I was ten minutes away from leaving for my date with Boss when he answered.
I was wearing dark blue strappy sandals, my new frilly yellow halter dress that exposed more of my back (and my front) than I liked, but which Molly and Sarah both insisted I wear anyway, and some small dangly earrings with blue stones. I left my hair down in soft waves around my shoulders, since I was walking to the restaurant.
I never left my hair down, and I felt a little exposed. At that moment I considered tying it back, putting on my bike helmet and biking over to meet Boss instead, but I knew Boss must have picked a restaurant near me so I wouldn’t have to. So my eyes wandered away from my helmet.
But when I picked up my phone to drop it in my purse, I saw I had a new text from Ian and I swear my heart reflexively started beating at three times its normal rate. I was a little afraid I was going to leave giant sweat stains on my new dress and be a sobbing wreck before I left the apartment. His text said, “I don’t think I’m up for meeting you in Portland.”
I wrote him back immediately, even though my hands were trembling, even though my brain filter wasn’t working at that moment. “Please? I want to see you. I’m very sorry.”
My phone pinged again. “Sorry for what?”
“For everything. For not talking about things.”
For going out with your brother even though I think about you about ten times every hour. For breaking up with you when I didn’t really want to. For not calling sooner. For being so afraid. But the list was too long, and I was supposed to leave for my date. I wrote, “For not telling you about why I don’t like to drive.”
My phone pinged back one word. “Oh.”
That was it? That was all he was going to say? Was that the last word I would ever see from him, addressed to me. I felt a nausea growing in my stomach and all I wanted to do was climb under my covers and sob at that very second, but instead, with my very poor manners, I texted Boss. “Not feeling well. Rain check?”
And again my phone pinged. It wasn’t Ian. It was Boss. He wrote, “Can I come over?”
Oh god. This time I put my phone down, flipped off my sandals and crawled into bed. This was hell. I was messing everything up with everyone. Why couldn’t I listen to my instincts and be a nun, or maybe that crazy cardigan-n-cats lady? That was something I could do. This? Dating someone like Boss, being open with someone like Ian? These are things I couldn’t do.
My phone pinged again and I reached out for it on the bed spread and looked at it.
Ian wrote, “I miss you.” Then a minute later he wrote, “OK. Are you coming to Portland this weekend?”
This was the worst text of all. There was still hope. “Yes. You’ll meet me?”
“Yes.” It was just one word, but I sobbed.
Yes, I still didn’t muck things up? Why? Whatever the reason, I was so, so glad I abruptly canceled with Boss. For lack of having something else to hug, I hugged my little phone, then myself. Then I jumped up and down. I was crying, but I couldn’t remember feeling happier.
Then my phone pinged one more time.
“Buzz me up. At your front door.” I let a small gasp of panic escape for being such a royal screw-up. And then I straightened my dress, and buzzed him up.