On Dating : Making Up

On Dating : Making Up

I was back at Augurs Well last night after walking Maddy to her Lyft. I felt like moving around in the city after such a night and I was drawn to the comforting dive bar like a beacon was flashing right next to the milk stout tap handle. 

I like the guy who owns it, I think his name is Greg, but it’s always Kaitlyn I’m hoping to see as I turn the corner and peek through the windows. I was surprised to see her working on a slow Monday night, her hair tucked up on top of her head revealing the shaved sides, wearing all-black as she always does. 

She smiled when she saw me. There were only four or five people in the whole place. I had my journal and umbrella and eyed a seat at the bar with incredible contentment. 

“I came here Friday on a date,” I started.

She smiled so big. “I know! I was like creeping around the corner watching you guys but I wanted to give you your space.”

“I was hoping you’d be observing our every move so we could talk about it next time I came in.”

“Of course I was. How did it go?” 

“It was good. We are hanging out a lot now.” 

“It didn’t seem like a first date. The body language was good.” 

I took this to heart because bartenders are like CIA interpreters when it comes to behavior. 

We talked about the Oscars and how she had absolutely no idea what any of the movies were except Marriage Story.

“Oh yeah, that was brutal. As a divorced person I can tell you it hits a little too close to home,” I said.

“And see, I’m on the other side, about to get married, thinking that could never happen to me.”

“I thought so too. I even had an amicable split,” I said as I air-quoted amicable. 

“Then I think she literally watched that movie and hired a mean lawyer and came back and changed the entire deal. And now I don’t think I’ll ever be friends with her again.” 

Maddy came over after work around 8PM.

She was out of breath and I had a glass of water ready for her. It was filtered even though she finds the filter too slow to make it worthwhile. “New York has the best tap water in the country, I’ve done a lot of research,” she’ll say. 

We didn’t hug or kiss and the vibe was a little tense. I wasn’t afraid of what was going to happen but I wasn’t familiar with it either. 

“Shall we move this meeting into the conference room?” she said in a business voice as she gestured her hands to the living room.

“We shall,” I replied with a smirk. 

We sat on opposite ends of the couch and mirrored each other’s postures. I was noticing this like never before and trying to figure out who was dictating the pose and who was imitating. 

The talking was slow and reserved at first. 

She started by saying that she was doing her best in the moment to handle what she had just read. 

“I was trying to make it through and not make it a big deal. I was fighting with myself about why it was bothering me so much. And then I saw how you reacted and I just made all my attention go to you and making sure you were comfortable, which is a thing I do.” 

“The truth is, the words were so sharp and I felt like what you were writing was happening to me. And I guess it’s time I share with you that big bad thing from my past that I’ve mentioned before,” she said as she looked away. 

Then tears were coming down her cheeks and she tried to wipe them away under her glasses but she couldn’t keep up.  And she couldn’t take off her glasses because she is so blind that she wouldn’t be able to get her bearings in the room. 

“I don’t actually think I can say this,” she murmured. 

“That’s okay. You don’t have to,” I gently touched her knee. I wanted to be supportive but I also don’t think it’s a good idea to be too physical with someone when they are going through a heavy emotion because then they have to be split between their own emotions and also trying to relax into my touch. 

I was a little relieved that she didn’t tell me at that moment. I wanted to address the current situation first.

“I’m not going to be another girl in one of your stories,” she said. “That’s just not going to happen.” 

She was firm. But she was acting.

“Why?” I responded.

“What do you mean why? Because I don’t want to be compared to them. I’m not a prop.”

“You’re right, you’re not. In fact, I like you very much. I write about what’s important in my life and right now you’re important to me. I don’t think about other girls when I’m with you. I don’t even think about what I’m going to write later. Everything that happens between us is real, it just happens that I write it down later so I can remember it and feel it more.” 

“It just brought up a lot to read that. I felt every word in my body and my blood got so hot. I thought at times that I would have to stop. I don’t know why I kept going. My ex used to talk to his ex girlfriend everyday and I knew something was going on but I never did anything about it. He made me feel crazy. Turned out it wasn’t okay. Your writing brought all that back.”

“I’ve had a fair amount of people read the first five chapters and it brings up a lot for everyone. Some people hate me and think I’m garbage and some people say they’ve been in my shoes and relate. Men and women. It’s a fucked up topic. But you knew this story about me before you read it. ”

“Yeah because it made you seem more human to me. We’ve been living in this magnificent bubble of walks and dinners and sex and learning that about you helped give me some context. But when I read the actual words it became too real. The bubble burst and I don’t know what any of this is now.”

“It’s still the same. How you feel now won’t last. You won’t compare yourself to them or picture the scenes forever.”

“I thought about that today. I thought, ‘Maddy just relax, it’ll be okay.’” 

She wanted me to acknowledge that it was foolish to share with her this early.

“It was just too soon. I can’t think of any other way to explain it. It was just too much,” she said.

“I agree that I shouldn’t have shared it. And I’m so sorry that I did. It makes me sick to think about your reaction while reading. I feel like a fucking idiot and if I could take it back I would do it immediately.”

I paused to give the acknowledgment enough time to live on its own.

“I also think that no matter when I shared this with you, even if it was a year from now, you would’ve had the same reaction and that is a bigger thing I think I’d like to talk about.” 

“I thought I was past so much of that. I haven’t felt like that in a year and a half. Things have just been rolling off my shoulders and I’ve felt strong and confident in who I am,” she said.

I knew the feeling well. Being solid and stable and thinking things were changing inside me. Then entering a relationship and watching the new me disappear.

“Yeah, probably because you haven’t been in relationships. It’s easier to feel good when we don’t have someone throwing things back on us in the moment.”

“It was hard to feel that way again. To feel like I was still that girl.”

“No matter what happens between us we get this time to be honest with each other. I’m not actually interested in the strong and resilient version of you. I’d rather we told each other what we were scared of in the moment. I have to worry when I tell you my insecurities that I don’t seem manly enough or strong enough but honestly I spend half my time scared shitless and I never share it because I’m embarrassed. I want you to know because I want to be able to trust you with those feelings.” 

I was trying to make some changes from how I communicated in my last relationship.

“I don’t feel strong when I keep it in, either. I’d rather tell you. I’m just not used to this. I’m not used to sharing what’s really going on inside. I’m not used to someone actually caring how I feel. I’m sorry, I didn’t grow up that way,” she said.

“I know. You had to survive. We both did. I would be a goddamn ‘girl’ or a ‘pussy’ or a ‘baby’ if I talked like this when I was a kid. I felt like an alien growing up. Ten years of therapy and I still panic when I go home for Christmas.”

“I should probably stop putting off going to therapy. I guess there’s more going on than I let myself believe. I’ve done such a good job of being my own therapist all these years,” she said.

“You are a therapist to everyone in your life. You deserve to have someone to talk to about you. And I’m not going to tell you what to do or how things are but I will say that the difference between intellectualizing your emotions to push through pain and actually sitting down in a room with someone and talking through your feelings is like galaxies of separation.” 

Another thing she asked for was for me to acknowledge that her reaction was within reason. 

I laughed. “Okay, so your main takeaways are that, one, I was wrong in my action of sharing with you and, two, you were right in your reaction to it? Is that what I’m understanding?”

She laughed, even though she didn’t want to. “Yes, what’s the problem with that?”

“I understand if this is a lot for you and if you’re serious about starting therapy that’s going to bring up a lot more. In a way, this is just the beginning because you’ll get into some heavy shit and you’re not going to feel in control for a lot of it. So if you want the space to go through that on your own then I understand completely.” 

She looked at me.

“The other option is that you do that work and I can still be here and we can still have this and you can share some things with me too,” I continued. 

“I don’t want to stop talking to you. I never felt like it was over because of what you shared with me. But do you really think you’d want to do that with me?” she asked.

“I think it’s so much more interesting than us pretending like we are fine and that our relationship will magically exist without our own baggage.” 

“Guess I’ll have to stop reasoning with myself and using Nietzsche quotes to explain my childhood.”

“Thank god,” I said.

She shot her eyes at me sharply.

I nearly cried once, when considering how she called me a narcissist and said I was like every other guy in the world in her email. 

“I’ve been called that my entire life every time someone wanted to hurt me. I grew up around that and I’ve spent my entire life trying to be better than that and when you said that I pictured it was how you saw me and that you didn’t even know me at all.”

She softened. She said she was sorry. But the hurt part of her still thought it about me. I could see it in her eyes. And I had to tell myself that it was temporary and in time she will love me for all the things I have done to better myself. 

“I’ve done shitty things in relationships before too. I don’t know why I judged you so much. I’ve done the same thing. It just made me hate you for a minute. Which doesn’t make sense. It can’t have anything to do with you.”

“Too bad the Oscars are tainted for you now. I put out such an amazing spread for us.”

“You really did. That is such a confusing memory now.” 

“Well maybe next year we are watching it again or maybe we aren’t still talking and you are watching with your friends and you tell the story of this narcissist you were dating who gave you an iPad and had you read all his sex stories and you all can have a laugh.” 

Then I fed her. After we laid in bed and I played with her hair. After she came and so did I. 

In the kitchen I asked if she thought we were going to have sex when we went to lay down.

“I figured the night would end this way,” she said in her loose-fitting pants and bra as she drank the banana peanut butter smoothie I just made. 

“Me too. Emotions make me very aroused.” 

Ashley’s on a date. Ang is on a date. I’m at Augurs still feeling the make up sex in my body talking to Kaitlyn about her future wife who could get deported at any moment because of our current president. 

“I’m having a great time dude,” Ashley texts me.

Then she texts the group, “Marquis is so cool and chill.”

Then she texts me directly, “Call you when I leave.”

I ended up having two beers that were 14% abv and by the end of the second one I was so grinny and chatty that I made a new friend at the bar and have since forgotten his name. He taught gaming at NYU and had just gotten into law school at Cornell that morning. 

The beers turned me into that person who said congrats to a stranger instead of the normal reaction of internalizing how much I didn’t care about anything I was overhearing.

I missed Ashley’s call. And then I missed her next call. I was busy high-fiving my friends and saying things like maybe I’ll see you in here next time I’m around, I live just right in the neighborhood. 

She picked up on the first ring. Her voice sounded huge. 

“Before we talk about your date I just have to say that I was at Augurs and Kaitlyn and I are best friends and I made a new friend and was high-fiving everyone as I left and I think this is the best neighborhood bar in the whole city.”

“Me and Ang sure know how to pick em.” 

She was explaining her date with Marquis. We’ve been trying to use his name more so we’re not guilty of only using the nicknames we give people on Hinge. Is that the stalker? Or the emo writer? Are you talking to the little guy again?

“He thought I was so cool,” she said.

It didn’t take long to get that out. It all made sense now why she liked him so much because he liked her so much and that was the key to Ashley’s heart. 

“He asked if I had a lot of guy friends and I told him yeah. He said he figured. Then he said that they are all probably in love with me,” she said with what I could almost hear as the largest smile recorded in human history. 

“I mean, how cool is that? He like knew that I was great. He told me he couldn’t believe I was 36. At one point he flat out asked what the hell I was doing on Hinge. Most guys just want to hear about themselves. This was so different.” 

Then Ang texted into the group and said she was almost home and couldn’t wait to catch up.

“Some make outs happened,” she said.

“CALL IN,” I responded.

A few minutes later we were on a conference call.

Ang had a good night and felt chemistry. They got wine and walked around the Panhandle and went to her favorite bar in The Haight. 

“Wait, what’s your favorite bar?” I asked.

“It’s called The Page.”

“Wait, I’ve been there, right?” Ashley chimes in.

“Yeah, we went there when Sam wasn’t sure about Jessica.”

“Oh that’s right. I thought it was P-a-i-g-e though.”

“No, it’s P-a-g-e.” 

“How was the kiss? How did it happen?” I ask.

“We were sitting on these steps and I thought about what you said about grabbing his arm or finding a way to touch him but that never happened so I told him the story about the elliptical accident and how I have one permanent kankle and he touched it and then he touched my leg and then we were kissing.” 

“Oooohh hot damn,” Ashley says in a Talladega Nights voice. 

“Then he invited me up to his place and we listened to a Genesis album and made out for another fifteen minutes.”

“Damn, Big Mama Ang getting laid tonight,” she commented again, fully committed to the accent now.

“What was his place like?” I asked.

“It was nice. It was clean and he had plants and records and three bikes.”

“Three bikes? Jesus dude that’s kind of intense,” Ashley says in her regular, judgmental voice. 

“What is he, Lance Armstrong?” she continues.

“You should’ve asked him how he did in the last….what’s the race called? The one in France?” she says.

Ang jumps in, “Tour de France. Yeah I should’ve asked him. And I should’ve asked about his one ball, too.” 

“Well I need to go to bed. It’s late here. Glad everyone had a good night,” I say.

“Yeah Kirk’s shit-canned,” Ashley says.

“Wait, what happened with Maddy? You guys boned and that was it?” Ang asks.

“Yeah basically. We had a good talk and she said she needs therapy and I agreed and then we had sex and then we ate snacks and I called her a Lyft and then went to Augurs for some good old fashioned drinking and writing.”

“God I miss that place. Honestly, I would move to New York just to go to Augurs every night,” Ang says.

“I’ve got the nostalgies,” Ashley adds. 

“Goodnight everyone.”


“Later Chet. Get some sleep.” 

I can’t remember the last time Ang called me Kirk.

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