Last spring, Kris Likey sent an email to ask if I was attending BlogHer because (a) she thought I would enjoy it and (b) she wanted to finally meet me. That second part ranks up there with being invited to the prom by the captain of the football team. Or so I’d suppose. What do I know - my Quaker prep didn’t have a football team and I went to my prom with a gay guy. Anyway, a few days after receiving Likey’s email, I excitedly relayed my intentions to Alaska.
“And this awesome DC blogger who wants to meet me thinks I should go!” I bragged.
“But in the end, what will you get out of it?” he inquired, common sense and logic thickly dripping off of his question. “As a writer,” he elaborated.
I went quiet. My posture curled and my lip quivered as I tried to formulate an answer. Ten minutes later, I had nothing to counter his argument. So I admitted defeat and officially shelved all plans to attend the conference. I still thought about going but not in a way that would amount to any follow through.
A month later, Alaska called to break up with me. And two days after that, I posted a message on BlogHer’s website to see if anyone needed a roommate for the upcoming conference.
I didn’t attend BlogHer as a fuck-you to Alaska. I got on a plane and mingled with 800 strangers in Chicago to be true to myself. Because maybe I sometimes waver when I claim I’m a writer but at the core, deep down inside, I know I am. Going to BlogHer was about standing up and believing in myself while simultaneously regaining that slice of confidence Alaska had stolen from me.
In mid-January, I met Trader in Princeton for a second date. We strolled the streets before ducking into an Italian eatery, sliding onto two barstools and settling in for some pizza and wine.
“Did you mention Stuyvesant?” a woman standing to my right asked in the direction of Trader.
“Yes, I went there,” he answered.
“I used to live on Long Island with my husband. That’s a great school.”
“It is,” he concurred.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to interrupt,” she said as she backed out of our space.
“Don’t be silly,” I offered. “What do you do?”
“Publishing. I bounce between Philly and New York. Hence, Princeton. What do you two do?” she asked before taking a sip of her wine.
“Finance,” Trader said.
“Insurance broker and writer,” I answered.
“No,” Trader interrupted. “She’s just a writer.”
And the same way Alaska’s doubt drained me dry, Trader’s confidence filled me up.
I’ve thought about that conversation quite a bit. His words, easily offered without hesitation, were comfortable and casual. He didn’t make the correction to inflate my ego or impress the stranger to my right. He corrected me the way one might correct a friend about a detail in a story. No, no, she was wearing a black dress not red. No, no, she’s a writer, not an insurance broker and writer.
I haven’t seen Trader since that date. Grad school applications left me mentally and emotionally crippled. And as pathetic as it might sound, I was still dabbling in my past. But I never let go of certain things Trader said, including that correction in Princeton. In simple terms, many pieces of our interaction left a mark. Sure, I never felt the excited flutter of butterflies, but I always felt a sense of genuine presence. He was there because he wanted to be and for all of the right reasons.
So last week I sat down and emailed Trader to ask if he’d be interested in a third date. I reciprocated his candor, mirroring his honesty and sincerity as I elaborated on the basis of my request. I made myself vulnerable though never truly felt that way. If he declined, I fully respected his decision. But if he accepted, well, that was all I could hope for.
We’re working on making a plan.