The days dragged by and I was lonely. And bored. Restless, antsy, sad – any and all of those descriptors applied. I began isolating myself. Kelly had her own life and was dating a new guy who seemed pretty promising, so I didn’t want to dump my depression on her. My family…well, suffice it to say that was a tenuous situation that was still working itself out.
Who was I kidding – It was a festering wound, that’s what it was.
My mom was still furious and took my postponing the wedding as a personal affront. My sisters, of course, all had their own opinions on what I was doing and what I should do. And none of them understand why I needed to put the ceremony off for just a little bit longer.
What had I learned so far? I sprawled on my couch in the late afternoon sun and stared at the ceiling. What had I gained to make this endeavor worthwhile? Had I learned anything?
Well…I guess I learned that Brian had created his perfect little world by finally believing he deserved the love Janie gave him. Maybe that’s where my wedding troubles lay. Could it be that I didn’t think I was worthy of Jamie’s love and that’s why I was doubting it was real?
I learned that Doug was even more of a nightmare than I had remembered. Was there a lesson there? I frowned. If there was, it was drowned out by my disgust. Maybe it had something to do with trial and error being essential on the path to happiness? Or that you had to kiss some frogs before you found your prince?
Either way, if I never saw Doug again, it would be too soon.
My musings were interrupted by a ping from my phone. I assumed it was my dad checking in and, to be honest, I didn’t even want to talk to him right now. He was the only one who had been supportive, and he was a wonderful human being, but…Well, he loved my mom, too, and she was with him 24/7 and was able to put some serious pressure on him. I was fairly certain the contact was a reconnaissance mission assigned by my mother.
You know, to see if I had come to my senses.
The phone pinged again and I picked it up with the intention of muting it. But I glanced at the screen and was shocked to see the message was not from my father.
It was from Chris.
Hey – just checking in. How are you doing?
A warmth spread through my chest and I scootched into a sitting position. I had not been expecting to hear from him. Like, ever again. But it wasn’t unwelcome.
Hi! I’m okay. What are you up to?
I watched as the little typing bubble appeared and disappeared several times. Well, that wasn’t good. That was a sign of someone self-editing a text multiple times because he didn’t know what to say. That sent my neurotic brain spiraling: Was my text too vague? Did he think I was boring? Was he contacting me to tell me some bad news? Had he talked to Jamie? The suspense was NOT good for me.
Finally, an actual text came through.
Want to get a drink? Or food? Or go for a walk or whatever?
I didn’t know what to make of that. I could definitely use some of his positive energy, but the indecisiveness of the request gave me a bad feeling. Like he was going to give me some devastating news. But I found that I really wanted to see him.
YES. Please. Where and when?
His reply was immediate, no hesitant bubble this time.
How’s now at Rudy’s? My treat.
I looked down at my yoga pants and grungy sweatshirt. Uh…
You’re on! Give me 30 minutes?
Already dashing to the bathroom for a quick shower, I had to double back to see his response.
Perfect. See you soon!
On a Wednesday night, Rudy’s was pretty empty. It wasn’t ever too crowded or rowdy even at the busiest times, but I could count the other patrons on one hand. A jukebox was playing a romantic country tune just loud enough to hear without having to battle it for conversation.
Chris was already standing at the bar, a frosty mug in each hand. His face lit up when I walked in and, I had to admit, my heart palpitated a bit. He led me to a table in a corner, away from the bar, where we could have a little privacy.
“Thanks for coming, Lexi,” he said, kissing me on the cheek. “I just needed to get out for a bit.”
I blushed at the affectionate gesture. “I’m glad you suggested it. I’ve basically been languishing in my apartment for days. I was about to start breaking shit just for something to do!”
He laughed and his dimples came out in full force. We sat quietly for a minute or two, just sipping our drinks and looking around. He commented on the jukebox song and I asked him about his son and then we fell silent again.
Finally, Chris leaned back and asked me, “What’s up with you and Jamie? Your wedding? Did you find what you were looking for?”
“Uh, I don’t know.” I shrugged. “There’s nothing new, I guess. Still in a holding pattern.”
“Have you and Jamie talked about it?”
I trailed my finger around the rim of the mug and avoided eye contact.
“I haven’t talked to him since…well, since the night you and I had dinner.”
Had it been that long? After Jamie and I met, I hadn’t gone more than twenty-four hours without talking to him at least once. He told me not to call, so I hadn’t called.
He hadn’t, either.
Chris nudged my foot under the table to get my attention, since my mind had wandered far away. “And…?’ he prompted.
“And nothing. He came over. When he left in the morning he told me not to call him until we could start planning the wedding again. So…we haven’t talked since.” Saying it out loud made it feel exponentially more pathetic.
He cocked his head and frowned. “That has to be hard on you.”
I didn’t know what to say. Yes, this was my doing. I started this, I postponed the wedding, I hurt Jamie and everyone else. Most likely, no one had any sympathy for me – and I couldn’t blame them. But that didn’t mean I didn’t feel like trash about it, or that I wasn’t devastated by my own indecision.
But Chris looking at me with such concern and worrying about how I was feeling brought tears to my eyes. I shrugged. He reached out and covered my hand with his and – god damnit – that opened the floodgates.
“Oh, Lexi, I’m so sorry.”
Shaking my head, I waved him off and swiped at my cheeks.
“Don’t feel sorry for me, Chris,” I scoffed. “I brought this on myself and have no one but myself to blame.”
He leaned across the table, keeping his voice low. “If you weren’t ready – for whatever reason – you had every right to call it off. You shouldn’t marry someone out of a sense of obligation.”
I stopped mid-sniffle and just stared at Chris. Damnit. God damnit, why wasn’t he a jerk? I needed him to be a jerk at that moment and he was not meeting my expectations.
I drained my beer, slamming it on the table a little harder than I meant to, dragging the back of my hand across my mouth. I was suddenly feeling antsy and, truth be told, like I wanted to do something a little wild. Leaning forward, my hand on Chris’s arm, I gave him a wicked grin.
“Wanna get out of here?”