They both mark the end of another Jenny and McCain chapter.
Yes, it's over. Are you surprised? I'm not. In fact, I was actually very worried about this very thing happening.
I worried about it, big time, before the trip to Amsterdam. I worried about it during the trip, and after. When he first asked me to go there with him, I balked. I refused! I told him, flat out, "No way."
You know why? BECAUSE I KNEW THIS WOULD HAPPEN. And now I have guilt.
While I was wrestling with the decision, the "should I go?" question, I kept thinking one thing over and over. I even expressed it to my friends. I did not want to accept this most generous gift, this once-in-a-lifetime experience for many reasons, but the biggest reason of all was this:
I didn't want to feel obligated to him. I don't want to feel obligated to ANYONE. Especially to someone with whom I share such a tumultuous track record. That nagging little voice in my head kept saying, "Don't!! You'll be sorry!!". But for whatever reason, I decided to ignore that little voice. I thought mayhap things would be different this time. Maybe I was ready to stop over-analyzing things and to just sit back and enjoy something special and amazing and wonderful.
For a little while, that's exactly what I did. When you find yourself "stuck" with one other person 4,000 miles away from home and with exactly $210.00 in your checking account, you'd be amazed at how quickly the doubts and worries take a back seat. While we were on our trip, I did have fun. And I was grateful. Grateful for the chance to step outside my stressful, hard-knock life for four days and see the world. Grateful for yummy dinners and canal rides and the opportunity to suck down a dirty martini on another continent. It was magical and fun. I wasn't Broke Ass Jenny, I was World Traveler Jenny. And it rocked.
It rocked, and then it was over. We came back home and reality rolled back in like a pea-soup fog. I was Broke Ass Jenny again, working and parenting and fretting and doing all of those special things that make me who I am. And McCain went from being Gentleman Travel Companion to...well, back to McCain.
We went out to dinner a few times, a movie, a couple parties and even a double date. He hung out with me and a couple of my hens. One gave her approval, the other one was on the fence. And I started remembering all of the reasons we never "clicked" as a couple.
You know those gut feelings we get, as women? Those hunches that cannot be ignored? Well, my gut was full of hunches. And they were the same ones that had been there the first time McCain and I dated. And the second. And the third.
One of the hunches was centered around my kids. Despite the fact that he and I had dated, off and on, for almost five years, he and my kids had never met. This was partly on me, because that's always been my modus operandi: DON'T INVOLVE THE KIDS. But, then again, he had never expressed an interest in them. Granted, the thought of meeting four kids can be daunting to anyone, least of all a confirmed bachelor who never had children. Still...it was something that was on my mind, and one night I decided to bring it up. Long story short, the conversation ended with him telling me, in so many words, that he was in no hurry to mingle with my babies. In hindsight? A good thing.
Here's where Led Zeppelin came in: we were in his car one night, on our way to or from dinner, and for some reason I asked him, "What's your favorite Led Zeppelin song?". He replied, "I'm not sure who that is. I'd have to hear it."
Now, let me say this. I'm not like some Zeppelin freak (although I have friends who are, and I love them). I don't go see the cover bands, I don't have a kid named Jimmy and I don't have the lyrics of Stairway to Heaven tattooed on my back.
But it's Led Zeppelin, okay? Love 'em, hate 'em, ambivalent or superfan, most people born between the years of 1950 and 1975 know who they are. If you're lucky, you saw them perform. Me? I listened to my Led Zep cassette tapes on my little Sony boombox and wept over "Going to California" in my bedroom for pretty much my entire 15th year of life. I dreamed of meeting a skinny dude in patchwork bell bottoms with long curly hair. I sang along to Kashmir and Babe I'm Gonna Leave You and yes, of course, Stairway to Heaven.
Hear this: I am not saying that this was the moment I knew it was over. What it really was, was a red flag, a flashing warning light. You see, one of the things about me and McCain is this: we don't have anything in common. Other than the fact that we both love to eat, and to be honest, that's kind of a human being thing so it doesn't seem all that special. We are exactly 10 years apart in age, but it feels more like 30. I felt that way when we'd be out and he'd talk to me like one would speak to a child (walking behind me shouting out directions: LEFT! RIGHT! STRAIGHT AHEAD!), when he told me that the television I watch is "junk" and when he shared with me that he'd spent an entire Saturday (day and night) watching Christmas movies about single moms and widows on Lifetime (also known as The Vagina Network). I felt that way when he'd chastise me for looking at my phone. Yes, just looking at it.
It was the Led Zeppelin incident that made me realize we don't have enough in common. I'm not looking for a clone of myself (dear sweet baby Jesus, never in a million years) but there has to be some common ground, some shared cultural "stuff" to make things work. I'm not stupid enough to think that I'm going to find some sweetly aging John Cusack type out there, who loves every single movie and show and song and book that I do, but I do know that there is someone out there who, to sort-of quote my BFF Danielle, "Is going to rock my world."
Throughout the past month or so, while the walls around the McCain/Jenny romance were beginning to crumble, I kept hearing the words of another friend. A guy friend, a man who is married to an eBay hen of mine and is an amazing husband and dad. He sent me a message on facebook just prior to the Amsterdam trip and he closed with these words:
Aren't you ready for some security and stability in your life, Jenny? You deserve it.
I am ready for that. Security and stability? Yes, please! Supersized, if you can.
But I'm not ready to give up being ME in order to have those things. I'm going to continue to watch questionable t.v. shows, I'm going to keep doing trivia with my nerds, I'm going to keep checking in at places on my phone when I'm out and about. Because that's who I am.
The Butt-Dial? That was the clincher. I had already decided to cool it with McCain when I made a stupid, foolishly middle-aged lady mistake with my phone. Driving around one day, I had my phone jammed between my squishy thighs. You know, so I could find it fast if it rang. I also happened to have someone in the car with me, and we happened to be discussing the concerns I was having with the whole McCain relationship. I was telling this person my worries about all of the things I babbled about already, and also about another aspect of the man that troubled me. An aspect which I will keep to myself for now, but one that sent those red flags and warning lights into a waving, blinking frenzy.
You can guess what happened. I got a text from him a few minutes later, expressing anger and shock about what I'd said. At first I was all, "What are you talking about?" but then I saw that not only had I called him (I guess this could be called "thigh-dialing"?) but he had listened to me for 3 1/2 minutes. I felt truly awful. Truly. My cheeks were burning, my heart raced. I told the person I was with and together we pieced together what he had overheard.
And it was bad. Granted, he probably heard the gist of it out of context, but it was bad. I felt like a huge bitch. You can call me that, I'm owning this one. It was a crass, insensitive and bitchy thing I did. But it happened.
What else could I do, but apologize. Which I did. He was understandably pissed, hurt, offended...you name it. I goofed. Big time.
But here's the weird part: along with feeling all of those ashamed and awkward things, I also felt a tinge of relief. Because the concerns I had been discussing were bothering me, bothering me something fierce, and I can't think of another way I could have ever brought those things up with him without the same end result.
We exchanged a few terse texts, I apologized again. And that was it.
I feel shitty about the thigh-dial. If you know me at all, you know the last thing I want to do is intentionally hurt someone (yes, the two of you who are rolling your eyes, it's true...). However, I am the kind of gal who tries to find silver linings in otherwise dark clouds. I came away from this experience with one:
Silver Lining: I could have gone for security and stability with McCain. I could have sucked it up, ignored the red flags and the warning signs and hopped onto his coattails for a life of comfort. I could have been one of those women who followed the dollar signs instead of their hearts. When I first started seeing McCain again, one of my friends said to me, "Shit, Jenny, if he has money and he's into you, grab on and don't let go. The first time you marry for love, the second time it's for money!". Now, I love this friend and don't think I didn't consider what she said. But if and when I marry for a second time?
It's gonna be for love.
And if this were a cheesy Lifetime movie, I'd end it with this:
We'll always have Amsterdam.