It Was Unexpected Pt. I

Life is strange. As I sit here, I just got back home about twenty minutes ago. It’s fifteen minutes till midnight, I just finished a seven hour shift, my legs are tired and I have to report to work in the morning. Normally, I’d head straight to bed (after a shower, of course) on a night like this.

But, I have something to say and my mind has been wrapped up in it all night. I came to a conclusion at work … or maybe part of one. Whatever the case, a couple of days lost down one of the most sobering rabbit holes ever (and I mean it was SOBERING) has resulted in my being here.

This is the story behind this story here. And it’s a long one, and a continuing one.

So, let’s start this from the beginning.

A little over two weeks ago (11-14-14), I managed to overcome my usual lack of self-confidence, my scary over-analytical abilities, and my fear to ask out a cute girl I work with.

Her name is Abbey. She’s tall, she’s blonde, she has the biggest blue eyes I’ve ever seen, and she’s an absolute joy to be around — at least for me, anyway (and I’d wager most anyone). The two of us went out for lunch, spent hours talking to one another, sharing life stories, engaging in pop culture debates, and having a good time.

The story, in short, is that she agreed to lunch with me. I only had money to pay for myself (which, in retrospect, was just stupid but I didn’t think she’d say yes) and I told her next time I’d cover for us both. She laughed at that, but she was cool with it. We talked until it got dark, we went back out to the parking lot and talked some more as we both tried to bid one another goodbye. We eventually succeeded, but that was the beginning.

The beginning of a week of utter bliss. The following Monday, we’d go out to a late lunch/early dinner again (we got stuck at work for hours after we were supposed to leave, I in groceries and her in shoes. I finished up groceries and then went to help her in shoes, which she was quite thankful for). We went to KFC (because she wanted to) and we, once more, ended up talking for a few hours. We traded more life stories, comparing our college years and the difficulties we encountered there.

Wednesday, we went out to grab some Chinese buffet. She told me the entire story of Les Miserables (she’s a big fan, having seen it multiple times) and then we left there afterwards so she could grab some hair dye at a nearby salon store. And, upon leaving there, she looped her arm through mine.

We sauntered into a Goodwill, the two of us quite pleased (and I quite surprised), tried on some clothes there in jest, left there and she then went for my hand.

“Do you keep your hands in your pockets so people can’t hold them?” she quipped after she grabbed it.

I could only tell her I’d never had anyone attempt to hold it before, at least not like that.

We eventually ended up back in the parking lot where, once more, we struggled to actually say goodbye in the biting cold. Even though we were both standing right beside our running vehicles, the heat inside them going, we didn’t budge for almost another hour.

Friday rolls around and we leave work once more. She has to get home and do some homework for the online class she’s taking, so no lunch. We set up at her car and she and I entered a frank discussion on our religious differences.

She’s a Mormon. I’m a Baptist converting to Catholicism. She didn’t want to get too involved with me, despite the fact we were so good together. It was tough to sit there and listen to her reasoning, not because I was against the religion — I didn’t know much about it and, what I did know, came from her (she was quite vocal about it during our lunches) — but because it seemed like such a bad reason to give up on something that could be so good.

I certainly felt it was good. I certainly felt it wasn’t wrong and I made those feelings known, using the phrase “Everything happens for a reason” as justification for why we came together.

She and I have lived near one another for the better part of the last decade here in my small (sorta) hometown of Alabama. We’ve never met before we started working together. She goes to church literally right down the road from me (there’s a Latter-Day Saints church right across the street from the entrance to the neighborhood). She went to high school at one of my high school’s rival schools (as that school was closer), graduated a year after I did, nearly went to the same college I did (but instead went to BYU) and, much like myself, has spent the last few years away from Alabama.

It’s amazing, honestly, that we met at all. And, though I don’t consider myself overly religious (can someone who’s converting be overly religious?), I do believe in God, fate, destiny, and karma. I believe in that.

How I ended up back in Alabama is a story unto itself, but I’ll simply say that I didn’t want to be back here. I wanted to be anywhere but here. Yet, I ended up here.

And I met her.

I told her all this as we stood outside her car, me leaning against it and she leaning atop her driver side door. She was clearly struggling with the decision and I asked her point-blank if she felt what we were doing was wrong. I didn’t feel it was wrong.

And she didn’t either.

So, after all that, the subject of kissing somehow comes up. I don’t have much experience with it (it’s in the lower single digits) and I recounted my few experiences. She recounted her many boyfriends (apparently being a Mormon boy doesn’t make you a better boy).

And then she told me she thought I was going to kiss her on Wednesday night, as we were standing out in the biting cold. I thought I should have but passed on it because I wasn’t sure how. Honestly, I can’t claim to really remember the last time I was kissed (back in 2007). I was hyped up on lots of orange soda and the night is really a blur (I used to get massively drunk on soda, no lie).

Upon hearing this fact, she leaned in and kissed me. I wish I could claim I was smooth, but I wasn’t. I was anything but. I was surprised, I was happy, and I grinned like an idiot. She wiped the smudged lip balm off my lips (it was berry-flavored), leaned into me, took my hand, placed it on her hip, and we swayed to the wind.

We kissed twice more (singlehandedly giving her the lifetime lead in “kisses from a girl”) before she left. And she left happy because we were going to see each other again Saturday for The Hunger Games movie.

And I left happy, too. I got back home and was in a stupid daze for the rest of the day. During the night, she hit me up on Facebook and we tangented into one of the best Facebook convos ever, IMO. We talked about what it would be like the next Monday, as vicious rumors of our scandalous relationship would swirl. We made up stories to tell our colleagues, we considered what our store boss would say (and mimicked his reactions in text), we made each other laugh … we were right with each other.

And then Saturday rolled around. We went to the movie, but our usual snark was muted. We went out to eat afterwards, but things were still awkward. I thought it was because we were playing to a script (in this case, a movie and food) — I’m bad at scripts, much better at improv — but, it turns out, she wanted to say something.

She broke it off in my car, in the movie theater parking lot. She cited our religious differences and how she wanted to be married in the Temple (the big Mormon church) and be with her husband/family forever in heaven (what they call being sealed).

On this count, two things were revealed: one, she thought we could go the distance like I could (and I verbally told her I had similar thoughts) and, two, we weren’t talking in hypothetical terms. This was all rather serious after only a week and it didn’t bother me then. It doesn’t bother me now.

I desperately wanted to argue against it, because I felt very strongly I could win. I still feel that way. But she asked me not to challenge it. Not to make my counter-argument. And I told her I wouldn’t.

I could do nothing but watch it go down.

This is where my story and Hank’s aligns. If not for the fact that all this actually occurred, you could easily call it a work of fiction. Except, it wasn’t fiction, it was life.

Our brief relationship ended in my car, in the parking lot of a movie theater, on a cool fall day. We promised we’d be friends (I literally pinkie swore to that, because, for some reason, I thought it was a good idea. In retrospect, I was using it to cover up how much it hurt, but I think she got that).

She asked if she hurt me, and I told her she had a little. I wasn’t so much disappointed as I was sad. I thought that was it. Once you get friendzoned, there really is no going back. We got into our cars and left the parking lot.

My drive back was not pleasant. I tried to figure out where I had gone wrong, what I could have done better, and I was stuck on how STUPID I was to agree NOT to make a counterargument. For some reason, I’m quite good at convincing people to do things with my words … I try not to, but I have been compared to a used car salesman by many, many people over the course of my life. I’ve never been proud of that skill (used car salesman have always been portrayed as kinda slimeballs in media and I don’t want to be a slimeball), but this was one time where I could have used it to win.

But I told her I wouldn’t. And I didn’t.

The rest of the weekend played out in a morose fashion. It was rainy, it was cold, and life sucked. On Monday, 11-24-14, I wrote this story to explain some of what had happened to myself, to try to wrap my head around it.

As I sit here, a little over a week past that post, I have a new (and evolving) understanding of what happened. I think.

But we’ll get to that part tomorrow. I’m about to collapse into my keyboard from how tired I am and I have work in the AM. Lessons have been learned from this, life lessons and writing ones, which I will elaborate on next time.

For now, I bid you all a good night.