The day before Mike was to arrive, I received a text message from James’ best friend; he wanted to know what I was up to that weekend. Of course, knowing the message would make it back to James, I told his bff that I was going to a wedding with a guy friend. Sure, we were just going as friends, but I wanted to see how James would react when that was the only information he was given. Here’s what I said:
1. I was going to a wedding as the date of a friend from high school.
2. The friend was in the military and stationed across the country.
3. I would be unavailable for drinks and/or conversation the evening of the wedding.
Is that manipulative? Absolutely. But in reality, his blatant disregard for my feelings made it almost impossible for me to care about his.
My strategy, yet again, worked. He sent me a text message within hours of notifying the friend that I’d be going on my ‘date’.
James: “I thought you were smarter than that.”
Me: “Who is this?”
James: “Very funny, Fina. I’m surprised by you.”
Me: “I’m not following. What did I do that’s surprising?”
James: “Getting involved with a guy in the Army. That’s fucking stupid. You’re acting like a typical girl.”
Me: “Last time I checked I still had a vagina. You should know that, as you were the last guy to see it.”
Me: “What are you so pissed off about? I haven’t heard from you in weeks.”
James went on to explain that he hadn’t felt like talking to anyone. He claimed his absence wasn’t just from my life, but from everyone’s. Which, as time progressed, I found out his reasoning(and it was/is a legitimate excuse)…but it was terrible timing for him to go MIA. Our text conversation was brief. He said a few other things that were hurtful; I defended myself and told him that he wasn’t making any move, so I didn’t see any reason to sit around and wait for him. He didn’t have much to say about that.
I volunteered to pick Mike up from the airport the day of the wedding. His flight was scheduled to land an hour before the wedding started and the venue was twenty minutes from the airport. His mom and dad were also invited to the wedding, so I said I’d be his chauffeur. That way his entire family didn’t have to miss out on the ceremony if his flight ended up being late.
I received a call from an unknown number early in the day. It was Mike. He forgot his phone and wanted to make sure I knew that he wasn’t avoiding calls (if I was even making them). He said he’d be waiting in baggage claim, ready to jump in the car and head to the wedding.
I waited for him, wearing a little black dress from Banana Republic and heels that were fierce enough for the runway. My blond hair was laid perfectly across my shoulders. I looked good. I looked real good. He arrived within five minutes of me entering the airport. We hugged for the first time in far too many years, grabbed his bags, and walked straight to my car. He told me I looked beautiful. Score.
As schedules usually go, ours was delayed by his delayed flight. We had fifteen minutes to get to the church, a twenty-minute drive, and enough traffic to make anyone go crazy (yes, even a city girl like me). Within a minute of getting in the car, we knew we wouldn’t make it to the church on time. Neither of us wanted to be ‘those people’ that interrupt a wedding ceremony. After all, it is the bride’s day to be noticed…not the jerks who can’t make it on time.
We decided to spend the five hours between the start of the wedding and the start of the reception reuniting with old friends. Our first stop was the mall, where a friend was working that day.
Mike was very kind as we drove to the mall. He was very interested in my life. I thought we’d already covered the necessary details, but he continued asking questions. I didn’t mind answering his questions. It felt good to have my old friend by my side.
Mike: “Fina, What are we doing?”
Me: “We are going to the mall to see Kate.”
Mike: “No, I mean…what are ‘we’ (pause), you know, me and you…what are we?”
Mike proceeded to tell me that the reason his wife didn’t make the trip with him was because he was currently mid-divorce. After several years of marriage, Mike’s wife was unhappy. Now, in the midst of all of that pain, he was in my car asking me what I wanted from our relationship. Oh hey Karma.
After telling him how sorry I was for his relationship turning south, and listening to him vent about their relationship, he asked again.
Me: “Mike, We are friends. You’re technically still married and that’s totally not my scene. Plus, maybe you’re just feeling lonely. I don’t think this is a good idea. You’re married. We’re friends. End of story.”
Mike: “I’ve always loved you, Fina. Even when I was in a relationship. Even after you turned me down that day at college. We spent so much time together. I knew that you were special then. I still know you’re special now. I came in town to see you. The wedding was just a good excuse.”
Me: “Mike, please…”
Mike (interrupting me): “It’s fine, Fina. I understand. Just know that if you’re interested, I’ll be ready to start something with you whenever you feel I’ve had enough time to recover from my divorce. I’ve waited this long. I can wait a little while longer.”
Suddenly the traffic was the least of my worries. It sucked, but the fear and anxiety his statements caused were completely shocking. I had no idea how to respond. None at all. And, of course, he had no vehicle. Even if I wanted to drop him off and get him the hell out of my car, I couldn’t. I was stuck. Royally, aggravating(ly) stuck.