Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Second-First Date: Can You Go Home Again?

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."
And here's where I stop checking my watch, because things finally feel comfortable. 

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.



Today's Favorite said...

I always wonder... do people feel that pitter patter forever, or is that something that Hollywood sold to us? Or is it something that comes and goes? I don't know. I look forward to reading about how the phone conversation goes.

inflammatory writ said...

Here's something not often talked about with love and marriage and long term commitment - you're not always head over heels. That silly, dizzy, crazy sick rush doesn't always happen when you've been with someone for years. Key word: always. SOMETIMES - sometimes it does. And it still takes your breath and makes you feel weak in the knees. But most of the time, it's something far deeper than that and much more warm and fulfilling. Like a nice neat whiskey on a winter's night versus a giant shot of heroin. I think there's this ridiculous expectation that the initial chemical rush of first love is supposed to be there always, and if it's not, that means you're not in love anymore. It ebbs and flows.

That said - passion is important. Sex is important, and anyone who says it's not isn't having it. If maintaining attraction/sex life was an issue before, it will be an issue after. The problems you had then are the problems you'll have always. Not saying there was a problem, but if there was, there will always be is my point.

I do think it says a lot about him that he's willing to put himself out there and risk getting hurt to have a second chance with you.

Oh jeez. I got a bit rambly there for a hot minute! Hope that made any sense.

Erin said...

I wonder the same thing as Today's Favorite, but I think the pitter-patter is adernaline from nervousness aka not knowing the person. As soon as you feel comfortable and get to know the person then the high will go away unless something unexpected or dramatic happens. I think that trying to chase that high with other guys or drama with one guy is a losing game.

I'm interested to see how this goes though.

Natalie said...

You don't feel the pitter patter every second of everyday, but it's always around.

It will randomly bitch slap your face when you aren't paying attention.

My husband will just do something random or stupid and I'll get that goofy smile of my face and my insides will turn to mush.

Blaez said...


you don't know me and i don't know you but you posted on 20sb so i found you...

me and my exhusband split up about a year into our relationship. and then we got back together and then we got married. i felt the high when we were first together (the 1st 6 months)but not since then. i think i went back because it was "comfortable" and "i knew him" instead people i didn't know... and i didn't want to be "that girl" i was becoming who was like a revolving door for men!

total we were together about 10 years. our marriage lasted 4.

the high was gone before our first 2 yrs together ended and long before we got married and Loooong before we divorced. i never felt that high with him again.

i met a new man on accident. i feel high just looking at him and i can't stop thinking about him and you know i thought the same thing you did and that it wouldn't last because i'd felt high before and it was all short lived...

but he asked me to marry him this year. and i said yes. and its been the greatest 2 years of my life and i still feel the high and i can't wait to be his wife.

Polly Syllabick said...

I love that everyone has a clear thesis and opinion about this. Jackpot. I'm going into research mode...

Hipstercrite said...

Ahhh! I love this post so much! It made my eyes well up! I have so many questions. A.) Where the hell were you where a Chinese woman with a goatee was trying to sell you a turtle? B.) Actually that's really the only question I have. I just loved this. I can picture everything perfectly and kind of HATE YOU because I haven't had anything this remotely exciting in a long time. :(

Nellyn said...

I agree with most everyone else. The pitter-patter isn't the end-all. Besides, you were together for a long time before, there's no reason for him to make you nervous anymore. However, I think it's fun to still get the occasional butterfly when thinking of someone, but this was a "first date". You also may be subconsciously keeping yourself from getting that way with him.

coors cowgirl 21 said...

me and my bf (of 3 years) broke up in march of this year and after all the bullshit, i do still miss him and maybe thats just me not being over him again but i would love it if this happened between us and i think the pitter patter will be there if you are ment to be together no matter how long you are apart for...good luck

Carly said...

Aww this was lovely and bittersweet to read. You'll figure it all out, love. Just follow that gut/heart/whatever the fuck organ it actually is that helps us make the right, intuitive discussions and you can't go wrong. And if nothing else, it's wonderful blog material ;)