Problematic Dreams – Part III

Swing dancing

On my way to pick Cory up from med school, I got updates from a few others that they weren’t going to make it out to dancing. It was just going to be Cory, Noelle and me (the makings of a love triangle if I ever saw one).

I pulled my BMW up to the fountain Cory had indicated in the center of campus and waited for him to emerge from the lecture hall. As his tall silhouette strode toward me, a book tucked under one arm, I was struck by the oddity of the situation. As much as Cory and I had messaged back and forth over the prior week, I felt like I knew him well, but in truth, I’d only ever spent five minutes physically in his presence.

“Sweet ride,” he commented as he approached before giving me a quick hug. “Thanks for picking me up.” I studied him as he slid onto my passenger seat. What an unusual life I lead.

I felt like a mom (or a wife?) asking Cory about his day as I drove him home. He told me briefly about that evening’s lecture, pausing temporarily to exclaim, “God, I love your car!” as I zipped onto the freeway.

Once at his complex – an older set of buildings probably built in the ’60s – Cory ushered me into the second floor apartment he shares with (surprise!) the guy who played bagpipes at the talent show. “I helped him tune them last night,” Cory mentioned as an aside just before I was pummeled by a blur of black fur.

“Stout! Stout, calm down,” Cory laughed as I was greeted by lots of wiggles and slobbery kisses from his two year old puppy.

I let Stout sniff my legs and lick my hands before I started to scratch him behind his ears. He laid down and rolled over for a belly rub. “Oooh, he loves you. He doesn’t normally trust people that fast,” Cory mused aloud before disappearing into what I assumed was his bedroom to change clothes while I tended to Stout.

Once Cory reappeared, we took Stout for a quick walk around the block, ensured he had food in his bowl; then returned to my car to go meet Noelle at the sweet shop that hosts swing dancing every Thursday night.

When Cory and I reached my BMW in the parking lot of his apartment complex, Cory walked past the passenger side of my car and started to accompany me toward the driver side. Confused, I subconsciously tilted my head to the side as I gestured, “This one is my car, right here.”

“Oh, I know,” he explained. “Don’t worry, I’m not driving. I’m just going to open your door for you.”

Shocked, I clicked my fob to unlock the door, and good as his word, Cory opened my driver door for me with a confident “M’lady” before escorting himself over to the passenger seat.

On the drive over to the sweet shop, Cory mentioned that he wouldn’t be able to dance because he’d just finished up his most recent tattoo the day before, and the skin was still healing was on his right foot. “I suppose I could be talked into sitting out a few dances to keep you company,” I teased him.

“How kind of you,” he drawled with a wink across to me. Man, but he could be charming.

I asked about the stories behind each of his tattoos and – after warning me that such a topic could get pretty serious and deep – Cory enthusiastically plunged into a twenty-minute exposition of his astrological sign intermingled with his dad’s, a couple logos from his favorite bands, the cross on his back to which he hoped to incorporate a few Buddhist symbols (this drew a raised eyebrow from me) and the most recent one, representing those who have struggled with mental illness. Only later would I discover the true depth and intimacy of each of these sentimental markings with which he had chosen to cover his body.

Cory finished up his explanation as we pulled up to the venue, and the two of us were just getting settled at a table beside the dance floor when Noelle skipped up to us. “Hey, guys!”

She looked adorable, as always, and I was just about to tell her so when I got pulled onto the dance floor. Cory had never seen me dance before, and I glanced over my partner’s shoulder a few times to catch him watching me from afar. I smiled to myself. I was in a swing dancing society in college and was glad to be able to showcase one of my strengths that night.

Stop it, I silently reprimanded myself. He’s just got the allure of the bad boy persona, but you heard him in the car! He says he’s a Christian, but he’s also adopting Buddhist principles into his beliefs. He clearly stated that he doesn’t believe Jesus is the only way to heaven. He’s a universalist and therefore not God’s best for you. You don’t need another “project.” Snap out of it!

By the time I’d finished my set, Noelle and Cory had just returned to our table with cups of ice cream. Cory wordlessly scooped a spoonful of his into my mouth as my eyebrows shot up in surprise.

“Mmm,” I approved his choice as I tasted chocolate ice cream accented by earthy almonds and tart cranberry pieces. Over the next several minutes of conversation, Cory occasionally scooted his cup of ice cream toward me, encouraging me to share with him. A few times, I thought I saw veiled hurt in Noelle’s eyes, and I felt badly. Cory was not overly subtle about his preference, and I knew it couldn’t sit well with her. After a time, I actually tried to deftly encourage some flirtation between the two of them, partially to keep Noelle from feeling left out and partially – selfishly – because I desperately needed those perceptive eyes of his to stop peering deep into me from across the table.

When Cory looked at me, I knew he didn’t just see my dark, expressive eyebrows and the freckle in the golden-brown iris of my left eye. His expressions told me he saw all the things I didn’t want him to. He has walked through enough darkness to be able to see into the hearts of people and, throughout the surface-level conversation casually going on over ice cream, I felt like Cory and I were engaged in another realm, having a nonverbal conversation all our own.

An hour or so into the evening, Cory mentioned one time he went dancing with an ex. I’d seen several photos of him on Facebook looking cozy with a blonde girl, so I asked if she was the dancer. Cory had been looking at Noelle in that moment, but at my question, his head snapped around to me, and his face registered both shock and pain before he shuttered his expression. “No…” was all he said.

“She’s another ex, isn’t she?” I asked gently. He just nodded, looking stoic. There was obviously more to the story, but as I resolved not to press it, Noelle got asked to dance. I watched her weave her way to the dance floor with her partner and turned back around to find Cory looking at me intently. “She’s my ex-fiance,” he said softly.

“What?”

“The blonde in my photos. We were engaged. She broke off the engagement in July.”

Without thinking, I reached across the table to cover Cory’s hands with my own. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t know…”

“I know…” he shrugged, looking down at the table before looking up at me again. “It’s such an awful word isn’t it? ‘Ex-fiance.’ I hate saying it out loud.”

I paused, wondering how deep I wanted to go with him; then I ventured tentatively forward. “I was engaged once, too. He broke things off. Last July, actually. A year and a half ago.”

Cory looked surprised, and I went on, “We don’t have to talk about it, but if you ever want to process your thoughts and feelings with somebody who’s been through a broken engagement, I’m here for you. It will get better.”

My heart went out to him. It was still fresh for him. And, unbidden, another thought came into my mind: He is SO not available. We don’t share the same faith, don’t have the same world view, and he is only recently single after having his heart ripped out of his chest by an ex-fiance …So why does my heart feel full when I’m around him? Why am I so drawn to him? God, why is this my pattern, again and again? The bird with the broken wing is my personal Achilles’ heel. Heaven help me.

Authentically Aurora

 

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Car Care

Car CareMuch of life is lived in the mundane, but the moments that hold the power to be impactful tend to also have the power to be intensely positive or intensely negative. And the way we (or others!) respond to situations can greatly impact the tone and outcome of those significant moments.

A few months ago, I had to take my BMW in for repair. The collision center I used did a great job providing me daily updates, offering multiple repair options complete with pricing details for each and even finishing the repair job early. They also coordinated with a nearby rental car company and shuttled me over to make my transition as easy as possible.

When I went to pick up my car, the owner – an attractive, young Armenian man named Hovik – came to personally shake my hand and wish me well. He looked a bit familiar, but I was shocked when he said, “Hey! We live in the same apartment complex. I see you in the gym there all the time.”

I had no recollection of noticing him in the gym (shame on me; he’s gorgeous), but sure enough, I’ve seen him there several times since he worked on my car. During one of our gym interactions, Hovik asked me to fill out a customer survey, which I did happily; his collision center provided the best customer service I’ve ever had. Apparently my positive feedback caused them to be awarded some kind of elite diamond-encrusted platinum status or something, because Hovik sent me a text a week later thanking me for completing the survey and telling me that I could bring my car in for a full detail any time, on the house, as a way of showing his appreciation.

I let months go by without cashing in on my free detail, but last Monday on my way to work, a dashboard light came on indicating that I had dangerously low tire pressure. We’d just experienced a cold front, so I assumed that, due to PV/T (yay physics), my tire pressure was lower because of the weather change.

I could have pumped up the tires myself, but I remembered my offer from Hovik, so I pulled over and called him. “Hey, Hovik. Does that free car detail include checking my tire pressure? Because if so, I’m on my way.” Hovik was delighted to hear from me and insisted that I stop by.

When I arrived, he was waiting for me in the lobby. As I handed him my keys, he asked, “Were you out late last night? I saw your car parked on the fifth floor of the parking garage instead of your usual spot on the second floor.”

Surprised, I nodded. “Yeah, I went swing dancing last night and got home around ten.” He noticed where I parked? He’d also sent me a text earlier in the day asking if I was alright because I’d made a pit stop on my way to the shop and took longer to arrive than he’d expected. This man is very attentive, I thought to myself.  

I set up my mobile office there in the lobby, dialing in to my company’s VPN and knocking out various email responses while Hovik and his team worked on my car. After several minutes, Hovik reappeared and gestured for me to follow him outside. I grabbed my purse, locked my laptop and trailed behind him. When we got to my bright blue Beemer, Hovik turned and gave me a lopsided grin. “The reason you had low tire pressure is right there.” He pointed to my front driver tire. “You have a nail in your tire.” Oh.

“Good thing you brought it in,” he continued. “I’m really glad you didn’t have a blow-out on the freeway. My shop doesn’t do tire plugs, but there’s a Discount Tire around the corner.”

“Okay,” I said, thinking about the logistics of my day. “I have another meeting coming up. I was going to dial in from your lobby… Do you mind if I stick around here for another hour before going to Discount Tire?”

Hovik studied me thoughtfully for a moment before speaking. “You know what?” he began, “Why don’t I have one of my guys take your car over to Discount Tire and handle it for you?”

I was stunned. “Really? You…. you’d do that?”

He shrugged and grinned, muscles bulging. How had I not noticed this guy at the gym? “Yeah, let me take care of you.”

So I returned to Hovik’s lobby, took care of my various business meetings, and an hour later, Hovik strode up to me with my keys in hand. “All set,” he told me with a smile.

“How much do I owe you for the plug?” I asked.

He waved away my question. “Don’t worry about it. It was my pleasure to take care of it for you.”

I was stunned by his generosity. Up to that point, I’d assumed the simple band on his right ring finger was a wedding band. But now I’m not so sure. Especially since his texts have continued into this week and are decidedly non-car-related.

And I’m also beginning to suspect that the lavishness of his shop’s customer service may – possibly, maybe, perhaps – be specific to the customer. Ha.

Authentically Aurora

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What a Beauty

BMW-M-Sport-1-404x250After ten years of driving my old high school clunker, I finally treated myself to a new car: an Estoril Blue BMW 328i Sport. And I love it. It’s sleek, sporty, sophisticated and suits me in all the fullness of my multi-faceted persona.

I have valet parked three different times at three different venues in the past week, and each time, the various handsome young attendants have greeted me with, “What a beauty!”

…I’m pretty sure they were talking about the car.

Authentically Aurora

Very Inspiring Blogger Award

the-very-inspiring-blogger-awardIf there was one word I’d hope would be used to describe me, “inspiring” is definitely in the Top 5, along with words in the vein of godly, loving and Christlike. So it is with great honor that I accept Mrs. Spike’s nomination for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award.

Mrs. Spike is a wonderfully inspiring woman herself and someone who is quickly becoming more than just a fellow blogger but – dare I say it? – a real friend. She truly is in the business of “keeping the blogisphere a beautiful place” – a sentiment that is at the heart of this award. So thanks, Mrs. Spike, for recognizing me as a fellow source of inspiration!

7 Facts About Me:

  1. I have been to all 50 states in the U.S., and North Dakota was the last one visited – an unregrettable choice (sorry, Mom).
  2. I worked as a volunteer EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) in college. I’m really glad I had the experience… and really glad it’s not what I do for a living.
  3. I am in a swing dancing society and have been for seven years. Lindy Hop is my favorite!
  4. My favorite Ninja Turtle has always been Donatello. Smart and purple? Yes, please.
  5. I just bought a new car last month – a BMW 328i Sport. Prior to that, I was still driving my high school vehicle. Yay practicality.
  6. I am currently calorie counting. And it stinks. On the upside, I have finally developed a taste for 100-calorie tall nonfat lattes over my usual 290 calorie (and 28g of sugar) tall mocha.
  7. It’s officially my birthday month. BOOM.

And My Nominees for the VIBA (all rock stars!):

  1. Rambling Abby
  2. A Sheep’s Life
  3. Glam and Grace
  4. So What
  5. Truth Warrior
  6. My Heart Will Sing No Other Name
  7. My Little Piece of Quiet

The Rules

  • Post the award on your blog
  • Thank your nominator because they’re awesome
  • List 7 facts about yourself
  • Nominate 15 other blogs for their awesomeness (I did 7)
  • Post the rules so people know them

Authentically Aurora

A Meeting of Minds

Keep Calm and DateI’ve spent nearly 20 hours with Bryan in the last week. And I don’t even know how it happened.

On Wednesday, he took me out for tapas. On Thursday, we met at a grocery store, and I cooked him scallops in a lemon butter sauce with fresh green beans. And on Saturday at 9am, he drove us to a downtown pub that hosts watch parties for Chelsea FC, his favorite football club from his time in London.

When I’m with Bryan, time flies by, and I am never ready for the day to end. We don’t really have sparks or intense chemistry like I do with Flynn, but we share a comfortable companionship. I enjoy doing life with Bryan.

When I cooked dinner for him on Thursday, it was my first time to see his house. It’s a three story house in a ritzy part of town. No surprise. One of his neighbors owns three BMWs. The other has an Audi and a Porsche. You know… no big deal.

Bryan gave me the tour, and I was pleasantly surprised to discover that he is in the process of building a gazebo on his rooftop porch. He didn’t strike me as the kind of guy to work with his hands, but it is pleasing to me that he does – and that he enjoys it so immensely. There is something very attractive about a man who works with his hands.

Later in the evening that Thursday, in telling me about his travels (and explaining the stories behind the various cultural relics decorating his home), Bryan made reference to being happy to be back in his own bed. “What color is the comforter on your bed?” I asked offhand, trying to envision the room as I often do when people are telling a story.

He looked at me with a puzzled expression. “Don’t you know?” Well, he’d given me a tour, but I hadn’t noticed.

“If you did know, what color would it be?” he asked me.

I thought for a moment. “…blue?”

He smiled warmly at me. Affectionately. Pleased. “Yes.”

“Why are you looking at me like you know something I don’t?”

Bryan explained. “I recently read about hypnosis theories. Apparently your subconscious is constantly picking up on more than you realize in your focused, conscious thoughts. One of the tricks of hypnosis is to ask your subject things like, ‘If you did know…’ or ‘If you had to guess…’. That causes the subconscious to activate those memories you didn’t even realize you had. Your subconscious provides your conscious with the answer.”

These are the kinds of conversations we have all the time. We talk about logic puzzles and brain chemistry and psychology. It’s interesting. Intriguing. Entertaining. Like I said before, when I’m with Bryan, time flies by, and I enjoy doing life with him. But I want – no, I need – more than just a meeting of minds. My heart needs lighthearted playfulness. I need someone who can be silly and who makes me laugh.

Bryan says I still have walls up – or rather (in his words), a curtain. He claims that I peek over the top of the curtain so I can see everything that’s going on, but I never part the curtain for anyone else to see in. He says that I project the image of myself that I want others to see. And that image isn’t false, but it’s only a part of the whole.

Bryan also says he is determined to break through the barrier. Leave it to Bryan to be perceptive enough to recognize my shielding… and to be compassionate enough to genuinely want to know me – all of me.

More than anything, I want to be known. Fully known and fully loved, despite being fully known. But I know that if I part the curtain, Bryan won’t like what he sees, and then he’ll reject me, like so many have done before.

I told him as much. His response? “How do you know I won’t like what I see? You haven’t given me the opportunity to make that determination.”

“Everyone else has rejected me when they’ve seen in.”

“And, based on what you know of me, am I like everyone else?”

No.

But… better to keep the curtain up for now.

Authentically Aurora