Sunday, 13 January 2013

Got up and tried

Sometimes to understand the present, you have to go back in time.

9 June 2010, the penultimate day of my penultimate exam period at SGH, also the day when awards in the 15th edition of “Grasz o Staż” contest were handed… Four months earlier, at the beginning of the penultimate semester of my studies, I decided to change the English class group, to attend the class run by the definitely the best teacher I’ve ever had. There I met Natalia (name, as usually, changed). We talked with each other very few times, but it could be felt there was a chemistry between us. As students we last talked on 9 June 2010, just after our final exam in English; we stared at each other’s eyes and yes, I knew what I should have done then… I felt some kind of affection for her, but I didn’t care much. I was a fool at that stupid stage of my life when career was the overriding goal. I was in a hurry for the “Grasz o Staż” banquet when she asked me to tap my phone number into her handset. I keyed in the number, but didn’t bother to press the green button to have her number displayed on my phone, and then dashed off. That’s how and why we wouldn’t see each other ever after.

I began to realise how mean it was many months later, after the internship, the hectic period of combing work and studying and shake-down at the current position. I settled down at work, achieved something and began to see the light, began to recognise different values are more important than building career, finally began to regret. But soon later I met Her and drowned out my regrets, I even thought things went the right way, otherwise I’d have hurt Natalia. Then what I’d put my faith in fell into pieces and when it was crystal clear there were even no pieces to pick up, the wasted chance began to haunt me more and more often.

You can’t turn back time and make up for the wrong you’ve once done, but whenever there’s a least little chance why not try to start over?

I was down in the dumps after my 25th birthday. The sorrow was not brought about by the very moment of passing by the quarter-of-century milestone, but on account of it being accompanied by awakening ghosts of the past months, bringing back pleasant (still, with hindsight) and unpleasant memories. Could it be the time to make an attempt to raise the dead?

I’d been talking about Natalia with my colleague several times. I’d told her Natalia vanished into the air and nobody knew what she was doing (strange, isn’t it?). My colleague suggested I should go an extra mile and harness search engine to go on a more extensive lookout with several combinations of keywords. 10 minutes later I learnt Natalia works in a small accountancy firm in a building 200 metres from away from my office. Truth be told I wasn’t particularly eager to make use of that knowledge, but my colleague insisted I marched there right away and met with her.

Life without spontaneity is… well, hollow. Ten minutes later I was putting the half-baked plan into practice. The search went very smoothly. Assistant at reception desk told me where exactly her office was located and did not make any troubles to let me in. When I entered her room, Natalia was out in a kitchen for a while. She was very positively “shocked” at the sight of me. I asked her out for a coffee, we had a nice chat, she gave me her phone number, my impression was very positive, yet slightly tainted by alertness of shock Natalia was overcoming…

Over the next days her enthusiasm was fading very quickly. She was either very busy at work or, then ill (just like me), then I decided to ease up and let her accustom to my unexpected stepping-in. Her hesitation or reluctance and shyness began to put me off. I ended up spending New Year’s Eve with someone else. With her approach this relationship had to chance to develop.

On 3 January, just like over two weeks earlier, I went to her building, called her and asked to come down. After exchange of pleasantries she began to quiver and look down. I found her behaviour kind of disturbing and realising she was trying to tell me something I encouraged her to stutter it out.

Natalia: You know, I’ve been thinking about you a lot since our meeting before Christmas and… you’ve made an enormous effort to find me, so I suppose you might have some clear expectations towards me and I don’t want you to hold out much hopes…

Bartek: After not seeing you for more than two years, I could have found you being with someone else and did consider this when trying to find you, but when we met, you told me that…

N: I remember, when you asked how I was doing, my reply started with a declaration “I don’t have a boyfriend, I don’t have a fiancé, I’m not married”…

B: So actually you have somebody…?

N: Well, formally we are not together… This is… a cupboard love

B: (the whole situation seemed kind of funny to me) It sounds serious.

N: It’s a very serious feeling towards an older, mature man.

B: (I could barely help my jaw dropping open, but responded in a serious manner) Maybe it would be worthwhile to do something about it?

Natalia just pulled a face and flushed…

During our conversation I found it all hilarious, several minutes later I found it pitiful, at the end of that day – dreadful. Natalia is turning 27 in three weeks. How can a woman of that age live on daydreams and delusions. A woman of that age if she declares she wants to have a family and bring up children should try to build a real relationship. If she doesn’t change, she stands no chance to turn her life around. I could go on about this for several paragraphs, but this is not a place to take apart someone’s broken psyche. I simply feel sorry for her.

But I don’t take pity on myself. Didn’t care, didn’t hurt (nie zależało – nie zabolało). To be frank, it did hurt a bit, as nobody likes being turned away. I could only be better off and had nothing to lose, unlike in the previous case we are fully separated from each other (no hear since the hapless meeting), so this chapter is closed. I’m glad to have seen the end before it began. And I’m particularly happy to have done something which could have been a good material for a script of a romantic film (maybe the one with a happy ending), something spontaneous and memorable. At least I won’t revert to memories of her, won’t ask myself if it could go on a different way, won’t wonder whether there is a chance to revive it.

This illustrates a recipe for living. Make sure you do whatever is possible to seize all opportunities you might have. And don’t let a situation when you regret not doing something happen.

Got up and tried. The bubble burst, I’m not on my knees, but not feel like trying, although I know I probably should (a classmate from primary school) is chasing me up to go out together and I know if I’m not about to miss it, I should get in touch with her soon, but to be honest I totally don’t feel like trying… Unsettling? Should I let some time pass?


Michael Dembinski said...

Bartek - "Take your time young man, don't you rush to get old..."

Statistically, your ideal future wife is just finishing liceum, so take it easy :)

(seven to eight years is the optimal age difference between a man and a woman)

Anonymous said...

Bartek, good for you for putting yourself out there.

On the lighter 10-yr-old son is just beginning to acknowledge that he likes girls. Recently, he came home confused that the object of his affection (Sadie) is playing coy and won't admit to "liking" him. I asked him if he has come out and told her about the way he feels. With a great deal of indignation, he said,"I'm a man, Mom, of course I told her". lol

More seriously, I think your overture affected your friend Natalia. She will probably replay the situation of turning you down (real,attractive, available young man) for some kind of delusion (unavailable, older man). She may casually mention it to some friends, looking for affirmation (and will get none). It will cause her to think about the path she is on. It may not cause her to change, but thinking about a dead-end future is always a good thing. You did the young woman an incredible favour.

student SGH said...

@Michael - I can still hardly believe I could fall for a seven years younger woman. I've always liked older girls, but with time this might change.

@Basia - yes, load off my mind to leave it behind, instead of being in a limbo. One of my theories is that there's no older man out of reach, this might be just a made-up excuse to avoid changes in life. I don't know whether this was a favour, I know her far too little, but judging by what I heard about her from our common friends, I'm sure she has a problem and I surmise she's afraid to admit it to herself, let alone other people.

After all those tribulations I feel so emotionally numb and hollow...

student SGH said...

Basia, I posted part of your comment (about your son) on my wall on facebook. Hope you have nothing against. It's so moving that I wanted to share it.

Anonymous said...

@bartek...pleased you found the anecdote amusing. No worries

Age differences: My better half is exactly 8 years older than me!