Closure

Jose stared at him. He was, in her mind, an incredibly beautiful man and he was having one of his ‘famous’ house parties. Her mind drifted back to how things used to be. They used to have ‘a thing.’ Short but sweet; they used to do everything together. She liked being around him. She couldn’t put her finger on it. Perhaps it was his charismatic presence, or the way he remembered everything about her, or maybe it was that he didn’t want her the way she wanted him.

It wasn’t that he didn’t care; she truly believed that he did care for her. They had remained friends after all, he insisted. Over the summer they had gone their separate ways. Promising to rekindle what they had when they returned from their travels. However life never turns out the way you expect it to. While he had been backpacking he had met a girl. He was infatuated with her yet when they finally met after that long summer he was hesitant to tell her that he had met someone.

As he told Jose about his summer love, she had smiled, nodded her head and whispered how happy she was for him. On the outside she appeared calm and accepting. “Let’s stay friends,” he’d said. “Nothing will change. It will be just like before.”

“Sure,” she replied. How could things possibly be the same?

That night when she arrived home, she closed the door and instantly crumpled to the floor. It was like her legs could no longer bare the weight of what had happened, as she lay on the floor of her apartment she finally let herself feel. All her unspoken thoughts finally surfacing. The tears pooled and ran down her face, her breath heavy, came out in uncontrollable sobs. How did this happen? How could she have fallen so deeply for him, when he clearly felt nothing for her?

In the morning, the sunlight made her stir and for that brief moment between dreaming and waking she felt calm. However as she moved she realised that she still lay on the cold tiled floor of her apartment. Her muscles were sore, her eyes swollen and red. She glanced at her phone. She had a missed call and a message from him. He wanted to go for lunch later this afternoon. She couldn’t meet him. She couldn’t be friends. It was too hard. “We can’t be friends,” she typed.

Half an hour later her doorbell rang. She knew it was him. She opened the door, he looked angry. So she took a step back and folded her arms across her chest. He took one look at her and his expression softened. He brushed a stray piece of her from her face. “What’s wrong,’ he asked, his voice shook a little as he realised he already knew the answer. He pulled her into a hug and she began to sob. “I like you,” she cried, “I really like you.” Again her legs gave way but this time she didn’t fall upon the floor. He lifted her to his chest and placed her on the bed. “I didn’t mean to make you sad,” he whispered. “What can I do?”

The answer she gave and the answer she wanted to give varied completely. “I can’t be friends with you.”

“You’re sure that’s what you want?”

She nodded her head, not trusting herself to use words. “I’ll always be here for you, you know.” He kissed her on the forehead and held her close. She didn’t want him to leave, her tears poured down silently from her eyes leaving wet patches on his shirt.

He got up, and without looking back he walked out of the room. This was the last time he would walk through that door. The thought filled her with a heavy weight across her chest. It felt tight and everlasting.

Of course it wasn’t everlasting. One year on and things were the way they used to be. It had been hard initially and they left many things unspoken. Her feelings for him eventually began to fade. They were friends. Like he said they would be.

She gazed past him; there at the other side of the room flashing her his sexy white smile was her man. He tipped his head gesturing for her to come over. “You never dance with me,” he teased.

She smiled up at him, this incredible, patient man had made her realise what she wanted. For a long time she had held on to what she had thought she wanted. A friendship with the man who broke her heart but deep inside she knew she had always wanted more. As she searched his face she knew.

Sometimes you have to give up the things you want, for the things you want more. And everything she wanted more stood before her now.

“Let’s go,” she smiled, and without looking back they walked out of the room. She knew this would be the last time she would walk through his door and as she walked out she felt the weight finally release from her chest. Now she definitely had everything she wanted.

For arguments sake

‘I don’t fucking care,’ he yelled. I knew he didn’t care, so why did his words create such a sharp pain, that slowly spread, making me feel numb?
Maybe that was the moment that I realised. The moment when things became clear. He really didn’t care. Not what strangers thought of him, not what friends thought of him. He didn’t even care what I thought. His lack of caring was so transparent now. So evidently obvious. He didn’t care, about anything, and I, like everything else fell into that category.

A small part of me had secretly hoped that maybe, just maybe this was a mask. He had to care right? Everyone, no matter how tough, cared about something or someone.
Well, the exception perhaps being psychopaths. They are Biologically wired in such a way that it wasn’t physically possible for them to care. And these people have a breaking point, a trigger, something that pulls them away from the restraints of civilisation and the rules and laws, that keep us safe, that keep us human.

Criminal investigation units create profiles on these people. They know what they are capable of, their limits and their triggers. But without a profile these people can be time bombs.

I felt numb from head to toe, with four little words, I had created a monster in my head. The careless man before me had gone from being a major jerk to a potential mass murderer.

But I composed myself, brushed the thought to one side and looked him in the eye. ‘Well I don’t fucking care either,’ I replied, ‘just bloody pick, Macdonalds or KFC…’

So okay, perhaps the numbness had been caused by hunger but nevertheless, I’m creating a profile, just in case.

Reggae reggae, it’s so nice you say it twice.

By April, I was well and truly settled into life in Doha. I had met an amazing group of people and the lifestyle and weather was so different from Scotland that I had had the opportunities to do things I had never done before.
Male colleagues from school had started to play basketball in an organised league. When they had a game we would go and watch them play, not because we had a particularly large interest in basketball but because we, sorry I, ( as the other ladies were all marrieds and quite obviously don’t need to look) liked to check out the talent.
We began to become familiar with the basketball faces and we often bumped into players when we went out.

On the night of the Reggae Reggae beach party we bumped into one of the players. He joined us for drinks and stayed for most of the night, obviously enjoying our dynamite moves and killer wit or maybe it was our makeshift scarf limboing and shoulder rides. Whatever the reason we seemed to have a connection and I went home with him to see his villa.
His villa was very impressive. He led me outside we took off our shoes and sat by the pool, the cool water washing away the sand from the beach party as we swished our feet back and fourth.
I remember gazing at a tree whose branches swept into the pool. It was in full blossom, the pink flowers had fallen into the pool and lay scatters across the garden. I remember thinking how strange it was that a tree could be so colourful in the middle of such a bland, dry, desert.
That’s when he kissed me, I had been so lost in awe at the strange tree that I had forgotten where I was. He pulled me up and pushed me against the cool brick of the villa. Everything happened in a blur from there. We slowly worked our way upstairs. Our hands not straying far from each others bodies as we frantically undressed each other.
The next morning when we emerged from the room we found our clothes strewn across the floor. It felt like a very clichéd movie moment as we retraced our steps, reclaiming our clothes from the night before, which lay hung from the light shades, across picture frames and on the stairs.
Things were not strained or awkward, things were easy. We went out for breakfast and in the late afternoon he dropped me home. We swapped numbers and promised to be in touch.

As I saved Icarus into my phone book, I smiled. Maybe boys were not so bad after all… Maybe…

‘Waiter, you appear to have served us different menus…’

The rules of having a friend with benefits seem to be a little grey.
Partly because checked shirt guy wasn’t a friend, so really that makes him… Just a benefit?
On paper this concept sounds good but in actuality it didn’t play out as expected.

If my room had been a restaurant and the rules were our menus, we would have to complain to the manager. However in this scenario there is no management team, no waiters and no cashiers. In fact we are the only customers. There is no hierarchy for making a complaint about the inconsistencies in our menus.

In the beginning we seemed to have corresponding menus. The dishes being offered were delicious, filling and made with the customer in mind. They were exactly what the customers ordered.

However as time passed one of the menus seemed to have been redrafted and I certainly did not sign-off on this redraft. I did not enjoy the re-written edition of his menu. Frantically I searched my menu. Nope THAT was definitely not on the original version. The dishes were no longer fulfilling our appetites and no matter how many times I tried to like the chefs new creations, it just wasn’t doing the trick.

He seemed content to create a pick and mix style buffet meal where he mixed and matched his dishes. He didn’t mind that the flavours did not compliment each other.
I however am a fussy eater, I like my food to be hot, fresh and exactly what I ordered. No surprises or last minute dish alterations.

Needless to say when your restaurant only has two customers and half of the customers are not satisfied with their meals, it’s not good for business.

Within a couple of weeks the foreclosure signs had been knocked in and bags had been packed.

We both went in search of restaurants that were more finely attuned to our individual tastes. But it wasn’t a wasted dining experience. Maybe I didn’t find what I was looking for but I was now clearer on what I wasn’t looking for. Which is another step forward, right?

Checked shirt guy

One overly hot, sticky March evening I found myself amidst a small gathering of fellow British folks. We had congregated in a colleagues apartment in the vain hope that the AC and chilled beverages would serve to cool our restless souls as another work week passed almost timelessly.

Much to my horror I discovered that of all the people crammed into this apartment, there were two single people. And yup I was one of them.
Had I unintentionally stumbled upon a couples only date night? I looked around the room wondering if they were wondering why I was here. “She can’t be here, ITS COUPLES NIGHT!”

A few hours later I didn’t even notice the couples arguing over flower arrangements and china teacup patterns. I was making small talk with the only other person in the room who had also recently received the ‘plenty of fish in the sea’ speech.

But sadly there was no connection. We had two things in common:
1. We were both single and
2. We were both human.
Not exactly the material of a great love story but he took my number at the end of the night.

So unremarkable was our conversation, that the next day when we sent me a message I couldn’t even remember his name. So I saved him as checked shirt guy (because I am 50% certain that the shirt he donned that night had been checked.)(The other 50% thinks it was ow, polka dot but I totally would have remembered that, right?)

Out of politeness I text back but mentally I had already put him in the discard pile.

His personality certainly hadn’t been memorable but maybe he had other means of being memorable that I hadn’t quite experienced yet. I took him out of the discard pile and made room for him in the benefits pile.

Why had I been taking baby steps into singleton when I should have been leaping? I was slowly learning how to be single and it was going to be a steep learning curve.

A friend of a friend

At the end of March 2012 it was finally spring break. We had two weeks off to enjoy the sun. Friends and family flew over to visit their loved ones staying in Doha.
Jane and her husband Marty had a good friend visiting them. We will call him Bill. He was looking into job opportunities in the Middle East and was out for 2 weeks. I barely registered that he was there for the first 10 days. But one evening he joined Jane and I for drinks at a local bar.
Jane and Bill reminisced of stories from their University days and we laughed fondly at our younger selves and how far we had come. Before too long last orders had been called and we suddenly realised just how drunk we were. In true British fashion we decided that fast food would aid as our fool proof, preventative measures for a hangover cure.
We arrived at Janes apartment feeling merry but fairly confident that we had found the cure for the common hangover.
Jane made her sleepy good nights and made her merry way to bed. I began to walk towards the door but without even thinking and fuelled by the alcohol I turned to bill and said with a sly smile, “aren’t you coming?”
He didn’t need to be asked twice.

It turns out the fast food may provide the cure for hangovers but unfortunately it does nothing to conquer the morning after the night before awkwardness.
Luckily the awkwardness did not last long, partly because the awkwardness grabbed his clothes and left within two minutes. ( He had to get home before Jane and Marty realised he was AWOL.) It turned out that he was locked out of the apartment anyway, not exactly the next Einstein but he was a good guy.
Things weren’t really awkward between us, in fact when he went back to England we spoke everyday and by the time he finally moved out to Doha in September we were really close friends.

We never became anything more than friends but it was good to have someone from the guys team to help decode the mixed signals given out by the selection of ‘men’ I dated once I arrived. He did, after all, have the inside perspective and sometimes his advice was valuable. But don’t tell him I said that…

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Should you try anything once?

When embarking on an adventure to find a new man, one has to look at ones best at all times. Because no matter what people say, sometimes a sparkly personality just doesn’t cut it.

The age old question that every woman asks herself is ‘how do you make yourself look good without turning your life upside down though eating plans and exercise schedules?’
The answer clearly lay hidden within Zumba. So every Tuesday evening we would put on our Zumba appropriate outfits ( bright, over the top, not flattering in any light outfits) and we would attend a ladies only Zumba class.
The class was fun. We spent most of the hour laughing at each others uncoordinated attempt at replicating the instructors moves. Don’t be fooled though because at the end of the hour we were incredibly hot and absolutely exhausted. The best version of ourselves here we come!

We became regulars and we began to make friends with the other ladies there. During one lesson I noticed one lady continuously looking back at me. I flashed her a big smile thinking she must have felt sorry for me and my poor attempt at Zumba dancing. The instructor called a short water break and we all bounced to our bottles located at the side of the Zumba tent.
Resisting the urge to pour the water over my head marathon runner style I took a deep sip. ” Hello,” I heard a voice say, ” are you new here?”
It was the staring lady from earlier.
“No,” I replied, ” I have been coming for a few weeks now.”
This small chat continued for a couple more minutes until the music started up again, which was our cue to get back on the dance floor.
The lady continually to look over her shoulder at me, I was starting to feel a little paranoid and I began to wonder if I had something in my teeth.
Eventually the class finished and we stood talking to the instructor for a bit. I glanced over my shoulder and the staring lady was having a drink. Was that my bottle she was drinking from? I’m sure it was an accident though, it would be easy to confuse my flowery sports bottle with her Aquafina pure bottled water, water bottle, right?
She gave a little wave, I guess I was staring at her this time. I hope my mouth hadn’t been open as I stared at her in confusion. I dorkily waved back and wondered over.
“I like your hair,” she said.
Was this lady serious? I had just been getting my sweat on for the past hour. I was an absolute riot. This time my mouth my definitely open.
“Thanks,” I mumbled back. Not really sure how to respond, I picked up MY flowery water bottle and started to walk toward the exit.
She grabbed my wrist. “Do you want to get a drink with me?” She smiled at me, her head cocked to one side.
Was she serious? Had I been single that long that my body was giving out signals to everyone in my radius?
Would it be so bad to date a woman? Maybe it would be a nice change. My mind worked double time weighing up the pros and cons. Was I actually considering this? Could I be bisexual? They say that bisexuality is just a layover on the way to being gay. Am I gay?

Girls are beautiful, complex, hard to understand creatures. I can’t even understand my own decisions sometimes..
Stood in that Zumba tent questioning my sexuality I realised that I wasn’t gay. At least I didn’t want to be gay that day.
So I pulled my hand away and made my excuses.
I walked out of the Zumba tent and that was the last time I did Zumba. Maybe one day I might fancy a little bit of Zumba again. It was a nice feeling knowing that Zumba was there if I ever wanted to do a little bit of crazy dancing . But for the time being I didn’t want to go too far from the rock pool. Mermaids were possibly a touch too exotic for me.

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