Personal Entries

Exposing myself

I didn’t realize he’d already left a message and texted several times when he calls Sunday evening.

After we talk for a while he says, “So, you coming over?  You ready to go?”

“Ready to go where? “

He wants to take me to Bonterra, a terrific restaurant in town, and I have to say no.  It’s Sunday night and I have orders I haven’t finished for Monday morning.  The boys have just gotten home from a weekend with their Dad.  There are not enough hours left in the day to stop and go to dinner.

“How ’bout I get it take-out, and bring it over to your house?”

My head starts screaming   “No, no, no, no, no, noooooo.”

“No, baby, ”  I say, “I really need to get my work done.”

“I can bring a book and just sit with you in your studio while you work.  I’d really like that.”

Nooo. No. No. No.  His ideas are the sweetest things I’ve heard in a long time, and my heart just pulls and wants what he’s suggesting. I want this beautiful man to get take-out from a ridiculously expensive restaurant because eating with me is what he really wants to do, and I want his big blond self in my house, perched in my studio while I work.  It sounds perfect.

We’ve dated for a good while, and yet he’s never been to my house. It terrifies me.   The thought of it sends me into heart-racing panic and I’ve danced myself out of having him here many, many times.

Sometimes I use the boys as an excuse;  I don’t want to expose them to every man I date, and so not many men have been allowed across my threshold.  But I overplay that card for other reasons.  It’s me.  Letting him into my home is like turning myself inside out and showing him my most vulnerable bits, showing him I struggle and I can’t handle everything and I don’t have it as together as I wish I did.

I’ve had to prioritize for so long: my kids over money, bills over home maintenance, giving the boys my time and starting my business over repair projects.  I look around my house and sometimes I’m so overwhelmed by what needs to be done that I can’t even begin.  This is where who I am and the choices I make are visible,  this is where you can see where my ends are unraveled, this is where you can see the ways I’m falling short.  My house is filled with love, but it’s a disorganized house with rusted gutters, leaky faucets and peeling paint.  It’s a house with kid damage I haven’t had the time and the means to repair, and decorating became a laughable concept when I became a single mom.  Clean is as good as it’s going to get.

And everyone else gets to come in.  It’s just the boyfriends.  I can’t show them this vulnerability.

After getting off the phone with the sweet man, I see his texts and listen to his message.  He’d been trying to reach me about dinner for hours.

The boys have overheard my conversation, and when I sit down on the couch with Ri he asks, “Mom?  Are you trying to hide us?  Do we embarrass you?”  Oh. Good. Lord.  Oh hell.   My fear is affecting others and becoming A Thing.  I have to do this, don’t I?

Before I can answer Riley, the phone rings again.  “Sooooo, you sure you don’t want me to come over?  I’ll bring a book…. I’ll just hang out with you while you work…..”

This is what I want to say to the sweet man:  Please know how hard it is to give you what you’re asking of me, how exposed it makes me feel.  Please see the balance of what I’ve achieved, the value of the life I’ve made.   Please understand my choices and that I’ve chosen to let the material bits go because they just aren’t as important as peace and joy, and there just isn’t enough of me to handle everything.   Understand that I don’t have the things you have, but in my totality I’m so rich; that I don’t want anything from you but you.  Please accept me.

And this is what I say:  “OK, but you can’t see upstairs because that’s where I’m going to go hide all the crap.”

By the time he arrives it’s late, and watching him unfold his long legs and arms as he emerges from his car makes me forget about the peeling paint, the weeds, the gutters.   I have a beautiful man in my driveway, smiling at me.

Jake is still up, and together they watch the football game while I flit back and forth from my studio to the living room.  Football: the great unifier of men.  Of course they like each other, they are both awfully cool.

All the boys in bed,  we sit in the dark in the back yard wrapped in a quilt against the mosquitoes, and after a while he says, “You’ve played this just right.”  And while I know what he means, he’s wrong.  He means that in our dating I haven’t pushed and I haven’t freaked out over  man-weirdnesses which probably have more to do with fear of his life changing than with who he really is.  I’m being patient because I really like being with him and I want to see how close he’ll let me be, if he makes a space for me in his world.  But I haven’t played anything,  I’ve just tried to understand him and be as me as I can be.  Tonight, my weirdnesses and my fears had nothing to do with him and our relationship, but his reaction to them was really important.   I could say he’s played it just right, but he’s just been him.

And when he leaves in the early morning hours, I’m disappointed to see him go.

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