The Fixer Upper

handymanWhen you are newly single and used to doing things that include someone else, it can be hard to venture out on your own. It seems awkward and foreign to you at first, maybe even a little scary, as if you’ve been plopped down in some other country where no one speaks the same language as you. At the other end of the spectrum though, when you have been single for a while, it is easy to get stuck in a routine. To become a little too independent. When you finally do have someone in your life, you can be so set in your ways that you find it hard to change things up.

After Freedom Weekend, Chris (my friend Julia..and yes, in case you are wondering..it is slightly confusing at times to have a friend who shares your name..she started referring to him as “Mr. Fix-It”) and I started spending more and more time together. We cooked dinner, spent time in the garden, went on walks with the dogs and talked…talked about everything under the sun. We rarely ever turned on the t.v. when he came over, instead, there was music..lots of music. He had such a calming voice and a gentle presence about him. It is hard to describe, but when I was around him, I felt peaceful. I felt..well..happy. The Friday of Freedom Weekend, he sent me this text:

Chris: Morning sunshine. Hope this doesn’t wake you. I heard this adorable song again this morning called Thursday Night by Honey Honey. I was already thinking about you when it came on, but it made me smile more. Hope Freedom Weekend gets off to a great start! 🙂

I mean seriously, what girl wouldn’t melt at a good morning text like that? When I got back, things just kept getting better and better. Our chemistry was still going strong and I had a moment one night after we said goodbye where I thought, “could he be it?” I tried to push that question to some far place in my head where it could stay until I was ready to pull it out and really think about the possibility of a future with this guy. I still had a lot to learn about him and that would take time. Plus, that dark cloud named “New Job In Northern Virginia” was looming ominously in the distance.

One thing I knew about Chris was that he loved music as much as I do. He was always telling me about different songs and musicians to check out. That was hugely attractive to me as it can be hard to find guys with the same taste in music. Or at least an open mind to what is out there. Most of the guys I’ve dated have been largely appathetic about it and when you ask what kind of music they are into, they just give some kind of generic answer “you know..like..a lot of different stuff.” Hm…yea that really clears that up. Cool. Thanks. So anyway, Chris had tickets to an Iron and Wine concert coming up and I was really hoping he would ask me to go with him. One night, we were hanging out and he mentioned the concert. “That will be so fun!” I told him, all the while thinking “please, please ask me to go with you.” Well I guess his thoughts heard my thoughts because a minute later he asked (somewhat awkwardly). “So, I’d love it if you came with me. You know, if you want to. You probably already have plans.” I laughed and said that I would love to go with him. And did a quick internal happy dance.

Now I want to make sure to highlight something before I move on. Chris was a confident guy, he was attractive, intelligent and had a good job. He mentioned a few times that he had done his share of heartbreaking (unintentionally) and seemed to consider himself a catch. He wasn’t arrogant about it, but I’d definitely say he had higher than average confidence. And yet, every now and then he would throw in little comments like “you probably already have a date,” or “didn’t want to call and interrupt if you were snuggling with some other guy.” He would say it jokingly, but it began to be more and more noticable. I tried to reassure him by letting him know that I was enjoying spending time with him and as long as things were going well with us, I didn’t really have a desire to date anyone else. And that was the truth. Chris had a lot of the qualities I was looking for in a guy and I wanted to see where things could go.

Anyway, the evening of the concert arrived and he came to my house to pick me up. It had stormed pretty heavily right before Chris got there and he came armed with an umbrella and two raincoats. We figured we could grab some food at the venue and kept our fingers crossed that the rain would hold off. Magically it did! We found a spot on the lawn and put a blanket down. The concert was at Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens and it honestly is the most gorgeous and romantic spot to sit and listen to great music with a handsome guy next to you. We had wandered around the paths a little, before the show started, and we laughed and joked with each other..happy just to be outside on a pretty spring night. We got some food and made our way back to our blanket. Now, I have been lucky to have had many romantic moments in my life, but that night, leaning against the warmth of Chris’s chest..listening to the kind of music that makes your heart ache and swell..with the sweet smell of the gardens all around us..I felt like I’d remember that moment forever.

For the last song of their set, the opening band, The Secret Sisters (you might recognize their name from the Hunger Games Soundtrack – Tomorrow Will Be Kinder. I played it in my car on repeat for miles and miles when I was feeling low and had to believe that the next day would be easier. Eventually it was 🙂 Thanks girls) played a cover of one of my favorite songs. It’s called “You Belong to Me.” I was going to dance in my wedding dress with my dad to that song. Laying there, tucked into Chris’s side, I sang with them softly and tears started to form at the corner of my eyes. “I love this song.” I told him. He turned to look at me and when he noticed the tears, he leaned in and gently kissed the places where they shone. I could taste them on his lips when he kissed my mouth. “Don’t be sad.” He whispered. “I’m not sad,” I said shaking my head a little. “I’m happy. Really happy.” He pulled me closer to him and words that I had not said to another man in over 7 years, the words “I love you,” fluttered in the back of my throat. I swallowed them down, knowing that neither of us were ready for that yet. I can’t tell you how hopeful it made me feel though, knowing that I could move past all of the scars Jeff had put on my heart and let myself love someone again.

Looking back, I’m glad I didn’t speak those words aloud. They would have been wasted on yet another man who doesn’t know what he wants. Let me explain…

After our amazing night, I felt like Chris and I were on the same page with things. I knew he was eventually going to be moving to Northern Virginia, but that was less than two hours away and it seems to me that if you find something special, you don’t let go of it..no matter the distance. Just ask my sister. Right after she met her husband in college, he joined the Army and was sent to Fort Hood, in Texas and eventually Iraq. Talk about a long distance relationship. They made it work because they knew it was worth it. They have been together for 10 years now and have a little baby girl coming in October. It soon became pretty apparent that Chris and I were NOT on the same page. He began to pull back..his texts became shorter and lost their sweet flirty tone. If we ever made plans, he made me feel as though he felt some sense of obligation to be there. It was such a 180 from how things had been going that I felt dizzy from the sudden change. Chris came over for dinner one night..over a week and a half had passed since I had last seen him..and he seemed cold, almost irritated with things I said. Standing there in my kitchen, I called him out on his Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde behavior. It would be fair to say that I was pissed. He gave me some lame excuse about how he was just really busy with work and getting ready for his move. He had gone to Northern Va the weekend before to scope out apartments and didn’t even tell me he was leaving town. When I texted him that Saturday night to see if he wanted to hang out, he told me he was staying in a hotel up there for the weekend.

Me: “Oh that’s cool. I hope you find a nice place.”
Chris: “Thanks.”
Me: “I would have gone with you if you wanted company. Aren’t you lonely staying there all by yourself?”
Chris: “That’s ok. I’m a one man wolf pack babe. I don’t need anyone else.”
Me: “wow..well that’s good to know.”

What the hell? One man wolf pack? Seriously?

So there in the kitchen, he tried to give me excuses as to why he was being just another man that couldn’t figure out what he wanted. He told me over and over again how amazing, and beautiful and perfect blah blah blah I was..How he should have really deep and strong feelings for me..but he didn’t. He should be head over heels in love with me..but he knew what that felt like and he didn’t feel it for me. I listened to these words come out of his mouth like knives and felt the strangest sense of deja vu. Here was yet another man telling me how great I was but that they didn’t want me. Where do guys get this stuff? Do they sit around together and come up with some kind of guy manual?

Chapter 8: It’s Not You..It’s Me..Ok Maybe It Is You

Sometimes your knight in shining armor turns out to be just another douchebag in aluminum foil. Chris wasn’t a bad guy. In fact, he was a really great guy. He was a fixer..of doors, gardens..cars..and apparently broken-hearted women. Well F that. (sorry mama) I am not a project to be worked on..I don’t need anyone to FIX me. I will be just fine on my own thank you very much. I don’t need a man to bring happiness to my life, to fill me up and make me whole. Neither do you..my single lady friends out there. Don’t you ever forget it..that you are enough all by yourself.

And so, things with Chris came to an end..sorry to disappoint some of you who thought he might just make it to the finish line..I was disappointed for a couple of days too. But you know what? I’m thankful to Chris. Thankful I had his company and that we had some great moments. Sometimes people are only supposed to be in your life for a short time and while Chris wasn’t “THE ONE,” he was a pretty lovely chapter in my life. So thanks Chris. 🙂

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