My life is an HBO show.
It was Pride this weekend, so we decided to go as a family of four to support our gay child. We had never taken the kids before, mostly because our past Pride experiences were sex, drug and alcohol full dance parties. How would we explain all the naked people? How would we explain the hyper-sexed culture of it all?
We needn’t have worried. Kids are amazing and just roll with things. They laugh if someone’s dingle dongle is hanging out. They are with their parents, so they aren’t nervous. They know us — if they have a question, we’ll answer it honestly. From their vantage point, Pride was about letting your freak flag fly. Completely accurate. Be your brave, bold self in all its rainbow glory.
Kids are smart. More on that later.
Mr. Saturday Night has been a bit more chatty over text this past week. Mostly because, hey, we had an incredible time together two Saturdays ago when I had him over for dinner and he had me for dessert. Ba-dum-cha!
He was texting me yesterday about Pride t-shirts and I assumed he had seen them at the museum where he works most weekends. So the fam and I wandered up the avenue, past the food trucks and the DJ booths and the corporate “activations” to the public school where a big Family Pride event was taking place. We had the option of going into the gym or walking back to the playground, and our adorable queer kid chose the playground because there were monkey bars. This kid has never met a set of monkey bars that weren’t a magnet for them.
I send Mr. SN a photo of my kid standing in the middle of the rainbow-painted avenue in full costume with the caption, “Baby’s First Pride!”
“Awesome. Come visit. We are at the school.”
RECORD SCREECH! Not that I could hear a record screech, my heart was pounding so loudly. I am standing with my ex and my kids and this handsome man, whom I’m smitten with, this gorgeous creature that I just had amazing sex with the week before is saying he happens to be right where we are. I freeze.
“This is why Dr. X says we should stop doing things as a family!” I berated myself. After scanning the schoolyard casually, I excused myself and went to a Port-a-Potty to hyperventilate and consider my next move.
I text my friends and they mostly laugh at me. I would too. I’m an idiot. Why do I keep hanging out with my ex? Breathe, Maria, breathe. OK, just put it all on the table. He’s a grown up.
“So are we! Where are you? Heads up that their dad is here with us. Which is weird [shrug emoji] but perhaps not…”
Oh phew, I can escape the Port-a-Potty at least. When I reach my fam, they are watching a magic show. I tell them I have a friend in the gym and I’m going to say hi. I wander into the dark gym. There is the usual gym food fare by the stage: a desiccated fruit tray, the orphaned raw broccoli in a veggie tray, some sad-looking pizza with green peppers on it (ew). There’s a mom breastfeeding in a corner, and a painting station and some assorted wee chairs to have a rest on. And there in the back of the gym is the handsomest, most charming man I have ever had sex with. Even in this dull gym, he is SPARKLING.
I try to do a sultry, sly walk-over. I catch his eye and melt a bit as the corners of his mouth turn up at the site of me. I convince my knees not to buckle. He introduces me to his colleague, a 50-something woman with glasses and dark curly hair. I promptly forget her name. “Where’s the gang?” he inquires. Out watching a magic show, I tell him. “We can’t compete with that,” he quips. We talk a bit, he tells me about the community outreach programs they do to educate people about the museum. Then I decide to go get the kids.
This. Is. Happening.
The younger one is immediately interested. The magic show was babyish and pissed her off. We walk in together and I introduce him as “My friend, Sam.” Mr. SN is smiling, clearly pleased to make her acquaintance, and shows her the antique historical artifact he’s brought with him. They use it to make something tangible, my kid’s hand on the same machine as Mr. SN and I can barely contain myself.
He hands us the tangible thing to take home and just as I think we are going to walk away now, my kid wants to play a game of giant checkers, 10 feet from where Mr. SN’s booth is. So I take off my jacket and indulge and try to play it cool at the same time. I text my ex, who is with our other kid, that we are in the gym playing giant checkers, but I don’t want Theo to come into the gym and don’t know how to say it.
The game takes way longer than I’d like it to. Mr. SN is serving visitors and I’m playing giant checkers and we’re pretending not to take notice of each other, but all I want to do is go over and kiss his whole face. Maybe find some bleachers to make out behind or something. But I don’t know how to be in this new world where two worlds are colliding. Not yet. I wasn’t expecting this. I didn’t have time to prepare! Is he even the guy worthy enough to be the first person I introduce to my kids?
Then Theo walks in with our older child, who has just done a project on exactly what Mr. SN knows the most about. Introductions are made. Mr. SN gives an even bigger performance of his subject matter expertise. He wants to slay. I’m not sure who his audience is: me, the kids or Theo? I am so uncomfortable, I just want it to be over and yet I want Mr. SN to impress the shit out of all of them.
Mr. SN shakes Theo’s hand. Firmly. Looks him in the eye. There’s a macho-ness to this interaction. The hand that a week before had been all over my body (and way up inside it, too) shaking the hand of another man who had years ago been all over my body (and had seen a baby fly out my vagina). It felt like a Clint Eastwood western.
HOW IS THIS HAPPENING?
We say our goodbyes and I give another sly smile. He sends a happy face emoji and I say something about how hot he looked with the antique machinery. Then I say it was lovely to see him and I was glad he got to meet my humans. He responds saying my humans are great and he was glad to meet them. SWOON. But the fact that Theo is with me makes me question both our uses of the word humans; is Theo included in that?
Theo is CLUELESS. No idea. This is partially because I know EVERYBODY and he can never remember a name. So if I say, “This is my friend Sam,” then he just assumes I know the person through work or social media and never asks. I could have just left it. I assume that someday Mr. SN could be an anecdote, because I’m still new at this. I can’t possibly have found a person I might settle down with so soon.
So I should have said nothing, but I don’t, because I’m neurotic and a fool. “Sorry, I didn’t know Sam was going to be here. I hope that was OK.” Theo still doesn’t get it, and then eventually his old fashioned lightbulb flickers on. “Oh! Well he seems like a nice guy… He’s really good-looking!” Yup. Sigh.
“Does he like you?”
In hindsight, WTF did he mean by that question? But I love that I didn’t waver. “Yes… yes, he likes me.” Because he does, even if it’s mostly just sexually right now. He likes me. He waited 5 dates before trying to sleep with me. Which I now get. Because when you’re as good-looking and as charming as him, you can get women to sleep with you fairly easily. But if you can like getting to know someone enough to last five dates, then it makes it a bit more worthwhile. It means that the person is more than just sexy, there’s something there. Yes, Mr. SN likes me. And I REALLY like him.
So it happened. Everybody met everybody. Nobody died. Nobody had a Russian Roulette style shoot-out outside the saloon. All hearts remain in tact. The kids, however, are not clueless.
“How do you know Sam? Like, where did you meet him?” Uhhhh, work? Kids can see through bullshit like Superman checking out Lois Lane’s undergarments. I resisted the urge to talk about Mr. SN all day. I just wanted to conjugate his name for hours. Sam, Sammy, Samuel… but I kept my glee in check and focused on my time with my littles. I often say I live on two continents since the separation. The one with the kids and the one I occupy when it’s just be and I’m not with them. But yesterday those two states collided. I think it’s inevitable. The lesson is that there is a new me and a new life I’m trying to build. And if I keep a foot in the old life, then I am going to be faced with this kind of awkwardness over and over. (To be clear, it was only awkward for me.)
I need to move forward. And yet part of me is still tethered to Theo. I came home last week, a little sauced after taking Ali to dinner for his birthday. And I waltzed in with a swagger that only three glasses of rosé and a flirty dinner with one of your lovers can provide. And Theo started in. “Do you think that someday we may get back together?” Argh.
I told him no, that “back together” implied backwards and I’m not headed that way. Besides, what exactly would be better? Why, WHY after we broke the kids hearts, would I even consider it? I hate that he asked me this question. His refusal to let me go, whether conscious or subconscious, is problematic. Does he not realize how much hurt and pain he’s caused?
For now, I distract myself with these men, handsome and fun and wanting only me. I need to make some more changes, commit further to myself and treat myself like the lover I’ve always dreamed of. I’m going to practice that this week. Stay tuned…