Carrie Fisher and Paul Simon. Jude Law and Sienna Miller. Travis Barker and Shanna Moakler. Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee. (And then Pamela Anderson and Kid Rock.)
The list of celeb couples to break up and try for round two is not encouraging.
Fortunately, I'm not a celebrity.
Two weeks ago, Alex-the-boy-I-moved-out-on, threw down the gauntlet. In short, after months apart (accented by bi-monthly meet-ups to exchange our dog, as detailed in our amazingly civil canine custody arrangement), Alex asked me out on a first date...again. Not a date, not an ex-sex hook-up, but an actual first date, with all the rules intact: no sex, no guaranteed phone call the next day, no handsy-grabsy bullshit.
As I've mentioned, I'm skeptical of split couples trying to sew the torn fabric of their relationship back together once the blanket's gone off to Goodwill. (How's THAT for a convoluted metaphor, huh?)
I'm also skeptical of those who say their relationship is "different." Everyone thinks they're different (just like everyone thinks their life is blog-worthy). But we, in this one instance, are at least a little different in that our similar lifestyles, levels of attraction, mutual respect and shared interests were intact when I left, as were lingering feelings of love and affection. I haven't forgotten that.
What I HAD forgotten is what dating other people is like. (For an idea of my "success" with that over the last few months, click here.)
What this endless intro (and Jesus, this is getting longer than The fucking Fountainhead) means is: I SAID YES AND WE WENT ON THE DATE.
The results are as follows:
- 9:00PM: Alex arrives with bouquet of roses and daises (all healthy, price tag removed), and sweaty palms (Yay, you're nervous too. We'll both suffer). He looks good. (He's lost 15lbs since we split? How did I miss that? Are those---yes, those are abs under that thermal! Carmel-colored, 100% Spanish abs leading down to----) I get a grip. Focus! Chest out, flirty eyes. I mention he looks "healthy." He mentions he's taken up running. (Running? Really, Forrest Gump? Followed by, Stop being a cunt, you cunt.) I try not to look at the abs, because I am not shallow.
- 9:05PM: Awkward moment where we habitually go to hold hands. (Mayday! WHY DIDN'T YOU WEAR THE DRESS WITH POCKETS!?!?!) Hands sort of clasp, then fumble and let go. Hang from our arms like dead raccoons.
- 9:06PM: Awkward moment deflected with "I'm not that kind of girl" joke. We walk on.
- 9:07-9:10PM: Awkward silence. (Oh god, this was such a bad idea...)
- 9:11PM: Small, strange Asian lady with goatee (Holy shit, yes, this woman DOES have a goatee!) approaches us and produces...a turtle. After several weird hand gestures, we realize she is asking us to buy said turtle. More hand gestures ensue. We use international sign for "Thanks for the offer, but I'm fresh out of turtle cash." She offers to trade the turtle for my purse. (Back off, TurtleBitch...) We decline. She yells a string of obscenities, totters off.
- 9:13PM: We stand watching Turtle-Lady totter off in stunned silence. Then, the laughing starts. First a nervous, "Wow, that was weird, how do I react" chuckle, followed by real, genuine belly laughs, that one-hand-on-the-hip-one-hand-raised-to-Jesus laughter that makes you wheeze like an old-fashioned bellows before dying out with a "whooooooooo."
We head out to dinner. We talk a lot. We catch up, fill each other in on friends and family (his mom still hates me, his father doesn't, and his recently-divorced uncle thinks that a Hitch List is the coolest thing he's ever heard of...go figure). He shows me pictures of new art pieces he's working on, which stings as much as it excites, since I'd cited his complacency about his talent and art as a major turn off before I left. I show him my latest published piece, worry about job security; he comforts me. It all fits as well as a worn-in pair of jeans, but I'm looking past the smiles, past the conversation, and seeing hurt behind it. Hurt and fear. It's all swimming in those two almond shaped, espresso eyes of his.
We drink, head to a Broadway show. When he reaches for my hand in the darkened theater I don't pull away.
But I'm not paying attention to the stage. I'm too busy doing self-inventory in my head. Where's the rush? Where's that drug-high, hot-flushed limerence, that dizzy adrenaline feeling, like coke slamming into your brain? Do I still love him? If I love him, where's the drug high? I want my high...
After the show, we have that moment where he needs to go back to Penn Station, me back to my train. We're standing there, awkward, staring. I don't know what he sees on my face, to be honest. But I invite him back to my place for a nightcap anyway. A nightcap and sleep and nothing else.
Back in Brooklyn, I'm pouring two drinks when he lays down his iPhone and lets Pandora start playing to fill the relapsed silence. An old club-banger by Rhymefest and Kanye West comes on, and the drunk in me starts ass-shaking, hand still on the pouring liquor bottle. Alex starts laughing, because I can only dance when I'm drunk, and I tell him to fuck-off (such a lady), and then we're both dancing in the middle of the empty apartment. Not two-stepping, not bobbing, not slow-dancing like at prom, but ass-shaking-rump-rubbing bumpin' and grindin' like a ho' and a hoodrat on a Thursday night. We dance ourselves sweaty for ten minutes before the battery bleeps out and the iPhone goes mum.
Alex slept in my bed, and that's it. Slept. Clothes on. I laid awake and stared at him for who knows how long, wondering where my pitter-pat drug high was. Then I started to think about that drug high limerence and all the people, not just guys, who'd gotten me drunk off that feeling, and dimly remembered that each limerent love affair has always ended quickly, with a come-down worse than any drug on the market.
I don't know what any of that means yet.
In the morning, Alex kissed me on the cheek and left before I got up for work. I stayed in bed after the alarm went off and smelled him on my sheets, and for the first time in months missed the scent of Chanel Homme and cocoa butter and skin on my pillows.
I'm waiting the required two days before I call him, but I texted a genuine thank you for a great night.
You can't go home again, obviously. But maybe you can visit?
Ah, fuck me.