Monday, March 11, 2013

No. 451 – You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away

Performer: Eddie Vedder
Songwriters: John Lennon, Paul McCartney
Original Release: I Am Sam
Year: 2002
Definitive Version: None

Today’s entry is shorter—and happier—I promise.

After our first weekend together in November 2004, Laurie said she wanted to let it sit for a while before deciding when we would get together again. We would, she said; she just didn’t know when. The obvious solution quickly developed: Thanksgiving.

It was perfect for a couple of reasons. First, Laurie didn’t have to take any time off work. Second, instead of boarding Maile again, Dad and Laura could take her back to Columbus from Ann Arbor, Mich., where the family was planning to gather for Thanksgiving at my Aunt Nan’s house.

Laurie had invited all of her friends over for Thanksgiving, and I agreed that it was inappropriate for me to show up for that, but I could come afterward in the evening. Laurie firmly insisted: Come Friday. OK.

Thanksgiving was fun, and I was in a great mood, because I knew I was going to see Laurie afterward. I spent the night and planned to leave right away in the morning, but Aunt Nan made breakfast, so I stayed longer than expected.

When I left, I called Laurie and apologized for running late. Laurie said because she hadn’t heard from me by the appointed time, she called my aunt’s to find out whether I was OK. Fortunately, I told them I was going to Chicago, so they weren’t taken aback when a strange woman called.

It was a cold, rainy November day, and I realized I hadn’t made the drive along I-94 between Ann Arbor and Chicago since Melanie. Now I was making it in reverse for another woman. Buoyed by memories of the previous visit, it seemed I was in Chicago in no time.

Laurie and I had another fun weekend, without any drama, and we mixed old favorites, such as B.L.U.E.S., and new ones, such as Martyr’s to see Liquid Soul. She introduced me to Duke of Perth, which not only has all-you-can-eat fish-and-chips on Fridays but also just happens to make the world’s best fish and chips.

I took Laurie to the Baha’i temple in Wilmette, which had been a favorite place to visit when I was at Northwestern. She didn’t know anything about it and loved it. (If you’ve never seen it or been inside, do yourself a favor and check it out if you have the time. It’s pretty amazing.)

Sunday, our last day together, ended up being a big day. We went to the Lincoln Park Zoo, which I didn’t know about—particularly that it’s free. It was the first weekend of the annual Christmas lights, and we were there as the sun melted into the pink-purple sky and the lights came on.

Laurie said she wanted a hot cocoa before we left, and while we sat at the cantina, my cellphone rang. It was Jin calling, just to say hey. Of all the things! Given the past, I had decided I wasn’t going to say anything to either her or Paul about me and Laurie—at least not until there was something worth saying.

So, what are you doing? I pulled the phone away. Should I tell her? Laurie looked at me and smiled. I’m in Chicago. What are you doing in Chicago? Should I tell her? Laurie nodded. I’m with Laurie. You’re with WHO? You know, Paul’s friend? Jin got a kick out of it and was not the least bit angry, but we had been outed.

As we walked to the car, Laurie used Jin’s call to bring up something she wanted to talk about. It seemed she had concerns about … us. What I found out later was that Laurie REALLY was beginning the process of dumping me.

She told me later that she was concerned that I was more serious about us than she was, that we weren’t really well-matched and, of course, I had to drive all this way to see her. At the time, it didn’t sound like a breakup per se but that she was merely testing the waters to see where the relationship was. True, it had been only two weekends together, but considering everything we did, it was the equivalent of about a dozen dates.

I wasn’t thinking about any long-term implications, just trying to be in the present. I’m in my favorite city having a great time with a woman I like. Let’s just enjoy this. So I stopped and asked her, well, are you having fun? Have you had fun this weekend? Laurie said, yeah, she was having a great time. Well, then that’s all that matters. She paused, smiled and reached for my hand. That was the end of the conversation about “us” and Laurie’s breakup attempt.

When I said it, I really meant it in the context of, this is nothing more than us having a great time together. As long as we’re doing that, nothing else matters. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was the perfect response at the perfect time. Best of all, it wasn’t some strategy. It was an honest assessment of the situation. (Maybe I can learn.)

So Laurie didn’t dump me that weekend. Instead, she said she again wanted to sit with it for a bit and then decide when—not if—we would get together again. The holidays were coming ...

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