There’s a guy I’m kinda into, I wonder just how much because it’s a little hard to tell with my mind the way it is right now. I try to act normal, like it’s not taking all of me just to communicate and have a laid-back ‘good time’. I try so hard to tap into things I would normally say and do, but it all feels like pretend. I did have fun, and if I were in a better head space, I probably would already be falling in love, or something lovely and lighthearted. Not as though I need something like that right now. It feels both like a good distraction and a terrible burden that I have just created.
We had a second date yesterday. It was supposed to be just coffee, but I guess coffee dates aren’t usually just coffee. So we’re at a Starbucks chatting, and it’s going alright. He’s a pretty blunt person, and he tries to call me out on whether I’ve really been job hunting. I feel offended and embarrassed but I try not to let it show, and affirm that I have been, even though he knows it’s already been a few months that I’ve been here. I can tell anytime we dance around that topic, he assigns a look of slight judgment but I know he doesn’t mean to offend. It doesn’t matter, it’s all the same to me and I feel tortured by my truth and my need to lie.
After awhile, we’re outside smoking cigarettes and continuing to chitchat. At this point I wish I could die at every short lull. I can’t believe I made it this far without having alcohol to soften my social anxiety. I’m losing interest in the conversation and all I wanna do is run for my car, hightail it outta there, and never speak to him again. He doesn’t seem to want the night to end, so I drive aimlessly around while we talk and listen to music even though I usually hate having to keep up conversations while driving. We stop in an adult store and chat about some of our sexual interests. I wonder, but didn’t ask, how long it’s been since he had sex. All I know is that it’s been seven years since his last relationship. I think about how sex would be like if he hasn’t been very active.
We drive around The Strip and go to the Linq Promenade. It’s lively here, and I feel a little more at ease with a bunch of strangers around us. We get red velvet cupcakes and sit at the tables outside to eat them. There’s Latin dance music playing loudly from a bar across from us and sometimes people populate around it just to dance a little, drunkenly mostly likely. I sorta wish I was drinking right now, instead of the loopy feeling I’m having from caffeine, still being tired, and smoking cigs like they’re helping my asthma. We’re talking about music and he hands me an earbud so I can listen to some Hawaiian reggae. The music that fills the street is still overpowering, and as we continue to smoke our cigs he asks if I’d join him to dance. Here? Right next to this In-n-Out where everyone from inside can see us? While I’m totally sober?
I get up hesitantly and awkwardly take off my jean jacket to topple it onto the chair along with my bag. We dance for awhile, silly and sober, turning and fumbling, laughing and grasping hands. I appreciate his playful confidence. I feel out of breath and have to take puffs of my inhaler. We continue dancing as a lady who watches the In-n-Out doors looks back at us every once in awhile, grinning at the display. We get close, slightly hugging and swaying, naturally he asks to kiss me and I laugh and say no. I feel a little awkward, but I always do when someone asks that. He says okay, and asks what I’m thinking. “Nothing,” I say while smirking and we’re still moving around casually, eventually getting close again and kissing for the first time. He’s rusty, but it’s still kinda sweet. He mentions something about not having done this in awhile. I think about how funny this seems, coming from someone who is younger than me, only around an inch or two taller, and smaller than me structurally.
We sit back down and kiss, I put one leg over his and we hold hands as I take drags from his cigarette. We get up to go and before we’ve left the scene, we look back to wave at the lady outside the In-n-Out. We hold hands while walking to the car, and it’s kinda nice just to touch someone. While going to his, I think about how it would be if I came in, but we have another date planned for Valentine’s day anyway. Something that makes me even more nervous is the fact that I agreed to come with him to a coworker’s BBQ, where I’ll definitely see people I’d met during the first day we hung out because after drinking at one spot, we relocated to the bar he works at. That whole plan just feels wrong, like it’s moving too fast, although I know he just wants me to get out more and meet people since I’m still new here.
I don’t feel up to meeting more of his friends, or seeing the ones I’ve already met. I don’t know how well I can keep up with appearing personable and engaging in conversations with total fucking strangers, especially if things are to get more intimate with this guy. Fuck. Why did I agree to this? The whole being unemployed thing makes matters exponentially worse. Having to mention it, who knows how many times, having to talk about possible options, having to try to network without wanting to. What I would give to not have social anxiety, to be able to find work easily like it’s second nature because I’m amazing with people, to be able to talk to anyone and be an incredible, influencing, ‘people person’ machine. Take my soul, I just wanna be a fully functioning and confident person for once.
Part of me wishes I’d never met him… But obviously I’m gonna try to carry on, as if my alarm signals aren’t blaring, just to see where this could lead. I know I’m not ready for love right now. I don’t have it in me to be that emotionally available for anything other than the craziness I already exude. But still, I have no reason to hit the self-destruct button just yet.