It’s so hard to put into words what’s happening inside your head at a turning point in life. And I know this is not going to make me look great, but at the time, the day after I met him, I wanted N to call me. I wanted him to ask me to meet for lunch, and dinner and drinks, and dancing…I really just wanted to relive the night we met over and over again. But R was coming home in two days. We had talked this morning about needing to have a conversation about where we go from here and if there was a future for us. But I already knew the answer. I wasn’t willing to compromise my sanity, peace of mind and happiness for what we had. I couldn’t take the lies anymore, I couldn’t take him always putting himself first, and I really couldn’t take the lifestyle. R never really wanted to settle down and get married, that was all me. I realize that, on some level, he must have felt like it could work out. But it wasn’t real enough. And it was hitting me like a ton of bricks as I leaned over the sink and looked at myself in the bathroom mirror that morning. I was shaking. My entire identity was tied to this relationship. Honestly, if I wasn’t R’s girlfriend, who was I? Here in Portland it would be easier for me to adjust to the break up. But at home, it was going to be a gossip fest and division of friends. I couldn’t go back there.
The phone rang. It was N. He wanted to know if I wanted to go “out on a speed boat” with him and a few friends. Of course I wanted to hang out but a freaking speed boat? On the river?? I wanted to think about it and then again I just immediately wanted to say yes, but they were leaving in a hour and I was warned not to be late. So I did what any excited, high maintenance girl would do, and instead of getting ready, I ran (really) up the street to 23rd for a new outfit.
I made it home just in time to put on mascara and lipstick. Phew. They didn’t leave without me. That would have been so embarrassing.
We arrived at OMSI, bought tickets for the boat, and headed to the Willamette River. And I was pleasantly surprised! It was really cool! The boat was a big kind of jet boat, with rows of seats throughout the entire thing. And the important thing to note here is that there were small kids on board as well, so I couldn’t cry or freak out even if I did get scared. Poor things had life jackets on that were clearly for adults. I couldn’t help but give them the “sorry the adults did that to you, I know you must be umcomforable” closed mouth smile. They looked pissed.
But I had never taken a tour of the city on the water, and it was an absolutely beautiful spring day in May! I say Portland is a lot like Pittsburgh all the time, but Oregon is not anything like PA. Oregon has houseboats, and green landscapes all winter long, and salmon runs, and naked bicycle rides, and desert, and oceansides. And from most places, the residents have mountains and volcanoes in plain sight. I love this state, and especially this city. And that day, I got to see more, from a different perspective. I really appreciated it, and I was so happy that N was there with me. He just had a calm about him. Every time I made eye contact with him he was smiling. And just happy. Ah!! What was I doing?
After the river tour, we headed back to the cars. I sat with N for a few minutes, just talking…and laughing.
“Do you want to come for lunch? We’re gonna head to Kells. You’ve got to go.”
He looked dreamy at that moment.
I snapped myself out of it and told him I had to go home and take the dog out (who I haven’t mentioned before- huge, white American Bulldog and the sweetest thing to ever have separation anxiety). And it’s a good thing I did, because that meant I got to redo my hair and change clothes for the night!! You didn’t think I could stay in light blue plaid capri’s all day, right? Nope, frilly white mini skirt will do quite nicely.
I caught the MAX down to the Yamhill bar (if you know this bar and are judging me, then I know you never really lived in Portland because you’re missing out). I hopped off the train and looked through the bars front glass window and there he was…still smiling as we made eye contact. I walked in and realized that our small party of five from earlier had grown to about 20 more Irish guys (and some strippers). It was a little overwhelming when I walked in, having everyone say hi and introduce themselves.
I sat down next to N.
“So, you must work out.”
Everyone looked at him and then each other quietly, before exploding in laughter. I blushed.
After that it’s just a blur of G&T’s, pints, pool and dancing. The Irish guys loved the east side, but I wasn’t all that familiar with the bars on that side of town. I could walk to all my downtown favorites (I’m pretty sure we hit them all), and again, he stayed by my side the entire night. And we ended at Darcelles. We danced (honestly, he actually dances- like hold my hand and spin me ACTUALLY dances). I was smitten. And he knew it.
And before I knew it, it was 2 AM.
On our way out, he held my hand. The night air felt so good. While everyone was hailing taxis, he just looked at me.
“Do you want to come to my place? We can watch the Big Lebowski and have a couple drinks. Promise I’ll get you home before sunrise. ”
If he hadn’t smiled when he said it and looked me straight in they eye, I probably wouldn’t have gone.
But I did. I hopped in the cab next to him, and he grabbed my hand again.
The next morning I woke up in his apartment, but I didn’t sneak out like the last time. I laid there wondering what the fuck I was doing.
And just when I was about to ask myself why I was still there, his phone rang. And I was reminded that he was engaged too. It was M.