Jay informed me that he would be going on a work trip to Tulsa, in my home state of Oklahoma, in two weeks. His company wanted to expand into Tulsa and wanted him to spend a few days there getting to know the area. He invited me to tag along, knowing that I’m occasionally allowed to work away from the office. I was shocked and delighted. Yes, this was just going back to Oklahoma, but I hadn’t spent much time in Tulsa, nor in a hotel room with a sexy guy. I told Jay I would ask my boss if I could work from Oklahoma that week, but it was very likely to be okay since December is a slower month around my office. The timing of the trip was great. We would drive to Tulsa on a Friday night, stay until Wednesday evening, then he would drop me off in my hometown with my family for Christmas, and my dad would take me back to Texas the day after Christmas.
After I had agreed, I asked, “So are you doing anything this Friday?”
“Nope,” he said. “What’s up?”
“My work Christmas party,” I replied. “Want to be my date?”
He agreed, and my brain immediately started going into, “What will I wear?” mode. After he left, I started thinking that I needed to call Tyler and tell him I couldn’t do this. I really liked him, but I was starting to like Jay too much to risk things. So we had the awkward phone call. As usual, Tyler was extremely cool about things and we agreed to be friends. I wasn’t sure if that would work, but I hoped so, because we had come up with pretty fun ideas for things to do together.
The next day I did my usual emailing back and forth with Sophie while at work. I found out that she was now officially boyfriend-girlfriend with the new guy she had been seeing. She said she was feeling “giddiness.” I love the feeling of giddiness with a guy. I hadn’t been feeling that so far with Jay, but being my hopeless romantic self, I was hopeful. He had started saying and asking future-type things, such as, “Ok, I could deal with living with your cats,” “If we ever got married, would you take my last name?” and “I want to be in a relationship living apart for a year, then living together for a year, and then I would know if I wanted to marry the girl.” Also, in all of his future talk, he would add that he doesn’t like to get his hopes up about anything and wanted to take things slow. I told Sophie that although I liked Jay, I was scared of getting into a relationship again. I was definitely a bit afraid of making mistakes similar to past ones. I was afraid of possibly getting hurt, of possibly wasting a lot of time and effort, and of not getting to make my own big decisions about things like moving. I was starting to realize that singledom is also freedom in that I can move, travel, do anything whenever I wanted to. At this time, a relationship sounded like a huge sacrifice. I was glad that Jay wanted to take it slow.
The major reason I felt so interested in Jay, looking back now, is that he was so much more mature than any other guy I had dated. I had never dated anyone that much older than me, who had that good of a job, who was basically that self-sufficient. It was nice. I was especially excited to show him off at my work Christmas party. I hadn’t been able to bring my ex around my coworkers, so it would be nice to bring someone mature around them.
I was also looking forward to my work Christmas party because my coworker and friend in L.A., Clare, would be coming to visit again. She would be arriving on Friday afternoon, the day of the party. We already had our weekend planned – we were calling it “Extreme Makeover: Apartment Edition” at my apartment. My apartment had recently become a topic of conversation with my friends. Now that my ex was out it was time to make it my own.
The week flew by as I prepared for the Christmas party and for Clare’s visit. I chose to wear a black and red dress I already owned, and went to Kohl’s the night before for earrings. Sophie was going to come over to do my hair and makeup before the party. I cleaned up my apartment and grabbed a few cardboard boxes in anticipation for Clare’s visit and the apartment makeover.
And in this week, Sophie accidentally came across my ex’s profile on OkCupid, a dating site. It cracked us up, especially when I realized I knew his password and we came across this email to a girl: “Is there anything I can say that will make you want to get to know me better? I know, this sounds like I'm totally desperate (I am).” So I was definitely having a good week.
On Friday, as I was counting down the time until the party, I was also getting excited about Jay seeing me dressed up. I told Sophie, “I hope he gets that look on his face when he sees me dressed up, that wow look.”
Finally it was 5 p.m. First I raced to the gym for a personal training session (yes, I keep my schedule packed), then home to shower and get dressed. Sophie was to arrive at 6:30, Jay at 7:30, and the party started at 8. Although my schedule was packed, it was all going according to schedule. I looked gorgeous, except that my dress was looser than I had remembered. But at least that was better than tighter. Jay arrived and Sophie kept him occupied in my living room while I finished up a few more ‘getting ready’ things.
And then I was ready to show him my dressed up self. I was ready to see the ‘wow’ look.
But he never gave me the ‘wow’ look.