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Middle Spring (Xander)

Oh, spring, bursting forth cheerfully with your tiny puckering buds, waves of fresh and tender green tendrils breaching the winter-hardened soil, your precocious pink and whisper white first flowers. Oh, spring, heaving with the humid light of a virgin birth, promising the exhalation of sweet scented breath, inviting, welcoming the growth and bloom of the months to come. Oh, spring with your naïve insistence, your youth choir of daffodils and tuplets of tulips. Oh, spring, there is a treachery, an insincerity in your perfection.

I’m always getting fooled by spring. It’s hard not to be hopeful at the freshness and warmth and the robin’s egg skies. The clouds are so full and downy, surely they must house piglet plump cherubim: the littlest and most brazen, a silken sashed archer. No?

But soon, I notice, in the shy winks of new aspen groves, invasive Chinese Elm starts. An orgy of heavy headed poppies in the alley: the nutrient red-orange of a virus, shiny and impermeable as a plastic bag. An occupation of dandelions, youthful and leggy with hippy, dippy hats of stain yellow and dirty lint fuzz. Lawn squatters. The detritus of nest building on the back patio: bird poop and sticky sticks. An instantaneous hail storm that trudges through the weekend as non-stop rain. The uneven thatch of an overgrown lawn. Is it already time to mow the lawn? The lumber rumble of the landscaping trucks, always too early and the unremitting bleat of the weed eater. Truth is revealed. Reality. Middle spring.

April. The first time you meet him he comes into your work. He seems so familiar but you can’t place him. This isn’t a unique experience: 10 years gone from your hometown, you return and recognize many people. You just don’t know the where or how, the names or circumstances of knowing them. Did we date? High school? College? Work together? Did I hate you? Was I mean to you? Were you mean to me?

You make a note of his name.

One month later at a work luncheon, he sits down at your table. You introduce yourself but you can tell there is no recognition, he doesn’t know you. You make small talk and he rambles, nervously, giving irrelevant long-winded answers to simple questions. You assume it’s because he wants to flirt with you, but he’s unpracticed, awkward. You wink at him and smile. He doesn’t eat a single bite of his lunch.

He takes a long time in packing up his few things after the lunch. His gaze is shifty. His complexion flushed. He doesn’t know what to do next so you smile. You are so good at the warm “knowing smile.”  You’re pretty sure he wants to ask for your number, or give you his, but he can’t quite get it together. Idiot.

You’ve made a note of his name and the next day you friend him on Facebook and send him a message because life is filled with opportunities for the aggressive.  “I thought if you ever want to hang out and grab a beer or something, maybe I could add you to the people that I know.”

He responds: “I'm open to hanging out with you whenever - whatever.” Duh.

You make plans for a few days later.

And so it begins. The anticipation. The excitement. The wondering. The hoping. You share long emails and a couple of calls. And more emails. You make more plans. Elaborate plans. You talk for several hours and fall asleep to the sound of his voice.
“This is terrible. This is not how it's supposed to go. I can't think straight. I'm confused. I'm panicking! Is this what it feels like to have an anxiety attack? I don't even KNOW him and I'm spending my day missing him. How can I miss someone I've only been in the same room with, 14 ft. away, for 1 hour? That is insane! I am not insane. I am logical. I am getting nothing done at work. I'm totally unproductive. I'm obsessively checking my email and daydreaming about Xander, Xander. Seriously, Xander, I need to get some work done. I am writing poems in my mind about spring and that hope and dreams exist in spring. Sappy and gross. I am not a lovesick adolescent. I'm freaking thirty freaking five. This is embarrassing. I can't even imagine how I'm going to get through the day tomorrow. I am not the girl who gets all swoony, I am cynical and I dread first dates. Who am I? What am I going to wear?”
Rrrrrccchhh!

He walks in. Blammo! You can tell he’s nervous, really, really nervous. You play it cool. You make small talk and he rambles. You take a walk and find your pacing doesn’t match. He tries to hold your hand but you find your shoulders keep bumping, so you let go. You don’t have conversations the same way; there are awkward stops and starts. Wham! He goes in for the kiss. He’s thinking: “maybe this will ease the tension and smooth things out.” You’re thinking: “why am I kissing a stranger on the street corner, what if someone I know sees me.” You feel…nothing. It’s not a bad kiss, just inert, no electricity…no, nothing.

Let’s just go to dinner. But, the restaurant is packed and you have to wait at the bar. You order a glass of wine for yourself, and one for him. Someday, someone is going to order YOU a glass of wine and it will be a relief. He is actively selling himself to you, “if you keep me around…” “I want you to know that this is the kind of guy I am,” and “I’m already planning our future together.” You tell him to stop. You eat. You’re really bored. We have no future together, it’s so completely clear. Can’t he see it, feel it, too?

He wants to take another walk after dinner but you make the shoe excuse. 5” leopard print platforms aren’t exactly walking shoes. So, he takes you home, parks, comes inside. Howsabout a board game? He leans on your shoulder and rubs your leg. You pick a short game. He kisses you again. You haven’t had enough wine to make this work. You turn away. Move to a different chair. It’s time for him to go. Work tomorrow. Please. Just. Go.

Truth is revealed. Reality. Middle spring.