Thursday, December 23, 2010

After Midnight

I try to predict the content while I listen to the disclaimer, eyes closed and willing my brain to lapse into unconsciousness.

"Weight loss," I murmur sometimes as I snuggle deeper into the pillow. "Vacuum cleaners. Mattresses. Make up and skin care. Investment opportunities! Hair removal. Your child writes a dissertation before age 2."

"I want it to be," I paused to think while curled next to Doug on my loveseat. "Easy." And there is an obvious value proposition - he's so sweet and attentive; I feel comfortable with him - even when moody or without make-up; We're honest and open and predictable.

But, at the risk of sounding a total ninny (yes, ninny), what's missing are the butterflies and scampering around the house making sure my lip gloss is just right and my hair curled properly, the way my stomach flips and brain floats in a happy sea of neurochemicals before he leans to kiss me.

"Did you watch Felicity?" I asked him, for the DVD was paused on my television. "I've been watching from the beginning, trying to sort myself out. I'm at graduation now."

"It was all Ben and Noel," I explained. "Did she want Noel - who was sweet and solid and stable - or Ben - who was sexy drama and endless problems and this compelling excitement? You're Noel," I concluded, for I do like analogies.

Yet there is no real choice for me. There is no Ben in my current story, for Will could not have disappeared more effectively had he stood in my kitchen and said "Abracadabra!" with suitable flourish and, after a dramatic poof of smoke, left only a small gray bunny where he'd once stood. (I would name the bunny Will, of course, and try to protect him from Sprout. Sprout would so try to kill poor bunny Will.) And who knows? Perhaps with an "Alakazam!" he will reappear. Human Will could certainly better defend himself against my stripey cat.

And this ease for which I wish would be if I wanted to tackle Doug with kisses or if Will had returned a portion of my flustered infatuation. But isn't that the problem with the youth of America? That we expect all to be obvious and easy and fun?

"Hello," I greeted two visitors yesterday. I smiled as they entered my office, returned their firm handshakes and eager smiles, and made a gesture that they should sit. I nodded as they earnestly explained their roles and responsibilities and began to ask questions.

We chatted for about an hour. I turned my monitor and showed them presentations and considered their questions and watched as they took notes in college-ruled notebooks. They're so young, making me sigh as they got up to leave. And given that I wanted to ask if they brought coats and boots and mittens, to ask if they needed help bundling up, perhaps I'm not as much part of "America's youth" as I'd like to believe.

I am nearly 32. I've been heartbroken. I've dated. I've worked and learned and traveled. I should be sensible and realistic and, I don't know, mature?

Yet I want to feel giddy. To roll over in the middle of the night and catch my breath because the man beside me is, well, breathtaking. Or, if that can't happen, to roll over and find the empty space that might someday be occupied with someone right. Because if I know anything, it's how to be alone.

I sit in my living room sometimes when I can't get back to sleep. When the infomercials are too optimistic - when the deals are too good and the performance too amazing - I descend the stairs and sit in the quiet darkness and stare at the Christmas tree in my kitchen. I smile sometimes because I worried even as a child - if I'd have good friends or do well in spelling or remembered to feed my goldfish or would ever learn to do a cartwheel. (I would not.)

But, at Christmastime, I could look at the lights hanging outside my bedroom window. I could wonder what presents waited under the tree. What surprises might occur.

"Hey," I greeted Doug when he first arrived yesterday night. "Come in! And hang on - I'm talking to my dad." And I returned to the phone and promised I would drive carefully and would see him soon for cookies and presents and dinners and playtime with the Ones.

And, every night, when the exciting new products give way to the earliest of the news broadcasts, I climb the stairs and go back to sleep. And wonder with a mixture of dismay and amusement what - or who - comes next.

1 comment:

Psycgirl said...

I am thoroughly convinced that a relationship is doomed without the initial butterflies, although I wish I could bring myself to believe otherwise. My Match has also disappeared into thin air - again- and I've decided disappearing and reappearing men are not my type. Have a good holiday Katie!

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