Necessary Ingredients (Part 1?)

If you have taken the time to trot on over to my About page before reading this post, you would’ve read that I passionately enjoy eating. What I didn’t mention (not sure why) is that I also like cooking. Some people associate this with being a great cook–wrong. I’m not bad but I’m not amazing either. If I had to choose, I would say I’m a better baker than chef. Regardless, all recipes require specific ingredients. How many times have you had different versions of a hamburger? Pizza? Pie? Everyone adds their own magical touch to their creation. But when you closely examine what goes into the decadent dish, you notice that each recipe has a core of main ingredients. Relationships are no exception: trust, honesty, love, etc, are all crucial to a successful union. But that’s not what I’m about to dissect. Instead, I’m going to discuss the paramount “moments” in the building stages of a memorable, and hopefully, successful (but not necessarily) relationship. As much as we like to think that our relationships are unique, we typically share the same experiences but in various ways, which is where the distinguished parts come into play.

The Car Chat

You had a fun-filled night. You and your date just (pick as many as you like and/or add your own): cooked and/or ate dinner, went to the movies, took a swing dance class, bowled the night away and played laser tag, and/or danced so hard that your feet could no longer sustain your stationary weight. It’s the end of the night and you arrive at her residence. All during the ride, you wonder what is going to happen once you reach the next destination. Should I kiss her good night? Will she invite me in? Are we going to stumble in the house, knock things over, and wake the neighbors? Hopefully she remembers my name so she can scream it. Or will it be a PG ending? You park and turn off the engine, leaving the music playing (you don’t anticipate what’s on the horizon). Both of you begin talking and before you know it, an hour has passed. The type of conclusion to the date has already manifested itself–I refer to it as the “car chat.” You may have experienced it: two people sitting in the car under the stars after a wonderful night just chatting away. The conversation tends to be a little deeper compared to the topics earlier on in the night. This is where you begin to really learn about the attractive person across from you that you’ve been flirting with the entire night. You uncover that she has big dreams, a bit of a rocky past (who doesn’t?), a shared desire to travel to exotic destinations, etc. This is where you begin to unknowingly fall for her.

The Kiss

The first kiss is cliché. You may have many or you may have few. But a memorable first kiss is an indicator of a significant relationship–at least that has been my experience. (Notice I said memorable and not “great” or “amazing”.) Like having sex for the first time, sometimes the first kiss is built up so much that you’re disappointed, leaving you wanting more; luckily, that doesn’t apply to the majority of my first kisses. Having seriously dated three girls (and on my way to a fourth–and hopefully last, knock on wood), I remember every one of my first kisses except for the first girlfriend (I started dating when I was 17 years-old): one was in a nightclub; another was right out of a movie script–flirting/wrestling in her bedroom; and the most recent topped the latter–I had my wall up, giving her a peck at the end of the night, regretting it, and showing up the next afternoon on her doorstep, giving her a mini make-out session (it blew both our minds). But why does society build up the first kiss to be a vital part of the relationship? Sometimes it makes or breaks the relationship. It’s sounds a bit silly that the future of a relationship hinges on a few seconds (or maybe minutes) of labium docking. But is it so silly? Kissing is an intimate act. To no surprise, kissing produces chemical reactions in the body. Failing to produce the right kiss will cease to create the chemical reactions responsible for the change of environment in the pelvis region the feeling of lust, attachment, and or/love. If done right, pupils begin to dilate, pulse quickens, and breathing becomes irregular (among other reactions). Going beyond the animalistic urge, kissing does induce the feeling of falling in love, fostering a sense of attachment–you can thank the oxytocin hormone for that (credit to Sheril Kirshenbaum for that tid bit of information). So first impressions are important, especially when it comes to kissing. When people say that there’s chemistry between two people, it’s not just a saying–chemistry is large and in charge.

Late-Night Decompression

So you’ve began navigating the waters, impressing her with your date(s), melting her with your words and gifts, and  wowing her with the first kiss. What’s next? Spending the night. When I say that, it may or may not include sexual intercourse. But what I’m referring to precedes sex (at least that’s how it’s happened chronologically for me). Both of you are laying in bed, regardless of who asked who to stay. Your mind, and probably your heart (and hormones), is racing. It’s your very first night together. What are your expectations? What are hers? Simple answer: don’t have any. Just pre-establish boundaries. No, I don’t mean sit down and have a talk with her before you get in bed. Create your own guard rail beforehand. This isn’t just my religious side speaking. Whether you believe in God or not, sex changes everything–you can’t get around that (nor can you take it back). Birds and the bees aside, you begin talking. Does it resemble anything? If you’ve had the “car chat”, then it should. It’s late. You both have to get up early tomorrow morning. The logical, sleep-deprived portion of your brain is telling you to shut your mouth and fall asleep. But your romantic side yearning for that connection has struck preemptively, tying up, gagging your logical side and stuffing it in a basement before it can do any more damage. You stay up for hours, kissing, talking, making out, and continuing the journey into the depths of each other’s souls. The attachment strengthens and finally, after many words have been spoken, you both begrudgingly agree it’s time to get a little bit of rest. Good night kisses are exchanged and you both fall asleep with smiles on your faces and in your hearts.

On an unrelated note, I think that I’ve decided that one entry per week is sufficient; I don’t seem to have much time lately with work being slow. If you read my first entry, you may have been wondering what’s the status with the lovely lady that accompanied me to the concert. Things are going great. We’ve actually acquired all three of the “ingredients” thus far. Actually, the most recent “first kiss” I discussed just happened between us nine days ago. The “hopeful” romantic in me was intensely dissatisfied with my initial decision with the peck. Typically, any screw ups like that I would momentarily beat myself up over the span of a few hours at most but for some reason, I felt like I needed to rectify the situation. I couldn’t get it out of my mind after I got home; it hung around my head like a mobile the next morning as well. I texted her saying I wanted to drop something off and she was all excited, thinking the surprise was a gift–oh, and it was.

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What fairy tale?

So I’ve been away from the blog (and the computer in general). My charger crapped out on me, my internet has been extremely spotty (Charter, you will be getting an annoying phone call from me), and I’ve just been busy in general. Let’s dive right into it:

Two years from today (I started writing this before midnight but stepped away until right before 12 AM) was when Cinnamon (no, that’s not her real name) broke things off with me. It was like getting sideswiped, completely out of nowhere. Maybe I’m exaggerating about the out of nowhere part. We did have some issues for the first time in our relationship (that didn’t involve her parents) but they didn’t seem to necessitate ending the relationship; all relationships experience storms, and what we fought over was probably a weak Low pressure system: I was upset because she didn’t fight harder to find a way to spend New Year’s Eve together because her parents didn’t want her to leave her hometown until school started (her mother was never really pleased with our interracial relationship). Being the immature guy that I was, I ignored her phone call wishing me a happy new year and before receiving the call, I updated my Facebook status to something along the lines of “I don’t know this girl but she just gave me a drink and I’m going to enjoy it.” Neither of us were happy the next few days. Upon her return, I invited her to hang out with my friends but she decided she wanted to hang out with her friend instead. This increased my moodiness because we rarely ever hung out with my friends. But this time, I just put it aside and didn’t react to the situation (we were both pretty good about this with the exception for the New Year’s incident). The next day, I told her that I needed to talk to her. I went to her place and told her the things that were bugging me: her not putting more effort into making time to see my friends and/or family, not ever making time to see me during holidays because her mom didn’t approve, and maybe one or two other things that I can’t remember. We had a long talk–two or three hours–in which resulted her saying she needs the week to think about everything. This took me by surprise; I was expecting something along the lines of “I’ll try harder and you should work on the following things, too:”. About five days passed and she said she was ready to talk again. Cue January 13, 2011: “I feel like we’ve been in a rut, a little complacent…I don’t think it’s fair to you even if I gave you 99.9% of my love–you deserve all of it.” The fairy tale ended right there. Our first kiss that seemed like it came out of a movie script–time to erase that from my memory. All the mischief that we created will just seem like a figment of my imagination as time passes. This was the shortest of my relationships–11 days away from being a year–but it was the most significant. For the both of us, it was the first time that we seriously ever considered marrying our significant other. I didn’t understand any of her reasoning–and I still don’t, which is probably why I’ve had a hard time getting over her. People get in ruts; it’s natural but not incurable. Relationships take work and I don’t think she was willing to fight for it, especially with her parents involved.

Needless to say, I took it pretty hard. It was the first time that the relationship ended without my “blessing” and it was the only time that I have ever considered the thought of suicide. The timing of it all escalated the situation: things happening in my family, being snowed in for a week by myself, and one of my best friends not really willing to help me through it because she was busy with a new relationship and probably paying me back for not being a great best friend during my relationship with Cinnamon. Thankfully, a mutual friend of ours assisted me through it. I’ve never been so sure about anything in my life; I don’t know what I don’t to do for a career; I don’t have any big dreams that some people possess. But I was willing to bet my life on this person being the one woman that I would grow old with–thank God that I didn’t place that bet. A month or two later, I found out she began dating one of her best friends. Whether it was a rebound or if she truly had feelings for him, I don’t know. The only time we talked about it (I haven’t conversed with her since) she said it was just casual aka we’re messing around. It didn’t make sense to me because she dated one of her best friends before and that ended badly so I thought she would’ve learned her lesson; she either had strong feelings reserved for him and/or she was not in the best mental state. Either way, it happened. I’m not sure if I will ever completely recover from it but I’ll remain hopeful. Things never seemed anymore perfect; Everything about her–except her willingness to persevere–was what I wanted in a best friend, partner, and future wife, and then some.  Oh, well. I think it was God’s way of pulling me back to him because I was growing distant from him, focusing all my time and energy on the relationship. I deserved it. But he’s been good to me ever since I returned to the path.

The One

So this is it. The inaugural post. The pressure is on and I feel like it needs to be substantial. Let me save you any sort of anticipation–it won’t be. Or at least that’s what I want you to think before diving into the post and determining for yourself. Here’s something about me that I didn’t divulge in the “About” section: I like to fly under the radar and surprise rather than create lofty expectations and disappoint. Most of my life, people have underestimated me because of my physical stature and ethnicity, especially in sports. That’s fine. I enjoy playing the underdog role. It gives me pleasure when I make them pay for it, making their jaws drop along the way. It sounds slightly cruel and egotistical but some people can only learn the hard way, myself included at times.

Like my own preference for going undetected, it seems like love also indulges in the sneak attack. My past three relationships seemed to have happened out of the blue. I think you’re building up yourself for disappointment when you’re actively trying to find it. Cue stories:

It has been almost two years since my last relationship (I promise I will discuss this soon–I say this like you really care) and I gave myself at least eight months to recuperate. Whether that decision was conscious and/or voluntary is up for debate. Regardless, I grew weary of dwelling in the past and being lonely. Growing a little desperate because I wasn’t meeting any new ladies, I succumbed and subscribed to Match.com, creating an online dating profile. The results? Three dates, two with the same girl, a decent amount of winks and “interested”, and a load of  witty, humorous emails lacking responses. Basically, nothing significant to address besides that for some reason or another, I tend to attract many African-American females (I’m not Black)–it baffles me as to what part of my profile is responsible for luring in that demographic (no, I’m not racist). The first date involved eating sushi with a redhead. Nothing there. The second and third dates had some sparks conversationally but (this sound bad) I wasn’t physically attracted to her. She definitely was not bad looking and other guys would think she’s cute but she didn’t catch my eye for whatever reason.

The start of 2012 involved me and a co-worker on an intense week-long stint. What made it intense? Intense staring and thumb war competitions followed by definitely not sex hot, steamy coitus interruptus. Sorry to disappoint but I don’t have anything out of 50 Shades of Grey to report–the competitions are (unfortunately) fabricated as well. Do you really think that I would let a girl who loves staring and thumb war contests go so easily? Luckily, we’re still friends. How awkward would it be having to work someone that you’ve had baggage with? I wouldn’t know and hopefully I’ll stay ignorant in that department. Popular opinion dictates that it’s not an ideal situation. Back to expanding on the reason why it was intense: we just spent a lot of time each other, every day to be exact. We would see each other at work. And after work. Wine was usually involved and we ended up messing around on the last couple of days. I decided to be honest with her and told her that she was the first girl that I’ve really hung out with since my ex and that I wasn’t sure if this thing, whatever it was, was supposed to be solely a friendship and we took it to another level because it’s been a while for both of us–except I didn’t phrase it that diplomatically. To paraphrase, I said I don’t know what I’m feeling and that you might be a rebound. Ouch. I wasn’t lying when I said I was being honest. She was pretty pissed, and she had every right to be, but that lasted only for a day or so and we’re back to being good friends.

Fast forward to last night. I think I went on a date. If it winds up being classified as a date, it would be my first in a while. So why am I unsure? It manifested itself in a rather unconventional format. I was invited to a girl’s birthday celebration via Facebook who I recently met on a couple of occasions (we found out that we had mutual friends on the second meeting). She posted her number telling everyone to call or text her if they had any questions. After posting that I probably could not make it due to work obligations, the smart ass part of me decided to text her some witty questions, knowing that she didn’t have my number saved in her phone. She was amused and eventually said she could schedule us a meeting to talk about the meaning of life if I insisted. I told her that it might need the involvement of alcohol with it being such a dense topic but she should pencil me into her busy schedule. That led to her inviting me to a concert with her friend, which I couldn’t attend because, again, work got in the way, which happened to work out in my favor. She said she was also free Sunday and I asked if she was interested in going to a concert that I stumbled upon (she ended up not going to the other concert). She said yes. I bought the tickets and we went and had great conversations throughout the evening, beginning with the car ride and ending when I dropped her off. I paid for everything. I was unsure what to make of the whole event during the occasion because I didn’t know what she was expecting. It sounds like a date, right? After texting talking to her today, I think it can be safe to call it a date. She’s pretty happy and I’ve been making her smile (and vice versa). She also admitted that she asked our mutual friend to give her the 411 on me. I’ve been praying for God to fill the void in my heart and hopefully this is Him answering my prayer.

Oh, and in case you were wondering about the concert, all four artists were amazing. You should check them out: Hunter Callahan, Ella Mae Bowen (a song of hers is featured below), Jenn Bostic, and Molly Hunt. I didn’t favor Ella Mae over the others. They’re all up and coming artists so their songs aren’t all over the internet. Luckily, I’m receiving free songs because I signed up for Ella Mae’s listserv. And you can expect a song after each post. I told you that I enjoy music and I love sharing, especially when the artists aren’t all that mainstream.

Whew. That was a long one. Don’t get any ideas.