So, I guess I should tell you about Bus Stop Boy, now that
I’ve finally broken down and updated one of the people I have in my life whose
main relationship with me is about helping me work on relationships.
Over the summer, I began to see Bus Stop Boy, as you might
imagine… at the bus stop. I was temping in the city, and was sometimes taking
this bus, sometimes that. I’d just begun to pay attention to how I interact with
men, trying to focus less on if they’re noticing me or not, how I’m interpreting
or internalizing that information. And Bus Stop Boy was one of these people. I
was aware of him, and he was aware of me. There was nothing more or less than
that, but a definite vibe. Not even flirty, just aware.
One morning, a few months ago, I had come from meeting with
the aforementioned woman the previous day, highly aware now of how I was walking in the world, and I saw him at the bus
stop. Suddenly, I had no idea how to behave. I didn’t want to be all coy, I
didn’t know how to just stand there. I felt a wave of panic wash over me, and
as some of you may remember, I had to leave work as soon as I got there and come home and crawl into a fetal position. Everyone
on BART was standing too close. Whatever it was that my being aware of who and
how you were reacting to me – it had acted as a buffer somehow between us. And
suddenly, seeing Bus Stop Boy, … it was like seeing the Matrix. Suddenly I
could see that everywhere I looked and every move that I made, I was hyper
aware of it, and I was aware if you were aware of it. I felt stripped of some
defense mechanism – I felt utterly exposed, and completely unsure of how to
A rather large reaction to simply seeing a dude at the bus
stop. But, that’s what happened. It took me days to get back to feeling right.
And, in fact, I stopped taking the bus, and opted to take carpool with a friend
of mine during the rest of my temp gig.
I’m still aware of how others react to me, and, duh, that’s
going to continue to happen. People interact. However, I am trying to pay less attention to if “he,” whoever “he”
is, saw me. Noticed. If you’re noticing how I’m holding myself or not. I’m
trying to keep myself to myself when I’m out and about. Not closing myself off,
but simply focusing more on me, and what I’m doing, not on you.
This said, things have progressed.
I ran into Bus Stop Boy when I was on the bus going into the
city for an interview about a month or more ago. I was aware, he was aware. We
both went for the one seat that was open, and he let me have it. When getting
off the bus, I got off in front of him, and turned around and thanked him for
the seat, held out my hand, and said I’m Molly, by the way. He took my hand, said his name, said he hadn’t
seen me on the bus for a while. I replied I hadn’t been on the bus for a while, we both smiled, said see you around.
In reporting this later to my friend, I talked about
“getting a hit” off it. I was nervous about this job interview, and I knew I
could get a little hit from talking to this guy. Sure, there’s the normality of
introducing yourself to someone you see nearly daily just for the sake of that,
and I could file this under that, but I know my underlying reasoning – I wanted
to feel better, and talking to an attractive guy who seems to think I’m
attractive too is a reliable way to do that. (I was about to write it’s a “good
way” to do that, but, this is where I run into trouble.) I felt more spring in my step on my way to my interview, now that I had gotten that burst of acknowledgment from this stranger.
A little while later, I am on my way to another interview,
and I see him on the street in plain clothes with a girl, walking a small dog. Girlfriend, I think, and keep walking. Well, I say to myself,
there’s that taken off the table. He’s got a girlfriend.
A little while later, about 3 weeks ago, I’m on my way home
finally for the evening, having had an awful day at work – feeling my feelings
of despair around administrative work, around having worked so hard for months
to get something so menial, I’d come home from work bawling on the phone with a friend, before I went back out to meet up with some folks for an hour. Suffice it to say that I was drained of
all emotional guile. Of all resistance. Of all pretense.
Funny, then, that I should walk into Peet’s coffee, and
there he is. Bus Stop Boy at 8pm on a Wednesday evening. My eye make-up long
cried off. My incognito hat. Glasses. This is not the look of a temptress. He’s on line
ahead of me, and so I say hello. We chat a bit; we’ve both started new jobs. We small talk, laugh a bit. I
say see you around.
And now, suddenly, we are seeing each other around a lot. I
next run into him unexpectedly on the shuttle from BART – again on a day when I’d sat at the bus stop from work in near-tears. Waiting – FORTY FIVE MINUTES – for a
bus from Berkeley. Taking me nearly two hours to get home from ONE TOWN AWAY.
And there he is. The second time in a row when I’d felt
depleted, and, perhaps, open.
It hasn’t eluded me that these unusual times that I’ve seen him are at times when I could most use a nod from the universe, some semblance of, Molly – you’re not a worthless, aimless, trundling-along broke spinster. It has not escaped me that during my new days of data entry, receptionist calls, arguments with xerox machines, I’d begun to think of that morning’s conversation with Bus Stop Boy, and it takes me out of my vile existence. It reminds me that I am more than my job. It reminds me that I am something more than that. Simply by recalling the smile of a near stranger, my chest feels less constricted – I feel less trapped. Is this “meaningful”? Is a nudge from “THE UNIVERSE”? Is it just a coincidence? Is it simply pointing out to me the pleasure I take in fantasy rather than reality?
I moved my bags, and he sat down next to me.
After some chit chat, I said, I think I saw you with your girlfriend walking
your dog a few weeks ago (she says leadingly). He got a sudden look, and said, “Ex…” That was their goodbye. She
came to visit for two weeks. She’s been living in D.C. for the past year,
looking for work there and here, and she got a job there, and, as he told to
me, he wasn’t ready to move back East.
He seemed pretty bummed. Secretly, I thought two things.
One: emotionally unavailable. Two: Single. …
So, finally, friends, here’s the kicker. What I admitted to my girl friend earlier today: I have invited him to
come with me to a party my friend is having this Saturday. “As friends,” I
said. But as I spoke to my friend earlier today, … I have no interest,
really, in being this guy’s friend. Nor do I know that I want to be in a
relationship with him. I barely know anything about him. Do I want to get to
know him better? Yes. Am I dating right now? No. Is he? I should hope not! Long-term relationship break-up does not really equal available for a new one any
So, what to do? Well, my friend and I spoke earlier about
some “bottom lines” I could set around this. The only thing I could come up
with, which she suggested, was not hanging out one-on-one.
She asked me at the end of our meeting how I felt. I said Stubborn. (She laughed.) I said, Disappointed. The addict part of me wants those hits. Those doses of feeling
something other than overwhelmed with money or lack thereof. With feeling lost
as to my life’s direction or purpose. With feeling lonely, mainly.
As I begin to get some “recovery” or sense of what is
healthy behavior around relationships, I realize that the majority of my recent women
friends are actively engaged in behavior that I just don’t
identify with anymore. I just don’t have anything to say to my friend who’s
texting an unavailable dude daily. Or who just bought sex toys for a threesome. Or who is in and out
of her relationship with the phases of the moon. Which means, and has meant
for me, that several close friendships I’ve had are being let go of — are fading.
Further to the “lonely” part, as I said to my friend this morning, I haven’t been
dating for a year. I haven’t had sex in a year. I am only human. And there’s only so much I can take.
She said she gets it. She felt the same when she was going
through this work. The truth is that I’m doing inventory on my relationship
past, and I don’t want to be involved with anyone while I’m going through this
emotionally raw stuff. I don’t (really) want to use someone else to band-aid the work that I’m doing. The truth is also that I’ve finally gotten paid, and much of my financial crisis is averted, so I finally have the chance to feel a
little less stressed out.
Yes, there is only so much I can take. Luckily, I feel a
modicum more freedom right now, yes, due to money, what-the-fuck-ever to people
who say it won’t make you happy – sorry, food in my fridge makes me fucking
happy, assholes. But that release from imminent worry creates a little more
ease. That little more ease means I won’t have to reach out to false idols for
solace, false idols like the green-fade-to-brown eyes of the Bus Stop Boy.
I can do things to help me bolster and support myself, now
that I’m not as “man the battleships!” Things which will provide more
sustainable relief and support – I can reconnect with friends who aren’t stuck
in unhealthy patterns. I can finally feel the room to write and paint again.
Do I still absolutely want to just rest my head on his
shoulder and relax to the marrow of every organ in my body? YES.