… that I have written here the last time. A month, pretty much. And that’s not because nothing happened — quite the contrary. There was so much going on that I simply didn’t know how to keep up with things. I’ll try to summarize the key events … it seems like 2012 is another record year, in terms of stimuli and activity and things happening …
The first thing I need to talk about is the person I met, and whom I wrote about at the end of my last posting. As I had written, there was this sense of … I don’t know, that something didn’t feel right. We spent another night together — not sleeping with each other, but she came over and spent the night. It was Obama’s re-election night (yay!!), which we tried to follow on TV until we were so tired that we had to sleep. Again, there was some kissing, and closeness, and again, I just felt awkward. And in the following days, this kept bothering me. I noticed how my own emailing with her — which had been so enthusiastic and creative — lost its verve, and how I realised that I had to talk to her. That the path for our relationship that we had chosen (towards intimacy) did somehow all of a sudden not feel right to me. So the next time we met, on a Sunday afternoon, we first ate together at a restaurant, and then had a long and nice walk in a park, and all this time I kept a little more to myself (physically), and I could tell that she was noticing this. On our way home, we cycled part of the way together. And where we finally had to part ways, I began that conversation.
It turned into something really long, with us standing in the rain for something like four hours. It became clear how excited she was about me, and how disappointed she was by what I was telling her, and it was remarkable to have a conversation that felt like we were breaking up after a two year relationship when in fact we’d met only three times. She was feeling so much like I have been feeling so often, thinking that whenever someone seems really exciting, and like the right person, that person would invariably turn away, and things would come crashing down. And she cried, very bitterly, and I just didn’t know what to do or say. Much more so because I so knew what she was talking about, and what she was disappointed by. It feels like this has happened to me so many times, and it felt so awful to be the person responsible for it this time. But I could not help myself. I knew that something wasn’t right, and I was not even exactly sure why (I think I am now) — I was thinking that it was maybe because we had moved so very swiftly, much too fast, and that if there had been a bit more distance between us from early on, things would be more possible now. At the end of it, we finally said good-bye, thinking there was maybe an opening for a new way of building a relationship, whatever form it may have. But since then, we have been emailing a lot less, and I just felt relieved that I was no longer involved in something that would hurt me or someone else.
That I did not feel lonely and sad over it was the result of yet another encounter that really transformed these past days. Two days after the above conversation, I got on a plane to Italy. We have an office there, and I wanted to spend three days working with our Italian colleagues. My motivation was built on three factors: one, I have been making it my job to support our country teams by going to work for and with them as much as possible, and Italy was up again. Two, I really like the Italian team, and I wanted to talk to them about maybe staying there for longer in 2013. And three, there is a really cute colleague in the Italian team, and I was hoping to maybe get a little closer to her, have more conversations with her, or something like that. (That alone, that I wanted this, showed me so very clearly that the other story was something I should just not pursue.)
My stay was really nice. I talked to the MD and to the team, and we agreed that in the new year, I would join them for a month. Yay! And I really did meet N (that’s what I’ll call her) during my little stay in Milan. The first night, we went out to have dinner with a small group of people. The dinner we had was very close to a railway station where N needed to catch a train to get to her home — she lives in a little suburb outside the city. It turned out that she had missed a train and had to wait for the next one, and as everyone else was kind of leaving, I proposed to wait with her, gentlemanly, and keep her company while she had to wait for her train. My hotel was within 10 minutes walking distance, so no problem at all. So we ended up sitting on a park bench, and having a very nice conversation, quite personal, about things that interested us, and she looked at me with these amazing eyes, and even though I’ve always been a little tone-deaf when it comes to detecting what a woman feels about me, I felt good as I walked back to the hotel that night. The next evening, we had dinner with a few people again, and this time I and a colleague walked her to the train station, and waited together. The third night, there were — miraculously — only N and I left to have dinner. Each night, she seemed to have no special plans, each night it was always only about catching that train. We went to a Mexican restaurant that she really likes, and after telling me that she only had a half hour, before she had to go to catch that train, we ended up getting quite some food, and she missed train after train, and we had the most beautiful dinner together, being really well in each other’s company. She seemed to love my stories, while she herself had many things to talk about, she is so lively and joyful, and fun, and she has these wonderful eyes, and I was just really happy in her presence. Very unlike the other dinner with the person in Berlin. It was fun then, but there was something forced about it. Nothing felt forced with N.
I finally walked her to the station again, so she could catch that train. And even though nothing happened (we kissed on cheeks, and hugged for good-bye), I walked back to the hotel thinking “this can be really good when I come back next year.” And then things really started happening … as I returned home the next day, we began an email exchange that was quite remarkable … she told me that she had been really excited by me since the very first time she’d met me, when she was new at the company and I came for my first visit. I told her that it had been pretty much the same for me. For a whole week, we were flirting by email in quite intensive ways. And all that despite the fact that she mentioned (finally …) that she had a boy-friend. And that she “couldn’t possibly” …, only to then keep at it … When finally I asked her whether she had anything planned on a couple of weekends in December, suggesting that I might just come over (there are really cheap flights right now), she suddenly became a little hesitant, and more careful. But still keeping emailing me, and playing along. But I am a little concerned now — I’ve always had the tendency of going too fast, doing too much, too soon … and ending up off-putting that way. I really need to be careful. I even talked to a friend about this, and got his advice yesterday.
I think that she is quite remarkable, I love how I feel in her presence, and I really do want to see her again. At the same time, I know that she is now conflicted between what she seems to feel for me, and how her life’s normalcy is. And I am far away, and will only return in two months time. But I know that it is extremely likely that any remarkable person I can find may also be in a relationship, and that that should not deter me … this is not about not being ethically challenged, I am not being a bad person when I pursue someone who is in a relationship. Quite the contrary — if that person can get so excited about me, then maybe that’s because something in that relationship may not be quite working. And maybe with me, that something could indeed be working. I don’t want an affair and make someone cheat on another person. The question is how strong that other relationship is, and how strong I am. And — to boot — how I will deal with the distance, and the flirting, and the playing during these two months. Well. We’ll find out. I am excited.
What else happened in these past weeks? I went to visit friends in Madrid, Salina and her boy-friend. The weekend was delightful because they are delightful, but also tiring, because both we a little ill, and then I caught their virus also, and had to work at their place the whole Monday, which was a little difficult because we were all at their place, and it was a little intense. Last Thursday and Friday, we had an international meeting in Amsterdam, which was also quite taxing, a) because I was a little ill (just coughing and sneezing all the time), and b) because we have an issue with some people in our international management that we need to deal with, and that kind of cropped up during the meeting, and that I felt difficult to cope with.
This weekend, I am mainly preparing a speech at a massive conference in Paris next week — I am using the same approach that I tried at that failed event a month ago, this time in English. I hope it’ll work better this time, it was a lot of work again.
Overall, I am not really feeling well in my skin. It’s the cold that is annoying, but it’s also something else. I am overwhelmed with work, and with trying to cope with all the things that are thrown at me, that I am throwing at myself, that I need to organise and take care of, that the company expects from me … it’s just a lot. And I notice that things are weighing on me. I need to use the Christmas break in three weeks, to really tune out, and calm down, and take stock, and regroup. Until then, I’ll just need to carry on and make do — a lot of traveling still going on between now and Christmas: Paris, London, Geneva, Düsseldorf, Budapest, Prag, and Munich. I will definitely need a break then.
I hope I’ll do things right with N. For the first time in a long time, I feel like there is something mutual. Something that could be really, really good.