the process to overshoot a “reasonable amount of bathroom time”. When I finished two hours later I texted eight: I told him I was mildly embarrassed about how drunk I had been and tossed out a weak invitation to brunch if he wanted. He replied I hadn’t been messy at all, even coherent, and that he had some “adulting” to do and wouldn’t be able to swing it. He had a home game that evening, that again, he’d never explicitly invited me to and I decided it was best for me not to go.

I made a little list of to-dos for myself around the house and set my Spotify playlist. I’ll freely admit I pulled up the live score of his game and kept an eye from time to time – I was infatu8ed after all. Eights team had been down by one and he himself had been struggling offensively. Twice, I considered putting on my shoes and just going to the arena. One of those times was when eight had made a hugely crucial play, tying the game up, which led to their do-or-die comeback win. My heart leapt for him, I knew what sort of stats he ran and this was impressive. When the score changed to “Final” I shut the app on my phone. *ding* The timing is just weirdly tight to the end of the game and Eight is texting me.

“Did you enjoy the game?!” Shit – he thought I was there. Now please know I’m not proud of this thing I do when I’m afraid of disappointing someone; semantic non-specific half-truths. “You’re a goddamn hero.” was all I replied.

The conversation we had that night after his big win was gentler than his brunch blow-off – he was proud and was sharing it with me. He continued to text me from the pub, explaining how he felt like the stress he had been under was shaving years off his life – I asked what the cure was and he sent me a Snapchat of the team, sitting around a table, like a loving family around Christmas dinner, except it’s beer, bar food, and tired faces.

At 2:20 in the morning I rolled over and saw a text message from eight from around 1:50am asking how the rest of my night had been. Blinded by the phone, I quickly tapped out a message to him that I had drank tea and smoked a joint, and that I was crashing again. He told me how nice that sounded and said he was going to do the same when he got home. I replied with a 🙂 and went back to sleep. Truthfully – if eight had ever directly asked me to get in my car, ever, in any of these late night messages, I would’ve. The less he asked to see me at this point, the more I wanted to see him, and every other guy blowing up my phone with date requests around this time, literally got no response. C’est la vie isn’t it ladies?

The following day I heard from eight again at 4pm. He had seen the photo I had posted of my daughter and I at her first day of third grade. Nothing special, he asked how was the first day back had been for us, but you need to remember eight has been a sort of unicorn unique situation for me; he knew a lot about my daughter contextually because of our mutual friends daughter. He’d be able to predict what she was like, age, personality, interests, all of it from his experiences with her little friend. When I date guys without kids I do my best to explain being a mom from the perspective of dating me, nothing more. I just haven’t met many guys I can see being worthy of being in my daughters life. I’m ok with dating the same guy indefinitely if I like him for me, but the standards I have for whoever I bring into her life are so high I honestly don’t have the ability to put men in that category, even just in my imagination. But whenever eight would ask about her, which wasn’t uncommon, it was always unsettling because I was forced to consider him in that context, consider him being involved with her. For what it’s worth I do think he absolutely could’ve, I always settled on “he’s got potential” and we know how quickly I fall for brief little nothings because “they feel like something”.

And remember that contextual roundabout lie I told him when I wasn’t at his game? This is where it comes back to bite my ass. As he’s asking me about my daughter, the topic changes to his sport, he asked who I had come to his last game with, and I clarified my “truth-dodge” from earlier. “Oh I watched the thing online, I almost got in the car when you tied it up but I chickened out.” Now I tried to soften the fact that I had lied, by being vulnerable. I’m trying to convey to him that I was scared to see him. I woke up in his bed the morning of that game and he had blown me off and avoided me. And in that moment he had the opportunity to assuage my doubt, acknowledge anything, my lie, his feelings, whatever he could’ve said anything – instead he doesn’t reply at all. It takes a week for him to reach out in a meaningful way but our communication for 7 days had been a entirely painful and forced exercise in futility.

eight4
And I guess I can summarize that we never really get “it” back after this. Maybe I disappointed him by lying, maybe he realized I needed more from him than he was willing to give. Its irrelevant why, but this is sort of when I think we both realized we weren’t going to fulfill what the other wanted. In what I’m sure should be the last post about eight I’ll cover one more face to face (sort of) and (definitely) my telling eight in not so many words “lol no thanks”.

6. eight: destiny’s drunk consent.

The morning after my birthday I woke up in a bedroom I’d never seen before.

I’m in a bed, it may just be a box spring and mattress on the floor, its low. I’m tucked into the corner of a room with sloped ceilings. I look down at my body, I’m wearing men’s athletic shorts and a t-shirt, both are bright yellow. I look to my right, there’s eight, or his back at least, he’s in a white cotton shirt, tucked deep in the comforter. I take note of the alarm clock just beyond his shoulder, it reads 6:30am.  In the middle of the bedroom floor, in a neat little pile are my clothes from yesterday. I don’t remember taking them off. I’m wide awake without even the hint of a hangover. I don’t know where my cellphone or purse is, I can’t see them from where I am, and I desperately don’t want to wake up eight. Blinking silently at the ceiling, in tandem with the quiet breaths of the man asleep beside me, I start piecing together my last 24 hours.

The morning of my birthday I woke up in my bedroom.  

I responded to the “happy birthday!” text from eight. “Thank youuu! Night was good, had beers and burger and a giant J!”

I had booked myself a hair appointment at a trendy salon uptown to lift my blonde shadow roots and chop off some inches. I’d been here before but I was going to see a new stylist – she’s a total bad bitch with thick bouncy curls in black and emerald. Just like eight, she’s someone I went to school with uptown from grades 7-12, we sat together in art class every year, and shared a love for Notorious BIG. You have to understand though I live in a big city – it’s a major hub for tech startups and is home to several universities – for locals, it’s a small town. The high school populations regularly crossed over at house parties and student trips. We gossiped the morning away, catching up on the last decade give or take, with a focus on online dating and how batshit crazy it is. She tells me about hew relatively new beau, a single father from Tinder, she asks me about logistics of dating single parents, I tell her I’m not really sure, I haven’t gotten that serious with anyone. I don’t talk about my daughter to guys I date, other than to tell them she exists, and that she’ll take up a lot of my time. I tell her about a few of the guys I talk to, she vaguely remembers eight from school, in all the same ways I did: not super tall, dark eyes and total bro. “He was a pothead right?” she asks, yes, yes he was/is.

birthday
My boss texted me sometime during the hair appointment: “Happy Birthday, Hope you have a great day, that you’ll be able to remember.” I clapped out a response saying “Hope not to, lmao, dork.” This exchange will come back to haunt me. You’ll see why.

When I’m leaving the salon I see eight’s replied to my text from the morning. “Beauty! Who’d you enjoy that with?” I tell him my cousin bff, a girl called cheeks. He tells me he went to a buddy’s house and “had an epic living room sing along/rock out sesh” and I tell him “FYI, the fact that you jam out/dance around is such an attractive quality.” He thanked me and suggested I might feel differently seeing it in action.

I take my fresh blowout to the mall and do a whole host of things just to “live my best life”. I got second lobe piercings, shopped, ate steak for lunch, and shopped even more. Posting highlights of my nonsensical adventure to Snapchat as I had the time.

Eight checks in again, he’s getting on the team bus for an away game, says my steak looks bomb, asks where I am. “I’ll message you if we get back in reasonable time and possibly come have one with ya.” I respond as I do:

“Reasonably sounds like possibly a plan.” – Me, trying to be cute.

I realize he might think I’m being a chore instead of cute when he starts giving me timelines of their overtime game, and how it compares to today, when the game starts, travel time, etc. I decide to change the subject and warn him “Well, no promises on coherency if you make it. Say hi to your tight pants for me.”

birthday2
I go pick up my BFF cousin cheeks, around dinner hour; we pre-drink and gossip until night time. She’s got Cuban rum that cost less than $10 and we polish off the bottle playing over/under and listening to EDM/Pop music. We head uptown buzzed and feeling silly. We pop into the bank to grab cash for drinks, two guys are there, asking where we’re headed. Cheeks tells them where we’re headed and that it’s my birthday, they wish me a happy birthday, and we wish them a good night. At the bar we see these guys again when they bring over a few tequila shots. I ask the guys how old they are, 26, oh hell no, they’re nice but I tell them I’m way too old for them. They ask my age, I tell them and they’re flabbergasted, but insist I need birthday shots. We talk about their degrees, I take two tequila shots. This is when I lose big chunks of time in my memory: I’ve never blacked out in my life before, and I have a gnarly memory for detail, so it’s the strangest thing. I don’t remember paying cover or showing my id, but I remember ending up across the street at the dance club. I remember two guys getting pretty aggressive with us about hanging out later; they got a lot of non answers and a fake phone number.

From here on out for the night I’m blacked out, the entirety of what I remember is:

  • On the sidewalk out front of the bar, cheeks won’t let me walk home alone.
  • Unreasonably bright lights and electric door, being at a pharmacy.
  • Cheeks telling me “eight is here to drive us home”.
  • Alone with him in his car, eight saying to me “So, we’re going to my house?”
  • I remember saying “Yea definitely”.
  • Unzipping my heels and giggling as I followed him up narrow dark stairs.
  • A living room to my left, and the foot of a bed visible from the door on my right.
  • Hopping onto the mattress, onto my knees, pulling my shirt over my head and looking back towards eight who’s standing in the hallway dumbfounded.
  • Sex. The sound of eight grunting.
  • Opening my eyes and seeing sloped ceiling in the early morning light.

The morning after my birthday I woke up in a bedroom I’d never seen before. 

The alarm clock says 6:30am and I’m wearing a man’s yellow cotton t-shirt; and more than once I took note of the thickness of the fabric. I laid there for an hour collecting these thoughts, and piecing together what little I can. Eight’s breathing is such that I know he’s not in a very deep sleep; I know that if I move at all he will wake up. I wrapped my hair into a bun at the top of my head, and wiped around my eyelashes with my fingertips. The clock now reads 7:30am and I decide to make my move.

I shimmy gently to the foot of the bed, eight stirs. I gather the neat little pile of my clothes off the floor and ask where the bathroom is, he groggily tells me down the hall, and I make my way without saying anything. The bathroom has a clawfoot tub and a heavy wooden door that latches closed with a hook latch. I fold and hang his bright yellow t-shirt and shorts over the side of the tub, splash cold water on my face, swish and drink water from the tap. As I pad back to the bedroom, the creaking of the floors underfoot, I notice that while the apartment has it’s structural charm, the furniture and decor is devoid of personality; I wouldn’t know this is eight’s home to look at it. It’s a strange feeling. I remember feeling a mix of embarrassment and a neediness. I wanted so badly for him to ask me not to rush away, or at the very least say something to assuage the sinking feeling I had that I might not ever see this man again. But he and I don’t know each other, not really. I also don’t feel intimately closer him – because I don’t remember really being intimate. We don’t have any foundation of emotional intimacy – I’m a body and words on a phone screen – and I know if he wanted more he’d make the effort to get it.

I stood at the foot of the bed, near the door frame and asked eight if he had seen my purse and phone. He told me on the coffee table in the living room. I walked the few feet across the hall and gathered my things. I walked back into the bedroom and asked him where the front door was. And he told me, at the bottom of the stairs, and then asked if I wanted a ride. I told him I was good on my own, and he asked me to text him when I got home. I agreed I would. He didn’t get out of bed to hug me, kiss me, say goodbye. He just laid there beside the nightstand. I turned around and walked away silently. As I went down the stairs I saw my shoes and remembered giggling as I unzipped them last night. I descend and let myself out.

I decide as I’m stepping down onto the concrete porch that I’m not going to order an Uber. My actions should have consequences; I resign myself to a 5.5km walk of shame in heels. 

5. eight: destiny’s patio drinks.

The day before my birthday, a Friday, I had fallen asleep around 3am, after a freezing cold 2am doobie cruise with a guy named eight who I had been texting all summer. I was bright eyed and bushy tailed by 7am – I’m that kind of monster. Throughout the day eight texted asking questions about what I was shopping for and making jokes about the little photos of things I was buying. I find a cute American Eagle top with little ties that sit on top of your shoulders. American Eagle was the quintessential status symbol in our high school and it reminds me of 2002. Clothing brands were the types of things eight’s clique would absolutely judge your worth/value based on – they weren’t the nicest people from what I remember. Talking to a him now, felt like more equal footing than back then; as single adults, finding commonalities, who met on the same app. At about 3:30pm he asks where I am now and I realize it’s about that time so I reply with my location and then tap in a “Drinks?” Super casual, so cool, I know. I get in my car and hop on the highway to head home.

As I drive, his reply lights up on my dash: “Right meow?” I absolutely LOVE when you’ve been texting someone long enough that they mirror your speech patterns. Ten minutes pass, I can’t reply while driving and another message comes through “Or when were you thinking?” He was eager, right? I didn’t imagine that? I don’t know now.

“Sorry just got home, I need to get gas, then yes, right meow works.” He tells me he needs to drop some things off at home and asks where I want to go. I reply, “indecisive.” He suggests the patio at a pub, actually, the pub: the one he frequents with his team and texts me from, a lot. “Yep.” I say, cool as a cucumber. He tells me he’s leaving his place, to walk over, he’ll be there in 10 minutes. There is no time for extra primping, but I’m past that point in my life, he gets what he gets. “Balls. Ok – I’m driving over” I text as I jump back in my car. He asks why I said balls and I clarify “I hadn’t left yet, I’m on my way.” He tells me not to worry about it and to take my time. As I pull in he texts that he’s just sat down.  I park my car in the extremely small uptown parking lot and head through the front door, I make my way to the back of the bar where the patio entrance is. He says my name – I realize I’ve been standing next to him this whole time scanning around looking for him.

He’s wearing a t-shirt, athletic shorts and sneakers. I like his ball-cap, beard, but most of all, how dark brown his eyes are. I can see him a lot better now that we’re not in a car at 2am. He’s cute. He keeps adjusting his ballcap, revealing what he calls a fivehead, aka a receded hairline. He’s leaning heavily onto the tabletop towards me, someone takes our drink order immediately, for him a Guinness and a cider for me.     

A waitress is scolding a party-of-10 that are trying to get three tables beside us. “You didn’t call for a reservation?” she asks, and a long awkward scolding starts to unfold between the young waitress and the matriarch of the group. I work in advertising, so a large part of my life is  about studying and perfecting the consumer experience. Don’t scold them. It’s a beautiful Friday afternoon at the end of the summer and there’s more than enough tables. Eight looks over at me and I open my eyes a little wider to express my disapproval “Hard to get a table in here huh?” in a whisper with a smirk. He didn’t even miss a beat, he says to the waitress “If it’s the tables you’re worried about we can move to the bar, it’s no problem.” I nod in approval. The husband and another man from the group come over to our table, while the women discuss reservation rules of the restaurant ad nauseum. The four of us strike up a conversation: they have extended family in town, trying to give them a proper city tour. I ask if they’ve gone to the uptown park yet, suburbanites forget that its there. The husband shakes his head, the younger man wants to know more. I tell them there’s alpacas and peacocks but that the real draw is the people watching, little festivals and huge games of pickup Frisbee. The waitress relents to our left, pushing the tables together, our chatters take their seats. I glance over at eight for the first time in a while and he’s staring, with the off-kilter smile I first swiped on; the sun feels warm. I like meeting new people – I like having little conversations with strangers – its happening semi-frequently on my dates lately – some guys jump right in, others sit back and watch me do my thing. I like that the other people I end up talking to don’t realize I’m on a first date – can you imagine if they did?

One thing was blatantly obvious, he was absolutely a regular in this pub. All the staff knew him. People dining nearby knew him. And as we drank, I caught a few quizzical sideways glances. I felt a little on display.

We talked about his solo Euro-trip the previous summer. He went to every beach he could find. I tell him I prefer swimming off docks, I like to dive in head first. I meant it literally and figuratively but he missed the point entirely. “You’d hate my cottage then” he says. He spent quite a while talking about how he hated swimming.

Eight’s disappointment in the minutiae of our differences shone through in a lot of our conversations. He says things with such finality it feels defeatist. He’s always so focused on how things don’t align, it’s those high standards I guess. One of the things I always say when I’m talking about my dating issues, I will squint at mens’ red flags until they look like a strawberry, or something cute. But Eight’s penchant to brood is a red flag I never did squint at, I knew how red the flag was and I let it wave, slapping me in the face every single time.

We talked about the people we know in common from high school, and there’s a lot of cross-over from my group of guy friends and his – I tell him a few bar night anecdotes and we uncover that both of our moms were the “drunk taxis” for our respective friend groups. My mind wanders back to the cliques and American Eagle. Would he have even given me the time of day back then? We were hanging out with the exact same people, on different nights, all throughout high school. But I know the answer is no, he wouldn’t have, they absolutely thought they were better than my friends and I.

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At some point the party beside us finishes their meal, and the husband and wife came over. The wife thanked eight for offering up our table to them and the husband tells me they were going to take up my suggestion of heading to the park for a quick walk along the boardwalk. They asked where we’d suggest dinner for their group the next day. I’m pretty sure they think we’re a couple, ha.  I tell them about a newer spot further downtown, “the drinks are pricier, but you will not have had anything like it in your life”. The truth is, I’m telling them to go to the spot where fish and I had our first date: its delicious southern fare, with eclectic live entertainment, with $40 cocktails that will knock. your. socks. off.

We finish our second drinks, he asks for the tab on one bill, which I offer to pay, and he says the obligatory first date: “you can get them next time.” When we get to my car I said “this is me” and he jumps forward and hugs me – it’s abrupt and sort of weird and he leaves without much else said.

The advice and rules for after-date-texting vary from site to site, but in general: blah blah blah, feminine energy, let men text you first. If they say they had fun it’s an ok sign, if they say they had fun and that they want to do it again, better. How long it takes for them to text you also apparently matters, the sooner the better. Two hours after the date eight texted me to let me know he “had fun chilling with me today”. Two hours, good. Chilling, not great. No suggestion of future date – uh oh. I text back “Ditto. I’m less weird when I’m not totally baked.” And he quips a “If you say so. ;)”

When I wake up the next morning I had two texts from eight that he had sent just after midnight. “How’s your night going?” and “Happy Birthday!” I’m always so interested to see who does the midnight birthday texts. I love those people. I’m one of those people. And evidently, eight is one of those people too.

4. eight: destiny is cold af.

Eight has a way of letting you into his life with one fraction of a tiny detail at a time, but only if and when he was good and ready. Asking him questions generally made him back off entirely – so I learned to let him come to me. Why does he get the destiny theme in the titles? Honestly because I think he might actually be the boy version of me. But the few differences between us made all the difference in the world. The things I learned about eight, as I said, came slowly and at his pace; they all reminded me a lot of myself. He’s very close with his family, especially his mom; same. Our extended families are from up north; same town. Virgos; same. (Rest assured I sort of knew this was doomed from the start, imagine 2 Virgos, yikes.) He holds himself to a very high standard; same, sometimes too high. He seems to genuinely enjoy being around kids, especially sports mentoring; same. The people in his life love him fiercely; same, they will cut you if you hurt me. He’s unabashedly prone to singing and dancing anytime, any place; same, this is the one thing I can’t shake about him. And he is probably one of the most polite-on-paper people I’ve ever met, eight will find a way come hell or high water to fit ‘thank you’ into every conversation multiple times; same, thank you very much. Those qualities are all fine and dandy but, and this is a big but, he seemed to lack motivation, which, if you’ve been a bachelor forever, is sort of counter intuitive to dating. Like I said, eight has taught me that potential is meaningless without forward momentum.

The frequency and quality of the communication with eight had taken off the week leading up to my birthday, which fell on the Saturday. My Wednesday was busy as heck, eight had texted me to say he was going to his usual wing night with friends that night; it was the hot spot for our high school, I guess they never grew out of it. I never knew if this was his way of saying don’t text him, or do text him, or show up at the pub; but I always settled in my mind on, “uh I only care about where you end up if you outright ask me to join you, otherwise, have fun I guess.” I received a Thursday afternoon text from eight, telling me about his wing night leftovers for lunch (yes, really, thank you for the update eight). I was still be-bopping all over my schedule, generally crushing goals like a champ, and I knew he had a game that night in town, and since I’m a busy lady, I hit him back with the one-two punch because, carpe diem dat ass:

“I’m coming to see your butt tonight I think.”  – Me, a demure desirable lady.

Fortune favours the brave – and destiny, well destiny will send you a cute tush if you just tell it you’re coming to see it. “Oh nice, I’ll wear my extra tight pants then” he replies. Dead. Swoon. Wait, was this what he was waiting for? Me to just show up. I didn’t text him back for the rest of the day knowing that the text silence ensured neither of us said anything to kill the flurt vibe that took what feels like forever to figure out.

I went to the game that night looking adorably incognito in the white-girl-at-sporting event uniform: a white tee, plaid shirt, ripped jeans, and cap. I arrived as the anthem started, grabbed a Caesar and took my seat closer to the opposing team among a group of white haired old men who know nothing about sports – my favourite kind of spectators, for real. It only took a second, and I then I saw him. It felt like a big deal at the time, frankly well past “long overdue”, it was bordering on asinine at this point. He was crouching by the team bench in his tightest pants; he has the meatiest butt and the thickest thighs (and I think I loved him). No I’m being stupid. None the less, very quickly I realised just how adorable he really is (do guys hate being called adorable, because too bad, bitches, some of you just are adorable mkay). He’s just a little taller than me and he’s thick the way I like dudes, with one of those crazy dark working tans that make men look like they’ve rubbed dirt on their arms. It’s evident he’s well loved by his teammates as their faces light up when they talk to him, slapping him on the back energetically. But the best part about finally seeing him? I knew, without hesitation, he was looking for me. I sat there, across a field, watching him scanning over the crowd, over and over and over again; he wasn’t even being discreet about it. There was something voyeuristic about the whole “I can see him, but he can’t see me” thing – it was exciting and also weirdly embarrassing too, like the two of us had a secret the other thousand people there didn’t know. Spoiler alert, the secret is that we’re idiots and this thing between us is never going to work out the way either of us wants it to. Don’t hold your breath though, I stayed undercover for the duration of the game, that night, he didn’t know if I was there or not, and I preferred it that way. The ironic part about him not seeing me was that where I was seated was directly in his eye line for most of the game. Like the depth of field for a camera lens, I was sitting in the middle of his field of vision, but I would’ve been out of focus if he had his eye on the plays, so  there I was, able to look straight at his face, unseen, it was surreal.

The other swoon-worthy thing (apart from his butt) is, whenever the music comes on between plays, he dances, and not like a little; he slaps the sides of his fist against his thighs and tosses his head back and forth. He feels music, and it reminds me of me. I send my closest girlfriends from highschool a video of him dancing – they’ve told me a hundred times to drop eight like a hot potato, but they still send heart eyes back to not kill my vibe. “Does he know you’re there?” they ask. “Not for sure I don’t think.” The combination of the intensity of the game and my lusty bologna made my stomach butterfly city. They didn’t win the game, but it was the kind where it was so well played by both sides you can’t even be mad about it for a second. I was full blown shivering from the night air by the end of the game, so I hightailed it out of there faster than you can say “bye bitch”; he wouldn’t have had a chance to spot me making my way down the stairs.

I went home and threw on some jogging pants and began rolling myself a joint in my futile attempt to try and warm myself back up from being so cold for so long. Ding, my phone goes off and I see his name light up my screen, well that didn’t take long. “Didn’t see you at the game tonight.  Where were you sitting?” he says. I tell him roughly where. “Fuck off. For serious?” I replied with a cool “Yes.” (So cool.) He was sitting in an uptown pub with the team drinking beers, as is their tradition, and yet surprisingly, this ended up being one of those texting conversations where both people are just super present. It’s less than a minute between each message and every text is short rapid fire. He seems disappointed he didn’t see me and says “I’m slipping, I normally see everyone.” I tell him that his dancing is my “like my favourite thing ever”. We talk a bit about his game: his best plays and the moments that rattled my chill. He told me about one of the opposing players previous temper tantrums. I told him I liked his pants, he thanked me but said I probably liked lots of pants that I saw (take the compliment jeez). I reiterated that dancing pants are the most distracting. We got onto the topic of our high school, what I was like back then, I tell him I’ve never been in any major trouble with the law or authority, mostly low-key. He tells me I should live a little and I tell him that I do, and to “try me”. He tells me he was suspended twice for smoking weed on school trips (be still my heart) and I remark that there are things that are fun to get caught doing, smoking weed isn’t one of them. I send him a picture of the joint I’m smoking on my porch, he sends me a photo of the beer he’s drinking. It’s just after midnight, now a Friday morning and he tells me “You should sleep you probably work in the morning.” I tell him I don’t, and he tells me that he doesn’t either. I take the opportunity to tell him that my birthday is Saturday, and that my work gives us the closest weekday off before quickly changing the topic. I ask him what sports he’ll play in the next season and he tells me – but that doesn’t last long because he watches the emoji stamped panoramic video of the sports complex that I had posted to my Snapchat story while I was at the game.  “I just saw your story. I can’t believe I didn’t see you there. I’m shocked and pissed.”

Now, the following exchange is as sweet as it gets between eight and I – from now until the end. It’s this conversation that let me know that when he wants to, eight is capable of making a risky move to see a girl he likes. The other edge of this sword though is, of course, that once I know a man can be this motivated to get to me and he chooses not to, I move on. For now try to imagine me in that moment and enjoy the best of eight and I, because I know I still do:

8: I just saw your story. I can’t believe I didn’t see you there. I’m shocked and pissed.
me: Why pissed?
8: That I didn’t see you sitting there. My focus is in that general area for most of the game.
me: Well. Heyyy!
8: I’m slipping.
me: No. You’re watching the game.
8: I watch everything. Who’s coming in, who’s getting food, who’s warming up. I scan the crowd constantly.
me: Well I got my drink during the anthem, which is when I got there.
8: That means I didn’t see you the entire game. That’s bad.
me: Well there was well over a thousand people there.
8: So.
me: You’ve never met me? (Hint.)
8: Doesn’t mean I don’t know your face. (Cute.)
me: I had a hat on? I don’t know! It’s not a big deal dude. Hiiiii!
8: Like I said, I have high standards. I like knowing everything that is happening during the game. Everything.
me: Because? You’re analytical? Whats the goal?
8: Not so much analytical but it helps me focus.
8: If I roll up a pinner and come pick you up, wanna go on a doobie cruise? (This.)
me: I literally just finished a big joint. lmao
8: It’s your birthday / day off / live a little goodie 2 shoes.
me: Ok. (Be cool bitch.)
8: If you don’t want to that’s cool, you can say no, I’m just busting your metaphoric balls, but if you do, whats your address? (Are you stupid, get in the car already.)
me: XXX Xxxxxxxx Drive
8: Ok I’ll be there in about 10. I drive a black Jetta. I apologize in advance it’s not the cleanest.
8: Out front.

It’s 2am on the day before my birthday, I’m high as a kite and chilled through to the bone, I’ve changed back into my jeans, wiped the smudged mascara under my eyes away, smoothed my hair behind my ears, and I’m getting into a black Jetta, with tinted windows that’s parked against the boulevard outside of my home. I practically skipped down my driveway, opened the door, and didn’t even try to hide the smirk, I got in the car and said “Hey … so this is unexpected huh?” He reached into the console of his car and handed me a joint and a lighter. “Do you always smell this good?” he asks. (Am I wearing perfume? Nope, I’m not. I had hairspray in my hair earlier. Is this a line? What’s happening? Can we make out? Omg, shut up.) I say it’s hairspray, he says it smells like flowers, I shrug, and light the joint, and I look like a bad bitch doing it too. I could feel the heat blasting, seat warmers on high, thank god, but I was still shivering, and it was visible, and I was immediately annoyed with my body core temperature. I’m not a nervous person and I’m realizing how I look like one. (But maybe just maybe if I get higher that’ll go away. Nope, it didn’t, got worse, cool.) We drove around for 15 or 20 minutes, smoking the joint and getting to know one another in little bits. I told him to stop asking me deep “whats the meaning of life” questions because I was way too high. He laughed and asked me something else that was way out of this world “Oops I did it again. Sorry.” Honestly I don’t even know what we said, that’s how high I was, that never happens to me, ever, honest. He asked me what my big day off plans were later that day, I told him shopping and he suggested, that if I’m interested, we could go get a drink in the afternoon together on a patio somewhere. I said yea I’d like to. We finished the joint. He dropped me off and wished me a good sleep. I went inside, changed back into my jogging pants and a text came in:

8: Are you going to be ok?
me: About? (Jesus, he noticed the shivering, fuck.)
8: Well you seemed a little uneasy. (Fuuuckkk.)
me: I had assumed you were going to be my funny penpal forever?
8: I’m pretty easy, we can do that if you want.
me: I didn’t say that.
8: I know I’m just razzing you. 🙂
me: I’m still cold from the game and high as balls. (Be honest.)
8: No wonder you’re cold your pants had tonnes of holes in them.
me: Ok dad.
8: Well it’s not rocket surgery.
me: I wear office bullshit all week. I like to dress like an idiot on my days off.
8: You could dress like a warm idiot. (This is still one of my favourite things. Ever.)
me: Ok mom.
me: Its still goddamn summer, I’m sorry I expected weathhher more congruent with our season.

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The aforementioned jeans of a cold idiot.

We chatted a bit more. Why he couldn’t have just STUCK around and said all this in person I’ll never know. At 3am he signed off “I’m going to crash. Have fun shopping tomorrow. Message me if you’re down for that drink.” I replied in typical me fashion; “Same. Duh. I will/am.” I was so goddamn proud of that text – you don’t even know – probably because I was high, but I thought it was adorable. Eight replied “Ok, sweet. Have a good sleep.”

3. eight: destiny’s infatu8ion.

The goal here, today, me and dating, dating and I, isn’t necessarily to find a boyfriend or love right off the hop. I’m also here to be present, me, as I am, enjoying the growth and the journey I’m on in each moment. I’m learning all moments have the opportunity for sweetness, even bittersweet. Eight will come to tell me, in a conversation towards the end of our brief nothing, that there’s “nothing sweet” about bittersweetness. How wrong he is. Are you ready to hear just how effective that Snapchat Story was? Lets go:

How has my summer been, he wants to know, or does he, its possibly the laziest way to test my waters but I was pushing myself back into his life with social media – something I would eventually find out eats up a lot of his time. I found it adorable that he included his name in the text; in case I had deleted his number, silly goose, we both had each others numbers in our phones, Snapchat needed those to add each other.

“It’s not rocket surgery.” – Eight, after meeting me in person the first time.

We talked about our summers: for him it was all sports and work. I told him I had been cottaging and working a lot as well. I think I followed up with asking how the sports season had been going, they were doing really well, and he felt as though they had a chance at the playoffs. I threw out a quick double entendre “I have a good feeling about your chances.” Did he pick up on it? He explained a few “unspoken rules” of his league, with regards to player behaviour, stuff I found genuinely interesting and wished he would keep talking about, and then boom, mid message about team drinks he dives straight into the fray.

“… So I’ve been meaning to ask you what your situation is? Are you divorced, separated, still living with your baby’s daddy??” Whoa destiny, I’m not positive, but I’m pretty sure very few love stories start this way.

I tell him I was never married, just engaged, and provided as little context as I could manage without coming off as distant because the phrasing frankly feels like he thinks I spend some of my spare time being interviewed by Maury Povich. His inquiry that night focused around timelines for the split, where I was living. He commented that my situation was “still sort of fresh”, and I agreed the formality of it was, but the context of the separation was comfortable for me. My mind wandered off “Is he trying to figure out if I’m emotionally available yet? Because that’s adorable and exactly what I want.” I asked him if he had any longer relationships recently; he had none to speak of. I mistakenly used the phrase “been chilling” to describe one of the circles of hell commonly understood levels of modern dating (we need to stop validating this shit), he agreed it was a good way to describe it. “Chilling seems like the decent play” he says, again referencing all the divorces his friends have gone through.

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Over the next few days we start to exchange Snapchat selfies and videos while we’re at work. He’ll send little chat messages to tell me I’m cute, all of it is enough to make me smile when I see his name pop up. I make the bold move to send him a follow request on Instagram, he doesn’t post anything new, his account is full of travel photos from a big European trip from last summer, but he likes everything I post, and sometimes sends me a message to ask me about whatever he had seen. But the best moments of chatting with eight was when he would text me from his team bus on game nights. Those conversations are playful; there was banter and flirting and selfies. I assume that these conversations were the best because he was a captive audience who probably liked the idea of a girl texting him, A LOT, in front of his team mates – yes I’m a cynic. But none of that matters really; just that in those moments he is the eight I liked and miss now.

Full disclosure before this next part: Between all this fruitless texting I’m very busy being an employed, gym-frequenting, puppy-owning, shopaholic, coffee-addicted, mother-of-one who also happens to be involved in a fairly frequent and intentionally undefined friend-with-benefits situation with another “past life peripheral” guy, that you’ll find I am going to introduce as “fish”. And as of writing this, I still flop around on the fish deck. 

One afternoon, it’s a game day for eight and he’s en route to a town three hours north of our city, he texts me that he’s had a horrible day at work. He never elaborates into detail about anything so instead I tell him I can UberEats him a steak and milkshake if that’ll cheer him up. He says all he really needs is a vacation and rest, but that the idea cheered him up. He asks me what I’m up to and I tell him I’m getting ready to go to the movies. He asks if I have a group of people to go with and I give him the most non-chalent non-answer I can muster “Yes I do have friends lol.”

The truth was I was going to the movies with the aforementioned fish that night. We had sex in the backseat of the car in the parking lot afterwards, because I’m a romantic at heart.

I changed the subject with eight to ask about pre-game rituals, and I think maybe this was the first time eight let me try to flirt with him: “And then what? Run around and talk about how good your butt looks in your pants?” He told me they leave that to the fans. I replied with “Can you be a fan if you’ve never been to a game? Asking for a friend.” He said “Of course you can.” And I set him straight: “They. Of course THEY can. My friend. You know.”

Later that night, after my teenage-esque tryst in the parking lot, my phone buzzed on my nightstand a few times – it was eight. I popped over to Twitter to see what their score had been; the tied up game had gone way over but they got the much needed win to continue on in the playoffs. “Just what I needed, over-time on a Tuesday” his text reads. Maybe he wants congratulations but I’m still fixated on his tush, so scolding he gets. “Stop it. Are you happy?” “Yep but tired.” “Happy makes you sleep well. Ride the high into Wednesday.” “You mean Thursday.” “Why not both?” “Good call.” I put my phone down and go to sleep. In the morning I woke to a video he had sent sometime during their bus ride home: it’s his face, only intermittently lit by oncoming traffic, loudly singing along to David Wilcox: “I’m sailing away from my heartache … on a Riverboat Fantasy.” I’ve mentioned before how I’m unreasonably swayed into romanticism by music – well, you better believe I played that song while I blow-dried my hair – and the grin on my face while I got ready for work on that Wednesday morning can only be described as stupid.

And dear readers, in the next post, I’m going to tell you how the very next evening, eight and I finally ended up  face to face.