Sunday, May 16, 2010

11. No regrets

Cayden knows the Casey story. He actually just read it all again, in that last post. Yes, Cayden reads this blog. So does Casey. It's a little hard writing about these things sometimes, knowing that they now know what was going through my head at the time. Cayden can't stand the thought of me being with someone like Casey in the past. Casey can't stand that I was with someone like him in the past. But really, I can't say I have any regrets about it. I mean, sure, no one wants to date a woman beater, but that experience added a layer to me that I didn't have before. It's part of what plays into who I am today.
The first time I told Cayden that story, it was that night on the roof, before the base running. I know what you're thinking, "You talked about your abusive 'ex' on your first date?!!" Yes. I did. We talked about everything that night. And it didn't feel weird. Usually when I'm out on a date with a guy and he even brings up a past relationship, red flag no doubt about it. But that night wasn't like a first date. It was like a first, second, third. It was like talking to someone I'd been talking to for months and months. And when he left, those discussions only intensified. That's the funny thing about long-distance relationships: The physical aspect is completely removed, so all you can do is talk. People say sex changes everything. They couldn't be more right. If we lived in the same state, we'd make out instead of date, have sex instead of talk. But what I had with Cayden was completely different. He knew me better than I anyone else. I didn't even talk to my mom as much as I talked to Cayden. And if you know me, you know that's saying a lot.
After a month or so, Cayden started talking about flying back out here to visit me. He wanted to come here in December. He wanted me to think of all the romantic things people do in NYC, so we could do them together. Before this particular email, the romantic things in NYC made me want to vom. Ice skating in Bryant Park? A carriage ride through Central Park? None of this appealed to me. But when I thought about doing these things with Cayden, my gag reflex calmed.
I was still dating Jon, but losing interest as the days passed. We hung out less and less. I ignored his calls now and then. I tried to picture myself ice skating with Jon. My stomach turned. Romance with Jon, or any other guy I'd dated for that matter, made me queasy. Will (my best friend turned boyfriend in college) was a romantic. He'd bring me flowers on a date. Write me sweet notes in a Valentines card. One day, I had stayed the night and we decided to take a shower together at his place. This took a lot of convincing, because bathroom lights are harsh, and being fully naked in front of someone under such bright lights almost caused an anxiety attack. I wanted to jump in before him, lather up in soap, and then invite him in. He turned on the dim light. Being the romantic that he was, he lit an incense and had lavender-scented body wash waiting for me. I knew he had put a lot of thought into this, and I appreciated the detail. But when I was in the shower, he was lathering me up, it suddenly felt so hot. The water was too hot. Knowing he was in there as well made it too hot. I felt like the incense was burning everything around me. Was I on fire? I suddenly felt like I was going to pass out.
"Sorry, I need a second."
I stepped out of the shower and sat on the toilet, bar- ass naked, closed my eyes and put my head between my knees. Don't pass out. Don't pass out. The smell of the incense burned my nostrils. I remember being so frustrated with myself that I couldn't fully enjoy his passionate gestures. Other girls would kill for this. Will was someone who would do anything for me. Before we were even together he'd take care of me if I was sick, take me to the doctor, then go fill my prescription. He was just the absolute sweetest guy. To this day I know I'll never meet someone as caring and giving as Will. He was perfect, but not for me. We broke up a year and a half ago, and he found his perfect match. He's blissfully happy, and I can't explain how happy that makes me.
But when I think about these things with Cayden, it's different. I could easily see myself ice skating with him, even if that meant falling on the ice and permanently bruising my tailbone, as long as we could laugh about it over hot chocolate afterwards.
My days became consumed with researching romantic things to do in NYC. I knew for sure that I wanted to take him to Aqua Santa, this beautiful Italian restaurant with the perfect outdoor patio. It was a few blocks away from my apartment in Brooklyn, and it was perfect. There was a fireplace outside, and twinkle lights and (probably fake) grapevines lined the ceiling. The chairs and tables looked antique, white iron with teal cushions. I couldn't think of anything but being in front of that fireplace with Cayden, sipping red wine under the twinkle lights, talking about life.
And then take a shower with him.

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