Friday, December 16, 2011

Why so aloof? I sobered up and . . .

I've had the opportunity in my life to do some really cool shit.  For the longest time, a period I like to call my 20s, I thought myself to be a photographer.  Heck, I even got people to pay me to shoot commercial work.  Photography was always my dream, even if it often took second place to the big money makers in my life.

D was marketing director I met because she hired me to shoot an upcoming designer's women's clubwear calendar.  She had reserved a giant club space for the shoot and had several photographers shooting with several models.  The whole thing was a bit of a mess.  I feel fairly safe in saying that thanks to the make-up crew, this was the largest number of gay black men I was ever surrounded by.  Actually, they were all very cool, even if they weren't quite fans of my hardcore redneck look I was sporting -- it was ten degrees outside and I hadn't shaved in a month!!

I remember D particularly because she was one of those women who instantly struck me as my type.  She was a short mixed-race black-white chick with loose kinky hair that flopped around in a big silly fro that operated by its own laws of physics. She had unreal gorgeous green eyes.  A little pudgy, but if you read my blog, you know that's a bit of a win with me.  And she could dress to the nines.

D was bouncing off the walls trying to get this circus pointed in a direction when I walked in.  I came in around noon.  I think she barely noticed me. That was a long ass day of work.  I shot so many photos I was running out of charged batteries by the end of the night.

About 7pm, we all took a lunch break.  I was the last person over to the pizza box because I needed to wrap my second shoot.  Of course, I wasn't the very last person to get over for food.  D was.  So, we sat there and talked shop and ate pizza.  The club owners were nice enough to gives us free drinks, which got a bit out of hand later.

D and I hit it off when we were talking.  Talked about where I was from.  What I did to make money.  Family.  Actually, it was one of the more human first talks I've ever had with a woman I liked.

But, then back to work.  In retrospect, a first bad sign appeared: she popped some type of pill before getting back to work.

By the time we were done with the third shoots, which through a combination of alcohol and tired curiosity had led us into odd back storage spaces in this club, it was around 10pm.  I remember as everyone was breaking down their stuff, D sat down next to me on a couch (remember, it's a club).  We were both a bit buzzed and smiling at each other and I remember telling her something to the effect that I liked her.

We eventually had to chase off.  We agreed to meet the next day for lunch near where I lived so I could give her a few burned DVDs with all the photos.

After I sobered up, I realized I had semi-intentionally scheduled a first date.  I also started realizing that D was bouncing off the walls because she was drinking and taking enough uppers to kill and adult horse.  And, I also realized I lived a long goddamned way from where D did -- I'm a country boy who likes to visit the city about twice a month.

I remember D and I were standing outside the restaurant.  I had eaten.  She didn't get a chance because she ran late and the place was closing after lunch service.

It was a weird awkwardness.  For one, we were both now sober.  For two, it was clear she really liked me.  A lot.  Those of you who have read me before know things fall apart fast for me once I know a woman is emotionally wide-open even if I don't have an excuse.

We're standing out in the bitter cold and D is doing everything in her power to keep this conversation from ending.  And she's looking super cute and dressed to the nines even in her ginormous winter coat.  And I'm dying.  Because I know this is too far to drive to make a relationship work.  And I know something gives with her constantly bouncing off the walls -- I grew up poor enough that I deeply fear addicts of any stripe, even overachievers hopped up on amphetamines.

But, she wasn't going to make me leaving easy.  This girl was selling out in this moment for this guy.  When I signaled I was ready to leave, she made a showing of needing very detailed directions.  And then she tried to hop from that to talking about the area.

I finally hit the wall with this and just mildly insulted her.  That got the point across.  She finally faced facts and took her discs and left.

The funny thing is, this was the worst drought of my life.  Two years without a woman in my life, in fact.  I had spent the last couple years just burying myself in twenty different attempts to make money and realize my dream of being a photographer.  In long hindsight, I realize D didn't get a fair hearing from me.  I nitpicked a few details and found an easy basis to do what I always do when I'm threatened with someone else possibly showing some enthusiasm for me. 

During that stretch in my life, I had sort of sealed myself off from everyone.  I can remember one of my college friends actually sending me an email telling me he was just checking in on me, because he figured I had to be having one of my episodes of extreme isolation.  He said something to effect of "I picture hiding out there in the woods having no contact with anyone except the occasional family member".  That's what that period in my life was like, for sure.

At that point in my life, I was absorbed.  My life was math and computer code and photography. 

And through the random availability of free alcohol, I let my guard down for a minute.

Now what I should have done was taken some time and seen where this thing could go.  But, even by my low standards, I wasn't in a healthy place at that point.  I was more scared than usual.  This was the early, early gestational phase of my upswing, of my arrival in life.  And I felt like everything had to go into making this one, narrow, perfect moment work.

And of course, I look back and I realize this woman, D, had the unlikeliest luck to glimpse in at that moment and be impressed.  I liked her.  She liked me.  This should have been a moment for both of us.

But, at that moment, I was in many ways the biggest wreck I've ever.  Almost any frustration could set me off.  I was putting in sixteen to twenty hour days trying to cram all of my energy into this one perfect launch.  My entire existence was going to take off (and it did).  And I was far too fucked up --  again, even by my own low standards -- to let anyone in.

So, I didn't.  I retreated right back my semi-monastic life.  My emotionally insecure, financially stable, lonely life.  I am seriously the only guy on earth who could go to a modeling shoot, find a chick drunk and interested in me and willfully fuck that up even as she tries to make it work.

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