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

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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