decaf coffee. july 7th.

(so i wrote this at kit's, forgetting i'd already written out the original night of coffee talk. i left all of this out of that post, so i decided to leave it here. just understand that it's flash back, then flash forward...)

so, i did it. i spent the day running around town, and surrounding burbs, piecing together the perfect outfit.

i hadn't eaten the first three days i was home, due to nerves and anticipation of finally asking this boy the question.


non-date night.

thing was, i had lost about fifteen pounds before going home, thanks to st. atkins. and when the night was finally there, i had it:

black bustier. skinny jeans. sexy underthings. new black flats. and the last minute shrug that aubree helped me find at the last possible minute.

he called me while we were paying for the shrug. aubree stayed inside while i listened to the message and played it for her, and i walked outside to call him back.

mom had helped me find the bustier. mom and aubree helped me into and out of things in the store, looking for that perfect top that i just had to wear. one was impossible to get into and out of. one was sheer in the belly. one dress was entirely too short. but the bustier? like a glove.

i already had the jeans. we left from the guess store to find the shrug, but had no luck whatsoever.

went to three more stores, without luck.

found some really cute stuff in the fourth store, but everything had crocheted components. i guess it's 'in' right now, but i'm really not a fan.

the sales girl told aubree that she'd just gotten a shipment in that day, and came out carrying a little short sleeved shrug in gray, that was exactly what i wanted.

so i was feeling good. i knew what to wear.

and i'd killed enough time running around with the two of them that i didn't have time to think and worry and become increasingly nervous.

he called to say he was confused as to whether i was in town and whether we had concrete plans that night or not. but told me to let him know.

i did.

and he sounded happy and excited. and i sounded nervous, i'm sure.

but it was solid. and we agreed to meet at the time and place we'd planned originally.

i had only left myself about fifteen minutes to get showered and put together, which had seemed like a good idea at the time. but i hate being late, i am always early, and i cut it too close.

i got ready in record time, left about fifteen minutes later than i wanted. i knew i looked my personal best. i was skinnier than i'd been since high school, which made mom worry, but made me feel pretty proud of myself.

and i knew that, if he didn't love me in this particular ensemble, he never would.

i told myself a million times that it was not a date. that it was a non-date. somehow time and place and date specific, but not a date. i told myself that he had a girlfriend, or that he was gay, or that he just didn't give a shit.

but when i got into my sister's car, that all went away. i got really excited and completely sick inside. and i drove.

i didn't know specifically where i was going, but got directions from my sister, and took off.

three minutes in, i was stuck in dead stopped traffic. it was already the time i was supposed to be there, and i was a good twenty minutes away, without traffic.

so i texted him that i was stuck and sorry. there was an accident that blocked a major intersection. no one was getting by. it was torturous.

i really didn't intend to make him wait for me. i wanted every single minute he'd set aside for me, and at that point i didn't know how long i'd have him.

in setting up the non-date, i'd said that we should place a friendly wager on the outcome. my intentions were to not only FINALLY kiss him, but to kidnap him if i won. make him come with me, to my parents' pool for a starlight swim. i'd thrown my camera and my copy of heima and contact lens case in the back seat, because putting it in my purse would have been too presumptuous, and i didn't want to get my hopes up.

but i still did.

i intended to go home with him. listen to music and pillowtalk and stay the night.

mom had done the funniest thing of my life ever, handing me four condoms and warming lube just before i got ready.

for my mother to have these two things was hilarious in itself. we had a good laugh at her expense when we realized the condoms had expired back in 2004, and that they might not work. i didn't take them, but the gesture was not underappreciated.

i told her that, despite how i was dressed, i had no intentions of having sex with him. because i didn't. though i had thought about it at length to that point. at night, when i couldn't sleep.

i finally made it there. and said something to myself aloud. i'd played thao the whole way there, singing at the top of my lungs and smoking too many cigarettes, forgetting that thao and cigarettes only make my heart beat faster.

i took a deep breath. and i got out of the car. and probably said, 'here goes nothing'.

and when i walked in, he was at the bar with his ipad, talking to the bartender. a boy named chuck who fell in love with me the moment we met.

and if only coffee had looked at me with those eyes.

he stood up and hugged me.

i just realized that i am telling the story of that first night. clam jam.

back to the day at hand.

the eighth of july.

so by this point, no one thought i'd actually follow through. and luckily nina was there or i would have chickened out for the fourth time.

out to dinner with nina's family and kids, we were 45 minutes late to our own party. i was kindof embarrassed, but tried not to give her too much shit.

but we got there, and our old friends had already been catching up.

i wore the new party dress i'd bought. it was so hot outside, i was sweating into the tulle immediately. the drive was uncomfortable. but, again, i looked my best, and that was what mattered.

coffee wasn't there. and i was trying not to be concerned. and i succeeded in not texting him regarding his whereabouts. we all caught up over beers and had too many laughs.

my old friend, chalk, was there. he'd been flirting with me via facebook messages for days. about how he was going to beat me shamelessly at scrabble, which would in turn make me throw myself into his waiting arms. there were mentions of torn dresses and stains and other sexual innuendos as well, which i consistently said 'oh, stooooop.' in that flirty i-don't-really-want-you-to-stop kindof a way.

so we all talked and eventually sat down, and started to play bananagrams.

and there was a minute when someone challenged a word i'd made, so i went inside in search of a scrabble dictionary to clear my name.

and in i walk, and i find the bartender who finds it for me, and as he handed it to me, i looked up. coffee was standing in front of me.

there was probably a hello on each side. and i am already only half remembering things he said.

but he followed me outside, and i think i said something like, 'look who i found'.

and the dictionary proved that i'd in fact made up an illegitimate word. so my point was taken back from me, and then conversation started.

we had to teach coffee how to play. and i was obsessing about pieces that were falling into the cracks in the deck below the picnic table the six of us were sitting around.

i was trading one obsession for another. and i am left to believe that the tiles under the deck probably spelled out 'unrequieted', or 'numb'. but not both.

so we sat and played. and nina said something to our friend y about going inside. and i shook my head at her, quieting her desire to pull the four away from the table so that coffee and i might be left alone.

it was too soon. he'd only just arrived.

i gave him a tutorial, leaning too close and trying to let the way i smelled waft into his sensory bubble.

i tried not to take it the wrong way that he sat between brownies and chalk, instead of next to me.

he probably sensed the thing which simmered beneath the surface of my skin. i'm sure there were chemicals being released that would tip him off.

so we played and he agreed that it was a great scrabble warmup game, and asked where one might purchase it.

i'd have bought it for him and mailed it to him, if it wasn't so fucking remniscent of my past behaviors which scared him off the first time around.

so things went on. and then nina pulled y inside. brownies went to the ladies room, and chalk didn't take the hint. so nina sent brownies out for him.

and then it was just me. and coffee. and it was so obvious that i had to say something.

so i took a sick deep breath, and i did.

i told him that i was sorry. that it was obvious, and that the mass exodus was intentional, because i wanted to talk to him. and we divvied up tiles for a two person game, in an effort to make it easier on the two of us.

and i just said that i had wanted to talk to him that first night, that i was trying to talk to him when his girlfriend showed up. that i didn't want to make either of them uncomfortable, so i had left it where it was. but that i had something to say.

i couldn't look at him. just like night one. i stared at my tiles, and every couple seconds said, 'peel'. i was killing him. and he was laughing and saying things like shit and fuck and oh no as he drew tiles and fell further behind.

and i said that i was getting into it when i was talking to him about closure. that something funny happens when you're going through a divorce. that you think of relationships that ended, and ones that never started. and that he confused the shit out of me.

and i didn't gauge his reaction, because i just kept talking. and staring at my tiles, but smiling, i hope.

i said, 'i spent many nights in your bed, coffee.'

to which he said, 'i know.'

and i said, 'i just can't figure out why you never kissed me. why didn't you kiss me, coffee?'

and he kinda laughed, and said, 'we did. didn't we?'

and i said, 'no.'

and he said, 'are you sure? i really thought we did.'

and i said, 'i write everything down. trust me. you never kissed me.'

and after that, it was all 'uh's and 'um's and 'ah's.

no word that would work in scrabble. just sounds of confusion and the feeling of being completely and entirely caught off guard.

i didn't expect it. he certainly didn't expect it.

and though i didn't want to feed him options or excuses, i couldn't ask any follow up questions either.

he said that it was hard to talk and play at the same time. and i finished my board, and said that i knew.

and then his phone rang. the girl has a sixth sense for my conversations, apparently. he told me it was her, and got up to talk to her on the phone. he didn't walk far, but paced, and i caught pieces of the conversation. something about how she was going home after work, and he'd be home around midnight. that he didn't feel like doing anything that night.

it was technically his birthday, at midnight. i assume she was trying to drag him out to celebrate. but he wasn't up for it.

and then everyone came back out. it had been fifteen minutes or so of us being alone, interrupted by his gf.

and then they were back. and everyone was looking expectantly at me. but he was right there, on the phone. and i just kept saying 'later'. and probably, 'it's done'.

and also, 'thank you' to nina.

so everyone knew what had happened, only they didn't know what had actually happened.

which was a huge pile of mumbling nothingness.

and he got off the phone and came back. and the thing was, i felt like my conversation with him had sucked all the energy out of the group. that nothing was the same fun it had been before the mass exodus.

and it made me really sad. everything was so fun until i did it.

and until he said nothing to make me feel like all that thinking for thirteen years had been justified.

and then it was almost midnight and it was last call for this particular bar.

we only talked after that. no one played words or anything. we just sat around. they were closing, we were the only people there, besides two lone people inside at the bar.

so we went in to close our tabs.

and then it was midnight. and nina started singing the tmbg birthday song to coffee. chalk and i joined in. and everyone in the bar, all ten or so of us, stared at coffee, while he beamed a birthday boy smile.

and when the song ended, i said, 'happy birthday, coffee.' because i wanted, sickly, to be the first person to officially tell him happy birthday.

and he smiled and thanked us. and started saying goodbye to everyone.

i grabbed a cigarette and my purse in an effort to walk him to his car. i wanted to smooth it out. apologize if i made him uncomfortable. tell him that i hope it wouldn't change his willingness to be my friend and the biggest advocate of my moving home.

but he spun on his heel, as he is such an expert at doing, and bailed quickly out the door. leaving me standing there. shocked and overly prepared for absolutely nothing.

and maybe no one noticed. but i was stunned. robbed. yet again.

coffee did what he does. he took all the confessions and knowlege. and he gave nothing back to me. absolutely fucking NOTHING. not one coherent word. not one word that acknowleged what i'd said. not an 'i didn't because'. or an 'i wanted to.' or 'i've thought about it, too.'

not. one. thing.

and that was it.

as far as he was concerned.

what happened next is one for the books.

chalk asked what we were doing. i'd invited everyone back for a midnight swim.

he was the only one to actually take me up on it.

he followed nina and i home.

my sister and kit had been blowing up her phone all night for the details of the coffee talk.

she had messaged kit that it was done and that he thought we'd kissed and said nothing else. and called my sister. repeating the story i'd just told before pulling out of the parking lot.

i was driving. but i was completely dazed. i'd had a beer too many. i didn't want to have to drive, not because i was too drunk to. but because i was so out of it, from the buildup and release and lack of response.

and i drove and listened to her telling aubree the story. completely numb. i couldn't get over it. i wasn't crying. i expected to be heartbroken. i wasn't. i felt NOTHING.

and it was a shock.

he'd somehow come up with an answer i hadn't even thought of. or prepared myself for.

the only thing that made me feel better was that he thought he'd kissed me on one of those summer/fall nights, and was still hanging out with me, despite that combined with having a live-in girlfriend.

but hearing my own story told while i was driving just blew my mind.

it was like experiencing my life in the third person. because there was no feeling inside of me to make it first person.

and i drove past the woodlands, where my ghost died. and that felt real for a second. but not even that could bring tears. i'd blown him a kiss across the passenger seat when i had passed it earlier in my vacation, driving alone.

i don't know. somehow i didn't let a car get between chalk's car and ours. and made it home without crashing, despite the daze.

and nina got off the phone.

we pulled up in front of her parents' house to get her suitcase for our flight the next day.

chalk and i talked in the driveway, smoking, about relationships and writing. i asked what he'd been doing for work, and with girls, and for fun.

nina and her mom came out with her bags in tow, and we drove to my place.

this is where i'll split off.

because up until this point, i felt nothing. but immediately after this, i felt something. i felt something that felt really good. and i felt something that i didn't know that i was capable of feeling. and it kinda broke me. and now i am not the same.

and maybe it was coffee's fault. maybe he set me up for this. maybe my disappointment was only hiding beneath the numbness.

but what happened next was the opposite. it was intense. it was good. it was fun.

all of the things that coffee's response was not.

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