I’m about to hand off another finished (and hopefully….hopefully) final draft to my editor in a week or so. This morning I dug out what might be the follow up manuscript. It’s 330 pages of mostly material about dating. I haven’t opened it in nearly two years. I remembered it as not that great but in actuality it’s not terrible. It’s workable. Case in point-this excerpt:
I went on a date with a guy from Tinder. Alex. He was 7 or 8 years older, 6’4, a little heavy set but cute. He owned a bike shop in N. Portland. I didn’t know what to do with myself after Brandon broke up with me. I was sad and trying to move on. Dating seemed to be the next course of action to get over my sadness.
We met at Hungry Heart for coffee and a walk around Montavilla. I got there early and ordered an Americano and an apricot scone. I was nervous and paced around the tiny shop. I grabbed a lid for when my Americano came up on the counter. I found a Portland Mercury. I was back to this internet dating again. Meeting some dude from Tinder or OkCupid at a coffee shop for a date that I was hoping would lead somewhere but didn’t really know. Not one of my many dates had ever worked from Internet dating. I set the Portland Mercury on a table and flipped through the pages. I looked around to see if I recognized him walking up.
“Small Americano to go,” the barista shouted.
“Thank you,” I walked up to the counter.
“Kelly?” Someone said from behind me.
I turned around. It was Alex.
“Oh hi,” I held the cup in my hands.
“I’m Alex,” he reached his hand out. “I’m going to get a latte. Be right back.”
“Ok,” I walked back over to the Mercury and flipped through the pages. I looked through it but I couldn’t tell you what I saw. I was too nervous.
Alex and I walked around Montavilla and I tried to focus on him because he was the new frontier. Brandon didn’t want to be with me anymore. It was time to move on.
“I was always the fat kid growing up,” Alex took a sip of his latte.
“Oh really?” I wondered if Brandon would see me with Alex? I looked for his green hamster car. His Surly bike.
“I have type I diabetes now as a result of not having good diet when I was a kid,”
“Oh what do you have to do to manage that?” I liked learning about new disabilities since it was what I did for my day job; except I worked mostly with adults with cognitive disabilities and autism.
“I have to watch what I eat and check my blood sugar a few times a day,”
Could I live with someone with type I diabetes? Yes. I was adaptable. This wasn’t going to be difficult. I had learned to deal with Brandon and his chronic lateness. I was flexible. That’s what dating had taught me: I can adapt. I may think I can’t but I can.
It was a nice day and we found a garage sale. He found an old board game for $1.
“We should hang out again,” he said at the end.
“Definitely,” I said. “I’ll text you.”
Alex and I met a few days later at Roost on Belmont Street. When I got there he was about halfway through a bourbon on the rocks. I knew the smell and color of bourbon even if I hadn’t had a drink in 15 years. Alex seemed distracted and focused on the menu instead of me. Our server came up to the table.
“Would you like anything to drink?” He asked me.
Alex drained the bourbon.
“I’m fine with water,” I tried not to be distracted by his focus on the bourbon and not me.
“I’ll take a second bourbon on the rocks,” he set the glass down and the ice clinked.
“How was your day?” I had only been there a few minutes and already he was on his second drink.
I ignored it.
“Oh it was alright,” he seemed bored now. “It’s just still really slow right now. Give it a few more weeks and it will be crazy. The bike repair business is so seasonal.”
“It’s hard when it’s so slow, right?”
“Yeah. I should come up with a marketing plan to bring more business in but I just don’t have the drive anymore. It’s different when your business has been around for 17 years.”
My business didn’t really have slow or busy times. There was always work to be had and I didn’t have to do marketing anymore. People just knew me and sent clients my way. If anything I had too many clients. It had been like that for years. I liked staying busy and the fear of work running out as a self employed person was always lurking in the background. I never turned down clients fearing they were going to be my last.
The waiter brought me a water and Alex his bourbon on the rocks.
“What looks good to you?” He took a sip of the bourbon. The ice clinked in the glass again.
“I think I’m going to get the steak and fries,” I loved steak and fries. I didn’t cook at home but if a restaurant had them on the menu I was sure as hell gonna order it.
“I’m going to get the pork chop,” he took another sip of the bourbon. Actually, no, he took a big swallow.
The waiter came back and took our order.
“Oh I’m getting a little bit shaky and tired,” he picked the boubon up and then back down. “Hold on. I need to give myself some insulin.”
“Ok,” I didn’t know what was happening. He seemed to have it under control.
He fidgeted with a little black bag on the chair next to him. The restaurant was busy but not terribly so. I looked around. The waiters didn’t seem to notice him sticking a needle in a glass bottle and turning it upside down. I did. I wondered why he was doing it at the table and not excusing himself to go the bathroom. The people at neighboring tables didn’t seem to notice.
He lifted his shirt up a little bit and I looked away. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the needle. It was going into his abdomen. I couldn’t watch myself getting a shot or other people. It was too traumatic.
“Ok,” he put his shirt down. “I should be better in a few minutes here.”
“What does it feel like when you go into shock?” I was genuinely curious again. I wanted to know since I worked with people with autism and not diabetes.
“It just makes me feel really tired,” he put the glass bottle and needle back in the black case and zipped them up.
Our food came, he finished his second bourbon shortly after and paid for dinner. Even though he had stabbed himself with a needle that didn’t stop me from wanting a connection with him. I was willing to overlook it if he was going to help me get over Brandon. The loss of another doomed relationship. It was just another thing I was willing to overlook. I could roll with the punches and date someone diabetic. I could learn something along the way.