The siren

Okay, this is how it stands. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to think. There is so much conflicting information that I don’t know how to draw a line through it.

When things are good between us you can never believe that things could be bad, and it seems natural that we be friends – and more – always. When she goes away though it is easy to think that we might pass like two ships in the night. At best then it is pleasant and inconsequential, a pretty facade with nary a crack in it but for the occasional slip.

Which is true, and which should I act on?

Friday was interesting. It was interesting in the first place because I found out that we were in the eyes of the company at large a much bigger item and for much longer than I expected. The first rumours started about 9 months ago before I was even aware that I liked her in that way – though it is sometimes easier for others to see what is invisible to you. The rumours gathered much momentum after we both travelled to Darwin at the same time – me for work, she for pleasure. We met up there but the timing of our trip was purely coincidental. It was from that time forward we took a big leap forward together – and so did the rumours.

Throughout the day I had little to do with her. I was quite ill, and at her farewell lunch could not eat more than a couple of bites. I found quite hard being there. Earlier I had been calm, but confronted now by this reality I felt it fill me. I did not trust myself with her and so slipped away as soon as I could.

There was a presentation for her in the afternoon I would have easily missed had I been able to. Once more I nodded to her without further comment. It was not the time of the place.

We went upstairs at Yong and Jackson’s, pretty well the last place I would have chosen. Throughout the night we touched upon each other elliptically, joining in conversations but rarely talking directly. This is the great irony of our relationship. We can talk all day and all night together quite easily; it’s just that there are so many things we won’t talk about now that we stumble over the gaps in our conversation. I don’t want to know what happens when she gets back, don’t want to know anything of him – I don’t want to even hear his name. She understands that instinctively. She doesn’t want to talk of those things either – that is not our relationship. And so we talk of the here and now, of the moment, of work and of outside things.

As is not unusual she referred to me a few times through the night, and in so doing I learned some of how she sees me. At one point I was referring how I had been in the bad books with one of the girls. How did I get out of that? I was asked. Smilingly I said “charm!”. The girl had been listening in for simultaneously with my answer she said the same thing. Then with a smile enlightened the crowd further “H is very charming”, she said.

Later we got talking across the table. She asked me about something and then said, “but you’ll know that!” As before she said to the others listening “H knows everything”. This was not rude, it was said almost proudly.

I spoke with another girl, close to her, a girl who had been taken under the girl’s wing and blossomed. We spoke for quite a while about various things. She exclaimed when she found that the girl and my birthday were just one day apart. What are you going to do? she asked. I asked what she meant. Are you getting her a present? How can I, I answered, she won’t be here. Send her something she said as if it was the most natural thing in the world. If only, I thought.

It reminded me of a conversation I had had earlier. During the week the girl had a farewell lunch with a mutual friend. Now he is a great fan of us together. Though perhaps he shouldn’t. It was he who confirmed she was still unwilling to return home, and he who told me of her disappointing plans upon return. To that, he added how in their lunch together how she had spoken about me so much, about work, about how I had been sick, right down to the cupcake I’d had with the pink icing sharing a coffee with her earlier in the week.

All this confuses me. I have the evidence of my own eyes. I have people like him reporting her interest. I have others close to her urging me to act in some way. And in this, she has drawn away, but for the flashes were she leans forward and can’t help herself, smiling and engaging with me and spruiking me to others.

Later in the evening things took another turn. One of the girls started telling the story about how she had gone out for lunch during the week and the conversation had turned to me. She found she said, that other than the only man at lunch she was the only person who had not been flirted with by me.

Soon after she grabbed my phone and going through the messages began to read out the messages from girls. The girl laughed at both of these incidents, but I wonder what she thought.

Soon after she left – giving me a quick peck on the cheek, gone.

I stewed all night, unhappy with how things ended and uncertain still where things sat.

In the morning I sent an email. Later I found out what I thought I already knew. The allusion to my charm the night before was a clue. She finds me difficult to resist. And so she pulls again, goes back into her shell where she feels she might be safe from me. Why do that, you might wonder? I didn’t think to ask, but I think I know.

All this was consistent with what I had observed and what I thought, even with what I have experienced in the past. I guess there is some peril in falling for this, particularly when you have promised something elsewhere. You enjoy it – it’s like the sun on your face. For a while, you forget yourself it’s so nice. You bask in it. You begin to allow yourself to drift, to speculate, to believe… Then with a shock, you pull back, guilty now, repentant, and so the cycle perpetuates.

Where does this leave me? Frustrated. Clearly, it’s all there, except I’ve been cast in the role of the Siren. Strange to think. I wonder briefly if I am not diminished by that, the smooth-talking Lothario who flirts with all the girls. But she knows me better than that. She knows me all the way through – though I wouldn’t doubt there are times when she has felt guilty that she has thought different, blunting herself to my charms.

So, what now?

The original plan was to let her go and send her an email late next week. Maybe, maybe not. I don’t know what she expects from me. I don’t know what she wants from me – both I would guess, to hear from me and to not hear from me. Such is our situation.

For now, I’ll let it go. I figure I’ll know what is right later in the week.

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