“I’m sorry,” I say. “I’m a mess. The last few years have been really hard.”
You know what I mean. I’ve spent hours at this point explaining it to you. Recounting the litany of big and little stresses that dropped me off at the stoop of the Granddaddy of All Stress: The COVID pandemic. That’s the one that hit everyone else of course. But I’d arrived there already broken and battered by life. I’d just begun to heal when the pandemic swept in, and I found myself isolated. Shortly after, my father died.
It was a lot. It’s been a lot.
I’m doing a lot better these days. Coming back from a lot of it. Can’t say that I’m flourishing — but I’m doing okay. And I can’t say that I’m back to my old self. But I’m starting to think that’s off the table. And maybe recovering from grief isn’t about becoming your old self at all — but embracing the new one. The one that has to deal with the Time After What Happened.
Somehow, during all of this, you’ve spontaneously materialized. Wanting, for some reason, to date me.
It puzzles me. I can barely tolerate myself these days. I can’t begin to imagine how anyone else could — let alone seek me out. Want me to be a big part of their life.
But here you are.
And if you weren’t so wonderful yourself, I wouldn’t even be considering it.
You say you’re willing to go slow. Super slow. That you’re just happy to spend time with me.
And as you say it, it doesn’t sound like manipulation. Or just something that people say. It seems like you mean it.
“I can’t believe you’re willing to wait for me. You must really like me,” I say.
You don’t respond. I suspect I’ve embarrassed you. We talk about other things.
But as we do, I think about how culturally we’re conditioned to expect that if someone is really into you, they’ll have a burning passion, a pressing need to rush-rush-rush — and how this scenario doesn’t fit in with that idea. I love that you’re patient with me. It shows that you care.