I'd felt for a few days that something was a bit off. It'd reminded me of the time when I was seeing Bruno and just knew intuitively that something was wrong - and he'd confirmed it the next day when he told me that he wasn't sure about what he'd wanted, and more saliently, wasn't sure about me. I want to trust my intuition; mostly I do; but I don't want to listen when it's telling me something that I don't want to hear.
I didn't want it to be true, what my intuition was telling me: that there was something up with Matt; that something was off; that he was off in some way.
I should know better than to bury my head in the sand. I'm not that type of person. I do not believe in ignorance is bliss. I would rather know the truth, however much it hurts, than to be lied to in a misguided attempt by the other person not to hurt my feelings, or to spare me the pain of the truth. I have to know things; I cannot be kept in the dark. And so I should have confronted this nagging feeling that I had, a nagging feeling which hinted at some disquiet in what I'd thought was a pretty blissful relationship.
I was surprised that he didn't say to raincheck. But when we met at the Cambridge Brew House, something was just off, going beyond his tiredness (and mine, too; I'd just played pretty intensive tennis before meeting him). He didn't respond to my touches. He seemed blase. He was not really there.
Finally, he said, 'I'm not feeling it tonight.'
He said a lot of things tonight. He said a lot of hurtful things. He said that he hadn't been feeling the chemistry or the connection over the past few days. He said that, when I told him on Friday afternoon that I was annoyed that he didn't reply to my message about whether he was free on Saturday, it seemed like I'd gone to his work to have a go at him and it seemed extreme (for the record, I did not intend to do this; I'd just wanted to bloody clean up my fucking chapter 3 so that I could send it to my supervisors, and I felt like I had to tell him that I was irritated - but in all honesty, I was more than irritated; I was feeling insecure). He hadn't been feeling himself. He said that he didn't want to be unfair to me, that it seemed like I liked him more than he liked me. He said that he liked me, he did, but he just wasn't feeling the conenction, the chemistry. It was sometimes awkward between us, he said; didn't I think so too? He said that he wasn't 100% committed, which was what I wanted.
So I said, 'I don't want to be with someone who isn't sure that he wants to be with me. I have a lot of pride. If someone isn't absolutely sure that he wants to be with me, then it's not worth my while. I know what I bring to the table. So if you're not sure, then we're done here. I don't want this anymore.'
I do have a lot of pride. That was exactly what I said to Bruno when he told me that he wasn't ready for a relationship, etc. In between my warbling and crying and pointless questions that Matt couldn't answer anyway, there was nothing else that I could have said. I have too much pride to give him the same amount of time that I took to decide that I did want to keep seeing him (though in my defence, I was never unsure whether I liked him; I was only unsure of whether he liked me, whether he liked me enough to make seeing him worth my while). I am proud, I am prideful, and I hang on to this pride, however misplaced, however ill-advised sometimes, because it is my last and only line of defence against men who would break my heart. So even though I hadn't completely forgotten about Bruno, I will never contact him because I have too much pride to get back in touch - the intentional sort - with someone who wasn't sure whether he'd wanted to be with me.
Without this pride, I will be reduced to a lesser person. And I will not let anyone diminish my self-esteem, my sense of self-worth.
And so I was ready to walk. I would have walked away tonight and I would not have regretted it because I would have known that I did everything that I could; I tried as hard as I could have, even chasing someone who seemed nonchalant, giving him chances that I would not have given to anyone else. And so if it had ended tonight, it would have been on him, not me. I would cry for a few days, then move on with no regrets.
But then he said, 'I will probably regret it if I let you walk away.'
He asked for a hug. I acquiesced after some hesitation. I kept my body stiff, unable to fully relax into him the way that I usually do; and then I breathed in his familiar scent - a faint lingering whiff of his cologne on his clothes, the smell of his cigarettes - and I started crying as I thought, What's wrong with me? What did I do wrong?
No matter how old I am, how many relationships I leave behind, I will always be vulnerable to that sort of self-effacing vulnerability - the unhealthy sort, the damaging kind, the useless vulnerability that assumes defects of my person when, if there is any absolute truth in this world, there is nothing wrong with me; it's not on me that he wasn't feeling it, or didn't feel the same connection as before, or didn't like me as much as I liked him. There is nothing wrong with him, either; it's simply a matter of compatibility.
But none of this rang true in the moment of sheer vulnerability, when I reeled from the hurtful words that he'd just said, trying so hard to mask the hurt that I oscillated between defensiveness and this vulnerability, this nakedness, showing up my desperate attempt to re-erect the barriers around my heart that I'd removed for him, this disgusting vulnerability that collapsed my defiance into tears.
When we released each other, he looked at me and said, 'I don't want this to end.'
I asked if he was sure. He said yes. I asked him again. He said yes.
We kissed. He walked me home, held my hand. We kissed again before he rode off into the darkness of the night.
I don't know why I like him so much.
I don't want him to not like me to the same extent.
I don't know why things are always so fucking complicated.
Even though it didn't end tonight, I cannot help but feel guarded now. I feel like he could change his mind, take back what he said, tell me that it's over.
Are we both settling for less? We both know that the chemistry between us is not off the charts; but there is something there. He knows this too. Is this enough?
Why is this so hard?
I am exhausted.