“I’ll just be honest. I don’t know if I can wait that long,” he said with a resigned exhale into the phone.
She bit the back of her thumbnail and nodded wordlessly knowing full well all he would hear was silence.
“You still there?”
Another silent nod.
“Baby, are you ok?”
A deep breath in. “I am. I get it. I really do.”
And once again the wall she built around herself, the contracts she tried to fill were all conspiring against her.
They had never met, and at the beginning, part of her doubted they ever would. She was balancing herself on the end of a ten year marriage. And while that relationship had morphed from a youthful romance to the strongest bond of friendship she had ever known, she had grown comfortable there. Her former husband had demanded little from her that cost her. She was safe beneath her big, black clothes, behind her hand-me-down laptop.
But all that was changing. This man, this stranger was changing everything. She liked it and feared it all at once. He saw her, saw straight into her even if he doubted himself from time to time. There were moments of absolute clarity where he spoke a language only she could understand. She loved the sound of it, the timbre of each word in her ears calling her to him, beckoning her to break free of a life that no longer served her.
“Why do I feel like I lost you then? Why do you feel further away?” He asked.
She tilted her head up looking for a better answer on the ceiling. The truth was just….silly.
“You didn’t lose me. I’m right here.”
But he was right. She backed away from him just then. She wore her disappointment thick and heavy about her neck and he could feel it, even across telephone lines; he could feel it.
Three months. That’s how long she told herself it would take. That is how long she figured it would take to shake free the last remaining bits of marriage, of doubt, of insecurity so big it choked her at times. It was an arbitrary number she could hide behind.
But he wasn’t going to wait.
And why should he? Why should a kind, handsome single man wait for a girl too scared to start living a life of her own?
“I’m not ready,” she said. “And I don’t want to keep you from anything or from anyone.”
“I like you. It’s just…” His voice trailed off with just the slightest regret at his own annoying habit of telling the truth.
“It’s ok, really.” Her voice raised an octave and sped up to disguise the tears beginning to form in her eyes. “I’m fine. We’ll talk tomorrow.”
And with that she hung up. And it took her only five minutes to realize it wasn’t ok.
It wasn’t ok to hide out and pretend she didn’t want to kiss this man until her eyes rolled into the back of her head. It wasn’t ok to keep playing the role of a victim…a woman left pining for times gone by. And it wasn’t ok that some other woman could be in his arms, swaying her body against his and softly saying his name…a name she had yet to utter.
“Enough,” she said under her breath.
She walked to the mirror and took the bobby pins from her hair allowing it to fall in a swoop about her neck. She examined the state of her face. No wrinkles, bright blue eyes and a mouth quivering with anxiety.
She forced herself to smile and then realized she really wanted to. She wanted to because it finally became clear: the only one standing in her way was her.
New people, new experiences, new, new, new…
But new didn’t have to mean ‘not as good’. New didn’t have to be scary. New could be exactly what she needed.
She squeezed some pretty pink lip gloss onto her finger and ran it over her lips and pressed them together in decision. “Tomorrow,” she said. “Tomorrow.”