I was laying in bed the other morning, my face nestled into my boyfriend’s armpit where it feels most at home, when he called me a dinosaur.
I’ll go back a bit. We were talking about our feelings, as we sometimes do. He said that sometimes my love for him is frightening. He explained that his love for me is like this little…fluttering butterfly. Whereas my love for him is more like….a pterodactyl. A giant leathery sharp-toothed flying predator.
I wasn’t sure how to take this.
So I got up and showered, got dressed, got ready for work. As I was putting on my eyeliner he poked his head into the bathroom and asked “still like me?” I appreciate that he worries about these things, even though it’s obvious that I love him like pterodactyls loved the Mesozoic era. I rolled my eyes as well as I could with a black stick drawing on one of them, and said of course. “But you’re pissed” he insisted. He likes to fish for drama. Or maybe he’s just used to it and so assumes it’s always lurking under the surface, like a crocodile waiting to jump out and chomp the gently lapping doe of my naturally calm demeanor.
“I’m not pissed. There’s nothing to be pissed about. I’m just in a hurry.” And it’s true – I wasn’t pissed. But I was thinking. When I’m thinking I suppose I might look like I’m darkly brooding.
In fact, nothing about our morning would have pissed me off at all if, as we were leaving, he hadn’t said “I know what you’re doing. I know what’s going on here. You’re thinking ‘if he doesn’t want me, I’ll find someone that does,’ and that’s why you’re getting yourself all dolled up for work.”
Let me say here that I work in a shop which ushers a never-ending stream of babies, kids, and tired mothers in and out of the doors all day. There are exactly one and a half married dad customers who come in approximately once every 5 months. It’s not like I’m a bartender at Hooters or anything, is my point. Also, I was wearing jeans and a torn plaid shirt. No fancy makeup or hooker hair, no glittery ball gown.
So this comment did annoy me. But as I said, I have a naturally calm demeanor in general, so I just said “no, that is not what’s happening here. First of all, I’m not ‘dolled up,’ and second of all, I’m not thinking that. I don’t do shit like that. I’m not that girl.”
That’s also true – I’m not that girl. I strongly dislike drama, I don’t play games. I like speaking directly, but after some thought. Sometimes I get passive-aggressive because I can’t make sense of those thoughts, but everyone has to have something.
On my drive to work I started wondering how many times I’ve said that phrase – I’m not that girl – since I started dating, post-divorce. I’ll admit that I come to the table with some quirks and baggage. But I think my baggage is carry-on sized, I don’t have to check it. This wasn’t always the case – I used to have a lot of hard-shelled luggage. But after my last major relationship I took some time and sorted through a lot of it. There were some smelly old tennis shoes in there that I’d been carrying around ‘just in case’ I decided to go on a run. On vacation. Garbage! And how many sweaters did I really need? All hotels come with their own hair dryers now. I dumped out all of the old pieces, awkwardly shaped souvenirs and unnecessary bulk that I’d been hauling around since my childhood. Pulling a skippy little carry-on with a book tucked into my purse was a huge relief – I’m not sure how I managed to drag all that other stuff around for so long without breaking myself.
So anyway, I understand that everyone has their ‘thing’. Or their ‘things’, plural. With dating, this became all the more apparent. While dealing with my own issues and however they work or don’t with another person and their issues, I realized that I also have to undo – or at least find a way around – all the damage that whoever that person dated before me caused with whatever her weird bullshit was. Christ on ice, what a job.
My scaly feathers were ruffled as I drove to work. What the hell kind of a comment is that – ‘I’ll find someone who does want me’? I thought. So stupid. Then I remembered the whole baggage thing. I wondered who I was challenging in this scenario. Which woman in his past had made him feel that he was easily replaceable? Jeez! Thinking about wanting to replace this kind, attentive, sexy-as-thunder, thoughtful, hilarious man was a completely foreign concept that I didn’t even bother trying to wrap my head around. And that isn’t just because he can fix or build pretty much anything, which is a significant bonus.
In fact, I realized that from the first time I’d laid eyes on him – sitting all hunched over his notebook next to the dark brick wall of the coffee shop, looking nervously focused, then looking up and meeting my glance, smiling for a second – no one else had even crossed my mind. All of the good stuff that kept coming when I least expected it was just pure luck.
I waited a few days until we had an opportunity to speak in person again. I told him he was crackhead crazy if he thought I had eyes for anyone but him. I told him “You. Are. My. Man.” and that he should stop being a girl and saying stupid things. “I don’t play those games” I said, “they make me very weary.” He nodded and agreed that, in hindsight, I’d been a very drama-free girlfriend so far.
“That’s right,” I told him as we walked along slowly, arm in arm. Then I leaned in and said quietly, while smiling because there were people around, “and don’t fucking forget it, or I will seriously cut you, little butterfly. I’m not kidding.” I stopped and turned him toward me. “Now kiss me baby,” I said. “I love you.”