The Little Engine That Could (I Think I Can)
Everyone is familiar with the children’s book that is based on teaching children the importance of being optimistic and hard work. Who knew that that book would have such an impact on our lives as adults? We push ourselves each and every single day of our lives; whether that is in school, on the treadmill, at the office and even in our relationships. Most of the time it is the voice inside our head that is telling us to strive and be better, to push and think outside the box, to get out of our comfort zone and telling ourselves when life gets really tough, “I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.” As I pondered how amazing this book actually is, I couldn’t help but wonder how do our lives differ from the train in the children’s book???
Last Monday, I was actually looking forward to starting the week mainly because of what I was looking forward to but as my bad luck would have it. I woke up feeling “off.” I wasn’t sure if I needed to throw up or if it was just a feeling I was having. I pushed through, got ready and showed up to work. By the time 10 a.m. had rolled around, I found myself in the office bathroom throwing up violently. It was official…I had some flu bug. I wasn’t sure where or whom I caught it from but as much as I tried to fight in accepting I was sick, I was losing and so I went home. Once I made it home, I took a hot shower, got in the comfy clothes, threw some Golden Girls episodes on in the background and got under the covers. I took every single drug under the sun to help cure this illness with hopes that I would be back to normal at least by the end of the week. The next day, I woke up feeling good, like it had never happened.
Tuesday and Wednesday were spent anticipating my second date with Mr. Engineer. I appreciated the fact that he was willing to give me a second chance for a date and I was actually kind of nervous. Usually with these dates, it has become second nature for me that I almost forgot what it was like to get nervous, to get excited and to anticipate another person. All day on Wednesday I sat with bated breath thinking that he was going to cancel or that his work would get in the way of us meeting and looking back now, it was extremely silly of me to do because I wasn’t living in the moment and instead I was waiting for something negative to happen when I really should have been doing the exact opposite.
By the time Thursday rolled around, I was a ball of nerves but actually in a good way. It was a fun nervous feeling I was having. Half way through the day, I got the text from him saying, “What time are we meeting?” Whew. I was safe. The date was happening. I told him what time and gave him the address of where we were to meet. I wasn’t sure what to expect, it had been a month since our first date and my semi-meltdown on him so the pressure was on…mainly on myself. Was I going to bring up the reason why I got pissed at him? Was I going to just sweep it under the rug and push forward like the train in the book or was I going to face my actions head on? I picked the spot, Bocca di Bacco on Ninth Avenue and 20th Street. We both love red wine and the place is rather romantic. Plus we were meeting at 6:30, so I knew it wasn’t going to be extremely packed. I actually arrived just a minute before he did and while it had only been a month, he looked just as I remembered him and when he gave me a hug hello, I knew that I was home free.
We were seated at a table by the window and ordered our wine. We caught each other up on work and by the time the first glass of wine was done, that is when he called me out on my shit. He said, “You were rather mean to me after my work got out of control on our first date.” There it was; the sentence I was doing my best to avoid. Instead of turning my train backwards, I knew I had to be honest and explain my irrational behavior. I told him that the reason why I said if he is too busy with work that maybe he shouldn’t be dating was because, for me, it is so rare that I go on a first date and connect with someone. Did that give me the right to tell him off? Absolutely not and I apologized to him again for my flippant response to him. We are opposite in our communication skills and that was apparent. He told me that he thought he was doing the right thing by sending text message here and there telling me that he missed me or was thinking about me but I went all psycho and chose not to deal with them because in my bitter state of mind, I thought he was lying. It was extremely clear to me as I was defending my case to him that the main reason why I reacted the way I did was because…well…I like him.
After we cleared the air, our conversation continued to flow and I was happy with the outcome. It was as if the past four weeks didn’t even happen. During the dinner, the topic of what our weekend plans came up and he said with the pending blizzard coming up his plans were kind of all over the place but maybe seeing a movie on Saturday with him and his younger brother would be an option. When he mentioned me meeting his brother I didn’t bat an eyelash, I just kept on going. In my world…meeting a relative is kind of a big deal. I mean, why drag your family in your dating life if you didn’t at least like the other person. I was happy with the outcome and Mr. Engineer paid for our meal and told me the next meal is on me. We grabbed our coats and seeing that it was still early, we went to Elmo for another glass of wine. I thought for sure that he was going to want to call it a night after that but to my delight; he wanted to continue but go to a gay bar. I thought of all the options around us but none of them seemed to fit the mood, so I suggested we go to the Monster. We grabbed our coats, got in a cab and as the driver started driving down Seventh Avenue, something came over me and I leaned in and kissed him on his cheek and thanked him for a lovely evening so far. He smiled and said it was his pleasure.
Once we got inside the bar, which was rather empty, he immediately went to the bar and I grabbed us some seats. There was chemistry all around us; I didn’t even pay attention to the other patrons in the bar. I was focused on Mr. Engineer and finally after a few more glasses of wine, it would mark our first real official kiss. The kiss was exactly what I was hoping for because there was connection behind it. Not only was it nice but it was honest. Now, I was feeling rather tipsy at this point and the piano man was playing all those Broadway songs that I don’t know and all I wanted to hear was Ella Fitzgerald’s song, Manhattan. Totally out of character for me, I went up to the piano man, requested the song and began singing. After I finished singing my song, I came back to him and we threw back a few more glasses of wine. When I looked at my watch, I realized it was past eleven and so we grabbed our coats and went to the West 4th subway station. He went his way and I went mine. One kiss for the road and I had successfully put my train back on its proper tracks.
The next day the only thing the city could talk about was the blizzard that was rapidly approaching. All I could think about was what a wonderful time I had the previous night with Mr. Engineer. There were a few text messages during the day telling each other that we both had a wonderful time and that we would see each other on Saturday. That night, for me, no blizzard was going to slow me down because I was meeting my girlfriend, her boyfriend and several others at our favorite dive bar, Sly Fox, in the East Village. Our office closed early due to the storm, so I took advantage of that time and took a nap to prepare myself for the evening ahead. I got to the bar around 7 and the storm still had not yet made a big impact and so, I decided to order myself a beer. The drinks would continue for awhile and then another friend of mine showed up and we quickly decided to leave the Sly Fox and go to Chelsea to see some other friends of ours. When we exited the bar, the blizzard had officially made its appearance and luckily we managed to find a cab. In the cab, we were able to get some “girl talk” in and catch each other up for we hadn’t seen each other in a few weeks. As we were in the cab heading to the bar and talking about his man, the man actually calls, funny how those things happen. We arrived at Barracuda where several of our friends were already waiting for us. After a shot of tequila and another beer we were ready to head over to the next stop. However, my friend wanted a slice of pizza before we went to the next bar. As we were in the pizza place and standing at the counter, three rather drunk and probably drugged out guys, came into the pizza place and started harassing us and asking if we are wearing white shirts because someone told them whoever has a white shirt stole this medallion. Cleary, we were not dealing with a full deck of cards with these guys. We told them to leave us alone and they wouldn’t. One guy even tried to touch me and I pushed him away. There were other patrons in the pizza place and they were also getting annoyed with these guys. We knew they were going to not leave or possibly cause more trouble and so my friend ended up calling the cops and two seconds later, the cops were there and all was taken care of. Not exactly what we had planned for a Friday night but at least we were protected. After that episode, we went to Rawhide to meet up with a friend that was already waiting for us and a few more joined us. Played pool and before I knew it, it was already past 3 a.m. I didn’t want to look like shit the next day so I grabbed a cab and took my ass home.
Saturday was spent doing the normal stuff but at a slower pace not because I was hungover but because the storm had left the city messy. Snow piles everywhere and getting around made it rather annoying. But I got the gym, a facial and laundry all accomplished and finally I heard from Mr. Engineer. All day long he had been helping his younger brother (who is 17, almost 18 years old) with his physics homework. The homework was taking longer than expected and it was looking like a movie was out of the picture. Once again, I was worried that all plans would get canceled and instead he suggested I come over to his apartment in Brooklyn, meet him and the brother, order Thai food and have a relaxing evening. For some reason, that suggestion sat well with me and so he sent over directions on how to get to his apartment and I picked up a few bottles of wine. I got there and the homework was done and now it was the brother playing video games and us having conversation. I got there around 7 and didn’t leave till after 11. I had a great time getting to know the brother and seeing how Mr. Engineer acted with him. It is a great relationship and the whole experience left me liking him even more. Every time the boy went to the bathroom, Mr. Engineer would kiss and hug me and kept asking me if I was ok. It was sweet how attentive he was and even though it wasn’t what we had originally planned; I was rather content with the entire evening. When I was getting ready to leave, I told the brother how nice it was to meet him and Mr. Engineer said he would walk me to the elevator. As we stood waiting for the elevator he thanked me again for coming over and apologized for the plans being changed. I told him I didn’t mind at all, he kissed me and I told him to think about possibly seeing a movie this Tuesday. I went home that night feeling so…I am not sure how to describe it really what I was feeling exactly, except that my steps to the train certainly felt lighter.
The next day I ended up going to brunch with an ex (we are friends now) and his boyfriend. We went to this place called, GMT Tavern, in the West Village and afterwards had a few more glasses of wine. As they sat and talked to me about them looking for a new apartment, their travel plans, etc. I couldn’t help but wonder how fun it would be one day to be able to have those types of conversations with someone important to me. I left them at a descent hour, came home and began writing for I had some deadlines looming.
This morning, as most commuters took their trains to the office in this nasty weather we are experiencing. I couldn’t help but think of how we rely on these trains to get us to our destinations and the minute something goes wrong with them, the entire system gets all messed up. You have to find other ways to get to your destination, you are delayed, you are annoyed and you curse the world. It takes human beings to make sure that our train system runs smoothly but as I am someone that is fortunate to be able to walk to work; I thought about that little train that was trying so hard to make it up the hill in the book. Every single day we experience some type of train track that seems like a major challenge to climb, that blocks us from being the best, coming out on top or achieving success. We forget sometimes that those challenges are there for us to teach us the valuable lesson of appreciation. If you don’t work hard for what you want, you will never truly love and honor what you have achieved.
As this week begins, the week of the Hallmark Valentine’s Day, the week where love is more present than ever. I wish you all the joy, happiness, chocolate, flowers, sex, acceptance and for those struggling on your personal train tracks, just keep telling yourself, “I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.” And eventually “thinking” that you can, will become, “knowing” that you can.