This post is a continuation of “Angel in My Life: Encountering.”
After the conference at the nursing facility, my mom wants to sleep. So I tell her I’ll go back to the hotel and return later in the afternoon. I am eager to resolve matters with Allen and put behind me the confusion and anxiety that are eating me up.
I call Alexis from the Starbuck’s down the street from the hotel, asking if I should pursue matters or take Allen’s behavior as a clear message that he is no longer interested, and let things go. “It sounds like classic post-hookup awkwardness,” she says, sharing that Allen’s behavior resonates with her own: “After intimacy, I shut down,” she reveals. “I get scared, I don’t know how to behave, so I push the person away.”
Alexis advises confronting Allen. “When someone directly asks me what’s up,” she explains, “I can’t run from it. I have to tell them what’s going on.” “But what if he doesn’t,” I ask. “What if he won’t talk with me about it?” “Then you have your answer,” she advises.
I access a place of understanding and compassion, forgiving Allen for his behavior and opening my heart again.
I arrive at the hotel and deliberate about whether to go to the restaurant and ask to see Allen. I decide against it. I feel too exposed and vulnerable to ask someone from the restaurant staff to go and get him. I feel he is making no effort to see me, so why should I go out of my way? It feels humiliating. I consider calling him from my room and asking when he will be free to get together.
As I head toward the elevator to go up to my room and sit with the situation, Allen cruises down the hall toward me. I am pleased by the serendipity. “Hey, what’s up?” I say, smiling and happy to see him. He is smiling too, yet does not break his stride down the hall. “Working,” he says, gesturing with an object he is holding.
He walks past me. I start to turn and walk with him, but his stride is fast and disconnected from mine. I stop and stay in place, watching his back move farther away. “How’s your mom?” he asks, his back still towards me, his form still gaining distance. I have already told him she is not well. I hate it when someone asks me how my mother is doing, not out of concern, but in the interest of making conversation.
An older woman emerges from the lounge, looks at me standing still and watching Allen, looks at him, looks back at me, then walks in the direction Allen is heading.
Past behavior would have involved feeling miserable, pretending I didn’t care, hiding in my room, and obsessing for the next several days or weeks. Instead, I walk toward the restaurant, determined both to change my behavior and resolve this matter once and for all.
“Can you ask Allen to come out?” I request from the waiter — a man who had seen Allen and me leave together a few weeks earlier. “Sure,” he says, going back to the kitchen. I wait in a chair for five minutes. “Can you tell Allen I’m waiting?” I ask the waiter again. “He’s right there,” the waiter says, pointing to the space behind the doorway.
I step up to the doorway and peer around to see Allen. “Can I talk with you for a minute?” I ask. “OK,” he says, laughing nervously, “but there are like five bosses with their eyes on me.” “I just want to talk with you for a minute,” I assure him. We step just outside the restaurant.
“It felt really weird and hurtful,” I tell Allen, “that you turned your back and walked away from me when I was talking with you.” “Oh, I’m sorry,” he replies, “but my boss was watching me.” I accept his apology and express that I want the chance to speak with him. “I know you’ve got stuff to do, but maybe we can go for a short walk after you get off work.”
“I have to get to my PO right after work,” he says, “and I can’t be late.” “What’s a PO?” I ask. “Parole officer,” he replies. “I was in jail.”
“Give me your number,” he says, grabbing scrap paper, his body language tense and hurried, “and I’ll call you.” I mechanically give Allen my number, but after almost two weeks of waiting for his call, I’m not putting myself in that position again. “How about I drive you to your parole officer?” I offer. He laughs. “OK,” he replies, amused. “I’ll come by before 3:00 pm,” I say. He agrees and goes back into the restaurant as I return to my room.
I tell my mom what’s going on and ask if she minds if I come a couple of hours late. She thinks it’s a good idea for me to get things resolved and says she doesn’t mind waiting. I meditate, dance, meditate, then gather my belongings.
The day Allen and I went out together a few weeks earlier, he had skipped his ride so as to wait for me. I don’t want him getting anxious about whether I will show up in time and whether he should in fact skip his ride. I make sure I get to the restaurant by 2:50 pm.
“Allen left for the day,” the waiter informs me. “Oh,” I reply, surprised. “I was supposed to give him a ride.” The waiter double-checks whether Allen is still around. “No, he’s gone,” the waiter reports back.
The story continues with “Angel in My Life: Changing.“