The New M.E. Generation

I never saw Brian again after that beach day. We did stay in touch, though, but our communications, either through the mobile or text messages, continued to be brief.

If we ever talked on the phone, the conversations were now an average of no more than three minutes.

It got me really frustrated because I couldn’t say anything else past the initial ‘small talk.’ Every time I really wanted to say something I felt needed to express, he would cut me off short before I could actually say it.

I once again vented out my frustrations over the phone with Madelyn.

“So what’s up with the firefighter?” she asked.

“There’s nothing to talk about that, because ‘nothing’ is all I have in regards to him,” I answered.

I briefed her on everything and she expressed how sorry she was.

“It’s better now than later that ‘nothing’ had happened.” I expressed.

Madelyn then threw me a curve ball like she does from time to time.

“Do you like this guy?” she then asked.

“It doesn’t matter if I do or not. Whatever I feel, I will make it go away, the same way I erased the feelings I had for my ‘x’ when he left me,” I responded.

“Again, I’m so sorry it didn’t work out,” said Madelyn sadly.

She then threw another pitch that really hit home.

“I have a feeling you will miss him,” she said.

“If you only knew…(how much I do already)” is all I could say.

And as I did before, I’ll try not to miss him, or keep staring endlessly at my phone waiting for his call, or wonder if I’ll ever see him again.

Yes, I’ll try.

I’ll try, really hard.

It was a beautiful day to be at the beach, but, unfortunately, too windy.

Brian decided to check out the waves before considering bringing along his surfboard. He had a suspicion they would not be good enough to surf. He was right; there were some waves thanks to the wind, but not to surf.

What the wind had created though, was a strong current that made it very uninviting to get into the water. In my opinion, only people who really knew how to tackle a situation like this, like Brian, shouldn’t even think about trying to go for a swim or anything else.

With no possibility of surfing, we both sat on our towels and started talking. The topic revolved again when we got involved with our ex ‘significant others.’ He felt that perhaps we were too young to have gotten into a serious relationship, and that our marriages were a mistake.

I partially agreed with him that maybe I was too young and didn’t know better, but a mistake?

Back then I was very confident in my decision of marrying my ‘x.’ I thought he was ‘the one’ and that our marriage would last.

Looking at it now, I ask myself this: was I ‘so in love’ that I was blind to those clues that could have greatly predicted back then the outcome that it had?

If the relationship had occurred when I was older, would I still have ended up marrying him?

The true question is, what has remained from my marriage? Is there anything worth remembering or keeping for the future? No, not really.

Some time later Brian decided to go for a swim and then jog back to where we were. I remained there seated in the towel, watching him swim away, and sadness engulfed me like other times.

I asked myself again, what would remain from this experience with Brian? Probably the memory of that day when I took the drive to the station to find him again and when he helped me when my car got towed.

Anything else? No, not really.

I’m waiting outside my building for Brian to pick me up when I start hearing music getting louder and louder by the second. (Hum, I wonder what the tide is bringing in?) Sure enough, it was he.

He drove in exactly like when my car got towed, with all the windows down and the music so loud, you could hear it blocks down. I even think his car was vibrating.

Brian then lowered the music. “Wassup??”
I’m still standing there completely frozen. He’s wearing a t-shirt with a beach related theme, a cap backwards, and sunglasses that surely personify a ‘surfer dude.’ I also noticed a surfboard on the back of his SUV.

Oh, my! If my friends could only see me now, what would they say?
Madelyn: “Move your hiney and get in the car, now!
Dina: “I want full details of everything that happens.”
George: “I’ve already alerted the DC secret service in case their services are needed.”
Mark: “Sounds to me like you will be surfing more than just waves today…”

I’m afraid of getting into the car. I then felt Madelyn’s presence again when something pushed me from my back and made me finally board the ‘surf mobile.’

“Hey, great to see you again,” is all I could say.
“Ready to catch some waves??” he asked sounding still very hyper.
“Guess so…”
“Let’s go for it then, yeah!”

So off we went to the beach. I don’t know why, but I’m feeling uneasy. Something doesn’t feel quite right and I can’t put it into words.

It’s sad to think how wonderful my re-encounter with him was and today’s one is not exactly that.

But, you know what? I promised myself I wouldn’t take it personal, and I’m sticking with that. I’m just going to enjoy this day, and whatever will be, will be.

For the next I don’t know how many days, or weeks I believe, Brian and I contacted each other either by phone or text messages.

His communications, though, were very brief. If we spoke, the conversations lasted an average of 5 minutes or less, with ‘to the point’ remarks such as, “here, helping my kids with their homework,” “doing laundry,” “working on my boat,” which were usually followed by “got to let you go; talk to you later.”

His texting had been even briefer with messages like ‘working,’ ‘very busy,’ or ‘trying to put my kids to sleep.’

In other words, it was like when I didn’t hear from him after the networking event: he’s nowhere to be found.

I know I told Madelyn ‘I wouldn’t loose sleep over it,’ but I’m feeling irritated. I know it has nothing to do with me, but it still sucks.

Even worse, he never took me snorkeling and every time I spoke with him and his kids were around, I was getting the feeling he was doing it away from them.

I decided to ‘put it to rest’ and come to term with it when, sure enough, Brian called.

“Want to go to the beach and hang there for a while? I think I might even be able to catch some waves,” he said while sounding very wired.
(I’m getting scared.)
“You know what I did this morning??” (Do I want to know?) He continued sounding even more hyper.
(Please, no more bombs getting dropped on me!)
“I shaved my head!”
(Oh yes it did!)
“…Why?” is all I could formulate.
“Well, I’ve been cutting my hair very short with my own razor, and I decided to take it all off and see how it looked,” he continued.
(Now that’s a sight to see.)

I’m still holding my phone in shock over what I just heard, and nothing crosses my mind.

“It’s crazy, but I feel great! YEAH!” he then said.
(Yipee, the ‘surfer dude’ has returned.)

“Get your stuff ready, I’m picking you in about 30 minutes or so.”
“O…K…” is all I could say.
“By the way, do you surf??” he asked.
“No; scuba, snorkeling and boogey boards, yes.”
“I’ll teach you! Don’t worry, you’re in good hands (am I?). I was previously a lifeguard.”
(So the part-time ‘surfer dude’ and full-time firefighter was formerly ‘Baywatch’? Oh my! Is there anything else I need to be, or not to be, aware of?)

I know Madelyn told me I needed to get my adventurous side active again, but Brian’s ‘surfer dude’ persona has gotten me nervous. It’s like a whole different person had suddenly emerged in front of me.

I need to throw her another lifeline, a.k.a., have another girl chat.

I’m whining for about 5 minutes or so over the phone when she abruptly stops me in my tracks. “Emma! Just get your stuff, and yourself, together and go!! Call me later regardless if an adventure happens or not.”

She left me speechless like she always manages to do.

“I think…I can… do…that. Bye!” I concluded.

I called Madelyn the next day.

“Girl, I’m so proud of you!!” she said excited while clapping her hands over the phone. “What a day you had though. It was quite an adventure, that’s for sure,” she continued.

“So… when are you seeing him again?” she then asked.

“We didn’t agree on anything. To be honest with you, I’m taking a totally different approach with this one, meaning that if he doesn’t resurface again like the others, I’m not going to loose sleep over it,” I explained.

“Seems to me like you gave up on him already,” she added.

“No, it’s just… I don’t know… Let’s say that I will be content for having had the courage of looking and finding him again. It may have all happened in only one day, but the memories will last a lifetime, and that’s fine with me,” I concluded.

A few days later Brian called to invite me to have breakfast at his place. I was very delighted and, this time, the ride to his place was not bad at all.

Once again he did most of the talking, which shifted, again, to that of being divorced. I didn’t mind him saying more than I would; I’ve been rambling about mine for quite too long and felt it was time for me to put it aside.

The conversation was going well until what I had dreaded the most could occur, happened: the bomb got dropped on me (again).

“I am very careful of the women I introduce to my kids,” was the bomb Brian dropped with no idea of the internal turmoil it had created inside of me.

I remained there seated, looking at him, but everything else he said did not register in my mind. It was like a bad dream where you see the other person, but you can’t recall what they said. All I could do to resolve my crisis was trying to define what he meant.

OK, let’s approach this like back in the days during Biology class – let’s dissect it! Then after analyzing and studying the sentence, the next step is to choose the best answer from the ‘Multiple-Choice’ paragraph, which are:

a. Any possible love candidate has got to be too good to be true to impress me and possibly be part of my life.
b. Like the Calvin Klein jeans commercial, ‘Nothing comes between me and my Calvin,’ which in this case, it means ‘me and my kids.’
c. I have no time whatsoever for myself, even less for a relationship, and I’m using my kids as an excuse.
d. No woman will ever be able to win my kid’s heart and, therefore, mine as well.
e. All of the above.

The good feeling I’ve had acquired with my re-encounter with Brian quickly disappeared. The vibe I was now feeling was that nothing was going to happen, not even a friendship.

I mean, let’s get real.

To make relationships of any kind happen, one has to dedicate time to them. Even more, you have to let people into your lives and show them what’s attached to you, even kids, to allow others to see you for what you really are.

On top of that, if you’re expecting a love extraordinaire, I’ll guarantee you that you’re in line for a disappointment because, you know why, no one will ever be good enough for you.

Like the expression in Spanish which wraps this up pretty much, ‘El que mucho escoge, escoge nada.’ (Those who choose the most choose nothing.)

And what’s my answer to this multiple choice? Like option ‘e,’ ‘All of the above.’

I followed Brian yet again to his apartment. This time I didn’t mind taking the long way to get there. I needed to unwind and take my emotions to a better place while driving.

But, wait, there’s more. I also don’t want to drive at a speed that will now get me pulled over by the police and get a ticket or something.

I was very relieved to arrive back at Brian’s place. We got our beers and sat on the same couch which hours earlier we were surfing the net. I’m still sporting my not so happy face, but it got better along the way.

“C’mon Emma, I want to see you smile!” Brian says while putting his hand on my shoulder and shaking me like he was mixing a drink. I looked at him, laughed at myself, and finally smiled.

Can you believe it? Here I was, still shaken from the incident, sitting next to the ‘surfer dude.’ He who, in my opinion, have had it worst with his divorce than I did, totally at ease and relaxed, with no shed of stress.

Now that’s a gift! Why can’t I be that way as well? Could I? Will I? What is it that’s holding me back of accomplishing this?

Brian and I are close to each other with our feet up on the coffee table in front of the couch and our hands are resting on our knees. He’s at my left. Out of nowhere, I shifted my vision to his hand and moved mine to place it below his.

“I’m happy to have found you again,” I said.
“I’m glad you did,” he answered.
I’m still looking at our hands.
“I hope that at least you stay around to be my friend,” I said.
“Of course I’ll be your friend.”
And then, without giving it any thought, I moved my hand and held his.
“That would be nice,” I concluded.
He held my hand in return and that felt even nicer.

I’m still looking at our hands locked together and finally exhaled. My bad mood left me and all I could feel was serenity. It was as if his energy had managed to put me at ease.

As for what remains of this long day, I’m not going to wonder what’s in store for me regarding Brian. Having him as a friend is just enough of a good start.

Wherever life takes me regarding this friendship or whatever might happen later, I’m simply not going to stress over it.

And that’s the way it will be.

I don’t know how long I waited for his arrival, but it felt endless. He finally appeared and, true to his ‘surfer dude’ demeanor, he’s driving with the car windows down and playing music so loud, it could be heard blocks down.

He puts the volume down and I get in the car. I have a face that reads ‘my life sucks big time.’ On the other hand, he has a big smile on his face like we were instead heading to the beach to catch some waves.

“Wassup Emma?”

“Hey” is all I could say with the long ‘unhappy camper’ face I had.

The thing here is that my car had been leased just a few months back and I am very attached to it. My vehicle is like an extension of my personality to the point that I don’t let other people drive it unless necessary or I allow it to happen. The thought of a total stranger taking it away feels like a part of me went away with it as well.

“Oh c’mon, it’s not that bad!” Brian said. I kept looking at him with my pissed off face and made no additional comments.

Brian puts his face closer to mine and said, “You’re not taking this very well are you?” while laughing and opening his blue eyes as wide as possible.

I then turned my face and looked forward to finally speak my first full sentence since stepping into the car. “I need to get home first to get cash to pay. They’re not accepting credit cards at this time of the night.”

So off we went to make a first stop at my apartment to retrieve money I have saved in case this type of situation ever occurred to me.

We then continued to locate the tow-trucking company, which was located in an area I’ve definitely never been for how ghetto looking it was.

We get off the car at the company and I could see my car parked inside the lot through the gate. I’m so glad to see it! It’s as if it had been abducted and I’m finally rescuing it.

I took care of all the corresponding paperwork and payment. I then checked that there were no scratches or damages to the car and then drove it out where Brian was parked.

I rolled down my window. “Thanks so much, I appreciate it enormously,” I said to him.

“So, I guess you’re going home now?” he asked.
“Actually, I could really use a drink right now if I could. I’m still in a little bit of a bad mood,” I answered.
“I got beers at my place if you’re interested.”
“Are they cold?” I asked.
“I’ll drink to that. Lead the way please,” I concluded.

“Oh, my, I didn’t realize how late in the day it was!” I completely lost track of time after chatting and surfing the net with ‘the dude’ for a few hours.

I’ve been taking this workshop at the community college once a week in the evenings, and I needed to get back home, try at least to eat something, quickly change and then head to campus before rush hour.

I explained my situation to him. “Listen, I got to go, but I’ll call you when I’m back home, ok?”

Brian gave me directions of how to get back home, and again, felt I was taking the long way. ‘There has to be an easier way around!’ I thought to myself.
After I got home, I literally gulped down some food, brushed my teeth, changed clothes, got my stuff together, and ran out the door.

I didn’t even have the chance to call Madelyn to tell her about Brian.

I got out of class sometime after 9pm and head to my car and, where is it???? My heart sank when I stood in front of the empty spot where I had parked it in the street. I looked up and realized I had put it in a tow-away zone.

I haven’t been parking in the school’s parking because I hadn’t made time to get the permit, and now it finally backfired at me.

The other unfortunate part was that there was a campaign/election rally close by and in my rush to park, didn’t took notice of the street signs.

Now, how am I getting my car back? I know I need to get to the tow-trucking company to retrieve it, but I need someone to take me there tonight. If not, I’ll have to get home on the train and walk home alone a couple of blocks. Even worse, my computer is in my briefcase, and I’m afraid of getting held up.

The only person that crosses my mind is Brian.

I don’t get a hold of him on the first call (I called several times) and left him multiple messages. While I waited desperately for him to call back, I managed to locate the transit authority office on campus.

A guy there helped me out by calling the tow-truck company, getting the address of their location, payment amount ($150), etc., when Brian returns my call.

I started crying out of sheer frustration. “My car got towed and need to get it back, I don’t have a way to get home…” I sounded like a call to 911.

“Are you ok? Are you alone??” Brian asked concerned.
“I’m fine. I just want to get my car and go home. Can you help me out?” I asked sadly and still crying.
“No problem, I’m on my way,” he said.
(Oh, how nice!)

I’m sitting alone on a bench waiting for Brian to pick me up. I’m hugging my briefcase with my chin resting on top of it like I was hanging on to dear life, and I’m feeling totally moronic.

I can’t believe that on the same day I took the adventurous road to find him again, he is now about to take me on another one to hunt down my car.

“All right, just follow me,” Brian said. He explains where he lives, but I can’t recall if I’ve ever been in that part of ‘the city’ in the 13 years I’ve lived here.

I followed him on my car and he takes a route that seemed somewhat long for me. I was hoping I wouldn’t loose track of him because, otherwise, I don’t think I would be able to find my way back home.

After a short drive later and having arrived at his place, I get a tour of his residence (like that of the fire station) in about 15 minutes or less. His apartment is a 2/1, with a kitchen, living, family room and den, with, I guess, about 1,500 sq. ft. My place is a 1/1, which I believe is not bigger than 1,000 sq. ft.

The place looked to me like a bachelor pad; not much furniture, just the essentials, and in need of adding some color to the walls (they’re white) or a design that would brighten it up a little bit.

I’m thinking what palette would look good here when Brian shows me the most ‘colorful’ room of the apartment: the den. This is the one that he calls ‘the petting zoo,’ which houses about five different reptiles, among them a snake and a lizard.

He took one by one out of their boxes and showed them to me.
“Here, touch it,” he would say.
My eyes opened wide and I putted my hands behind my back.
“Oh, c’mon, go ahead, it doesn’t bite!” he continued.
(And what is it actually capable of, if I may ask??)
I love animals like Dr. Dolittle does, but my adventurous side once again disappeared into the horizon.

I finally moved one of my hands and with just one finger, barely touched the creature.
(Yuck! It feels stone cold and rubbery. Is it dead??)
“It’s quite something,” is all I could say.
“Well, they’re really my kids. But I like them, they’re actually cool,” he concluded.
(You can say that again.)

After the mini ‘Jurassic Park’ exhibit was over, he showed me his other new acquisition, a laptop computer. ‘Now that’s something I can put my fingers on,’ I thought to myself.

We sat on the couch and, like with the phone, he showed me all the things it could do. While playing around with it, he also shared with me how he ended up in the apartment when his break-up occurred.

In his case, his ex kept the house and he moved out. It basically boiled down that she stopped loving him. It was exactly like my story, but in reverse.

He expressed that for some time he did miss the house after he left it. The apartment is not even a fraction of the space he had before, but he is comfortable where he is right now, in every sense of the word.

He has let go of the past (including his divorce) and has no regrets. In other words, he is happy and wouldn’t live his life in any other way.

I’m staring at the computer screen but my outlook is different. I’m still missing my former house and not all completely over my divorce.

On the other hand, my apartment is also a fraction of what I used to have as a home, but it’s mine. I answer to nobody but myself and I know I’m now in a much better place than in many instances of my past marriage. I’ve moved on in having no regrets whatsoever about anything and, in my own way, I am at peace with m.e.

Does this mean I’m happy? Um, I think I’m getting there.

At this moment, I’m just that for being here sitting next to Brian.

It’s good enough for now, for today, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

et cetera