Variations on the Same Theme

It was somewhere between four and half past four during the night. There was no one in the streets, and it was raining softly, turning this into a sad kind of darkness. I was walking home, slowing down with every step.
I absolutely hate rain, but something in me was very satisfied with this decor.

I continued my existential crisis at the kitchen table, eating biscuits and staring at the sink until I realised that if I didn’t move immediately, I would become too tired to even brush my teeth. Somewhere around five I finally laid down and noticed how the sun was rising already. It was noticeable lighter than it should be when you go to sleep.

However much I dislike the situation I’m in, my dramatic soul fully enjoyed these conditions. The only thing missing was a good soundtrack to this all – but next to that, all was perfect.

The crisis is still there though. I’ve recently found out that I’m still stuck in the same old pattern, the pattern I wanted to escape by going away from Belgium. Maybe it’s not connected to Belgium at all, but to me. I should have realised that before, shouldn’t I… This is the thing: I’ve had a few nice dates with a guy, and all of sudden, he’s disappeared. Well, that is, he will respond if I ask him something by text, but it seems he’s not keen on more contact anymore.

Well, that’s not a big deal, I know that. And no, my heart is not broken, I’m not in tears, I didn’t fell in love or something like that. The point is just that it pisses me off for real, because I don’t see the reasoning behind it. Why would you first be nice to someone and then just stop talking to that person? Often there is some kind of explanation, but because of bad communication skills, you never get to hear it. Not until you put them in a dark room and put a lamp in their face.

Just kidding, of course. (Though, coming to think of it, that might just work…)

I used to think that thinking rationally would help me understand things, but I didn’t realise that guys aren’t necessarily the most rational species you can find. It’s a lie that women aren’t rational – so far, my experience tells me that it’s more the opposite. I’m never the one who suddenly stops talking. A lot of my friends are just as confused about the behaviour of the Male Species as I am.

Don’t get me wrong though – guy friends are awesome, and often way more laid back than girls often are. I like having guy friends and everything. That’s never really the problem. It’s only when there’s this extra factor involved, let’s call it ‘attraction’, that troubles begin. Or silence. More often just silence, after a while.

For those wondering, I’m pretty sure this guy is not too shy, is very well aware of what he’s doing, and I have tried a few times to stay in touch. As I see it, there’s nothing more to do. I’m not going to beg for attention, that’s for sure. After all this problem boils down to the fact that it was all very sweet and then, out of the blue as it seems, it’s dead. It annoys me.

Also, another guy tried to kiss me, only for me to discover afterwards that he has a girlfriend. That’s not a nice thing to do.

If I’d write a book about my story with the Male Species, I’d call it ‘Variations on the Same Theme’. It would be a boring book – different faces, different circumstances, different time, but almost always this end of sudden silence.

As for the soundtrack that would have fitted that night, I think Arvo Pärt will do.

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That Night With the Teddy Bear

When I went to university, I had high hopes that my life would become less boring and that I would have some interesting stories to tell later on. And well, that came true. I’ve lived through longs days and long nights, and I have been in situations where I would suddenly think ‘how on earth did I end up here?’. It’s safe to say that university did more than just teaching me Russian and Polish.

And since some stories are too good not to tell, I will now dig into my memories to tell you one of my favourite stories. It’s one of my favourites because it is absolutely random and funny. Stick with me, reader, if you want to know what the link between long nights and curious teddy bears is…

This story takes place during the second semester of my first year at university. That year I had a sweet nothing with a guy I will call X, because I find that an appropriate letter when you want to protect someone’s identity. We were definitely not a couple, not even fuck buddies. At most you could call us kiss buddies. And text buddies, because we texted a whole lot. Since we would only meet at night, this was our way of staying in touch.

X liked going out and drinking and did that a whole lot. He could, because he rarely attended his classes. I did attend all of my classes (okay, except for one, completely useless bullshit class), so I also used my nights for sleeping. So one night, it was a Monday in April, I went to sleep at midnight and slept for two hours. For some reason I woke up after those two. I heard my mobile phone freaking out since my inbox was full. My inbox is always full. I don’t know why I am the only one struggling with that, but okay. My phone was vibrating with a passion, and I was awake and annoyed by it, so I got out of bed and started deleting texts so the next ones could arrive safely.

Apparently, X had been sending a lot of messages, asking where I was and saying I had to come. I believe there were even sad smileys involved. I told him I was trying to sleep and that therefore I couldn’t come. He replied saying I had to come. I told him I was trying to sleep and that therefore I couldn’t come. But of course he didn’t listen. For some reason (I could guess what that reason was) he seemed to need my presence. At some point he suddenly said: I have a bear for you!

A bear? I thought. How can he have a bear for me?

I figured that it was a typo and replied that I liked beer, but not tonight. I was trying to sleep, you see. I needed my sleep so I could attend my class the following morning.

Not a beer, he replied, a bear.

A bear.

Do you have any idea how weird that sounds? When a guy tells you he has a bear for you, and it’s around 3 am, that sounds very, very weird. Especially because he wasn’t the romantic type and I didn’t suspect that he would have bought me a gift to deliver it at home at 3 am.
Time was passing, so yes, we were heading towards 3 am and I still wasn’t back asleep. And I didn’t know what to reply to that text saying he had a bear for me. So I said: Oh, now I understand.

I think he was too drunk to understand that I didn’t get the bear thing, or at least that I had understood him so wrong. So he said: I’m bringing it to you.

No, I said. I’m trying to sleep, I need my sleep, and if you come over now, I know I won’t be sleeping.

I must have said that a thousand times. He didn’t listen though. He said he would be quiet, but added that he was on his way.

So I sat there, 3 am, thinking oh no, oh no, oh no, he’s coming with his bear and I don’t want that, and I will not give in, not to him! At the same time I couldn’t believe that he was really heading towards me. Nevertheless I kept on trying to make clear that I didn’t want him here, that he shouldn’t come, and so on.

Time kept going. 3:30. Well, there goes my sleep.

Suddenly he texted: I’m at your door.

I lived in a house with five other students, and my room was on the first floor, right above the front door. I could have looked out of my window to see if he was really there. But somehow, I didn’t dare to do that. Somehow, I couldn’t believe he was really there. I don’t remember what I replied then. Maybe I still repeated that I needed my sleep. But he kept responding saying he was really there, and that it was cold.

About half an hour had passed after his text saying he was there. It was 4 am. I didn’t know what to think of it, until he said: Hurry up, it’s cold ;(.

So I put on the light, brushed my hair a little and said to myself that even if he wasn’t there, I didn’t have to tell him that I went to take a look. Then I went downstairs. Our front door is partially milk glass, and I could see a silhouette.

So he has really come.

I opened the door, and there he was.

With a teddy bear in his arms. An innocent teddy bear.

He only wore a T-shirt with short sleeves and shorts. In the middle of the night. No wonder he was cold. And he was carrying a quite big teddy bear who wore a red knit cap. I didn’t expect to see this, so the first thing I said, was: “Are you insane?”

Still I felt compassion and let him in, since it really was cold. And after all, you don’t get a teddy bear delivery every day, right? Then he told me the teddy bear came from a student bar. How romantic to get a stolen teddy bear as a present! He also told me that he even got lost on his way to me. Normally, that road would have taken about half an hour, which is already long when you’re wearing so little and it’s night. And then he even got lost. All just to get that criminally acquired teddy bear to me. I almost felt flattered.

It was quickly decided that he could stay, though I warned him to keep his hands off me for the reason I had been repeating so often already. Next to that I was determined to not give him what he wanted. But okay. It ended up with him sleeping so deep and me lying awake. Of course. But at least he listened to me when I said he should keep his hands off me.

The next morning I ‘woke up’ (though I didn’t manage to fall asleep for real), went to take a shower and ate some yoghurt, all while he was still asleep. Then he woke up as well. I gave the teddy bear back to him and told him he should return it to the student bar. What could I do with it? Nothing. And I didn’t want something stolen sitting in my room. He accepted it, but never returned it, as far as I know. We walked back to town together  until our roads parted. Right before I left for class and he would continue what he called his Walk Of Shame, he asked for a kiss. Coming to think of it, that must have been the only time we publicly kissed in daylight.

We never did any better than kiss buddies, but still: how many people can say they had a teddy bear delivered at 4 am?

Exactly.

That One Night

“You’d better go home.”
“No. I don’t want to.”
“Really, you should.”
“No!”

She turned around to take her jacket, confused at why everyone was trying so hard to make her go home. The bartender removed more glasses from the table behind her, the one she was sitting at just a while ago. This wasn’t the first time he had to do that. She and her friends had been sitting here a long time already. Being in a bar for a long time quite explains the situation.

When we first met her, she seemed all too innocent. Tall, blonde, first year at university. Didn’t drink that much. Didn’t go out that late. That all changed during the following months. But she was always the sober one, the smart one, making sure she was in class everyday again. You couldn’t say that about us. This time though, I wondered if she would make it. It was five o’clock in the morning and according to what she said, she had class at nine. And she wasn’t planning on going home. She made that clear.

I know what she would do instead. My friend stood at the door waiting.

This time she was so different from what she usually was. I remembered that one time I brought her home. I was driving her bike and she sat at the back. “Please don’t fall. Are you sure you’ve not drank too much?” We made it home safely. I even had the guts to invite myself in. I don’t know if she even hesitated. She let me in. But as easily as she decided to let me in, she made me go again.
At that point her reputation was already made: she wasn’t easy. Even my friend never got what he wanted. Not with this one. Perhaps she was too stubborn. Perhaps she realized my friend would only use her. Maybe that’s why my friend kept trying and why I couldn’t help but being a bit jealous.

What about now though? She put on her jacket, made sure everything was still in her bag and convinced a friend of hers that she would be okay. I wasn’t all too sure – she’d better go home. But my friend opened the door and they went out. We followed and I could hear her talk to her friend.

“I’ll make it home, don’t worry. I know I’m repeating myself, but everything will be okay. Don’t worry.”

My friend was still waiting there, talking to someone else now. I asked him what he would be doing.

“We’re going home.”

He wasn’t really treating her well, but I think she knew – there must have been a reason she was stubborn. They both seemed to circle around each other without ever getting closer to a relationship, nor to a sort of breakup. I knew he didn’t want a relationship, I knew he was mostly trying to use her. But I didn’t understand what she wanted. She did realize he was a jerk, right? Then why would she give in now?

Everyone started to leave. She and my friend were left. I wish she knew that I would be better for her. She smiled at my friend, not completely aware of what she was doing. Or at least, not caring anymore. This was bad and I knew it, but I couldn’t stop it. It was too late to get her out of his grip now. They were hugging again.

“Shall we go?”

She threw one more look in my direction. That innocent blonde girl, seemingly unaware of what she was doing, of what she was getting herself in to. That nice blonde girl I would like to come with me instead of him.

I turned my back and walked away.

 

This is a dramatised version of that night. My reputation of not being easy only got stronger. I made it into class at nine. I promised myself that this would never happen again, and it never did.

I wrote this for the Weekly Writing Challenge, after reading both this and this post. They did a way better job, but still I decided to publish this. Just because.