"How far do you want to take this?" Ben asked, ready to remove clothing.
He meant physically; it would be nothing more than sex.
"This far," I said, disengaging, cold disappointment flooding me.
Nothing else happened. I woke up. Less starstruck, more skeptical.
One day at a time, I'm getting over him. Thinking about him less each day, and with less of a halo effect when I do think of him. If I can stay away from the bar for at least another week or two, I think I can be well on my way to being cured.
Something I keep forgetting is that just about every time I go to Cozy Bar, men flirt with me, show an interest. I'm attractive to other men and there are other attractive men out there I can be drawn to. Men capable of initiation, reciprocity, conveying actual emotion instead of hinting at it, all that good stuff. At least, I'm optimistic enough to believe they're out there.
I've been doing a lot of thinking about how this fixation with Ben mutated like this. I met him near the end of last year, when I was still battling my depression, right before my birthday, when I made a concerted effort to change my habits, my thinking, and rid myself of the gloom as much as possible. The big turnaround happened when I wrote the story, so it makes sense that I saw him as more than a muse, but as the source of this new vigor and passion for life. In all honesty, I think I just got swayed by his good looks and charm. He's the George Clooney of bartenders, and I should have known better than to actually care, but it happened.
I wonder if this was my way of secluding myself from an actual relationship in order to focus on the other parts of my life I've given priority to. If my romantic world is one of fantasy, then a real person can't interrupt my new routines and habits with their own. And I don't want my routines disrupted right now. At the moment, I get a certain amount of sleep each night, a certain amount of exercise each week, I'm vigilant about my diet, and selective about what I do with my free time. I'm on a very positive track here and cannot have anyone mess that up for me right now, least of all a bartender who knows how good-looking he is and the effect he has on women. I almost started thinking I wasn't beautiful enough for him, but stopped myself before I could follow that downward spiral. I'm not going to sabotage my new found poise and confidence on a man I pay to make me tipsy.
It's like having a fever; it makes you delirious and delusional. I think I'm slowly coming out of it; my temperature is coming down. Barman Ben is my kryptonite, so the only way to stay strong is to stay away from Cozy Bar, much as I love that place. I have to, because right now I am still intact, still happy, and my anxiety is fading. Going back would be subjecting myself to a potential ego-beating and heartache, and I'm not that masochistic. I don't want to get lost like that again.
I want to meet new people, flirt with new men, maybe even kiss one. It's on the horizon, I am pretty sure of it. Every day, it gets easier.