I have a problem. Most people wouldn’t consider my problem to be a problem at all. Some would even call it a blessing. But to me, my problem is most definitely a problem.
I’m falling in love.
It’s both terrible and wonderful and I don’t think I’ve ever felt so confused in all my life.
This is not good. This is not good for the man who’s making my heart ache in an utterly annoying yearning sort of way. And this is really not good for me, either.
I’m bad at love. I’m forty-two years old, I’ve never been married. I was engaged, once, but we never made it to the alter (thank God) – four months before the big day everything exploded and it was over. People ask me all the time why a woman like myself, someone who has a good career, who grew up in a good home and has a good, healthy relationship with her family, has a good balance of work and social time and someone who even takes good care of herself, physically, and was blessed with a pretty face and not a bad body for my age…why a woman like me, is single and without children.
I tell people that I just “haven’t met the right person”.
But the truth is, I’m bad at love. When I fall in love, I fall hard. Then I become infatuated, and needy, and clingy. Then, if the person I fall in love with hurts my feelings, I take things way too hard and push him away.
And that’s why I’m single. When it comes to love, I suck. I can’t handle the emotions that I feel when I’m in love with someone. At least, I don’t seem to handle them well…
For ten years now, I’ve been single. Happily so. I broke off an engagement when I was twenty-five, had a rebound relationship that wrecked my bank account and left me even more gutted than I was post-fiance, had a rebound-from-my-rebound relationship that completely finished off what little thread of emotions that I was able to cling to, and after that? Third failure was the charm for me. No more romance. If I feel like getting laid, I have a couple of friends who are more than happy to enjoy a good romp in the sack (or a quicky in the back seat of a car), and we part ways with a kiss and a giggle and life is good. A woman has needs, ya know?
But, yeah…after having my heart broken over and over and over again, I decided that I’m just not the marrying type. And I don’t want kids, either. I’ll let my brother be the one to have kids – I’m not interested in that kind of commitment.
Once I let go of the idea of being someone’s wife and living happily ever after, I felt…free. All through my thirties I was single, and free, and living it up. I went to Greece, the UK, South America and traveled all through Canada. I rent a cute little in-law unit out in the country, and my landlord built a fire pit out on the back patio for me. That in-law unit is my haven, I absolutely love my home. Instead of buying diapers and groceries for three, I enjoy spa days and massages and being able to get drunk on a Tuesday night if I feel like it. I’m surrounded by family members who love me, including people who are always dumping their kids on me to be babysat while they go have a date night. I have adorable little second-cousins and my niece and nephew – I have plenty of cute little kidlets to wrassle around with whenever I’m jonesing for an excuse to play hide and seek in the sunshine all day and eat boxed macaroni and cheese for dinner.
I have it all. Family. Friends. A career that I’ve loved and nurtured for fifteen years now. A little Honda Accord Sport in Midnight blue. I participate in fun-runs, those little 5Ks that have themes, and I take exercise classes three or four nights a week – always switching it up, just randomly dropping in on a class so that I don’t get bored. I truly enjoy my life, and it’s very fulfilling to me.
…and then, I met Mason.
Mason and I met at a bar. A sports bar. I was watching NASCAR, and having a couple of beers and a plate of hot wings. I was completely on my own, because one of my besties was nursing a wicked hangover at home and the other was at her nephew’s baptism. So I sat there at my favorite sports bar, happily watching NASCAR while plowing through a platter of chicken wings – classic Buffalo sauce, extra Ranch dressing, extra celery – and washing them down with a really awesome IPA from a local brewery. My favorite sports bar has their bottles on a rack on the back wall of the bar, for display, and one long mirror behind the bottles – it looks much cooler than it sounds. Anyway, I was covered in wing sauce and enjoying the hell out of my quiet time, and I happened to glance up into the mirror and saw someone watching me. Someone I’d never seen before. That sports bar that I love has a big clique of regulars, and I live in a pretty small suburb. I notice when someone new is hanging around. And the guy who was watching me stuff my face like a fat, happy pig was definitely new to the bar.
He smiled at me through the mirror. I grinned behind the napkin that I’d been mopping myself down with – smiling at him with my eyes. And sure enough, the stranger walked right up to me and said,
“Hi! How’re you?”
Just like that. No fancy pick-up lines, no flirting, just a friendly hello.
“I, am a glorious mess,” I replied, still wiping myself down. I grinned. “Happy as a pig in slop!”
He laughed whole-heartedly. He had a deeper voice, not Barry White deep but very, very masculine. He had a thick goatee that he kept neatly trimmed, it was mostly dark but had some grey hair through it. His cheeks were clean-shaven and he was wearing a Motocross baseball hat. He was stocky, heavy-set, but he had broad shoulders like a linebacker. He was wearing glasses. And he was grinning back at me.
So the stranger sat down next to me, and we turned back to the race and kept watching. Everything about this stranger felt comfortable. He told me that he was new in town, just looking around for a place to rent so that he could start a new gig as an electrician. He was from a tiny hillbilly town that was several hours away from my little suburb. He told me that his name is Mason.
I was instantly attracted to him.
Mason. Country boy. Stocky and strong, and when I flirted with him a little he gave me a bashful grin, and then he blushed. He actually blushed. And something about seeing that good ol’ boy blushing and looking so flattered because I called him handsome…damn…he stole my heart completely.
We drank all day. For about five hours. He told me that he has a “thing” for dive bars. I replied,
“Well what-da-ya know! So do I.”
“Really?” he asked, raising his eyebrows at me. I winked at him.
“Stick with me, Country Boy. I’ll show you around.”
He took me up on the offer. I took him to a little place called the Aquarium, which is such a dive bar that it’s almost laughable. It has two sad little aquariums built into one of the walls. Every single bar stool is covered in plastic pleather that’s cracked so badly that if you squirm too much the seats will pinch your butt cheeks right through your jeans. The wood floors are worn, and the bar is even more worn. It smells like an old bar.
Mason definitely liked place. We had a couple and he started making friends all up and down the bar. Social guy. Friendly. And Mason is so genuine and unassuming that people take a liking to him right away. He makes friends everywhere he goes.
I can hang with that! I’m very much a social creature. I’m also the type of person who has a few beers and tells loud, bawdy stories. Between Mason and I, we lit that old dive bar up so lively that people complained when I told Mason that I wanted to show him the Buckhorn.
Mason was happy at the Aquarium. But he fell in love with the Buckhorn. The Buckhorn looks like one of those really old-timey bars where there’s just one short rail, about eight stools in total and all of the seats are taken up by old men hunched over their beers with their butt cracks peeking out from their pants. The Buckhorn has two pool tables and several sets of dice to play Liars Dice with. It also has an old jukebox.
Mason and I were drunk by the time we wandered into the Buckhorn. He’d started flirting right back at me, and I was loving it. Enjoying the high of flirting with the first man that I’ve been seriously attracted to in more than a decade. We had a couple more beers, and he was impressed when I filled the jukebox with quarters, played way too many sad old country songs and sang away with each song.
“You’re a country girl!?” Mason frowned at me.
“I’ve always loved beer and blue jeans and country music,” I shrugged.
“I love racing!”
“Can you drive a manual transmission?”
“Like a fuckin’ pro.”
“Damn…” Mason nodded. He was pink-cheeked and blurry-eyed from the beer we’d been pounding down all night, but he was still giving me this puppy-eyed look…I was loving it.
I went home with Mason that night. I was drunk, and he said that he was worried about pouring me into an Uber all by myself when I was that lit. So I went to his hotel room, and he offered to sleep on the floor. I grabbed him. I kissed him.
We both gave in and had sloppy but exciting drunk sex. Afterwards, he held me so close to him, and I slept all night in his arms. He snores. Loudly. But somehow that snoring…I just felt so safe and warm in his big, strong arms with my face kinda mashed against his broad chest, that I slept like a log. A drunken log.
We were so hung over the next day. Sooooo hung over. The curtains on the window in Mason’s hotel room were awesome and blocked the sunlight out incredibly well. So well that we couldn’t tell that it was noon – it still looked like it was dark outside. Until Mason opened the blinds and we both groaned and cursed and laughed at ourselves.
That was nine weekends ago. We’ve been seeing each other every weekend ever since then, and sometimes during the week. He’s having a helluva time finding a place to rent, because all of the rental properties want him to have employment here in town before they’ll rent to him, and his soon to be employer wants him to have residency in the area before they give him regular work. Catch 22.
It has only been nine weekends, but, Mason and I have one thing in common that seems to really be fueling this attraction that we have to each other: we both wear our hearts on our sleeves and we’re both honest to a fault. So we’ll have a few beers and we start pouring our hearts out to each other. And we’ll wake up in the morning, sober, and have awesome morning sex, and then we’ll lay in bed and just talk – sober, contented, happily wrapped up in each others arms.
Mason’s had a terrible time over the past three years. In three years his mom died of brain cancer, his wife of eight years left him for a younger man, he lost a job that he’d had for over ten years because the dude whom his wife left him for was the company owner’s son (yeah, talk about a shitty situation), he discovered that he had an undiagnosed heart defect which caused him to suffer a heart attack and took two serious surgeries to correct and made him rack up some massive medical debts (you should see the scar on this man’s chest – it’s serious), he had to sell his house to pay for the divorce, and while he was renting a place he let a “friend of a friend” whom he didn’t know well stay in the 2nd bedroom where she overdosed on vodka and pills one night and died in Mason’s spare bed which absolutely messed.Mason.up.
I can’t imagine everything that he’s gone through. He didn’t lay all that on me all at once. Oh, hell, naw. He shared things slowly, a little bit at a time, a little more, a little more. The cherry on top of the shit-show sundae was a DUI. He has his driver’s license back now, but he’s still taking classes and paying off fines. I won’t judge him – I bailed my very best friend outta jail three years ago when she was arrested for a DUI. Sometimes people just do stupid shit.
“I’m not that guy,” Mason kept telling me. “You don’t know me, but, I swear – I’m not that guy.”
“I believe you,” I said softly. “I think you’re a good person, darlin’. I think you’ve just been through one helluva terrible time, and now you need a fresh start to recover.”
Here’s where I get confused, folks: Mason says that he doesn’t want a girlfriend right now. That he’s absolutely not at all in a good spot to fall in love. And I’m totally fine with that, completely okay, because I don’t want a boyfriend. I suck at romance. I told Mason that, and he said,
“I doubt, very much, that you suck at love. I think you’ve just had some really shitty luck, too.”
Last Sunday morning. That’s when I realized that I’m in trouble with this good ol’ boy. We’d been spooning – I was sleeping on my side, he was spooned up behind me and he’d been snoring loudly in my ear. I woke up, I felt him stir a few minutes later. I knew that Mason was awake because he wasn’t snoring anymore, but he wasn’t talking or making any movement – he was just laying there, holding me, maybe watching me sleep?
I rolled over. Mason looked at me with his absolutely gorgeous deep, dark blue eyes – they’re the color of really dark sapphire, I’ve never seen such gorgeous blue eyes before – and he just watched me in silence.
“Whatcha thinkin’?” I asked softly. Mason stared at me for a moment, then finally said,
“You’re a butthead.”
“Awwww, darlin’, you say the sweetest things,” I replied. He snickered, then he snuggled into me, nuzzling my nose with his. We laid there for a while, just holding each other, our foreheads resting against one another. “Why am I a butthead?” I whispered. Mason pulled back a little and peered into my eyes again. He heaved one of the heaviest sighs I’ve ever heard, and finally muttered,
“Because I spent nearly six years building up a wall around my heart, and here you are, tearing it down.”
He took my breath away. I stared at him, my mouth hanging open ever so slightly, because Mason’s confession took me completely by surprise and I swear I felt the whole world stand still.
…except, of course, for my heart.
And then my brain, which immediately said: Oh, no…
And now here I am, about thirty-six hours later, and I’m all sappy and love-lorned and confused as all hell. And scared. I’m fuckin’ terrified.
I’m not good at love.
But I think I done fell right in, anyway.