A Case of The What If’s

He called.  The next day.

For a month, we’ve talked on the phone, multiple times a day.  Sometimes he would schedule his lunch break with me, and I would meet him at a variety of restaurants around the city and talk to him.  I do the same thing after work before I head to the gym.  I’m like a teenager.  I’ve nicknamed him my Teenage Love Affair.

But now, I haven’t heard from DH in two days.  I texted him last night, called this morning.  No response.  He usually calls me right back, even if it’s just to say he’s busy and can’t talk.

I check my phone compulsively all day.  Nothing.  By the end of the day, I’m so wound up I’m debating not calling him ever again.  I mean, if he wanted to speak to me, he’d call, right?  I’m not trying to be that chick whom dudes laugh about like “Son, shorty’s a stalker!”  I read He’s Just Not That Into You.  A text and a call are enough.  If he cared one way or another, he’d call.

After work, I skip a US Weekly party to go to the gym.  I have to get some of my aggression out.  I listen to Lauryn Hill’s Unplugged as I run.  Her lyrics make sense.  I replay “Mr. Intentional.”  Bad, bad sign.

I go over my last conversation with DH in my head.  He called me before I ran my Saturday errands.  We talked for thirty minutes.  And as soon as we hung up, he called right back to say he was really feeling me.  Then he didn’t call again?

I do an extra fifteen minutes of cardio because I’ve still got energy to think.  At least I didn’t do him.  I’d be devastated.  I run the last mile – hard and uphill – to get my frustration out.

On the way home, I wonder what happened.  Did he get back with his ex?  Did he meet someone else?

I debate calling him again.  I think of the possible outcomes.  He could send me straight to voicemail.  He could not answer and let it ring.  He could not answer and I could leave a message.  He could answer, act as if “I have to call you back,” i.e., if I’d known it was you, I wouldn’t have answered.  I only have a one-in-six chance of getting the response I want.

I realize I’m driving myself crazy.

The next morning, I check my phone – I sleep with it under my pillow-before I get out of bed.  No call.  It’s officially been three days.  I rationalize why this whole “affair” ending is for the best.  From great suffering comes great art.  Maybe this heartache will inspire a great story or poem.  And I’ve been off my game ever since DH and I started talking, daydreaming, talking on the phone all hours of the night, showing up to work exhausted.  This is for the best, Reagan, I tell myself.

I’m brooding as I get dressed.  I miss him no matter how much I try not to, but that quickly turns to fury by the time I walk out the door.  I step into the brick-cold weather and just get madder because despite giving into Charlotte culture and buying a North Face bubble coat, I’m still cold.  Why did I let myself get so caught up so quickly?  And what kind of games is this man playing?

Eff it.  I’m calling.  If for no other reason than to get the closure that will come when I curse out DH.  I don’t care if he doesn’t care.  I care, and I want to know why!  He owes me an explanation.

His phone rings.

And rings.

And rings.

He answers.

He doesn’t talk so much as words just rumble in a drawl from his throat.  I melt.

“Hello?”  Even I’m baffled by how sweet my voice comes out.

“There it is!  I’ve been waiting for you to call.”  He’s smiling into the phone.  I hear it, then I picture it.  It’s a beautiful sight.

“Uh, so why didn’t you call me instead of waiting?”  Ooh, I sound a little belligerent.

“I lost my phone.  I didn’t have your number written down,”  he half-explains, half-pleads.  He must have heard my angst.  “You didn’t leave your number when you left a message , baby.”

I feel like an idiot.  I’ve wound myself into a frenzy over nothing.  Nothing!

“But, uh, Reagan, can I call you right back?”

Uh oh.  I don’t say that out loud.

By way of explanation, he offers, “I have a client on the other line.”

I know what that means:  If I’d known it was you, I wouldn’t have answered.

I put on a chipper voice.  I won’t let him know how disappointed I am.  “Sure!  Talk to you later!”  Oops!  I didn’t mean to be that happy.

I hang up and plan never to hear from him again.  Now I’m mad that I called.  I should have just let it be.  I’m sure I’ll bump into him soon.  I’ll see DH in the club, give a pleasant but brief hello, act like we’re virtual strangers.  I throw my phone in to my bag and zone out for the ride to work.

When I got home from work, there’s a voicemail.  From DH?  I immediately check my phone.  “Hey,” he    says in his Barry White bass.  “Just wanted you to have a wonderful day.  Call me back, Reagan.  I miss your voice.”

He wasn’t ducking me.  I’m crazy, I realize.  I’m really crazy.  I’ve mistaken life’s ish happening for Shifty Man Syndrome.  What if I hadn’t called?  What if I had really been on some hard pride, “eff that”?  I would have totally lost someone I like over nothing.

I’m dancing around my house, contemplating the exact level of my excessive crazy, when my phone vibrates.  Two buzzes.  Three? A Call?  I reach into my bag.

It’s DH again.

“Hello?”  I answer.

“Hey…..I know you’re just getting home from work – ”

“I always have time for you,” I say, cutting him off.

“Reagan, I just wanted to talk to you for a sec.  I wanted to tell you….”

Afterwards he makes me promise not to tell anyone.

I lean against the side of my door, a big doofy smile on my face, biting my bottom lip as he says what needs saying.  If my nieces weren’t with me I would have screamed, doubled in half, jumped all over the sidewalk, and given Charlotte a morning show of just how crazy I am over DH.


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