I'm in kind of a weird space right now. So after discussions with Firefighter a couple of weeks ago, where I very nearly ended what is quite possibly the happiest and healthiest (non) relationship I've ever had, we decided that we should just stay 'casual'. Now, I have no problem with this, because let's face it, after 10 years of Hell, I'm in no hurry to tie myself down again. The problem was understanding what we both expected from 'casual'. Are we exclusive? Do we date other people?
Now, don't get it twisted. I am not that girl who gets clingy and crazy about who he's with or where they're going. I've always given him his space. Which is where it gets interesting. From day one we had only planned on it being casual, which to me meant, if I'm free and he's free and we wanted to just kick back and chill, catch a game or a movie, we knew who to call (text). I mostly expected to see him once or twice a month. And it did start out that way. But 3 months in, we were up to once a week, by 4 months it was every weekend and by now I had slept over. After 6 months, I had been to a couple of his family functions, and met his mother (who is a sweetheart), sister, brother-in-law, nieces, nephews, cousins... you get my drift.
But we were still, according to him, 'casual'.
And then, it happened. Right around 10 months, I dropped the 'L' bomb. I didn't mean to. It slipped out while watching TV one evening. He took it well, I played it off. But then it started to niggle. I don't expect to hear it from him. He's been burned pretty bad and is determined not to go there again, and that's ok with me. But I did decide that I needed to know if he recognised the change in our status. I was still not sure how he viewed me. I won't go into detail, but let's just say, I had a very difficult weekend while we tried to sort ourselves out. He sent an email. Yes, I cringed too, because I hate having what should be a 'grown up' conversation over text or email, but he prefaced it with an explanation that he is not good at talking face to face and it's true, he gets tongue-tied (it's actually kinda cute). He basically stated that he realised it was more than casual and that he hadn't intended for it to go there, that he didn't want to have to feel like he needed to tell me where he was going and who he was with. Now at this point, let me remind you: I have never asked him to tell me anything of the sort. If he had other plans, that was cool. I either made some of my own or chilled at home with the brats. So I calmly reminded him that I had never asked. He always freely volunteered the information.
So. We were back on track. Yay.
I figured we would dial back, you know, maybe for a couple weeks he would suddenly have a bunch of friends he wanted to catch up with, so I settled in and began reaching out to a few of my own to see if any wanted to hangout, catch a movie, shoot some pool.
Well... that's not quite what happened. Sure we texted a little less. I guess neither was sure how to behave, but then the weekend rolled around and hey, guess what? Yep, nothing had changed. Well, maybe one thing. The expectation is now set - on his end - that my Friday nights are spent at his place, Saturday he comes to mine, Sunday is church and then back to mine. Then he went to Green Bay to visit friends for the weekend... I had a weekend planned with the girls, so I expected radio silence for a few days, barring a few "Hey, how ya doing"... Uh, no. I got almost minute by minute updates of the entire trip. It was really sweet, but left me and my inner circle of friends, confused. He had a rotten trip, so we planned, or so I thought, for us to hangout at the weekend (he got back on a Wednesday), drink a few adult beverages while he vented. Naturally he texted to let me know he was back, but then he stunned me. Could I come over that night? He asked. Just the day before he had said he would be tired from traveling and that he'd let me know about the weekend. So I made arrangements with my sister to stay with the kids. Half a bottle of wine and 3 shots of Goldschlager later, I've heard damn near his life story, which he claimed was necessary for me to understand why his trip sucked so bad. It wasn't necessary, but I did learn how and who broke his heart. Thursday sucked at work.
So ok, with our newly reclaimed 'casual' status, I figured I'd see less of him at the weekend. <sigh> Nope. It seems to have kicked into a different gear altogether. So Friday, I went to his as usual, stayed and then headed to my mani-pedi spa. He wasn't feeling too good, but we put that down to the travel. He came over to my place to chill after I got done with my errands, but still wasn't feeling good, so I gave him some Dayquil and just let him rest, but by early evening, he was feeling worse so I went to the store, got some Nyquil, a toothbrush and deodorant so he could stay. Well, I woke up to him blazing hot Sunday morning. Took his temp: 102°. So my Sunday was spent playing nurse, while also getting online to put in some emergency overtime. Monday he finds out it's pneumonia. He gets two shots in the butt-ocks (you've got to say it like Forrest Gump), is given a bunch of prescriptions and sent home to rest. Monday evening he contrives another excuse for me to come over after work on Tuesday. I brought him dinner, played nurse for a little bit and then kicked back on the couch with him fully intending to get up and make the 30 minute drive back home. When I dozed off for a minute, he woke me and said "You didn't bring any clothes." "Huh?" "Why didn't you bring any clothes?" In my head I heard myself answer 'because, you numpty, you wanted casual.', out loud I said "Because I hadn't planned on staying". I had asked him what they had said at work, but he hadn't spoken to anyone. One guy, who is gay and I believe has a crush on him, asked if he needed anything. I got a chuckle out of that. But then he said that one of the girls Crispylivin (her screen name), would no doubt have something to say about me looking after him, so I said just don't tell her. His response: "Of course I will, I don't mind it".
So. The words haven't been said. I'm trying not to see what I want to see, but the old adage "actions speak louder than words" keeps popping into my head. He has thanked me repeatedly over the last couple of days, for fussing over him. Today we joked about him remembering his 'nurse' if he wins the lottery tonight. I said "she's not fussy, dinner or something would be nice..." he said "she would get a lot more than that", so I joked "ooooh a movie too?" He answered "yep and more." I left it there with "she's one lucky nurse, if you win of course". I'm not one to push my luck! The banter is fun, I can tell there is some affection. We are coming up on one year in a couple of weeks... For now I'm enjoying the butterflies in my stomach and thanking man-flu for the opportunity to show him he doesn't have to be afraid.