Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Weather report

It’s hot in Melbourne. It’s been hot since last Saturday. You suffer, you endure, and then it starts to get to you, not just physically but emotionally. Apart from two days that are expected to be 27 and 28 (but will probably be revised up) it’s going to be hot for another week. Already we've had five consecutive days with temperatures over 32 degrees, rivalling the 1896 record of six consecutive days with temperatures over 30 degrees -- but possibly creating a new record because the 1896 temperatures may not have been over 32 degrees.

Luckily the nights have been cooler. My scientific friend tells me it’s the minimum temperatures you have to watch in a heatwave rather than the maximums. Late yesterday afternoon brought a cool change of sorts; I pottered round the laundry and backyard, handwashing, weeding and guiltily attending to my fast-wilting plants. I opened the windows and doors to let the cool in. Later that night I stepped out the front door and just stood on the porch with my hands stretched out, the feel of cool, breezy air on my skin like water, the wonderful sensation of being too cold.

The internal weather has been just as difficult. A few weeks ago I wrote about a date with a certain Gentleman; now I feel compelled to reveal the outcome. Nothing happened. There – I’ve said it. But in writing it I realise now that I really believed something would.

At the end of our first meeting, standing out the front of the café, I turned away during that horrible split second when you are trying to communicate your general impression and perhaps negotiate a second meeting. I hate this moment and was childishly trying to avoid the uncertainty and embarrassment of it. Afraid to show vulnerability, I didn’t give him my phone number, saying hurriedly something like ‘we can email’. Later I tried to remedy this by sending an email telling him I’d enjoyed meeting him and would like to meet up again. But perhaps the damage was done.

Or perhaps all along I was unconsciously protecting myself from a painful short-term fling that would lead nowhere.

Anyway, he replied to my email and said that he’d be interested in meeting up again, although he sounded pretty low key. I knew he was going overseas; he’d told me early on that he was planning a trip to Johannesburg to visit his ailing mother, and was coming back on 2 November. During those weeks I walked around clutching the thought of him to me, keeping him as a little prize for the future, a pocket of sexual adventure, enjoying the idea of him in absentia. I was pleased that the onus was on him to contact me when he came back: I would find out what he really thought of me.

And magically enough he did – an email appeared in my Inbox on 2 November. But this email was even more low-key and non-committal than the earlier one. He’d just got back, was very tired but thought he’d better drop me a line. Later I would wonder why.

I wrote back effusively, telling him I hadn’t gambled on the Melbourne Cup, that it was deathly quiet because of the four day weekend, and asking him about his trip. What I didn’t do was ask him out on a date. I’d already done that in a way – now it was up to him.

That was over a week ago. Since then – nothing.

Of course, I don’t know why he’s been silent, and probably never will. Perhaps he never liked my pics (he took five days to reply after I sent them before we met) and was just being polite. Perhaps he sensed my underlying pathology at our café meeting and wanted nothing of it. Perhaps he read too much into my instinctive turning away as we farewelled each other outside the café. Or perhaps none of it has anything to do with me; he’d described his mother’s physical and emotional collapse during our chat – who knows what the situation was when he got there?

I’m not heartbroken – how could I be after one meeting? – and not even heartsick. But I’m worried about what this meeting says about me and where I’m at with personal relationships. Perhaps, at the moment, they are just too hard.

If I do decide to venture into that territory again, though, there's one thing I've learned that I'll definitely be bringing to my next dodgy or even not-so-dodgy website date. Don't hesitate, or wait for the right time. There's no time like the present. Strike while the iron is hot, because she who hesitates is lost, and a bird in the hand is worth -- well, you know the rest.

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