In which our protagonist takes it to the next level
And so it went for about three weeks; wrestling with my completely out-of-control newly-reborn emotional right brain* while desperately trying to maintain the facade of a relaxed, confident adult. It was just as exhausting as it sounds.
Boy, I think I'm really starting to like him. Why am I even thinking like that? Am I insane? Just knock it off, already! I should just bail before I do something stupid. This is ridiculous! And listen to me -- how old am I again?!?
But... it would be fun to do things with a pal in the Big City, and he is a nice guy. And a known quantity. Yeah, that's it. We'll just be buds -- that'll work. I can do that. No big deal.
Boy, I think I'm really starting to like him....
Yep, that just about sums it up. I was well on my way to driving myself completely bat-shit, but at least I was sane enough to know that I alone was doing the driving. I think I get partial credit for that.
Then, an opportunity. I decided to go to the fancy-pants** spa in the Big City for an makeover. It had been years since I had had an overhaul and I was more than ready for one.
Hmmm... I wonder if he'd want to meet for coffee after? Email & phone calls have been going well... am I ready for a face-to-face? Besides, we're just friends catching up. What's the big deal?
I'll have on a fresh coat of professionally-applied warpaint so I'll look like a grownup. Low-risk, yes; we could have coffee, get dinner if so inclined, or flee to our separate corners if all hell breaks loose. Seems safe enough.
I put it out there and he agreed. A few days later -- a year ago today -- we met at a coffee place in the mall across from the spa. I was, indeed, sporting a very expensive coat of warpaint with a really good haircut... and a nasty rash on my forehead*** that I could only hope was at least partially concealed by the makeup.
I don't remember many specifics, but I do remember that it took us a bit to get our feet under us. I was in Full Public Self-Defense Mode, wherein I protect myself with my Shield of Extroversion. I know I babbled and violated at least a dozen rules about how one is supposed to behave during such an... encounter. But we were just old friends catching up, right? It definitely was not a date. No harm, no foul.
Despite my verbal diarrhea, we decided to get dinner at a Thai place in the mall then walk around a bit before he drove me back to the ferry. A little out of our comfort zones, true, but a satisfactory experience overall. Not bad, given that neither of us possess the slickest social skills. At the end of the night I felt confident that given time, we could hang out fairly successfully.
Which was a relief since we'd already agreed to attend a couple of lectures over the next couple of weeks. And he didn't suddenly develop appendicitis or acquire a sick relative out-of-town requiring urgent attention, which I took as a good sign. Game on!
Part V: In which our protagonist is going places with a guy in the Big City but is most definitely not dating.
* Think of the baby alien being born in the car in Men in Black.It was a lot like that.
** Not their real name
*** Why oh why didn't anyone warn me about the eyebrow-waxing rash?!?