I had started typing this out last week, but was interrupted and unable to come back to it until now. Exciting, no? Oh, okay.
…two weeks late.
Part of me wonders if I should even post this, since it seems a bit anti-climatic at this point. But I know there are a few people out there who have been following the whole CuteNerdBoy Saga since the inception of all the fun of the fair… and are interested in what the hell happened on the evening of Tuesday, February 8th at approximately 7:45ish PM in this cruel, crazy, mixed-up town ironically known as the City of Angels. This brutal town that will embrace you, lift you high and love you one minute, then crush you under its many Hummer wheels the next, but still you come back to it, you always come back because that little bit of love that it gave you was more intoxicating than any drug, legal or illegal, and you want to taste that love again and again, even if the Fates of Los Angeles deem that never to be so…
Uh, sorry, where was I? Oh yeah…
So. Tuesday. Right.
Despite my waffling over the previous days, I was pretty sure I was going to go to the BookCrossing meeting. Mainly because, as I previously mentioned, the timing could not be ignored. I still allowed for the fact that, as Tuesday rolled around, or as 7pm drew closer, I might not quite be up to the prospect of seeing someone I hadn’t seen in over six months due to my own emotional turmoil.
As Tuesday dawned and the hours crept slowly by, I was having a pretty good – if absurdly busy – day. The work load of the day dictated that I couldn’t leave until nearly 6:30pm and the horrific traffic slowed me down even more. In the end it required a combination of bus, taxi, train and again bus to get to the Eastern San Fernando Valley cafe where the meeting was held. I arrived forty-five minutes late.
As I walked in CuteNerdBoy was holding forth about something. I paused by him, just to his side as that happened to be the only way to approach the table, and the other members of the group looked up. The two regulars that were not CuteNerdBoy or myself greeted me warmly – even the member I’ve never been all that fond of and CuteNerdBoy turned around, surprised, and smiled that big smile of his, then stood to greet me. There was a bit of awkwardness on my part as he moved to hug me. I gave him half a hug, not wanting to seem all ClingyGirl, but he reached over to embrace me a bit more fully, as were our habits of old. It turned into an odd 3/4 hug and I wondered if the two new guys, as well as the regulars who knew us, had a sense of any uncomfortableness or strained history between this bespectacled reader and myself.
Ms. BCer, who had been sharing a bench with CuteNerdBoy, stood and offered to move to another seat, which she did immediately so that CuteNerdBoy could shift to the other end of the bench, meaning that I would take his place. Before I did so I stepped inside the cafe for coffee and turned around to find TragiComedy just in front of me in line. I didn’t even see him leave his seat. Perhaps because I was too involved in overanalyzing my reaction to seeing my dear friend for the first time in half a year.
TragiComedy and I chatted for a bit while we waited on line, I ordered and retrieved my coffee and headed back to the table while he decided what type of muffin he wanted. I then slid onto the bench next to CuteNerdBoy, perhaps not so smoothly as I would have liked. I think I ended up sitting on his hand for a moment.
Soon I was chatting with the others. Ms. BCer asked me what I’d been up to since the last time I’d been there. I responded rather non-committal about work and my current improv class and my growing political activism, which caused the regulars to murmur noises of appreciation. The rest of the evening was spent talking about the usual: books and movies and life. At no point did I mention the real reason for my break from the group, citing the real-life occurrences of the reduction of my writing group from six to three members and the desire to concentrate on my writing. CuteNerdBoy was familiar with the truth and no one else need know. However I suspect that TragiComedy checks out the blog now and then (mainly because he told me so back when a group of us went to see the last Harry Potter movie last year), so I’m sure he didn’t buy my explanation as the entire reason for my disappearance. And though I have no idea what – if anything – CuteNerdBoy might have said about my whereabouts, I’m pretty sure he didn’t spill the beans.
During the evening’s conversation there was some debate about the presence of the Ten Commandments in courtrooms. CuteNerdBoy and I, not surprisingly, came out against it while Ms. BCer, though not all for it, didn’t see what the big deal was. Others seemed to hold their council. Perhaps because the three of us, especially CuteNerdBoy and I (okay, especially me), were somewhat passionate about our positions.
Around 9pm the group broke up, with Ms. BCer and the new guy still there (both of the new fellows seemed quite nice and intelligent) leaving mere minutes before CuteNerdBoy, TragiComedy and me. I gave copies of my two newest mix CDs to CuteNerdBoy as a belated birthday gift, since his birthday was the day before, along with a Rufus Wainwright DVD that I had already watched and probably wouldn’t watch again, but thought he might enjoy. Turns out he already had the DVD, which I knew was a possibility, but I told him to keep it and pass it on to someone else who might enjoy it, as I didn’t really know anyone else who was into Rufus Wainwright. That I knew of, anyway. Now that I think about the mix CDs, I’m hoping he’s enjoying them, because they two of the saddest collections of songs I’ve ever put together and frankly I can’t imagine that he would be eager to hear my depression and sadness of last year in musical form, especially when said emotions were triggered by my feelings for him.
After the giving of the CDs, the three of us walked out and said our good-byes when CuteNerdBoy asked if I were on foot that night. When I answered in the affirmative he offered to drive me home, since we were only a five minute drive from my house. Because not only am I not stupid but with no more buses running on that street at night I would have had to walk home. Granted, it was only about a thirty minute walk, but I was tired. And, of course, wanting to spend at least a few more minutes with CuteNerdBoy.
A part of me, though, wished I had been stronger and had turned down his offer. We were able to fill the time with conversation, but I could feel that there were things he left unsaid and I wasn’t entirely sure if I wanted them said. And I wasn’t as comfortable as I would have liked, wondering what was going through his mind, what thoughts he might be considering, then discarding.
In the blink of an eye and the span of forever, we arrived at my driveway. He turned to me. “Carol, does tonight mean there’s a change in attitude? Or is this just a fluke?”
I gathered my belongings as I answered him. “It’s a first step.” I took a deep breath and opened my mouth to speak.
“That’s okay, Carol. You don’t have to say anything else. I understand.”
As nervous as I suddenly was, I felt that he did understand. He continued, “I hope that it is. I’ve missed our friendship.”
I didn’t look at him as I answered, “Me too.” I felt there was more to say, more to talk about, but I could tell that he either wanted or needed to get home, so I turned to him, looked at him then. He made no move to reach over from his seat for a hug. Being so used to ending our previous outings with a hug and a quick little kiss – though not for many months – I felt in limbo. Bereft. The evening was incomplete without that closing ritual, but I thought it best not to press the issue. Instead I smiled a tight little smile, reached over and gave his arm a little rub, then got out of his van and walked inside my apartment. I watched his headlights leave, my always too-active brain starting the process of overanalyzing the evening.
Its conclusions? Hell if I know. I do feel better about our potential renewed friendship. I really do. I won’t lie to myself and say I’m 100% ready to plunge, or even slowly wade, back into the closeness we once enjoyed. I still feel something more than simple friendship for him. It’s obvious that my heart lacks the ability to listen to my brain when told, “Hey, get over it and deal, you wimpy piece of bloody meat.” It would seem that my heart has a mind of its own. Hell, it seems to have a skeleton and nervous system and muscle groups of its own as it leads me hither, thither and yonder into situations it’s not all that prepared for.
But the repairing process is most definitely underway. I can feel it, feel the tears and the rents and the holes patching themselves up again, knitting that pumping organ into a entirely new – if still somewhat bruised – whole again.
Almost there. Almost to the point where I don’t feel my love for CuteNerdBoy working its way under the scarring. I can’t wait until I can take the bandages off again.