Glasses of champagne out on the dance floor…

Ringing in 2016.
Ringing in 2016.

The following was written based on memories (many of which involve vodka). Names have been changed to protect the author. 

In December, I told Eric I was thinking of coming to Indiana to visit my girlfriends, and him. His birthday was at the beginning of January, so perhaps I could come at the end of December to celebrate. He was really excited about this idea, and for the next few weeks, things between us were on an ultimate high.

He had been house hunting, and started sending me links to the homes he was touring. He always asked my opinion, which I didn’t understand. He sent me one link to a house, along with a text that said, “Wanna be my roommate?”

“Seriously?” I wrote back.

“Holly, we’ve always had something, no?”

Yes, we had. And I have to admit that having a hot guy be this forward with me was flattering. I really liked him; I’d liked him since I was 15! It seemed so seamless, so easy, and I was letting my imagination run with it.

Maybe I could eventually move in with him. But would I want to live back in Indiana? If it meant getting to be with a guy like Eric, sure, it didn’t matter where I lived. I could probably do my job remotely. Or maybe I could work at Eric’s school; he’d said something before about needing a yearbook teacher.

The possibilities were endless, and that was refreshing to me.

I booked a flight to Indianapolis that would arrive around 8 pm on New Year’s Eve. I’d debated that flight for a few days: I’m not big on celebrating New Year’s Eve, but it would give me an extra night to be with Eric. So, I booked it, and I told him that I was down for whatever.

At the risk of tossing shade on his friends, I’m going to spare the details of what happened here. Basically, Eric said his friend was having a party and it may or may not be a baby shower. I absolutely hate baby showers, and combined with my hatred for New Year’s Eve, I was starting to regret my flight choice.

This ended with him saying, he’d be happy to “drop me off somewhere while he was at the party” (like on the side of the road? I wondered).

After a few heated discussions about it, I sucked it up, and just said it was fine. I was flying in that night to see Eric, so if I had to drink beer from a baby bottle, then so be it.

Two nights before my trip, I cannot remember, for the life of me, what I said that triggered the conversation that followed. Perhaps we were talking about having sex (it was a conversation we often had).

“Well, I’m not really looking for anything serious,” he said.

At that moment, my entire world came to a stop. What?

I knew we weren’t dating, we weren’t exclusive, but we’d been talking for months – if it wasn’t the start of something, then what the hell was it? My stomach churned. I had been played like the fool that I was.

I called my girlfriend, and started crying, explaining everything. She listened and wasn’t sure what kind of advice to offer. What advice was there to offer? It was fucked up.

“Are you going to get on the plane?” she asked.

I honestly didn’t know. What was the point?

I hung up with her and called Eric. When he answered, I asked him why he didn’t call me earlier.

“Obviously there’s something wrong,” I said. “You should’ve called me.”

He rambled on some excuses |red flag| and made me feel stupid for thinking, or even hoping, that a relationship between us was a possibility.

“We haven’t even see each other in 8 years,” he said. “What if there’s not even a spark?”

While he had a point, I still felt played. If he really felt that way, then why were we talking to each other on the phone every night? Why was he sending me links to his potential homes, asking me to be his roommate?

“I certainly would not have talked about having sex with you if I knew you weren’t interested,” I said.

“You were the one that started that,” he said.

I was already laying on the floor of my bathroom at this point, so there was no possibility I could fall any further into the hell of this existence. I could not believe a 30-year-old man was blaming me for being flirtatious and sexual.

“Maybe New Year’s Eve wasn’t a good time for you to come,” he suggested. “You know, because of the whole party and date thing.”

Huh?

“If there’s someone else you’d like to take to the party and be your date, then that’s fine,” I told him, sniffling. “I definitely was not trying to rain on your parade.”

I ended the conversation shortly after. I had work the next day, and there was no point in listening to him insult me, and make me feel like a hideous beast any longer.

The next day, he was asking me if I made a decision on taking the trip or not.

“Not yet,” I said. “What time do I need to tell you?”

“Tonight, I guess,” he said.

“Like by midnight?”

“Either you want to come or you don’t,” he said. “I don’t understand why it’s such a big decision.”

Of course he didn’t. Because he wasn’t the one insulted. I honestly didn’t understand why he still wanted me to come. I was obviously a nut case, and had made a complete fool of myself flirting with him for years of my life.

It wasn’t about whether I wanted to go or not; it was more about the question of if I could go and still have fun. Could I suck it up and pretend the conversation on the bathroom floor didn’t happen? I was supposed to stay with Eric for three nights before staying with girlfriends. How would that go down? Would I sleep on his couch? What about the New Year’s Eve party; should I run into the bathroom during the countdown so he wouldn’t have to worry about us kissing?

One of my friends offered to pick me up from Eric’s if things got awkward, so that was covered. Another girlfriend, who always has sound dating advice, suggested I flip my take on the whole thing: go and just have fun, appreciate it for what it is, even if it’s just sex, or don’t go and never talk to him again.

She had a point. This was the time I really needed to decide what to do to make myself happy. If Eric just wanted to be friends, then I could handle it, or at least fake it for a few days and be sad about it later. If I stayed home, I’d be bummed anyway, so I decided to just go and see what life had in store.

When I told Eric I decided to continue with the trip, he was pretty shocked.

“You still wanted me to come, right?” I asked.

“Yes, I would have been very sad if you didn’t,” he said.

“Okay, well I’ll see you Thursday at 8,” I replied.

“Are we not talking to each other until then?” he asked.

I didn’t reply. If we were just going to be friends, the communication between us needed to dial it back a bit. That night, I packed my suitcase (trying on just about everything in my closet).

Eric called me and gave me a rundown of the schedule of events for the nights we were planning to stay together.

“Sounds good, or it’s whatever,” I stuttered. “I can always have my friend come get me if it’s weird or whatever.”

But Eric seemed more excited than ever to see me. I tried not to think much of it and just get some sleep.

I worked a half-day on the morning of New Year’s Eve, before heading to the Austin airport for my connection in Chicago. I had my New Year’s Eve party outfit packed in my carry-on, along with my pound of makeup.

I changed in the airport bathroom (pulling on leatherette leggings in a stall is interesting), grabbed pizza and a beer, and sat at my gate to wait for my flight to board.

“Made it to the airport yet?” Eric texted.

I said I had. He then told me he downloaded a flight tracker app so he wouldn’t be late picking me up.

“It’s no big deal,” I said. “You can come to the airport whenever.”

I felt like such a disgusting person; and I just didn’t want to cause any fights or drama during the trip. Nothing to rock the waters.

I slept for my entire flight to Chicago. Once inside O’Hare, I used my connection time to start applying my makeup. I wanted to appear fresh upon arrival.

On my short flight, I was sitting next to a man who’d recently gotten engaged.

“Congratulations!” I said. “How did you meet your partner?”

“I met her online,” he said.

Fascinating! I dug a little deeper, and he said they met on a video game. While it had the possibility of being a Catfish situation, it ended up working out for this guy – stories like these always give me hope.

When the plane touched down in Indianapolis, I already had a text from Eric: “Ah, your flight is early! I’m on my way!”

He was really on that shit. I thought about the last time he’d picked me up from the airport 8 years ago. I’d imagined this moment for weeks, picturing him standing near the baggage claim, and I’d run up to him, maybe we’d kiss…

But obviously now that wasn’t going to happen.

“Should I park or swing by?” he asked.

I didn’t care. I told him I needed a few minutes to go to the bathroom and make sure I looked okay.

“The party is really casual, so don’t worry about it,” he said.

He was giving me anxiety. I just wanted to go to the bathroom, make sure my makeup looked okay outside of airplane lighting, and apply some perfume. I wasn’t worried about how I looked.

I put in my headphones, hoping a little Justin Bieber would calm my nerves. I took my time walking through the airport to the bathroom.

Eric called.

“Hey I’m just a few minutes away,” he said. “Are you waiting on me?”

“No, I haven’t even gone to the bathroom yet or gotten my bag,” I said. “You’re making me really nervous.”

I went to the bathroom, fluffed my hair, and smoothed out my leggings. I moseyed over to baggage claim, and ripped my 46-pound suitcase from the carousel.

A real gentleman would’ve gotten my bag, I thought. I stood by the door and waited, looking outside for his Jeep. He rolled up a few minutes later, and got out of his car with his arms open. He looked so handsome. I gave him a big hug, and he picked me up off the ground.

I pointed to my bag. He was going to have to get it.

We got to the party, and although they said it was a baby shower, there really was no lick of baby shower evidence to be found. I saw people from high school I hadn’t seen since, and it was really, really fun. We played a game, talked, and of course, drank.

My phone was in a bedroom with my purse, as I was making an effort to be polite and not on my phone all night. But I really had no idea what time it was, and still no plan as to what the hell I should do near midnight. The party was all couples, so there was no singles’ corner to huddle in.

Someone shouted out the time – 5 minutes until 2016! I ran to the bedroom for my purse; I had packed a metallic paper tiara for this! I shoved it on, and just figured I’d go with it, no big deal if he kissed me or not.

So, there we were, counting down, 3… 2… 1… and he turned toward me, and kissed me. It was a fantastic kiss; like crazy good. Everything seemed like it was in slow-motion and I started to wonder if people were staring at us, so I finally pulled back.

He opened his eyes. “Damn,” he said.

This was about to get interesting.

Around 1:30 am, we ran across the street to another house, where the neighbors were playing darts in the garage, jamming out to some serious 80’s rock. We stayed, drinking and goofing off until about 2:30, before running back across the street and getting ready for bed.

I grabbed a pair of sweats and my toothbrush from my suitcase in Eric’s trunk, and pretty much fell into the guest bedroom at the party. I don’t know who made the first move, but I do know it didn’t take long before we were both naked, and it was apparent that this, was finally going to happen.

It did happen, and it was fantastic. I felt comfortable with him, and physically, it was intense. I was in for it.

The next morning, I awoke with a splitting headache. Eric was slightly awake; he moved closer to me, and slid his hand onto my bare stomach. I was trying to figure out why I felt like such shit; all I had was beer, minus a ½ glass of champagne.

Eric mentioned coffee, and I was ready to find that coffee ASAP. We had a 30-minute drive to get from where we were to his apartment.

We made the drive (after getting coffee), and once we got to his apartment, we settled on the couch for a day of football-watching. I am all about vegging on the couch, and vegging on the couch with a hot guy? Yes!

We watched football, Eric took a quick nap, before waking up and ordering us a delicious pizza. It was heaven. That night, we were heading to Bloomington to see one of my friends, and Eric was pretty fired up to stomp around his alma mater.

We met up with my friend, had drinks, and went for dinner and more drinks. Then it was time for a show down of darts, where my girlfriend and I teamed up against Eric, and we almost (one bullseye away) beat him! We went back to my friend’s apartment, where we all opened more beers, but I’m pretty sure no one finished them. We were dead.

I drug Eric into my friend’s guest bedroom, where I proceeded to have wild sex with him, and attempt to be quiet about it. I don’t want to give too many details here, because of course, those moments were between us, and at times, I still replay them in my mind. It was some of the best sex I’d had, and I was not afraid to tell him that.

Eric treated my friend and I to brunch the next morning, and him and I went back to his apartment, where we snuggled back up onto the couch, and he let me take a nap.

I was really just loving every minute of this. Eric was being a gentleman, the sex was great, and there was no awkwardness whatsoever. Maybe all that fighting beforehand was just nerves, I rationalized.

“So, I don’t want this to be weird, but I need to go to my parents’ tomorrow for breakfast,” he said. “I didn’t think my sister was going to be in town, but she is, and she’s texting me asking if I’ll be there.”

He said I had two options: I could stay at his apartment by myself in the morning, or he could take me to my friend’s house that night and we’d skip our last night together. I chose the aforementioned, obviously. I was a little taken aback by just how quickly I’d been put in my proper place, but I got it.

That night, we were heading out for sushi. It was a little date night, just us, and I was happy to spend some quality time with him before I finished out the last part of my trip, and went back to Austin.

We ordered sushi rolls to share, and had a round of drinks while we waited.

“So, do you think my friend heard us last night?” I asked.

He raised his eyebrows.

“Did she say something?” he asked.

I shook my head.

As we left the restaurant, he asked what I wanted to do next. We decided to just watch a movie back at his place.

“Can we stop and get some wine?” I asked.

We were heading into Columbus proper, and Eric wanted to stop by his parents’ to pick up his dog. We pulled up to his old house, the one I’d seen so many times years before, and I was immediately taken back.

“I’m just going to run in here,” he said.

He returned shortly with his dog in tow. She was cute, and very excited to hop in. We continued our drive, turning onto 25th street to get to the liquor store. I had been on this street countless times as a teenager, and wow, it felt weird to be back on it.

I offered to get Eric something in the store, but he declined, so I picked a merlot and we were off to his apartment. We watched Ted 2 and snuggled up for some additional TV. I loved the level of comfort we had with each other.

We went to bed, quickly getting down to business before falling asleep with the dog between us. In the morning, he got up early, and kissed me goodbye before heading to his parents’.

“Help yourself to anything,” he said.

I got up, made the bed, showered, and had coffee. I had leftovers from brunch in the fridge, so I ate that, even though Eric offered to bring me food. I packed my things, and when he returned, he asked if I was ready to go to my friend’s house.

I was sad our time together was coming to a close, and I basically attacked him for sex one last time, right on his couch. He drove me to Bloomington, kissed me a few times, and said, “So, let’s do this again, soon?”

Please return tomorrow for part four of this five-part series, complete with red flag alerts and Drake lyrics. 

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