Monday, March 13, 2006

Of Heartache and Hanks

For all my cynicism, my running around with inappropriate men and treating them like tissue to be used and discarded, there's a part of me deep down that's a total romantic. And it is true, I have been known to fall in love, even at first sight once.

These transitional times, when you're uprooting yourself, making major changes, have a tendency to bring drama out. Suddenly nothing is status quo anymore, and people take action on stuff they would have let lie indefinitely without the shakeup. (yes, I will clean up this post later to get rid of cliches and bad writing, I promise.)

Over a year ago, a new guy started in the office upstairs from mine. We met while he was being taken on a tour of the building, and there was an instant spark. I can't explain it, but you know what I'm talking about anyway. A shared look, a smile you can't hide, a flip in the pit of your stomach. Later, we ran into each other on the PATH train, and talked and flirted as much as being surrounded by coworkers would allow. I wanted to invite him to PubNight, but we were interrupted by a coworker before I had a chance, and then we were at his stop.

And then I didn't see him for months. We don't work together, we had no reason to run into each other, and our paths never happened to cross.

Last August, the editor of the office upstairs quit, and I went to his goodbye party. And this guy was there (see, I don't even have a nickname for him!). After a little bit of proper party behavior, us both talking first to the editor and then with his friends, we eventually settled deeply into rudeness by only talking to each other.

For hours. We closed down the party.

We talked about career goals and our families, his father's death and my sick grandmother, running training -- everything from silly to deeply personal. We played questions and held nothing back. And he asked for my phone number, and very properly asked if he could call me to take me out soon. He even offered to run my September race with me, to keep me company and help me stay motivated.

We dismissed the fact that we worked together, because we didn't really work together. I tried to ignore that he's in sales, a field I'm always suspicious of, and that he was saying exactly what every woman wants to hear. We kissed outside the bar, but agreed that it shouldn't go any further, because we wanted to do it right and get to know each other, not hook up randomly and never see each other again. We promised we'd visit each other more often in the office, but we'd have to be professional and try not to distract each other when we were busy. And he took a picture of us together that is so cute I still have it on my digital camera. I'd love to show you, but you know I never put my face on this blog. Trust me, we look really happy.

I left the bar, and half an hour later got a sweet text message from him, which I gushed over, saved, and showed to all my friends.

In the following days, we e-mailed and IMed a bit, but nothing magical. And I was crazed with the work situation that was the first step in my ultimate decision to leave the company.

Then I got the call that my grandmother was dying (though she didn't until months later), and I had to leave for Chicago right away. I e-mailed him to explain, his response was tepid. I figured he had played me after all, and when I got back from Chicago I tried to let it go.

But I couldn't, not really. On the rare occasions when I did see him around the building, my stomach would leap. I tried very hard to ignore him and avoided going up to his office. It was childish, but I had work to do, and he distracted me no matter how hard I tried.

After he smiled at me in the hall one day, I IMed him "damn you for still having such a cute smile. not fair" and then immediately logged off, not wanting to give him a chance to not respond and break my heart.

That was the last I said to him, though my stomach still flipped on the rare occasions when I saw him around the building. His friend who I met on that same night in August, however, I had no problems talking to, and chatted amiably with every time I saw him.

Said friend had heard about my goodbye party and promised to be there.

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