I arrived at the meeting place and sat quietly in the car. No music, cell phone turned off. I wanted a sense of peace and balance as this evening began. A few slow deep breaths. I didn’t even tell Tammy or Michele I was meeting Goose tonight. I already knew the disappointment they’d both have in me for meeting him again. Tammy kept telling me, “Jeannie, it’s just not done yet.” And I’d argue with her, telling her that as long as the dancer is in his life, I just can’t be. He had told me early in our dating that he was needing to get out of that situation. Goose was right, he did need to get out of it, but he hadn’t. And now, here I am doing the same thing as Goose. Trying to hold onto air.
Why are life lessons so hard for me to learn? It seems that each one is marinated in pain before it’s thrown on my plate. And I smell the aroma and smile as I take that first tempting bite. It’s the appearance you know. It looks like a relationship has potential. It looks like they might be okay. I think I’m being wise as I gather information about them. He seems solid, has good family relationships, and appears to be living an honorable life. Not a drug addict or a criminal. One date builds upon another. There’s laughter and comfort and sharing of dreams. What darn lesson am I supposed to be learning here?! What is it that I’m not getting? Every relationship ends with ‘him‘ (no matter who the him happens to be) having something or someone much more important than me in their life. Something or someone who they just can’t quite let go of in order to make room in their life for me.
I’ve been the common denominator in every relationship that I’ve had. So logic would tell you that the issue or problem or stumbling block is me. Now, any of you who know me at all, know that math has never been my forte. I can manage with the numbers I have to manage. But it’s definitely not a hobby. It’s pretty amazing in itself that I even know the word denominator.
I’ve been told that I’m gullible. Too giving. That I care too much about other people. It’s true that I will do anything within my power to help someone in trouble. With my ex we fostered 25 kids in five years. It never felt like I was doing anything so special or remarkable… because it’s just what people do. They help each other. I’ve heard a few times in the last 18 months that loving and caring and giving are bad things. Maybe I took it too much to heart when I was told those things in Sunday School as a child. I have a real hard time believing it’s bad to be who I am. You gotta be careful with these quiet peaceful balancing moments. Sometimes they make you question your own being. I am who I am. I was created to be just this way. My grandma had two sisters who were nuns. Maybe I need to consider a change of profession. Do you suppose they’d take a Lutheran? The headlights of Goose’s car changed my run-away train of thought. I told myself no gullibility, no giving or caring. Just dinner.
Goose is standing there smiling through the nervous tension that’s perched solidly as a barricade between us. He reached over the top of the barricade to give me a very casual, loosely-held hug. I kept my right hand on the strap of my shoulder bag so that it wouldn’t be hanging there where it could be easily held by Goose.
“You look nice Jeannie.” Goose remarked.
He hadn’t paid me that compliment since our first date last fall. And I noticed that he’s shaved and wearing cologne.
“It’s good to see you too”
“A guy at work told me about this place here in town.. should we go check it out?” Goose held the car door open for me.
I smiled and got in his car. I buckled the seat belt pulling it tight against me. I looked out into the dark night as Goose pulled out of the parking lot. Out there in the distance I can see the tiny sparkles of far away street lights. I feel far away. I don’t feel like I’m here sitting beside him. I’m so far away that I can’t make out what Goose is saying. He’s talking, but I can’t hear him. I’m afraid. Because I want to believe that he recognized my worth, my value. I want to believe the dancer is gone. I want to believe that he’s come for me. I keep telling myself “IT’S JUST DINNER!”
Noticing my distance, Goose asked, “You’re awful quiet tonight, tough day at work?”
“Not really, it’s just been a long day.” I said as I smiled at Goose.
He turned a corner and into the parking lot. I opened my car door before Goose came around to open it for me. I remind myself one more time, that it’s not a date. We’re just catching up. I tucked my thoughts into my purse along with everything else as we walked in the door of the restaurant.