Perks of Frugality

Seth TextWhen Seth took me to his ranch a few weekends ago with a group of mutual friends, he and I were tasked with grocery shopping for the group, so we threw a couple of ice chests in the back of his truck and went for an honest-to-goodness grocery run in town.

After picking out produce together, Seth sent me off to find some mustard. Eager to get back to him, I scanned the shelves, grabbed a small value brand mustard and hurried back to where he stood by the deli meat. Seth took the mustard from me and started to throw it in our cart, but he did a double-take at the label and cried in dismay, “Organic?! What in the world are you doing buying organic mustard?!”

He marched me back down the condiments aisle, replaced the distasteful container and, two shelves down, picked up an almost identical mustard by the same value brand. “80 cents. That’s more like it. Your fancy organic mustard was $1.20. We just saved 40 cents by not going organic.”

“Wow. I guess you can really treat me on our date next week!” I teased with a nudge.

Having thoroughly learned my lesson, I took extra care with my personal grocery shopping last week. When Seth came over to make stuffed bell peppers together – bringing meat from one of his family’s own bulls – I nodded at the bell peppers I’d purchased for us earlier in the day.

“You may notice that all of our bell peppers are yellow and green,” I said casually. Seth paused chopping the onions to glance over at me, sensing that I was about to say something of note.

I shrugged in mock nonchalance, continuing, “That’s because these were two for a dollar, whereas the red bell peppers were $1.25 each.”

In an instant, Seth was at my side, arms wrapped around my waist and face just inches from mine. “You are so attractive to me right now,” he told me in his low drawl before he lowered his lips to mine, rewarding me for my frugality.

Authentically Aurora

Eating Kumquats

Lumberjack“I think Joe is going to visit our bible study on Wednesday,” Cindy told me, her facial expression carefully neutral. She didn’t want to influence me one way or another.

“Oh really? That’s great!” I told her, unsure of my own feelings on the matter. I’d met Joe a few weeks earlier at a worship night Cindy had hosted at her house. The two of them had been friends for years, and Cindy had not-so-subtly pointed him out to me as a potential prospect once I finished my break from dating.

Joe had made quite an impression on me at the time. Cindy knew my type well. Over six feet tall with broad shoulders and a full beard, all Joe needed was a flannel shirt to make him look like a genuine lumberjack. Cindy had shared with me that Joe went to college at one of the US military academies, which made him all the more attractive to me.

As we sang worship songs together that evening in early March, I’d discovered that Joe not only played guitar expertly, but he also had a lovely baritone voice. He and I harmonized well, and I’d had to close my eyes to focus on the lyrics of the praise songs and keep my heart in check.

Later that evening, Joe had walked in on Cindy and me in full-on “girl talk” mode. We’d been chattering away about him, so we fell instantly silent and then erupted into giggles when he unexpectedly entered the room. He’d just smiled and turned back around, but later he’d asked Cindy for my phone number. After getting permission from me, Cindy sent him my contact information, and Joe had started calling me every other day.

During our phone conversations, I found Joe to be intelligent and academic. He was a deep thinker, and I enjoyed our mental sparring about theology, politics, sociology and all manner of other topics. But I also discovered that Joe had never finished at the Air Force Academy; he’d dropped out after two years. He didn’t have a college degree and had taken a job at the family A/C business. Upon examining my feelings about his lack of degree, I realized it wasn’t his lack of college education that bothered me; it was his lack of ambition. He’d dropped out of school and didn’t seem to have the drive to make his own way in the world.

Joe also shared with me that he’d grown up in a broken family. His mom left his dad for another woman when he was only five years old. He’d grown up with the lesbian couple and was home schooled most of his life. That explained to me something I’d been wondering about – Joe was built like an ox but, candidly, displayed some effeminate tendencies and also seemed a bit socially awkward in groups. I soon learned that Joe had never had a girlfriend, never been kissed and never even been on a date. He is 29 years old.

I wanted to like Joe. I really did. He is a smart, attractive, godly man. He genuinely loves the Lord and is very intelligent and articulate; insightful in an academic sense if not perceptive in a social one. But the chemistry wasn’t there for me. That intangible, indescribable personality spark that came so easily with Seth just didn’t manifest with Joe, and that wasn’t something I could help.

I knew I needed to let Joe down, but I wanted to do it in person, so if he came on Wednesday night as Cindy suspected, I figured we could have the conversation then. What I hadn’t accounted for was that Seth would also visit our group that week. So on that Wednesday night at the end of March – still in the midst of my fast from dating – I found myself at bible study with both Seth and Joe.

At the end of our lively group discussion about the deity of Jesus, everyone stood and organically clustered into groups, catching up and socializing before saying goodbye for the night. I found Seth by my side at the end of bible study, and he told me with a smile, “I have something for you.”

“Oh yeah? What is it?”

“I’m leaving for the ranch tomorrow. I’ll be gone for two weeks working the land, but I brought you kumquats to enjoy in the meantime. I picked them from a tree in my backyard.”

“Kumquats? What are those?” I was sad Seth would be gone for so long, but I was glad he’d brought something for me to remember him by while he was away.

“They’re a fruit. Sort of like little peaches.”

“Oh,” I replied with a grin, tilting my head to the side, “So they’re like me!”

Seth smiled at me affectionately and gave a low chuckle. “Yep, you’re my little peach.”

Just then, a group of girls joined us, so Seth excused himself, calling to me as he retreated that I should stop by his truck before I left so he could give me the kumquats he’d brought.

I chatted for a few minutes with Rachel and some other girls before looking around for Seth. He was already standing at his truck, driver door propped open, watching me from afar. “Oh! I’d better go!” I told the girls.

But Joe was waiting for me. I hadn’t seen him standing off to the side until he marched to my side with gusto, obviously intent on walking me to my car. Heart sinking, I realized that I’d parked just beyond Seth’s truck, so Joe – hand on my elbow – was escorting me on a path to walk right past Seth on the way to my car.

Starting to panic – wondering how to navigate the situation – I tried to tell Joe I needed a minute, but he was prattling on about his intentions to pursue a godly relationship with me, oblivious to my attempts to interject, both to tell him I didn’t feel we had chemistry and to explain that I needed to stop and say goodnight to Seth.

The old truck loomed nearer, and soon we were beside it, Seth watching me from his back-lit stance beside his driver seat and Joe still confessing how he felt about me. Frustrated and desperate, I put my hand on Joe’s arm to stop him, finally talking over him by way of interruption, “Hold that thought.”

I turned to Seth with a forced smile and said, “You have something for me?”

Knowing that Seth was leaving for the ranch in the morning – knowing that I wouldn’t see him for two weeks – I really wanted some alone time with him to talk and have a quiet moment to say goodbye. But I could sense Joe’s presence lurking behind me as I studied the tanned face. I couldn’t read Seth’s expression, partly because he was back-lit and partly because he schooled his features. I could only guess what he must be thinking.

Seth extended a plastic grocery bag to me, reaching in as he did so to pull out a small, oblong, orange fruit. “This is a kumquat,” he told me, turning it over in his hand.

Joe stepped closer to examine the fruit, and Seth pulled out a kumquat for Joe as well. The men shook hands and introduced one another. Seth was gracious, commenting kindly, “Ah, I see you’ve got dirt under your fingernails. My dad always told me never to trust a man with clean cuticles.” They laughed together, and I stood in bewilderment at their camaraderie.

Seth had planned to show me how to eat a kumquat, biting off the end and sucking out the meat, mindful of the seeds. He showed Joe as well, and the three of us – not exactly what he’d had in mind, I’d wager – stood outside of Seth’s truck, talking quietly into the darkness and eating kumquats under the partially-visible stars.

After several minutes, Seth seemed to concede that Joe wasn’t going to take the hint to leave. Joe’s delighted, bearded face showed no sign of awareness that he was trespassing on what was intended to be an intimate farewell, so Seth excused himself, giving each of us a cluster of kumquats before climbing into his truck and driving away.

I watched his taillights fade into the distance, my ears only partly registering Joe’s commentary on what a great guy Seth seems to be, the lumberjack’s voice garbled by the fruit in his mouth. Stuffing down my irritation, I allowed Joe to walk me the rest of the way to my car, where we stood and talked for only another couple of minutes before he bid me goodnight.

Feigning calm until he was out of sight, I jumped in my car, started the engine and dialed Seth. When he answered, the low rumbling of his chuckle made my stomach somersault. “Well you’re a hot commodity, aren’t you?”

Authentically Aurora

Problematic Dreams – Part IV

Car Kiss

Cory couldn’t dance because of the fresh tattoo on his foot, and Noelle wasn’t dancing much either, probably due to a combination of not knowing any of the other dancers and because she would rather stay at the table and socialize with Cory anyway.

So I went out on the dance floor alone, dancing a few songs in a row with various partners before making my way back to our table to ask Cory and Noelle if they’d like to go do something else. Both of them suggested going for drinks somewhere, so we looked up wine bars nearby. The most promising one, a quaint wine dive with mid-range pricing, was about three-quarters of a block away.

I started to ask if we wanted to walk or drive, but then I looked down at Cory’s foot where his Sperrys were already starting to chafe the tender skin around his new tattoo. “Do you guys want to walk or — oh, I forgot, we have a gimp with us,” I said in a teasing voice, nudging Cory with my shoulder playfully.

“Hey, now!” he exclaimed in an equally playful voice. “Just because you said that, we’re walking,” he stated emphatically with a nod and a mock serious face. We all laughed, and I – looking out for him – said, “No, really. We can drive. I was just giving you a hard time.”

Cory raised his eyebrows at me. “I know a challenge when I hear one. We are walking!” I hadn’t realized how stubborn this man was but, given all I’d already discovered about his passion, intensity, pride and drive to become a surgeon, I shouldn’t have been surprised.

It actually was a nice night out – a bit humid, but not too hot and not too cold. Since we’re all music lovers, we started talking about our favorite composers. Cory definitely favors German composers, and I listed a few French composers I love (e.g. Debussy), but Chopin was the unanimous favorite for piano compositions.

Cory was a Music major in college before going to do his prereqs for med school, so his knowledge of music history vastly outweighed that of Noelle and me. When Cory mentioned a composer we didn’t know, he would inevitably start belting out some of their music, showing off both his knowledge and his phenomenal voice.

As we neared the wine dive, we all started singing Broadway numbers, harmonizing as we went, walking in a single line when the sidewalk narrowed and fanning out as it widened. Once inside, we settled at a tiny round table near a window, lit by a single candle and surrounded by beautifully carved wooden paneling. The place was beautiful – cozy and romantic but also earthy and rustic, with an air of class and elegance.

Cory asked me what I like to drink, and I told him that my favorite is Riesling. I hadn’t realized he was going to go order for me until he nodded, stood, and looked to Noelle, who shrugged and admitted, “I’m not a wine connoisseur; I’ll have whatever she’s having.”

A few moments later, Cory returned from the beautifully polished mahogany bar with two glasses of Riesling and one Malbec. I typically don’t like reds, but Cory let me try a sip of his, and it was surprisingly good. But that may have just been the influence of his company.

All throughout conversation, although the three of us were talking, Cory continued to look deeply into my eyes as though he was trying to read my unspoken – and often, unbidden – thoughts. I suspect he saw more than I meant for him to, especially as I drained my wine glass. He’s a handsome, intelligent, talented, passionate and thoughtful doctor-to-be who spent hours opening up, being emotionally vulnerable and connecting with me. With us, I reminded myself.

At one point during the evening, Noelle got up to go to the bathroom. The moment she left the table, Cory turned the full force of his gaze on me, seeming to drink in the sight of me, unhindered in his admiration now that we were without an audience. I hadn’t realized he had been dampening his intensity until Noelle was gone and I felt the shift in him.

We sat in silence just looking into each other’s eyes for a few moments. It was a comfortable silence, sitting there by candlelight, just enjoying the presence of one another.

“I could get lost in your eyes,” Cory murmured quietly to me, still studying my face.

I felt my face get hot, and I smiled shyly.

“I could just sit here, looking into your eyes for hours,” he went on. “You have the most beautiful eyes. Actually,” he smiled, “They were the first thing I noticed about you when you walked up at the talent show. They’re stunning – and so expressive. You gave me a look that night that I couldn’t get out of my head for days. I even went on and on about it to my friend Alexa after the show, trying to decipher what it meant and talking about your eyes and how beautiful they are until she got jealous, and I had to stop. I kept telling her, ‘There was something about her eyes…'”

Just then, Noelle came back from the bathroom, and Cory trailed off mid-sentence. We hadn’t noticed her approach, and I suspect she felt the shift in the mood and intensity. I started trying to encourage flirtation between the two of them again. Help, help, help.

As the evening wore on and Cory finished his third glass of wine, he started to really open up – even more than before. He shared with Noelle some of the things he had already told me, like the meaningful significance of each of his tattoos, but he went into more detail this time, telling stories about his parents’ divorce when he was a young child. And how they’re both on their fourth marriages. And how his mom is an alcoholic with undiagnosed bipolar disorder who was abusive when he was a boy.

He shared some other stories from his childhood too painful, graphic and personal for me to rename here, but suffice it to say that Cory has walked through some of the darkest experiences possible this side of death, but rather than feeling sorry for him, I admired him even as my heart went out to him. He has done so well for himself, considering all he has been through.

Eventually midnight rolled around, and we agreed to call it a night. We walked the mile back toward where our cars were parked, and we dropped Noelle off at her car first, hugging her goodnight before Cory and I made our way back to my BMW.

As before, Cory came over to the driver side of my car to open the driver door for me, but as I started to pull out my keys to unlock it, Cory turned toward me from where he stood between me and the driver door. “Can I do something impulsive?” he asked.

I dropped my keys back into my purse, startled, and the world started going in slow motion. Cory’s stance was both confident and timid. He didn’t know what I would say. I knew what he was asking, and in the back of my mind, I knew it was a terrible idea, but he was a hurting, attractive man who had just spent the past few hours pouring his heart out to me about very emotional, intimate things, and besides, another voice rationalized, it’s just a kiss, and I felt my head nod.

Without further encouragement, Cory slipped one hand behind my head and another around my waist, pulling me to him, where he leaned resting against my BMW.

His lips met mine, gently at first, and then more demanding. We both started smiling as we pulled away, and I heard the surprise in Cory’s voice when he whispered, “You’re a good kisser!”

I laughed, and he picked me up effortlessly, turned us around, and set me up on top of the trunk of my car before burying his hands in my hair again…

I’m currently working on a mashup for our a cappella group, and I suspect it doesn’t take much imagination to determine my inspiration.

Head in the clouds, got no weight on my shoulders
I should be wiser and realize that I’ve got
One less problem without you
I got one less, one less problem

He’s so tall and handsome as hell
He’s so bad but he does it so well
I can see the end as it begins
My one condition is:

Say you’ll remember me
Standing in a nice dress, staring at the sunset babe
Red lips and rosy cheeks
Say you’ll see me again even if it’s just in your wildest dreams
Say you’ll see me again… even if it’s just pretend.

Authentically Aurora

Problematic Dreams – Part I

ArsenalThe most recent time I’ve experienced an otherworldly connection with someone just happened a few weeks ago, and I’m still reeling from the after effects.

My a cappella choir sang in a talent show at the end of October, and since it was Halloween-themed, everyone came in costume. I borrowed a wig from one of our altos and went as a rather convincing Anna from Frozen (the innocent look comes naturally, but that whole chipper, cheerful thing took some work). #introvertproblems

Between performances of bagpipe playing and baton twirling, I marveled at the wide array of talents and also the creativity of some of the costumes. One guy in particular caught my eye, but not because of his costume. He was dressed as an archer of some sort (Arsenal, I found out later), but what really drew me to him was his aura. He radiated confidence and virility, leaning casually against the wall of the auditorium as though oblivious to the attention he garnered.

Michael and his roommate were slotted to close the show with an upbeat duet, but just before they took the stage, the archer uncrossed his arms, pushed off from the auditorium wall and strode forward. As he took a ready stance at the solo mic in the front of the room, I glanced down at my program to discover his name – Cory. As I looked back up to where he stood just twenty feet in front of me, his pianist began playing a moving ballad, and the archer opened his mouth to sing.

For the next four minutes, I sat transfixed as Arsenal/Cory belted out a humorous parody of a love song. His voice was flawless. He was clearly classically trained, but he didn’t let his perfect choral techniques get in the way of putting on an accessible and entertaining show. Even the high note at the end was sung beautifully, and I remembered in passing something that my mom whispered to me a decade ago in the back of my high school auditorium: “You have to be careful with boys like that, Aurora. You’ll fall in love with their voice and think you’re falling in love with them.”

Once the talent show had ended, all the performers mingled for a bit. One of my fellow sopranos, Noelle, has similar taste in men to me, so I was not at all surprised when she ran up to me, eyes wide, and gushed, “Did you hear that Cory guy? We have got to talk him into auditioning for our group!”

It’s true that we are in desperate need of more tenors and basses, so with my encouragement, Noelle hurried off to recruit him. She returned just a few moments later looking disappointed. “He says that he’s already really over-committed,” she told me in a dejected tone.

“Hmm, we’ll see about that.” I gestured for Noelle to accompany me as I walked over to introduce myself.

Cory looked up as I approached, and I reached out to shake his hand. “Hi, Cory. I’m Aurora. I sing with Noelle, and we both loved your performance tonight. You are a really gifted vocalist.”

“Thanks,” he replied casually, seeming to know what was coming next.

“We’d love to have you audition for our group. We meet on Tuesday nights,” I began, but Cory was prepared to tell me the same thing he’d already told Noelle.

“You know, I love singing – and I miss it – but I’m already really over-committed. I’m a first year med student, and I’m also currently training for a Triathlon with a running club on Tuesday nights.”

I raised my eyebrows. “Wow, that is a lot. Well, disregard then. Singing is supposed to be a fun, creative outlet, but it sounds like you’ve got a lot on your plate, and singing with us would just be an added source of stress for you.”

I started to step away, wishing him the best of luck with everything, but he took a quick step forward. “Wait – I mean, would anyone mind if I came late to rehearsals? Or came sweaty, straight from my running group?”

I turned back toward him and shrugged nonchalantly. “No, I don’t think so. We technically start at 7:30, but we don’t usually actually start singing until around 8:00, so that shouldn’t be a problem.”

“Okay,” Cory paused, gaze locked onto mine. The air between us sizzled momentarily as he peered into the depths of my eyes as though searching for something. Whatever it was, he seemed to give up on it because I blinked, and the intensity of the moment passed. He glanced between Noelle and me. “So who would I talk to if I were interested in joining?”

“Let me introduce you to Michael,” I told him, leading the way toward our director and attempting to hide my smile. Choir would definitely be more interesting with Cory in the group!

Once Cory and Michael had been properly introduced, Cory took his leave, and Noelle and I gave each other a quick high five, grinning ear to ear. Best recruitment team ever! Little did I know what I had just gotten myself into.

That night, I got what I thought I wanted. The attractive and mysterious Cory was considering joining our group, my crush Michael volunteered to walk me back to my car, and all seemed like it was going according to plan. But sometimes what you think you want isn’t what you actually want. In fact, sometimes what you want is exactly the opposite of what you need and what would be for your good.

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” -Proverbs 19:21

Authentically Aurora

The Soft Goodbye

Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 6.22.04 PMYou know how people talk about that “once in a lifetime” kind of love? The kind most of us believe only happens in movies, until it actually happens to us? The kind where the spark is instantaneous, the chemistry is undeniable and, when you’re with that person, everything else fades into the background?

It’s the kind of love that feels like a soul-deep connection; where, after five minutes of meeting, you both feel as though you’ve been life-long friends. It’s indescribable and other-worldly, and although I’ve experienced it three times now, every time truly feels like a once in a lifetime love.

The first time I experienced it was nearly five years ago, in March of 2011. My company sent me to a week-long training program the week of my birthday, and on the very first day, I ended up seated next to a handsome Louisiana boy named James. The class was heavily discussion-based, so within five minutes of sitting down, James and I were asked to partner up to discuss our life milestones, which was a pretty weighty discussion topic for two colleagues who’d just met. But – both authentic, deep thinkers – James and I hit it off instantly.

We discovered that we had the same birthday one year apart, we’d been through similar difficult life experiences and we had a shared faith integral to our identities. James had a zeal for life that I found contagious. As an ENFJ, James had a larger-than-life magnetism about him. He loved to laugh and push boundaries and have adventures. He kept me giggling constantly, and we were inseparable the entire week.

We went out to dinners together after our full day conference sessions, and we played parlor games in the hotel lobby with other colleagues. One evening after a particularly hard-won foosball victory, James picked me up and twirled me around in the air as I threw my head back with laughter. Our coworkers just smiled and shook their heads at us. Our attraction was undeniable.

On Thursday night – the last evening of the conference session – James walked me back to my hotel room. He’d been somewhat reserved during our evening stroll outside, and I soon found out why. Just days before meeting me, James had proposed to his girlfriend, and she’d said yes.

He’d never experienced chemistry like we had; he acknowledged that there was outrageous attraction and compatibility. His soft brown eyes – intelligent and kind -pleaded with me to understand.

Standing outside of my hotel room, James leaned against my doorframe, face inches from mine. “I think we can both acknowledge we’ve had intense chemistry this week,” he said softly.

I nodded.

“And I think we agree that we could be really great together.”

I nodded again, a lump forming in my throat.

“But I think we both also understand the situation.”

Nothing more needed to be said. He was a man of honor, and I was a woman of integrity. Eyes filling with tears, we hugged each other and said goodbye. This week, James and his wife welcomed their second child into the world.

I had a Celtic Woman CD in my car at the time, and as I drove home, I played track number eight on repeat.

When the light begins to fade,
And shadows fall across the sea,
One bright star in the evening sky,
Your love’s light leads me on my way.

There’s a dream that will not sleep,
A burning hope that will not die.
So I must go now with the wind,
And leave you waiting on the tide.

Rain comes over the grey hills,
And on the air, a soft goodbye.
Hear the song that I sing to you,
When the time has come to fly.

When I leave and take the wing,
And find the land that fate will bring,
The brightest star in the evening sky,
Is your love waiting far for me.

Authentically Aurora

He’s Still Got It

Silver FoxApparently I attract Middle Eastern men well into their 50s.

I stopped by a convenience store on my way home from work yesterday, and as the cashier made his way to the front so I could pay, I observed that he was about twice my age but had kept himself up nicely. He had bright eyes, fluid movements and a neatly trimmed beard.

I was so struck by his attractiveness despite his age – this man was definitely a Silver Fox – that I had to re-engage when he asked me, “Do you have a CVS card?”

I had left mine at home, but cashiers can usually look up your member ID using a phone number, so I asked, “Can I give you my phone number?”

He looked up from the register keypad and asked with a twinkle in his eye, “So that I can call you?”

Taken completely aback, I threw my head back with full-throttled, genuine laughter. He started chuckling, too, almost shy now. “Do you use that line a lot?” I teased him with a grin.

He raised his eyebrows and shook his head, “No, never before. I am surprised at myself! I usually say to customers, ‘Sorry, but I am married.'”

We laughed, I swiped my credit card, and he handed me the receipt with a wink and, “Thanks for the joke.”

Oh, Mirza, you ol’ rascal. You’ve still got it.

Authentically Aurora

Mixed Signals

It may come as a surprise to some of you that I am not confrontation averse. That statement was made with complete sarcasm.

Now, I don’t consider myself a contentious woman or someone who stirs up trouble just for the sake of excitement, but if someone needs to be rebuked or held accountable, I have no problem speaking up. Granted, some might say I still need work on the whole rebuking “in love” thing. I’m a work in progress.

Kate Not ImpressedFlynn hosted a Christmas party at his house last weekend. Yes, the same Flynn who has insinuated his interest in me but is still dating the girl he’s been “meaning to break up with” for two months. He said he knows I need an alpha male and “could be the kind of man [I] need”, but if he’s having trouble cowboying up and breaking things off with this soon-to-be-ex, I’m not so sure he’s as much an alpha male as he’d like to believe. This is my Not Impressed face.

I showed up to his Christmas party two hours late because I was spending time with Bryan, who left on Saturday for a week long trip to Colombia. It was a beautiful night out, so the doors and windows of Flynn’s house were all open. Since it was formal attire, I’d chosen to wear the same knockout floor length green formal I wore to sing in my brother’s wedding. I’d curled my hair and gone heavy on my eyeshadow for a dramatic look. As I waltzed through the doorway, the three gentlemen standing in the entryway stopped their conversion and watched me float by. Just the reaction I’d been going for.

I made my way to the kitchen for a drink. A girl I hadn’t met before greeted me with, “You look gorgeous!” just as Flynn turned around from where he’d been standing at the sink. At the same moment, Patricia, Flynn’s girlfriend, walked into the kitchen wearing a dress the same shade of green as mine. This new girl I’d just met oohed and aahed over how well Patricia and I matched and then insisted we take a photo together. #facepalm

The night progressed, and Flynn and I proverbially danced around one another. I agreed to sing karaoke with Trey, a sweet but awkward thespian. He chose the Frozen duet “Love is an Open Door.” We hammed it up, and the rest of the party loved it. Flynn jumped up with mistletoe on a stick and held it over us; then he videoed the end of the song when Trey’s character proposed and mine said yes.

“It’s official now,” Flynn said to me as I passed off the mic. He’s been teasing me about Trey ever since the camping trip.

“If you make one more crack about us…” I threatened jokingly. He just grinned.

When I sang karaoke for “Silent Night”, I glanced up to see Flynn watching me intently. Then he took the mic and imitated Elvis with “Blue Christmas.” His eyes locked with mine several times with silent communication I couldn’t decipher.

Patricia wasn’t feeling well and so left early. Meanwhile, the girl who’d loved my dress got out a violin, and Flynn went to a back room to pull out a cello. He plays cello. A super hot engineer in a suit and tie playing a melancholy line on a cello?! That’s not fair. That’s not fair at all.

Hot CellistI walked past him at one point while he was tuning and commented, “I didn’t know you played cello.” He looked up at me through dark lashes from his seated position and said with a sideways smile, “We haven’t gotten that far yet.” A present perfect verb tense. My heart fluttered. Interesting.

Over the booming of the speakers and the volume of the higher pitched violin, I couldn’t hear Flynn’s cello very well and told him as much at the end of the party. “I was disappointed I didn’t really get to hear you play.”

“I guess you’ll have to come back then,” he said with a twinkle in his eye.

“…or you could stay,” he mouthed silently to me when the others in our conversation weren’t paying attention. Then, embarrassed, he said out loud, “I didn’t say that.”

I pretended not to see or hear either comment. What was there to say? There was no appropriate reaction, because those comments shouldn’t have been made. He’s made his choice. He’s still with Patricia.

I left at the end of the evening feeling frustrated. I’m attracted to Flynn but feel like I shouldn’t be. Why does chemistry have to be so unpredictable and uncontrollable? And how much should raw attraction play into our relationship decisions?

The whole drive home, I kept hoping he’d break his silence and call. This party was the first time we’ve interacted since our lunch a month ago, and based on how things went, I felt like there was much to be discussed.

I typically don’t like to initiate (because I’m traditional and think that’s the man’s role), but I was so frustrated and confused that – for the sake of my health and sanity – when I got home and still hadn’t heard anything, I decided to call.

When Flynn answered on the third ring, I opened with, “Hey, it’s Aurora. Can we talk about the mixed signals I’m getting?”

“From Trey?” he asked without missing a beat. But surely he knew better.

“No.” I wasn’t letting him off the hook. “From you.”

His response was immediate, with a tone of knowing he had some owning up to do. “I’m a horrible person. I never should have said those things.”

“Stop. You’re not a horrible person,” I countered, “But you’re still with Patricia, yes?”

“Yes.”

“Well, a month ago, you told me you’d been planning to break up with her for weeks. So… things have gotten better with you two?”

“No! No. I just… it was her birthday on Monday. And before that, it was Thanksgiving. I keep rationalizing to myself, putting it off. I’m being a pansy. I just need to man up and do it. But I know it will devastate her, and I don’t want to hurt her. There just never seems to be a good time.”

“Well, there never will be a good time. But you’re a man and can take responsibility for how to handle your relationship with Patricia, so I’m not going to speak to that, but if you’re going to keep dating her, you can’t keep flirting with me the way that you do. You do realize you’ve put me in an uncomfortable situation, right?”

“Yes. And I feel horrible about it. After our lunch, I knew I couldn’t even talk to you until things were settled with Patricia. There’s this tension between us – you and me – this attraction. That’s why you haven’t heard from me. It’s taken so much self control for me to have your phone number and not call you. Or instant message you at work.”

He continued, “And you’re like a ninja at lunch. I’ve started sitting at a different table where I can see all the doors to the office cafeteria, but I never see you come in or leave.” Aww. He’s been looking for me.

I decided to show my cards a bit since he was doing the same. “I guess that’s why I haven’t seen you. I keep looking for you at your usual table.”

We both grinned into the silence over the phone line for a moment before I sobered up and sighed. “Okay. I’m sorry to have initiated this potentially awkward conversation, but I felt like some of these things needed to be said.”

“No, I agree completely. Better to get them out in the open and address them.”

“Good. Well, like I said, it’s your choice what you do about Patricia, but I think you know I’m not a boyfriend stealer, and I have no intention of being ‘the other woman’, so I’m not going to wait on you. You do your thing, and I’ll do mine. If the timing ever works out, great. But I need you to know that I’m setting aside any expectations.”

“Right, of course,” he agreed. “That’s the way it should go.”

“And I’ll stop looking for you in the cafeteria,” I added.

“And I’ll stop checking your status on Communicator,” he concurred.

There was a brief pause before he closed out, “So I guess I’ll see you at work on Monday.”

“Maybe,” I replied cryptically.

He chuckled. “Okay, have a good night.”

“…Night.”

Authentically Aurora