You figure it out

It’s not halfway through the morning and I feel frustrated and dissatisfied.

I was in the city relatively early for a breakfast meeting. Seems like I’m on the train or tram a lot lately at peak hour travelling to or fro with the working commuters with dazed looks on their faces listening to their music shoulder to shoulder with someone doing exactly the same. Doubtless I appeared one of them back in the day, but now it’s novelty for me and I look with a more analytical gaze, as if I have wondered into the Smithsonian and set eyes upon a particular genus of man on display. I listen to my own music and think I’m glad to be out of it.

I was due to meet a character I’ve been trying to meet up with sundry times before. Each time we’ve missed each other for one reason or another, meetings running over time, mix ups with time, unexpected things popping up. Unfortunately it was the same story today. I sat in a cool cafe with a latte and a bowl of porridge waiting for my acquaintance to show. I wasn’t hopeful. I’d had the message as I walked in that he didn’t know if he could make it, and calling him only sent me to his voicemail. I read the paper, I chatted, and made notes in my black book about one the projects I wanted to get up. My demeanor was pleasant, friendly, but inside I was in a turmoil.

Being in my role you need to be patient. I guess that’s true in most walks in life, but perversely it’s truer the more independent you become. I don’t belong in a system anymore and there’s no safety net beneath me should I fall. I can’t afford a misstep. And so that means I’ll very politely accept his apologies and attempt to re-schedule for another time hoping that this time it will actually happen.

I’m not good at supplication, but I’m forever being placed in positions of being the supplicant – I want to do work for people who have to agree for me to do it. This leads to internal conflict and disharmony, and occasionally a sour taste in the mouth. I can manage many of the platitudes and can muster a reasonably agreeable facade, but it shits me to death. I feel bound, like in an old fashioned movie where the villain coils rope around the hero with an evil cackle. This isn’t the movies though and I can’t just magically slip my ties and come to the rescue. No sirree. I wriggle and tease, I resist and protest, for fucks sake people you can’t do this to H. And yet H gets tied up and has to cop it sweet. Yes, yes, yes, I think, quietly seething whilst figuring out what I must do next. Fact of life this and have to deal with it – though a proxy would be nice. Fact is that until you’re top dog everyone has to submit sometime.

Adding to my frustration is the latest romantic pickle I’ve got myself into. Seriously, if word ever got out about my ‘love’ life they could make a reasonably entertaining movie of it, with overtones of Woody Allen.

My problem is that I’m easy to know, but virtually impossible to get into. I work on the general principle that I’m open to pretty well everything. I’ll never say no just about, but I’m just as unlikely to say yes. In this way I find myself sliding into situations I’m not really sure about, but intrigued enough to let them happen. I’m all about the experience after all, and some experiences are mighty – but ultimately most of them peter out before they get to where the other party wants to go because in the meantime I’ve taken a road elsewhere. Frustrating for all concerned when I think about it, but it’s never really as conscious or deliberate as that. I like being engaged, I like doing things, it’s just that when push comes to that final shove I can’t commit to what others want because I don’t feel it as they do.

Anyway, the venue I’d chosen for this mornings meet was a new-ish and tres cool cafe in one of the city laneways. Few weeks back I’d met a girl at a function who worked there as a waitress. I’d known her before from somewhere but never had much to do with her. She remembered me fine though, and ever agreeable to a pretty face and a willing nature I was happy to re-acquaint myself. Since then I’ve bumped into her at a couple of other things and each time she has urged me to come by her cafe. I’ve felt some interest there which has made me typically ambivalent – flattered in some measure, fearful in another, and ultimately intrigued by the whole fucking thing. And so I turned up.

I don’t really know what’s going on, and wonder what she thinks is going on. She stood by my table and talked to me with a big smile on her face as I asked what she’s been up to. She was all surprised and thrilled to see me there, so much so that I wondered if by turning up I had confirmed something I didn’t wish to confirm. I might be a big, worldly bloke, but I can get in a tizz to. When I left she said something about how she was sure we would see each other soon as if it was something written in the stars, or somehow pre-ordained, organised behind my back. I think I had a bewildered look on my face as I left.

I don’t want to give the wrong idea. She’s a nice person, a bubbly and feminine personality who has much to offer, and for all I know may not be offering it – I’m a man after all, and our receiving stations can be all over the place. I just feel a little reserved with her for certain reasons I won’t go into here, and am inclined when someone shows interest to head the other way in a hurry. I know, have to overcome that. In any case, there’s my entrepreneur.

Just to digress for a moment I had a lovely lunch with the entrepreneur last week. She has a lot of energy and enterprise, exhaustively so. We hit it off good, but despite my ardour for her I’ll take it slow. See her tonight I think, and am considering dinner next week at Duck, Duck, Goose, Goose with her, a place I want to check out.

Back to today. I left the cafe having failed to meet and feeling slightly overwhelmed by everything. I stalked the city streets turning those feelings into typical H fodder. I felt aggressive, blunt and driven. I boarded a tram to go home in Collins Street (just about due to create a Tramming category I think), and found a seat in the back. The tram was thick with suits taking the short trip to their snazzy offices at the top end. I cast an eye at them, knowing them, seeing myself in some way in a previous persona.

This persona is different, and is worth noting for posterity. Today was typical for me travelling to the city in the dead of winter, the me I feel pretty much more than most. On my feet I word a pair of brown suede, high-topped lace shoes which count amongst my favourite possessions. I wore a pair of Diesel jeans that have been artfully made to look worn in by some clever contraption that also adds a hundred dollars to the price tag, worn with a belt (always a belt). My shirt was one of my more conservative – dark grey with a thin grey pinstripe running through it, worn untucked. Over that I had slipped on a groovy grey vest that has the look of top shelf felt, a recent acquisition that has become quite a favourite. Over the top of everything I wore the thick black woollen jacket I bought by mail order from the states, boxy, but warmly padded. A hemp bracelet on my right wrist, a Swiss divers watch on my left (one of about 5 watches I swap through), and a rustic ring on a worn leather thong around my neck. Completing the look is groovy facial hair, a pair of rectangular horn rimmed glasses like Buddy Holly would have worn, which somehow sets off my masculine features, and a tumble of lush, wavy reddish-blonde hair in artful disarray. Overall this is the laid-back, tidy, masculine, but bohemian look I feel most comfy with. I love my suits, but I’ve moved on.

That was me then, heading home and peering out the window feeling none of the wry sang froid of my last tram trip home the other night. Shit happens. Just as I got home my phone beeped, a message from another girl I had caught up with last week. She thanked me, said it was fun, then apologised for having been so horny. Seriously. I stared at the phone and shook my head. What next?

This is not me. This is not my brand. Have to get things right way around again, and be the person I aspire to be.

Later: had lunch and coffee with Vinnie again and we talked about all the usual things. As we were leaving the cafe he asked if he should text the girl he was keen on to see whether she was coming back to Melbourne from a trip overseas. “Don’t you know?” I asked him. He shrugged his big shoulders. “Normally I just do it or don’t do it,” he said, “I don’t think about it.” “Well that’s the sign mate that you like her when you start to second guess yourself,” I answered. It was very unlike the cool and very composed Vinnie I had come to know. He shrugged his shoulders again. “Maybe” he said, happy to think it I believe. I told him he should text her, and that I hoped he gives it a go. I think he will.

We parted and I thought on this. I know what he’s going through. I remember the delicious uncertainty of not knowing what to do, the sense of anticipation on hold pending a more definite sign. That’s what I want. That engagement. I want some skin in the game. I thought about a moratorium on my activities as the first drops of rain began to spit down, but that’s just the other extreme. I think I have to just simply remember what I really want, and who I really am, and everything else will sort itself out. If Vinnie can lose his head over a girl, then so can I.

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