20. Get By

A very complicated day. If you’ve been reading the story of Nook and Chair so far, you’ve obviously realised that there have been a number of high and low points to our story.  Not just in terms of things happening in our lives, but also in terms of how, and if, the two of us would get closer together, or be forced to stay apart.

During our days together, Nook warned me that on one specific day she’d have to depart for a family obligation in the late morning.  I accepted this at face value, and knew that due to the complications of our situation, she could not spend every moment with me, with us.

I had arranged for a good friend, and his girlfriend (who also turned out to be a good friend through all of this) to visit me in the city I was staying after Nook departed for her family appointment.

Just before we left the suite, Nook confessed that her family appointment wasn’t what she originally claimed it to be.  Indeed, it was an obligation for her pending nuptials.

She was a woman torn in two.

Yes, I was a little hurt she didn’t tell me the full truth early on, but I also understood precisely why she could not.  Discussing it is admitting it.  Admitting it means having to face it.  There would be time for that in the future, but, she wanted to enjoy as much of her time with me as she possibly could...and she did.

When the time for her appointment arrived, I walked with Nook towards the rendezvous point I had arranged with my friend, and as she walked off in the direction of her car and her appointment, I walked backwards and watched her stroll down the street.

I was waiting for that Hollywood moment.   You know the one.  Where the woman turns around, flashes a smile, and the male protagonist knows, really knows, that she’s “into” him.

I watched.

And watched.

She didn’t turn around.

Given the context of the moment, I was convinced that was the last of Nook I’d ever see.  Knowing where she was going, what must have been going through her heart and mind, I was certain that it was the end of things.

 

Timing.

As my heart sank a bit, and Nook vanished off down the street, I turned around just as my friend and his girlfriend arrived, right on time, right on queue.  I was extremely emotional.  I was certain Nook had closed her heart to me and it was Game Over.

He could tell I was feeling some pain and greeted me with a friendly and supportive hug.

It took me a moment to compose myself, and we went off to Starbucks for a chat and coffee.

I’m incredibly grateful for his fortuitous timing that day.  I don’t think I’d have been very happy if I’d had to wander about for very long with Nook having just left to tend to details for her upcoming wedding.

 

More sharing.

After our Starbucks, we decided to head for brunch.  And my first bloody mary (ever).  Or two.  Followed by a few G&Ts and I really don’t recall what else.  It didn’t have much of an effect, but that shouldn’t surprise anyone who has ever had such a day.

We talked about a lot that day.  Their story, my story, life and laughs.  It helped take my mind off of the sense of doubt I was overcome by, and for that I was, again, grateful.

Brunch was fantastic, as was the wandering about and talking we did for the many hours after.

As the day passed I came to the cold resolution that Nook was gone.  That she was confronted with the reality of her Complications and being the truly kind, generous, and caring woman that she is, she simply couldn’t face moving forward with me.

It was understandable, really.  I was the interloper; the distraction.  Perhaps I might be a catalyst for change in her life, but that was asking for a lot, and I had no right to expect that change to occur in a timeframe that would be to my preference.

None of this stopped me from a bit of wishful thinking.  Earlier that morning, Nook and I had breakfast at the hotel restaurant.  She was quite worried about being spotted, so was not very comfortable.  The waitress that brought our bagel and fruit was nice and friendly and that helped ease the mood a tiny bit.

Later in the day when my friends and I returned to the hotel bar to have a few more drinks and talk, the same waitress served us.  I could tell she remembered me from the morning, and had a slightly quizzical look upon her face.  Reading that, I said: “My wife took the credit card and is out shopping for the day.  She’ll be back later...”  Big smile and knowing nod from the waitress.  It was an odd thing to blurt out, but it was also a comfortable thing.

Eventually my friends and I decided to head out to dinner together.  We talked more, they did their best to support me, and the evening passed quickly.

 

Email.

During the course of dinner I checked my NookMail folder every few minutes to see if she’d got in contact.  As the minutes rolled into hours, it became less and less likely I’d hear from her again.

But then.

An email.

One word.

“Hi.”

She reached out.  It must have been tough for her to do that, given the events of her day, and I was truly beyond surprised.

I replied, asked how she was.  After three or four emails, I excused myself from dinner and went outside and called her.

She was still planning on seeing me the next day, and she’d even gone so far as to share part of what was going on with her with a friend.  It was the first time she had shared any of this with an “outsider” - and I was glad.  I had the benefit of the counsel of several friends, but Nook was on her own, without a sounding board, without another perspective.

We talked for maybe 15 minutes or so, but just hearing her voice and her promise to see me again in the morning changed my mood immeasurably.  I still had my concerns and doubts, of course, but the fact that through all that was going on she still reached out, and promised to be there in the morning, well...that spoke volumes.

Finding words.

During that phone conversation I was in a somewhat dreamlike state - aware of what I was saying to Nook, but also somehow disconnected from it.  I was thinking carefully, choosing words carefully.  I had fallen hard for this amazing woman, and in doing so had created an impossibly complicated situation for her, and for us.

I remember standing outside the restaurant, alone but for the odd car passing by, engaged in what must have seemed a monologue of Shakespearean proportions.  I spoke from my heart, I shared my day, my thoughts, my fears, but more than anything, I was completely honest with Nook about everything.

I knew that the time was coming where a choice would have to be made.  I could only make so many promises and guarantees to Nook, and the rest would have to be a leap of faith on her part.

So during that call I did my level best to express not just my feelings of the last few days together, but what I felt the two of us were capable of as a couple.  I did not want to pressure Nook, not at all, but she knew that my interest in her was not confined to these few days in a suite in a hotel.