Monthly Archives: November 2018

One More Cup Of Coffee

As we are all aware, advertising is predicated on a lie. That lie is that buying a particular product will make you happy. All you require to make your life perfect is the right vehicle, item of clothing, toothpaste or whatever. Drinking a particular beer will make you more attractive to the opposite sex, likewise using a particular shampoo. And no, you’re not too fat to wear our eye shadow.

None of this will come as any surprise, and I presume we all fight this as much as we can, even if we are deluding ourselves into believing we’re buying a product based on it’s merits and utility rather than the image it presumes to project about those who use it.  Having said all that, I recently experienced a feeling of great enjoyment due to buying something.

As I’ve made known, I drink rather too much coffee than is good for me. I used to drink an entire pot of filter coffee every morning and would often have a cup or three during the work day depending on my level of tiredness or boredom. This changed when a friend of my ex girlfriends’ gave us an espresso machine that was surplus to his requirements as he’d just bought an even fancier one. It took residence in my house as she had literally nowhere to put it, and I became an ardent espresso drinker from that point on. I drank a lot of lattes, but gradually phased the milk out of the scene, although I always kept some half and half on hand for her breves. About a year ago she bought me a demi tass and saucer from the place where we first met and I put it to immediate use. The cup held three shots, so two triples quickly became my daily dose. The cup was a little on the thick side, but no matter, as I felt that the cups’ diminutive stature lent it an air of sophistication.

One consequence of us splitting up was that I now found myself with some financial wiggle room, and although I had no intention of going crazy, I did decide to treat myself to something special. Ever since I set up the espresso machine ( A Saeco Royal Professional), I had harboured the idea of buying a set of vintage, or at least mid century modern coffee cups, but decided against it due to my poor finances.

Fast forward to last month. I headed over to the Etsy website and began searching for demi tasse sets, and leaving aside the $350 Limoges I began searching for the right set. As is usually the case, something jumped out at me pretty early on: a 12 piece Bavarian set in ivory porcelain with a hand-painted Queen Anne’s Lace design, made some time between 1900 and 1910. at only $50 it seemed like a great deal, so I placed my order and waited. I was somewhat disappointed a couple of days later to learn from the vendor that it was only a 10 piece set, rather than the 12 as advertised, but seeing as I’m very unlikely to  have five people over all of whom want espresso, I went ahead with the purchase anyway.

A short time later I picked up my package from the post office and opened it as soon as I got home. There was no way I was going to leave the cups unused, so I fired up the machine in anticipation. I can’t begin to explain just how excited I was, as the pieces were all in perfect condition and so delicate as to defy belief. Each cup and saucer weighed almost nothing, the cups are paper thin, and when full, the coffee is visible through the side. Brim-full, the cups only just hold two shots, but this concentrates the crema perfectly, producing a thick, uniform layer atop the coffee. What just blew me away was the fact that something so delicate had survived so long undamaged, although they probably spent most of their existence locked safely away in a dining room china cabinet.

Not so in this house. One thing I did learn from my ex girlfriend is that what you drink out of is as much a part of the experience as what you drink. With handles no bigger than my thumb nail and a saucer delicate beyond belief, I just had to make immediate use of them. As I’d already had my regular morning allowance, I restricted myself to two cups, meaning that by the time I left for work I’d had 10 shots of espresso.

My morning routine has altered somewhat as a result. I now take a good half hour or more to sit in my glider by the window and savour three cups while reading and relaxing. Being so small, there’s nothing to be gained by knocking the coffee back like tequila shots in a bar, and the experience of handling something so small and exquisite really does add a layer of enjoyment it is difficult to describe. I get to experience every sip to the full, and can make a double last a lot longer than a triple from my old cup, which is now banished to the back of the crockery cupboard for use in extremis only. I know it may all seem a bit too precious, but I am really enjoying being able to put to use something that probably only ever saw the light of day a couple of times a year. And lest you think I’m exaggerating, this is what they look like:                                                                         cup

Yeah. Exactly. Tell me that drinking out of a cup like this wouldn’t feel special. I bet you can’t do it with a straight face. Suffice it to say that my new routine has resulted in a much more relaxed start to the day and my mood has improved, which is no bad thing. I know that they’re an indulgence, but can you really blame me? I mean, who can say that using something so special can’t be justified? I’d rather something be put to it’s intended purpose than languish in a cabinet collecting dust. I suppose I should finish now and start getting ready for work. Hmm. I wonder if I have time for just one more cup.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Advertising, Coffee, lifestyle, relaxation

I Know It’s Over

As you are now all painfully aware, the five year relationship with my girlfriend ended a few weeks ago. See “Five Years” for more details.  To use a narrative metaphor, after the climax of a story comes the denouement, the extra couple of minutes at the end of a film, or the last few pages at the end of a novel that bring things to a nice tidy conclusion. In the case of relationships that denouement involves returning all the stuff that has been left at the other’s place over the years.

Even before our final phone conversation I had started to bag up all of her stuff: more toiletries than I had realised, assorted personal items, shoes, a table lamp and lots of clothes – in fact so many clothes that I now have significantly more storage space. We arranged a time and place to meet and I loaded all her stuff into the boot of my car in anticipation of our meeting. There was one thing, however, that I didn’t load. You see, my ex girlfriend has a pet Tenrec.  As it’s a  nocturnal animal, it’s a good fit for her, as she can be at home when the animal is active, something that drew her to Tenrecs, having previously owned a pair of Sugar Gliders. The Gliders weren’t travelers, but she wanted to bring Couscous with her, so she bought a smaller habitat to leave at my place.

I asked her about the “Country House” and she said that as she had nowhere to put it and didn’t need it, I should keep it. I assumed she’d want it back in order to have one for her next/new boyfriend’s house, but apparently not.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, she called me a week ago yesterday to let me know that she was on the boat, so I prepared to head down to meet her. Except that the car wouldn’t start. I’d had some problems with the battery previously, but now it was dead. There was no way the trickle charger would give me enough of a boost in the half hour I had, so I texted her, explained the situation and asked her to come to the house. Wrong move.

She said that she couldn’t take the time to come over as she had to be back in the city in the early afternoon and accused me of playing games. I explained again, and was very annoyed that after five years together she wouldn’t even spare me one hour for this. She told me that I’d have to come over to the city as she’d made a good faith effort. I eventually got the car going and bought a new battery at Costco, (texting her a photo of the receipt and adding the message “See?”) which my son helped my install the next day.

Fast forward to yesterday: We had agreed a time and place to meet in the city and I duly set off and drove up from the ferry terminal to meet her. I couldn’t find it. The name of the establishment was nowhere to be seen, and as Capitol Hill has a bastard of a traffic plan I ended up driving around in squares, occasionally pulling over to read her texts and reply. I found the place almost by chance due to the fact that I was driving north along the street and caught a glimpse of the restaurant she’d mentioned. It was in an above grade mini mall and totally invisible from the other direction.

She’d driven to what she regarded as an easier location, so I had to hang around until she came back as I didn’t fancy another 45 minutes driving around the city. She turned up a few minutes later and took the space next to mine. She was reasonably friendly and we began swapping our gear. I was over the fact that our relationship was over, but I did feel somewhat resentful of her choice, asking “A place that’s impossible to see, you call that a good location?” Her response was to say that decent parking is difficult to find in the city. I can pretty much understand her not wanting me to come to  her house, even though that would be the easiest thing, but I find it hard to believe that a mini mall parking lot apparently built on top of a supermarket in a busy part of town was the best place for us to meet.

I will admit that having such a hard time finding the parking lot and her refusal to compromise a week earlier had put me in a bad mood and I’m afraid it showed. There was one thing I couldn’t get off my mind, so I said ” Just one question, who is he?” she replied “There’s no one else, there’s no one else.” “It always pays to have a back up” I replied, then got back in the car and drove off.

I suppose I could have dealt with the situation better, and in retrospect I do feel somewhat bad about how it all ended, but  I just didn’t have it in me to wish her all the best, good luck, or anything like that.

So, that’s it then, I suppose. Five years of relationship down the Swannee. All those vacations, presents, nights out, nights in, dinner parties, movies, concerts, all now just so much electricity zipping around the neurons of my memory. I suppose I should have seen this coming. She’d been pulling away for a few months, our sex life had pretty much come to a halt as she’d been sick for a while and as a result of going through “The Change” she’d issued a Diktat about how sex would be in the future, which is not exactly the most romantic text I’ve ever received, to put it lightly.

We were never actually going to live together, as she won’t live anywhere except in a city, and I’m not going to move away from the kids. The time we did spend together was almost entirely on her terms: my home had to be adjusted to meet her needs, and my needs had to be adjusted to meet her home. I’m pondering all this as I type, and I do have to wonder if I’m actually capable of being in a long term relationship. I mean, my interpersonal skills are far from the highest order, I’m neither the tidiest nor the most thoughtful person in the world, and even after all these years, I can’t seem to break myself of the habit of keeping secret things that don’t really need to be kept secret.

It really makes me wonder if I’m just wasting my time on dating websites and if I should just give up. My recent form doesn’t really give me much cause for hope, but I simply can’t bear the thought of being on my own for the rest of my life. I realise what an apocalyptic statement that is, but let’s be honest,  my performance in the relationship field has been less than stellar.

Once again, I don’t have a snappy ending for this post as it’s not really that kind of post, but if you have any single female friends, bear me in mind the next time any of them mention that they’re looking for a date. A boy can dream, right?

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Big Brown Eyes

This is yet another post I had hoped would turn out differently. Let me elaborate. In the post “(Just Like) Starting Over” I mentioned meeting a very charming Mexican woman at a taqueria who, after a very promising start developed a case of cold feet. Well, about a week  ago she contacted me, saying that she really liked me. Hmm. I was pleased and perplexed in equal measure  about this, and we texted quite a bit that day and had another epic phone call before agreeing to go on a date the following weekend. To say that the prospects seemed good is something of an understatement. I won’t elaborate, but I got the distinct impression that I would have to pop home prior to going to work on Saturday.

Come Wednesday we were still texting, and I mentioned that if I was going to pick her up as planned, she’d have to give me her address, and asked if she’d given any thought to where we would be going. Answer came there none. She could only text sporadically while at work, so the lack of a response wasn’t too disheartening, but come Thursday my hopes were fading. True to form she cancelled on me again, claiming that when she gets home on a Friday she just doesn’t want to leave the house. To be knocked back twice with patently lame excuses didn’t do my mood any good at all, and I was unable to hide my annoyance from my co workers, although I did put on my public face when helping customers.

This made me wonder why women don’t just come out and tell the truth. Why not just say “I don’t think we’re a good match, I don’t want to go out with you”? Would that be so hard, ladies? Feigning illness is a dog lame way to exit and just doesn’t convince anyone. Maybe women have been so conditioned by societal norms to not make a fuss and not upset men that they have no option but to weasel out of situations for fear that the guy will retaliate. It doesn’t say much for us as a culture if women really do have to treat the male ego like an eggshell, but it’s about time men got over themselves and just dealt with it. I really don’t know. Maybe some guys are like that, but I know I’m not, and would much rather just hear the truth.

I salvaged something out of the evening by meeting up with a couple of friends for a beer at my local watering hole and ended up having a very nice evening after all and was in fine fettle for Saturday’s shift.

Imagine my surprise this morning when I received a text from my erstwhile correspondent saying that she wasn’t dating anyone else, and that her knee ( on which she will soon have surgery) has become so bad that it drains all her energy and she felt it wasn’t fair on me. I replied, saying how much I appreciated her for her honesty and that if she feels better after her surgery that I will still be here. Despite all my efforts, I’m not dating anyone else either, as readers of this blog can attest. It did give me some hope that we might get together again and raised her in my estimation as she had the decency to let me know the real reason for her cancelling on me at such short notice. I only wish she’d let me know before I went to Rite Aid!

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I Don’t Owe You Anything

At what point do we become adults? When we’re old enough to vote, drink alcohol legally, join the military, qualify for a mortgage, enter the workforce full time? That’s very much a “Yes and” question, so I apologise. It’s all of those times, plus many more, as becoming an adult is very much a process rather than an event. However, in one important aspect, we never become adults, as I’m about to explain.

I am as guilty of this as anyone, but no matter how old we are, our parents always see us as children. My son turned 16 this summer. He’s already 6 feet 1 tall and shows no sign of slowing down. He is a technological wizard, a damn sight smarter than his old man and a very grounded and aware human being. He has great potential and no doubt a shining future ahead of him. Likewise my daughter the athlete, equestrian, artist and musician. According to her history teacher she has a deep understanding of the state of the Ottoman Empire in the period leading up to World War One, which is more than I have, and I’m the history buff in the family.

However, I have a photo on my fridge of my son when he was less than two years old, wearing a blue and white hooped onesie and sticking his tongue out. I still see him as that toddler despite the fact that he now towers over me. He still has the same haircut, though. Even though my daughter is well on her way to womanhood I still see the three year old in the pink and purple mohair skirt her mother knitted for her.

My dad has the same attitude towards me. My recent financial difficulties are well explored elsewhere in this blog, so I won’t rehash them. Suffice it to say that there were times when my only option was to use my credit card. Lest you think I was throwing money away on luxuries and trinkets, think again. Moving house is a costly experience, I had presents to buy for my kids and ex girlfriend on birthdays and Christmas, as well as car insurance payments and other incidentals. When on a limited income, this stuff builds up no matter what you do, and once you factor in the effect of interest things start to get out of hand. After paying my other bills I found it very difficult to pay down the balance, resorting to paying the interest plus a nominal sum over that in a vain attempt to convince myself that I was actually paying it off.

I had come to realise that at some point even if I didn’t use the card at all I’d have difficulty paying anything more than the interest, at which point who knows what? It would be a mild understatement to say that this was weighing on my mind and causing me no little angst, as there was no way I could afford to pay off the card without leaving myself desperately short of funds on hand. To some extent I had accepted that this was going to be a permanent state of affairs and accepted the burden as a fact of life.

So far the situation had all the elements of a Greek tragedy until in true fashion, a Deus Ex Machina appeared and solved the problem in one fell swoop. If  you haven’t figured it out by now, it was my Dad. He really doesn’t like using credit cards, nor even debit cards, so he invariably brings a substantial amount of cash with him. One benefit of this is that he can simply hand me some cash to pay for groceries, etc and not have to deal with the issue. I’d discussed my finances with him as he was concerned about my situation and without me asking, either directly or indirectly, handed me enough cash to pay off my credit card in one fell swoop.

Yeah. My response exactly. I took said cash straight to the bank and payed off my credit card the next day. You can imagine what a great relief it was to be rid of the burden that had been pressing down on me for so long. I also took the precaution of changing all my payment details to my debit card so all my future Amazon, Etsy purchases etc. would come directly out of my bank account and prevent me from simply building up another unsustainable credit card debt. I’m happy to say that so far I haven’t used my credit card at all, and don’t intend to unless forced to by an emergency.

Not to go into details, but the sum in question was a four figured one, so the idea that I would trouser $150 rather than take my then girlfriend out to dinner for our anniversary is outrageously risible, see “Don’t Let Me Be Understood” for background.  I will admit to being humbled by my Dad’s action. I don’t like the fact that I earn so little and that I have to juggle to make ends meet, that I can’t pay my way as much as I’d like and that as a fully grown adult I have to depend on my father to bail me out.  Like I don’t have enough inadequacy issues as it is.

Don’t misunderstand me. My Dad made no big deal of the issue, because as far as he’s concerned, that’s what you do for your kids: you help them out whenever they need it. Being a parent is a lifelong commitment, as I’m learning on a daily basis. This doesn’t mean I’m flush with cash, but it does mean that I have a little more wiggle room when it comes to daily finances. I won’t be splurging on luxuries any time soon, but I may be able to treat myself to the occasional grocery purchase above and beyond the bare necessities.

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Filed under Credit Card Debt, family, parenting, Personal finances

Oops I Did It Again.

“Did What again?” I hear you ask. Well, fucked up big time yet again by misreading a social situation. let me start by saying that I’d hoped that this post would be titled “The Sweetest Girl”, partly because Green Gartside has one of the most wonderful voices of all time and Scritti Politti never got the acclaim and recognition they deserve. How this post ended up bearing the title of one of the crappiest songs of all time sung by one of the least talented performers of all time is a cautionary tale.

During the summer I came into contact with someone new. Somewhat younger than me, outstandingly beautiful and very sweet and friendly with a smile that could melt through bank vaults. Over the course of several weeks she was very attentive and we had a number of interesting conversations about a number of subjects including our kids. On one evening we spent a couple of hours getting to know each other and she seemed very comfortable having me around, something I took as a good sign.

For a couple of weeks she was in Europe and had agreed to send me a postcard, and even texted me some pictures from her trip. Just to backtrack a little, a week or so prior to this she had tried to give me her phone number, but being a knucklehead I missed the (alas misinterpreted) cue and only later realised what I’d done and had to scramble frantically to find a way to give her my number. One would have thought that when a woman tries to give you her phone number for no explicitly stated reason, or under some other pretext she must be interested in pursuing some sort of relationship, or at least be open to the possibility.

I ran the details past two friends of mine, one male, one female, and both agreed that based on the evidence it would not be unreasonable to assume that the young lady in question was interested in me, so I took heart from this and waited for her return from foreign shores.

A couple of nights ago I took the opportunity to see her ( lest you get the wrong impression, this was in no way a date, but rather an opportunity to meet her).
We talked for quite a while about her trip and various subjects and as I was about to leave I said “I’d really like to take you out to dinner”. I have never seen so many conflicting emotions cross one face in so short of time as her brain tried frantically to process what I’d just said and clawed frantically at the air, Wylie Coyote style to regain the cliff edge of sanity: confusion, shock, alarm, confusion, panic, dread, confusion, realisation and a number of others.

It was then that I learned the truth. I had been led to believe that she is divorced, but although she was divorced, she is also married. Naturally this took the edge off my good mood as well as giving me the experience of being overwhelmed with a tsunami of conflicting emotions, so I suppose that made us even. The weird thing is that she then apologised for giving me the wrong impression. There was no need at all for her to apologise, as I made quite clear, explaining that I’d come to a wrong conclusion based on faulty and incomplete information. I made my apologies and left suitably chastened.

This is a situation that I have faced before but with different details. One effect of being on the Asperger’s spectrum is lacking the ability to read subtext. It now appears that I lack the ability to read text as well. You neurotypicals have it so easy and you don’t even know it. Seriously, the ability to read between the lines is something you do all day every day. Imagine how much harder that is for someone who doesn’t even realise that the lines are there in the first place!

I guess I should have known that a woman like her wouldn’t be interested is someone like me even if she was unattached. In fact I’m pretty sure that if she and I were the only human beings to survive the apocalypse she’d spend all of her time digging through the rubble searching for fresh batteries. Ah well, you live and learn, well, you live, anyway.

As I’m now single again this incident doesn’t bode well for the future. It was bad enough the last time and seeing as I’ve decided to stay this side of the water I’m looking at a much smaller pool of potential dates. Actually, it’s not so much a pool as a small puddle to be honest. One other thing to bear in mind is that unless I change my social situation completely I’m going to run into her on a regular basis. I really don’t want to do that and I hope that I won’t have to. One thing in my favour is that at no time did I actually hit on her in any way. Our conversations were always on safe topics and at no time did I make any gesture or movement that could be interpreted as threatening nor did I ever take the conversation anywhere near any mildly risque subject. Something else that may make life easier is that I apologised for my misreading of the situation and am not the sort of person who blames someone else for my ineptitude.

I’m pretty sure I’m not the first person she’s had to disabuse of his perception of the situation and with luck and some delicate footwork I may avoid any awkwardness in the future.

 

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Filed under dating, mental health, personal relationships

(Just Like) Starting Over.

Editorial: My last post, “Numbers”, resulted in me acquiring five new followers. Thank you to those of you who have just started following me, and welcome aboard. In all honesty I’d really like to know how you found my blog.

Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin.

It may come as no surprise to those of you who read “Five Years” to learn that only three days after my ex’s “On a break” phone call I reactivated my online dating profiles as I’d already decided that we were done and saw no reason to sit around moping and wasting time. I did have some trepidation over the whole thing. I’m six years older than I was when I last entered the dating pond, am actually pretty much the same weight as I was then, but I’m a little greyer around the chin and my dating skills, poor as they are, had been rusting for the previous five, like a lawnmower left in a drafty shed.

I also remember how expensive the whole undertaking was, especially when ferry fares were factored in. I therefore made the decision to only date this side of the water, a decision that severely limited my options, but with my work schedule, commuting just wasn’t an option. I duly updated my profile, answered some more of the endless series of questions and began looking. My main fear was that my inability to read social cues as well as general awkwardness around new people would put off potential dates. As it was a choice between biting the bullet, trusting to luck or just giving up, I chose door number one.

I do have to ask, ladies, why the reversion to silence? I can understand not responding to an initial message from someone who isn’t your type, but why just stop sending messages after a few exchanges? Why not say “I don’t think we’re right for each other, good luck in your search”? It would make life so much simpler, and I wouldn’t spend three days waiting for a reply that will never come. Ah well, such is life.

Naturally, I had little response to my outreach and I have to say that the programmers really need to work on their algorithm. Many of the women who popped up in my “Daily matches” tab were most definitely not my type in the slightest. What is the point of filling out a profile and clicking boxes only for the site to send you alleged matches that are totally unsuitable? However despite all this I engaged in a conversation with a woman who lives nearby. We had a mutual interest in a number of English new wave bands and decided to meet for a drink. I will say that I really don’t like the endless game of message tennis that seems to form so much of online dating, as I’d much rather just meet and get it over with. As I said in the dim and distant past, at worst, you’ve had an evening out.

The meeting seemed to go fairly well, and we ended up leaving as the bar was closing. My date’s occupation of “alternative healer” sent my woo detector up to 11, especially as she said she’d developed the regimen she practices. Oh boy! Don’t get me started on hippie wellness woo. In fact, head over to Skeptoid.com and take a look at all the bullshit that litters the field of “Wellness” and you’ll get some idea of where I’m coming from.

My instincts turned out to be right when she said she’d be going out of town on a retreat when I suggested we get together again.  I know what I said in the paragraph above, but she was tall, athletic, interesting and funny, so why not see where it led? Of course, when I texted her to ask when she’d be back, answer came there none. Ah well. I will, however, be visiting the bar again soon, as their IPA was very nice, if slightly too hoppy.

A few days after the date I received a message from someone who did interest me. One of the sites I use is aimed at people in my age group, and although I get messages and views on a regular basis, none of the women have raised my attention. This one was different, though. I won’t give much away, except to say that like me, she’s an immigrant and  has an accent. English is her second language, but not that that matters. We sent messages, then texted and agreed to meet for dinner at a local taqueria. I’d never even heard of it, despite living around here for some time, so it made no difference to me. She arrived before me and was waiting in her car when I parked. She seemed really sweet and her pictures didn’t do her justice.

I know I’m suspicious but I did wonder about her choice of venue. As she talked with the cashier I couldn’t help but imagine that she was saying something along the lines of “This is our first date, if this Gringo gets out of line, can you have Manuel come out of the kitchen and beat the crap out of him, please?” Anyway, intervention was not needed. We sat and chatted for over two hours, she telling me all about her awful marriage in great detail, and me telling her about my less horrendous but equally loveless one.

We certainly got along well, and began texting each other multiple times a day. Five days after our initial meeting she asked if we could talk on the phone. I was home at 7.30, so once I was fed and changed, I called her. We had a 3 1/2 hour conversation. Seriously. I had intended to watch the Liverpool V. Cardiff match once I was settled, so I had to push it back to nearly midnight. I’m not complaining, especially as the following morning we had a long text exchange that I will admit touched on certain subjects that don’t often come up before a second date.

Mind you, a 3 1/2 hour phone call during which we both had a drink, sherry for me, tequila for her, could, I suppose, count as a second date. Things went well, and we agreed to get together the following Sunday, which was yesterday. On Thursday I hadn’t heard from her by mid morning, and it came as no surprise that after contacting her she responded, saying she had pink eye. Hmm, I thought, more like cold feet than anything else. Her later texts announced that she didn’t want to date as her Seasonal Affective Disorder makes it hard for her to be around people, and she hates Christmas. Great. Just fantastic. I knew it was too good to be true, so I left it at that and went back to my routine.

Imagine my surprise this evening when she texted me! She apparently had had second thoughts, and as she’d just eaten, is an early riser, and it was getting a little late, the chance to get together right away had slipped by. We texted for quite some time, and it felt like we just carried on where we’d left off. She likes me, and has said so, so I don’t know what to think. We’re meeting for breakfast tomorrow, as she’ll be up early anyway and I have a late start.

I’m thoroughly confused but willing to see where this goes. I know where I’d like it to go, but I’m certainly not going to push my luck.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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