... your 2-year-old daughter knows maybe a dozen people's names and "Calvin" is one of them.
This whole dating thing has been surprisingly easy so far, to the point where I sometimes find myself waiting for the other shoe to drop. There's a part of me that wonders if Calvin has been to the Trading Post and knows I have, because he accepts me being weird so easily and doesn't push where it would freak me out, but what are the odds on that?
Like, back in October, he practically had a twinkle in his eye talking about second-date plans, and I'm like, dude, you don't know me and aren't that clever. But I kind of enjoy that, waiting to see what he thinks I'd like. A few days later, he texts asking if I'm free mid-week; I say yes, he says to bring workout clothes. Interesting.
We meet at a subway station in Cambridge, and he leads me a couple blocks down the street to a rock-climbing gym. "That's... A choice. You saying I'm fat or something?"
"My sister said you'd say that, and also said not to say I wanted to see you in spandex."
"You should listen to her more."
"She says that a lot. But, honest, I just picked up on you liking sports but not really being into running. You ever do this before?"
"Just, like, ropes in gym class."
"Trust me, you'll love it."
I don't, at first, as I go into the locker room and change. I don't think about my butt much, especially after a couple of years - obnoxious guys tend to and grab it at work and on the subway, sure, but they to do that to everyone, and I've got more tempting targets up top - but put me in a pair of yoga pants in a room with other people, and, yeah, there's no denying that I've got a genuine black girl bottom. It's nothing to be ashamed of, but I went to high-school with a bunch of white guys and serve a lot more in Ashlyn's, and they can get weird, like it's either gross or something exotic. It's just my butt.
Still, getting into that and a sports bra, I couldn't help but think that this was a lot more skin than I was counting on for a second date. I try to tell myself I'd be cool with it if I were still the guy, and you might as well rip the Band-Aid off rather than get ghosted because he finally sees your shape after a couple months, but I'm new at this and kind of nervous as I leave the locker room.
He smiles when he sees me without being creepy, though, and we go to one of the beginner walls, a trainer showing me how to work with the harnesses and all, which would probably be nothing if I'd just decided to do this on my own, but is also way more "guys I don't know touching me" than I expected on a date.
On the other hand, climbing is awesome.
I liked sports in school, but I just never got the hang of running since becoming Krystle, especially since getting pregnant. I'll do it if Little Moira is about to get into something, but when you're as busy as I am and maybe don't have the right bra for it, it's something to be avoided. It's probably worse if you became this top-heavy all at once, but who knows. Yoga isn't a bad way to stay in shape in that case - it's actually really good for learning balance and stuff if the Inn changes you that much - but it's really boring. "Hold that pose" is harder than it looks, but it's not like you're competing with the girl next to you or feeling like you're accomplishing anything. Considering that I didn't really care if guys thought I was attractive and everything else kept me busy, I was ready to fall out of the habit.
This, though, was just fun - a lot of the stretching and feeling the burn as you balanced your weight and stretched like yoga, but you're getting closer to a goal, you can trash-talk or give your partner encouragement. It's fun and it doesn't hurt in the wrong way, and I enjoyed it so much we wound up staying until closing.
After that, we started doing more conventional dates. Movies, sports (I'm still not sold on hockey), skating (I am way better at that then he thought a working-class black girl would be). I'm not sure when kissing became a thing that we just did rather than something I have into when circumstances had our lips close, or when it felt like it might hurt his feelings not to, but it did. I admit, I nearly jumped out of my skin the first time there was tongue and the first time he touched my breasts while watching a movie, but I told myself I'd done that, and was more appreciative the next time.
Meeting each other's people was a big deal, too. Momma Kamen has seen a lot of the original Krystle's questionable taste in men, and I had no idea if Calvin was going to fit into some pattern that had nothing to do with me from her point of view. Plus, if my daughter didn't like him, it was game over, which admittedly wasn't really that scary - aside from the part of my brain still rebelling against dating a guy, there's one that feels like every evening I go out and leave Moira with her grandmother, on top of the ones where I'm working, is me being a bad mother. She says I'm not nearly at the point where we have to worry about it.
I don't really think she trusts him, and I don't necessarily blame her for that; the least-involved of Karla's baby-daddies is the white guy with some money. She grilled him pretty good, but he got out of it alive. It was a little embarrassing, both because he's a good guy and because she doesn't really know who she's doing it for. But I try to imagine my own parents trying to suss out his intentions and I just can't.
Little Moira likes him, though; he's a good tickler and she likes it when he lifts her up to the ceiling so she can put star stickers up. He is also very easy to persuade that it's never too cold for ice cream, and what more does a two-year-old need?
I didn't meet many of his friends until New Year's Eve; it was our first party, I guess, and by then Momma Kamen had at least gotten to the point of accepting that Calvin was going to be a party of my life for a while, because she raised an eyebrow at me in my jeans, sweater, and Nikes. "That's how you ring in the New Year now?"
I was trying to figure out how to say "uh, yeah" without sounding disrespectful, but then wondered about the other girls at the party - would they be dressing down? I quickly texted Calvin, and he said not to worry about what anyone else was wearing. I may not have been born a girl, but Moira the Elder had grumbled about something like this a few weeks earlier - "don't worry about the other girls" means "at least some of the other girls will be making an effort".
So I went to my closet, pushed my church dresses aside, and looked square at the ones I'd worn on two of the most miserable days of my life: The day I let someone with my face have their way with me on the left, the day Joseph finished Lamont's jail term and I tried to give him a treat only to fight and find out I was pregnant on the right. The second one looked less trashy, so I went with that and the heels and push-up bra that went with it. Plus some black pantyhose, because it gets cold.
Then some makeup, because I look good in the mirror and it wouldn't seem right to not go that extra little way. I don't dress up much and I've gotten used to myself naked, so it takes me a little by surprise every time I get reminded that people used to stick money in the original Krystle's panties for being hot. I kind of feel ashamed most of the time, both because I know that me being like this is unnatural and because I took that hotness from its owner, but this time, I'm also thinking that Calvin is in for a treat.
Momma Kamen must see that I'm thinking that, too, because she says "there's my sexy little girl" and that she hasn't seen me wanting to make this effort in a while. I blush, realizing that I do want to look nice for my boyfriend.
He appreciates it, and it doesn't suck that his friends all seem impressed with the "cute, responsible single mom" he's been telling them about. I smile and laugh, say that when you've got a toddler, you save the time to get fancy for special occasions, and then kind of sick around Calvin for most of the night, trying not to feel too jealous of everyone talking about their recent college or had school experiences. Could have been me, but I've got an awesome little girl, so that's not a bad trade.
I'm not really that good in heels, especially when there's a lot of dancing, so I wound up leaning on Calvin some, especially with the beer and champagne and all in my system. There were a few times I could feel how much he was enjoying my touch, but he didn't press it when the night came to its close.
That was kind of neat, all told, although my legs felt it afterward! Very glad that Little Moira's second birthday party could be an informal affair, and not the last bit alarmed that Calvin is trying to get in good with my daughter by spoiling her at all.