It's time to make some changes. I'm not going to see D again. I'm not going to take anything called Samurai X, Up All Night, Weekend Prince, Trio Power Zen, or any other "enhancement" capsule sold at my local deli. Most importantly, I think it's time to phase out Dr. Frosty's Three-Point Plan. An incident two Saturdays ago made me realize that Frosty's prescription of more late nights, more drink and drugs, and more sex can have some strange side effects.
I went out to dinner with a pair of couples I'm friends with. I was the fifth wheel and that was fine. After getting some sushi in the East Village, we decided to go to a bar called Niagara on Avenue A. There I met a pretty, slightly toasted twentysomething of Persian descent, who grew up in Queens. We started talked about her job and the best places for soup dumplings in Flushing. Numerous vodka sodas later, we were kissing at the bar. Not long after that, we were in a cab.
The first sign of trouble came when she asked me to open the window, telling me she needed some air. We arrived in front of my building and she seemed to regain her poise. We walked slowly inside and got in the elevator. She leaned back against the elevator wall and pulled me close for a long kiss as we ascended toward my floor. The doors opened and we gingerly entered my hallway.
I once again observed my new friend get unstable. When I opened my front door, my suspicions were confirmed. In one violent lunge, she spotted my bathroom, vaulted toward it, and vomited all over my tile floor. I stood behind her, wide-eyed.
"What can I do?" I asked. Her response was to slam the door in my face.
For the next 10 minutes, I heard both my sink and shower come on in different intervals. I paced and called to her through the closed door every few minutes to inquire if she was okay. All she would say was "Yes, I'm fine."
At some point, she turned off the water. The door opened and the girl said, "I'm sorry. I have to go." She turned and walked out, slamming the door behind her. It was immediately quiet and I was suddenly alone.
My bathroom was spotless. The only way I knew she had been there was that my shaving towel -- her cleaning implement -- was soaking wet and had a yellow tint. She even left her jacket hanging from the back of the door, which I only realized the next morning. Since I don't know her full name or phone number, I placed it in a bag in my closet destined for Goodwill.
Of course, alleviating the possibility of strangers vomiting in my bathroom is not the only reason I decided Dr. Frosty's plan should come to an end. The more central reason is that the last few weeks have allowed me to stop caring about X. I don't resent her like I once did. I like my freedom. I like not having to be with her anymore. Even if she was cheating on me with Shrek, I'm not angry. She did what she felt she needed to do next. The question is, what do I need to do next?
Last Tuesday night, I met up with C. We got some Spanish food and afterward we walked through Chelsea. She asked about my plans for the weekend and we discussed a mutual friend's birthday party in the Lower East Side. She asked if I wanted to go together.
An awkward conversation ensued, in which I told her in a roundabout way that I didn't think I was ready to be in a relationship and that it felt as if we were moving that way. She asked me for the second time in two weeks if I was dating other people. I said yes. C told me she didn't think she could do this anymore. We walked back to my apartment in silence. C took her overnight bag, and returned home on the Metro North.
I had been seeing C pretty much since I started dating again. She is so kind. I hope she finds someone who's a better fit than me. She deserves it.
That said, it dawned on me that I was now seeing E and no one else. We had plans for Thursday night, but I suddenly didn't want to go. Seeing C and E at the same time had meant that I wasn't serious about either one. Each created a buffer from the other. With the buffer gone, it was just E.
E sent me an email on Thursday morning inquiring about what we were going to do that night. I wrote back that I didn't think I could make it. When she asked what was up, I decided to articulate in writing what I could only awkwardly express to C in-person only a few nights before. I wrote that E was a great person with various desirable qualities, but I didn't think it was fair to her for me to keep pretending like I was ready for a relationship. I reread it a few times to make sure the tone was appropriate, then hit send. I immediately felt like a coward for emailing. Her angry response reinforced that feeling.
And like that, I'm no longer dating anyone. I called my brother in Philadelphia later that afternoon to see if it would be a suitable weekend to come visit. We made plans for Saturday. It would be good for me to get out of town and I could avoid a possible confrontation with C at the party.
On the train to Philadelphia, I texted with Jessica. She and her fiancé had been bickering since they returned home from work on Friday night. She told me her common refrain -- that she was ready to pull the trigger and end it, but she still hadn't worked up the courage.
It had gotten so "annoying," she said, that she decided to go stay at a friend's apartment. She told me that at that moment she was playing with her friend's bulldog, Clint Eastwood. I asked what Clint looks like and she responded that I should imagine "a cute, shapeless, droopy, brown and white fur sack with one tooth sticking out of the opening." It made me smile.
She asked if I wanted to grab a drink. I told her I was on my way to Philadelphia. She responded that she's always wanted to go to the Philadelphia art museum to see their Hieronymus Bosch paintings, especially "The Garden of Earthly Delights." Jessica is from Oregon and hasn't seen much of the East Coast. I told her that we should plan a trip.
When I arrived in Philly, my brother and his girlfriend were already in high spirits. It was a beautiful day and they had been drinking sangria on a friend's roof deck. Joining them immediately put me at ease. Soon we were laughing, grilling hot sausage, and trying to decide whose lips were the most purple.
I took a picture of Center City in the distance on Instagram. About an hour later, I got a text from an ex-girlfriend who lives in Philly. She saw the picture, lightly scolded me for not telling her I was coming to town, and asked if I wanted to meet up with her and her friends for drinks that night.
I thought about it for a few seconds. Two months earlier, she and I had talked on the phone and caught up. We were both coming off breakups, so that was the topic that took up the majority of the conversation. We did, however, get nostalgic at one point and started recalling different times we had memorable sex. We even went as far as joking that we should see if we would still have the same effect on one another eight years later.
I was already buzzed. By that night, my guard would be down. I decided to lie and tell her that I was just there for the day.
On the train home on Sunday, I felt awful. It wasn't just being hungover. I was exhausted and my throat was throbbing. I stayed home from work on Monday, then again today.
I took some Robotussin DM this morning. Now that I'm almost done writing this entry, I'll probably drink the rest to feel spacey while watching the "Twin Peaks" box set that Jessica dropped off for me this morning. She and I have been texting consistently since I returned on Sunday and she's been asking me if there's anything she can do. Bringing over "Twin Peaks" so I could zone out seemed like the best option.
When she came by this morning, Jessica also told me that she finally moved out yesterday and to let her know if I hear of any good sublets. For the meantime, her plan is to crash with her friend and Clint Eastwood.
Single Guy is a newly unattached 30-something living in New York City. These are his real journal entries.