Relationships are like huge algebraic equations, with an abundance of variables on each side of the equal sign. The slightest change in any variable can upset the equation, forcing the others to adjust in some way. Or the equation falls apart, unable to balance itself from the resulting upheaval.
I’m going to try to wrap up the Peach saga, as much as is possible, in this column.
The interdependent variables of our romance were constantly in flux. When the Peach had finally had enough, I was coming around the other way. But I couldn’t help thinking that she was right, and that it was time to stop.
The next day, over the phone, one of my closest friends said, “You are being an idiot. You two have such a strong connection. You always talk about her. Why don’t you go to her, tell her you’re ready to be with her, and give it a try?”
So I did. We had dinner a few nights later, and I unloaded my baggage—my fears, my hang-ups, the reasons I’d been so non-committal when it came to making a decision. And then I told my Peach that I wanted to try to actually date and spend time together, and see if we had something that could last.
That “something” lasted a little more than two weeks before I sabotaged the whole thing, somehow unable to keep some of those variables in check. It was enough of a train wreck, with me not committing to possible travel plans, but not canceling them either, that the Peach threw up her hands (at least that’s how it sounded over the phone), and ended things for real. It was too much for her, and obviously not enough for me. It was the beginning of September.
I let her go.
And then came some promising dates (but I always thought, “She’s not my Peach.”); some nights of carousing; a concert where I found Peach, danced with her, and kissed her a bunch before she ran off; an amazing birthday weekend with friends and family; and a trip to Budapest, where I developed a visceral, consuming crush on a beautiful Hungarian woman who just happened to bear a striking resemblance to the Peach.
On my long, drunken, sleep-deprived trip back to the States, I realized more and more that I missed her. I missed her Chicago accent and the way her breath always had just a hint of pepper in it. I missed her generous lips. I missed her green eyes and the way she didn’t hesitate to call bullshit on me when I deserved it. I missed being with someone who seemed to totally understand me, intuitively, and still managed to find me worth adoring.
When I got home, I sent her a text and an email. I may have tried to call. She wasn’t having any of it. So I persisted, until she finally asked me why I was bothering her again. I told her I missed her face. She was disgusted.
But I didn’t give up, finally getting her to agree to meet for a late autumn hike near her house. She made me promise not to be crazy. I was up early the next day, counting the moments until I could actually leave the house, wishing we’d agreed to meet in the morning.
When I walked into her apartment, I stayed tentative, not wanted to force a hug on her. I could feel my face heating up, my hands turning into icicles, as if all the blood from my extremities was headed north. She hugged me. And she kissed me. And, annoyed with herself for kissing me, she hugged me again.
Our hike was gorgeous but not particularly enlightening. I didn’t have a good reason for wanting to see her again, and didn’t feel articulate enough to express what I was feeling. So we mostly walked and talked about very little. We kissed again afterwards, when we got back to her place.
When I left her house the next morning, I was smitten again. She barely brushed my lips with hers, deflecting the hug, saying, “We are NOT starting again. This was very nice. Goodbye.”
But I was ready to try something new, so I kept at it, emailing and calling her, pissing her off with my persistence. The last thing she wanted to do was let me in so I could hurt her again. And again. And again.
“What’s different this time?” she’d ask, and then feel discontented with my protestations.
Finally, she gave me a way to convince her. Knowing my propensity for written expression, and my killer skills in the art of the business proposal, she gave me an assignment: write her a proposal outlining what outcome I was hoping for, and what the deal-breakers had been in the past, and why/how they could be overcome now.
It was a five-page work of art. As I write this, the Peach is telling me I’m not creating a PDF of it for your reading pleasure.
But it was really good. I just re-read it.
It took a day or so for the Peach to add her commentary to the document, but by the end she agreed that we could date.
And, starting in early November, we made a serious go of it. So the beginning of this month will mean five months of being in a relationship. Previous to the Peach, I rarely made five weeks. Hell, I let some wonderful women go after fewer than five dates.
So this is a big deal.
It hasn’t always been easy, for either of us. And I’ve struggled with the expected behavior of a guy with a girlfriend—oh, I’m great at bringing flowers and spoiling my Peach. Sometimes I’ll sing to her late at night. But I still tend to withdraw when I’m stressed, rather than share what’s making me crazy; I’m still not so great about planning ahead; I’m exasperated, sometimes, with my overly structured life of Simone nights and Peach nights and Simone weekends and Peach weekends.
We’ve traveled to San Francisco and Chicago, met (and charmed) members of both families, seen concerts, cooked for each other. And she’s been a part of Simone’s life, too—hanging with us on the weekends, meeting us for dinner during the week; she even took Simone out shopping for her 8th birthday present.
I’ve experienced moments of true beauty and unparalleled happiness, and I’ve felt so grateful for everything the Peach has brought into my life. I’m even grateful for our disagreements, for the times I’ve had to talk my way out of something stupid I said or did or didn’t do. I’m grateful that she has pushed me so hard to be a boyfriend. And I am so proud of her accomplishments. She’s a wonder.
But I’m also chafing. And I get irritable and hypercritical. I find myself easily bugged—sometimes our perspectives on the world are so different. I don’t always want to be someone’s boyfriend, and sometimes I miss the autonomy of my half-single life. The questions I ask myself over and over again are: Am I struggling because she might not be right for me? Or am I incapable of maintaining a long-term relationship? Are my concerns valid and real? Or am I just being an idiot again? I feel like the answers are within me, if only I can get myself to listen.
Epilogue: This week, I told my Peach I needed a little break—some time on my own—where I can let myself unravel a bit and start working things out. I was craving—desperate for—some “me” time. She was so understanding, and also so strong—she wants me to be fair to her and to keep talking. And she wants to know right away if I truly believe it’s not going to work out.
I don’t know the answer right now; everything is in tumult—Simone’s new baby sister was born this week, and she’s a gorgeous little thing who made me ache inside when I saw her; my company is growing and there’s so much I need to do to make it successful; Simone is in transition and it’s manifesting itself at school; and then there’s the Peach, wanting to shake some sense into me. Sometimes it’s hard to keep all of the plates spinning.
Only time will tell if I’ll be writing a “Peach, part 4.”