Not Another Love Story Part IVXYZ (4)
I looked up the roman numeral for the number four…IV
I’m not really sure why I bother with Roman Numerals.
They look more official?
In actuality, prefer letters to numbers?
I like looking dumb?
As usual, in case you’re new here, this is the completely unconventional, slightly agonizing at times, full of cliff hangers story of how Blake and I came to be Spiderman and Mary Jane. Except Spiderman is slightly cooler than Mary Jane and I don’t have red hair. My similes are off today, sorry.
Except that’s not really Blake, but you can see/read about the real Blake in parts 1-3
Returning to Australia is to this day one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life. Oh you’re only 24, that will change as you get older. No, it won’t. I will always look back at the leap that I took to return to Australia by myself as one of the bravest moves of my life. I was not enrolled in a study abroad program like my previous trip, I would be teaching in a foreign school system, I would be navigating around another country alone without a car, and I would be 10,000 miles away from my closest friends and family. Just in case any of you are picturing me living in a cardboard box, befriending possums, and sustaining only off of the Australian wildlife, I did have a normal life in Australia. I had plenty of Australian friends that I had kept in touch with from my first trip.
I arrived in Australia and Blake was already in Europe. Nothing had changed in our friendship. Every night after hours of grading papers and creating lesson plans, I would sit on my bed and wait for him to get online. He would tell me his latest European travel stories, and I would share with him my crazy tales from the classroom. Despite the fact that the only face to face interaction I’d had with Blake was brief and
rude…unforthcoming on his part, being in Australia without him felt strange. He’d been a better friend to me than many friends I had known for years. When the clock struck 12 on my birthday, his phone call was the first one I received, take the time difference into consideration and it becomes pretty wonderful. When my best friend’s mom passed away, he was the only person I called after the funeral. I had so many people I could have called, people I loved, people who I’m sure would have consoled me, but none who understood the numbness I was feeling, why I couldn’t cry, and how frustrated I was that I couldn’t fix things. Blake was just different.
I had been in Australia for three weeks when one day, Blake popped up on msn and told me he had something to tell me, but he was only able to hop online for a few minutes.
7/24/2010 Blake: I have to go
7/24/2010 Blake: We have more of Paris to explore
7/24/2010 Blake: I got a story for you when I’m back
7/24/2010 Carley: Okay! Have fun. Don’t kiss too many French girls.
^ This is part of our the ACTUAL msn conversation, copy and paste style.
The something he had to tell me when he returned was that rugby club in Newcastle was helping to fly him home for the last few games of the season, so he could be a part of finals if they made it that far. In one short week, Blake would be stepping onto a plane that would bring him back to Australia. We talked about doing all of the things we’d always joked of doing, like being able to cross items off our list together, and having an overly competitive reenactment of the World Cup on the beach (which I’d win, of course).
The following weeks flew by at a speed which can only be attributed to late nights and early mornings spent lesson planning, and the unbelievably long and busy days I’d spent at Newcastle High School. On Wednesday, August 11th, I took the day off from my internship in honor of the day that my brother passed away. It’s always a difficult day for me, and I just needed space for quiet comfort. By 7:00 at night I was feeling overwhelmingly homesick, when I received a text from Blake. I decided I’d had enough sadness, and it seemed like a good idea for us to take advantage of the fact that we were actually in the same country together.
Dinner seemed appropriate.
NOT a date, definitely NOT a date. Just dinner.
People eat. That was appropriate. Just two people…eating…food…because humans eat food…
We both liked food…we were both humans…
This was the explanation I attempted to give people when they asked what was going on between Blake and I. The truth was, there was absolutely nothing going on. How could there have been? We had been living in different countries for the last year, and the only face to face conversation we’d ever had resulted in me contemplating my entire personality.
Blake arrived at 7:30, and without even THINKING, I opened the door, giddily skipped over to him, and gave him a huge hug. To my surprise, he hugged me back. I’m totally a hugger, and hadn’t taken even a moment to consider the likely possibility of him putting his arms up and requesting that we stay at minimum of 12 inches away at all times.
Dinner was refreshing. That’s the only word that comes to mind when I think of our first actual sit down conversation, without fluorescent computer screens and 10,000 miles of distance between us. We discussed out list, he told me more Euro-tales, and I confessed that student teaching made me want to crawl into a dark hole some days. We made plans to attend a mutual friend’s birthday party the following weekend, and laughed about the fact that neither of us considered how potentially awkward this dinner could have been, and how remarkable it was that we just assumed we’d get along so well, as if we’d known each other forever.
Three days later, Blake picked me up for our friend’s birthday party. It was at ritzy third floor piano bar, and we were all told to dress nicely. I had picked out a black cocktail dress, and Blake arrived looking dashing in dress pants and a dress shirt. We stayed glued together the entire night; unfortunately, people kept bringing up my ex boyfriend. Nothing kills a party mood quicker than exboyfriend talk. It was as if people thought I was not aware that my ex boyfriend happened to live in Australia, and they wanted to know every thought and feeling I had on the matter. (This won’t make sense to you if you haven’t read part 1. Do your homework. *Wrist slap*)
By the end of the night, I left the bar.
I may or may not have been in tears.
Okay, I was totally in tears, and I had no idea why I was crying. I just knew that I felt like everybody was pointing at me and whispering all night. Didn’t your parents teach you that pointing is rude and secrets don’t make friends? Without saying goodbye to Blake, I turned my back on the party, and tried to find the quickest escape route.
Blake was apparently speedier than I was aware of, and caught up with me before I was able to step into a taxi.
“No, Blake. I look so stupid to these people.”
“Who cares! I’ll take a cab with you.”
“Just let me go, Blake.”
“No, I’m not going to let you just run away.”
“I look stupid.”
“You look beautiful when you smile.”
Blake took the cab with me to make sure the emotional wreck of a girl he’d taken to the party arrived safely home. Fortunately, nobody really remembered the lame girl that was crying at the party. One sentence Blake said kept repeating in my mind that night, and no, it wasn’t the part where he told me I looked beautiful. I’m sure most girls would have been swooning over the handsome, blue eyed Australian and his thick Aussie accent. I was too aware of my make up running down my face and the realization that the heels I’d picked out were not suitable for a stealthy escape.
“I’m not going to let you just run away.”
I was pretty good at running away. My entire life, I’d always been able to handle everything, and when I couldn’t handle things, I’d just leave them behind and start over. This nomadic lifestyle temporarily alleviated certain situations, but now, somebody was telling me I wasn’t allowed to run.
The next few weeks were filled with dinner, coffee sit downs, phone conversations, and rugby games. We made a point of crossing things off our list, and we had a blast doing it, while managing to be extremely unsuccessful in such endeavors. (If this “list” confuses you, then you clearly haven’t read parts 1-3. I SAID do your homework! ).
#34 on our list was to take a dancing lesson. A friend of Blake’s had passed away days earlier, and I could tell he had been feeling a little sad. I wanted to think of something that would get him out of his element, and more importantly, get him laughing. Keep in mind that I am one of the clumsiest human beings on planet earth, and I’d be willing to bet that I’d beat out all other life forms in space for the title as well. We went out for late night coffee and I revealed my plan to him, and to my surprise, Blake was nervous, but agreeable when I reminded him how funny it would be watching me take a dancing lesson.
We arrived five minutes early, and to our misfortune, the lesson that happened to be taking place before ours was a six year old ballet class. Something about seeing toddlers in tutus must have freaked Blake out, because before I could explain to him that we were early, he was already out the door.
“THEY ARE DOING SPINNIES!” He yelled.
“No, Carley, they are doing spinnies! I AM NOT DOING SPINNIES!”
“I AM NOT DOING THAT!”
I couldn’t take it anymore. The detonation of laughter became uncontrollable. I stood in the middle of the street, bent over, with my hands on my knees. I pressed my chest into my thighs and laughed so hard that it felt like I was going to choke on the very air I was trying to inhale. I fell to my knees in laughter, and it was the sight of this that Broke Blake’s stern scowl and serious aversion to anything pink and frilly. Together, we laughed hysterically until we couldn’t breathe. I laughed until it hurt, and Blake laughed until he couldn’t feel the hurt.
It was the perfect remedy. Mission accomplished.
At one particular rugby game in September, Blake’s good friend Jessie asked me what was REALLY going on between us. I became slightly awkward, a little bit squeaky, and avoided eye contact at all costs. I assured her that nothing was going on, and we just enjoyed each other’s company, which was completely true.
Blake and I were 100% platonic.
This is the part of the story where people usually say, “Yeah, you keep telling yourself that.” This is also the part of the story where I get defensive and threaten these people with my big muscles and intimidating angry facial expressions.
That night, after the game, we all decided to grab a drink at a pub down the street. As usual, Blake and I stayed glued to each other’s sides for the entire night. I was still in teasing mode from our dancing attempt nights earlier, so I dragged Blake onto the dance floor. Eventually, Blake had to take a bathroom break, so I stepped off the dance floor and caught up with his friends.
Jessie, the girl from the rugby game, piped up.
“So Carley, do you like Blake?”
“What? No! We’re just friends.”
“I can tell he likes you.”
“No he doesn’t! That’s crazy. Girls are chasing him around, lining up for him.”
“I’ve never seen him interact with someone the way he does with you.”
It was true, Blake could have had any girl he wanted. He could have stood blindfolded in the center of a circle, spun around, and pointed. He had so many female friends, all of whom were breathtakingly gorgeous, why would he ever take notice of the uncoordinated American girl.
When Blake returned I didn’t take any notice when he and Jessie began having what looked like a very serious conversation, and after about an hour, we all decided to walk to Jessie’s house, which was just a few blocks away. Everybody went inside as my phone started to ring. My mom was calling (unaware of the time difference) to let me know that she was going to have to put our dog down. He had been fighting old age and illness, and unfortunately, it was time.
I excused myself from the gathering and stepped outside. There was a trampoline in Jessie’s yard, and with no where else to sit, I made myself comfortable. I stared up at the stars between the trees and tried not to think about putting down the dog that we bought after my brother died.
I heard the screen door open and could tell by his silhouette from the porch lighting that it was Blake. He plopped down next to me and asked if I was okay. I explained what happened and that I just wanted to go home.
I wanted to run away.
“Well I’m not letting you run away, remember?” Blake’s eyes were intensely focused on mine. We shared a few moments where neither of us said anything. It was the unspeakable, recognizable silence before a first kiss, that only the people who have truly experienced it can relate to. There was nobody else in my life that had ever stopped me from running away. Blake made me face things that I pretended weren’t real.
Blake and I, at that moment, were very real.
After reading this installment to my wonderful boyfriend, I was reprimanded for leaving out one significant detail in the making of our relationship: Following our first kiss, I called a cab to take Blake and I back to our houses. It was a classic case of poor communication when I scooted to the edge at the exact time that Blake stepped off of the trampoline. Before Blake could warn me to be careful, the entire trampoline toppled over, and I fell to the ground right on my bottom.
So there. I said it. I fell off a trampoline.
That’s probably the only reason that Blake and I worked out.
And the clumsiest creature award goes to…Bring it on other life forms, I have this one covered.