It had been seven days since we’d had any contact. For the best, I was sure. But on that seventh day I had been having a few beers and listening to music; Beach Slang, a band I had turned her onto, was playing on the stereo. I had previously told her about them and she instantly fell in love with the band, saying they had found their place near the top of her chart of favorite bands. The song Bad Art & Weirdo Ideas was playing, so I sent her a text indicating what I was doing and the song made me think of her. She didn’t immediately respond; in fact, it was the next day before I heard back from her. The delay in response signaled to me that the ties had been severed.
What it actually signaled was that she was out-of-range camping. She texted me the following day, a Thursday, and we jumped back into a stream of textual dialogue. I said there was no reason we couldn’t be friends and that we should hang out platonically. Beach Slang was playing that Sunday, and I invited her to come. I had purchased tickets already, including one for her, so why not? She agreed. I was happy that we could at least salvage a friendship. Not what I had envisioned, but far better than nothing. She asked me what other plans I had for the weekend and I mentioned that I was going to see the band Day Wave the following night (a Friday) at Mississippi Studios (where we had first met).
I went to the Day Wave show by myself and leaned against a single-seated table against the back wall. She was at work and we had continued our conversation via text, basically picking up where we left off over a week earlier. She asked me how the opener was and who I was there with. I responded that I came solo. When Day Wave went on I let her know which songs they were playing (she liked them, too), and then the conversation drifted off. I figured she had stuff to do at work so I just enjoyed the music that I came for and had a soft smile about reigniting the friendship portion of our relationship that I assumed was no longer. The show was sparsely crowded, but the environment was good, the music was electric. I was just about to press send on another text to her about the band’s song Drag, which is about one person being a bumout in a relationship. I typed out: “They’re playing the song about you ;)” but didn’t have time to press send; all of a sudden I felt somebody grab me from behind. Who’s this? I wasn’t expecting to run into anyone I knew here. It was her.
While I was ecstatic to see her, I didn’t quite know how to respond. I mean, after all, we had been operating as boyfriend/girlfriend for some time before the relationship was truncated. Now we were supposed to be “friends” and I wasn’t sure what the proper protocol was. Before too long though, we sort of drifted past platonic and into playful flirtiness. After the band wrapped up we went to the patio and talked for a while, thoroughly enjoying each other’s company. As we decided this part of the night was over and we both headed to our separate cars, I asked her, “What now?” She responded, “You should come over.” So I did.
And from then we jumped back into the roles we had left behind when she called things off – which I still believe was the rational decision on her part – and we threw caution to the wind. The fact that I was leaving soon was just going to have to be collateral damage. We’d pick up our wounded parts after this last chapter came to a close. For now, we made plans for the things we wanted to do in the interim, and we continued to enjoy each other’s company and our strange little connection, as ephemeral as it would soon be.
We’ve done an awful lot in those last few weeks: concerts, dinners, typical corny date stuff, just hanging out, and I really do think we’ve both enjoyed our time. It is always in the back of my mind that we wasted about a week there in the middle – I mean, we had such a short time anyhow, to take that section out stole a few precious opportunities from us to be together. But maybe that hiatus also made the weeks that followed that much more valuable; it was made very clear how much we enjoyed one another’s company, and now with the days ticking down, we could do our best to make the most of it with no false assumptions of what we were doing or where this was going.
As I write this, tomorrow will be the penultimate time we hang out together before I leave. It is quite fitting that we will be going to see a concert at Mississippi Studios again, too. We met there, we rekindled our relationship there, and now, it appears, we will all but wrap up the Portland part of our relationship there. I don’t know where it will go from here. The pragmatist in me says it will run its course in due time. After all, I’ll be 3,000 miles away with no chance of returning anytime soon. We’ve discussed having her come visit, but we’ve made no formal plans. I think it would be best to wait until I’m there so that nothing is decided on impulsively or in the “heat” of the moment. I want her to come, but I also wonder if that will just prolong something that can’t last for too much longer. Maybe we will actually become platonic friends at that point; I wouldn’t be against it. We’ve talked about being pen-pals, and while that sounds corny to some, I think it might be the sanest route to maintaining a friendship. If it keeps the embers of the fire burning, then maybe we visit the future of the relationship down the road. If there ends up being longer and longer periods of time between letters, well, then maybe that makes it easier to drift apart.
I have a lot of driving ahead of me, between Oregon and North Carolina, and therefore a lot of time to think. I’m sure she’ll occupy much of that free time in my mind. But if nothing else, I’ll know that we made the most of our remaining days together, and I hope I am thankful for that. It’s weird how people come in and out of our lives. Sometimes it is only for a short period of time – a little over two months in this case, but it was an intense two months. I can’t envision a future with her because of where we are in our lives, both literally and figuratively, but I’d like to think that maybe circumstances will change. Time will tell…
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