Tea On Tuesday
I waited at the Shari’s down the street in nervousness. It was Tuesday and I was glad to be sitting after a eight hour shift. It was a weird feeling, sitting there, because I had never gone on an official date with anyone before (meeting someone on the internet forces you to, you know, get creative) — and this definitely wasn’t a date. I’d try to convince myself that it was true quite often. But it felt like one and I couldn’t help it. It probably was a date looking back on it now, and I’m trying to remember why I thought it wasn’t. I’m very good at reassuring myself. Too good.
He finally came by after an hour of me chewing on ice from my empty water glass. I was already deep into the book I had purchased earlier that day. I buy books when I’m nervous, which isn’t a good thing because I, well… you get the idea. When I broke out all over my face for the first time after high school, I bought four books and signed on as a Barnes and Nobel member just to compensate. To make myself feel better. And it worked.
When he sat down in front of me, he asked what I was reading and I said, “I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid” — which is morbid and hilarious when I think about it. I mean, I was, wasn’t I? Thinking about ending things — breaking up with someone I’d been with for a year, and yet never laid my actual eyes on — and I snatched it up at B&N because the title was so damn relatable. Granted, the book is about something totally unconnected, but it made me feel better. It was like I had already made up my mind whether I was going to do it or not. Break up. That’s weird, right? Breaking up when I’ve been with a person for a year and then I introduce myself to someone new who kisses me and meets me for late-night tea at Shari’s and it’s like the lights change a little. When things were blue, now they’re orange; they’re a wedge of sun bursting from a cloud of grey — and I convinced myself that I was a horrible human-being. Because, at the time, I probably was.
But at least I felt warm.
He smiled at me then and asked what the book was about. And I told him. I went into a long description about how creepy it was and how this girl is going on a road trip with a man she’s only been dating for six weeks. When I would let him borrow the book a few days later, he’d read it in a day and we would gush about what we thought it meant and how the ending surprised us. And, yeah, I knew I had made the right decision simply because he took the damn time.
At Shari’s that night I said, “I don’t know what to do. Long distance is really hard. I still care about him, But — well, I don’t know what to do.”
“I trust you,” he said after a long pause while staring at his warm cup of tea, “Because you will either choose him or me. I know you will make the right decision for you. It’s OK.”
I already knew, though. That book confirmed it. Me agreeing to meet him, somebody who wasn’t my boyfriend, to have tea confirmed it. Me telling my then-boyfriend that long distance wasn’t for me for six months prior and telling him that it didn’t feel like he cared enough confirmed it a hundred times over. It still took me days to say it out loud, to tell him that this was it; let’s still be friends, OK?
Now Colin and I have pesto in the mornings and he tries to make me eggs — and sometimes they’re overcooked — but I eat it up anyway. Whenever I have a bad back day, he massages it for me, no matter how lazy he is. We will go days without speaking and then see each other for popcorn and a Friends marathon and everything is still the same — a perfect little bubble we’ve created for ourselves. I once thought I’d regret it. That break up. It’s always a gamble, right? Taking a shot in the dark and you can’t see a single thing and it’s strange and new and if anyone knows me, they know I can’t stand change. Sometimes, though, it’s good. Sometimes the fear of bungie-jumping into the unknown is good.
I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid has a quote by the main character that says, “I think that’s it. Maybe that’s how we know when a relationship is real. When someone else previously unconnected to us knows us in a way we never thought or believed possible. I like that.”
And I like that, too. I place the book on my small shelf at my desk, and I’ll open it and re-read it every few months— and maybe that’s stupid or weird, but I do it anyway. It’s like a reminder to me that things can be OK even if you do something unknown and scary. Change and all its parts. It’s good and, sometimes, much needed.