By Ruby Pressman
Tonight we said our goodbyes. I started crying and he started laughing. “Why are you laughing?” I asked him.
“Because I don’t want to cry.”
We met on New Year’s Eve. It was a foggy rainy day and I was feeling kind of down — had gone to a local restaurant near where I live to lift my spirits.
As I was leaving, I noticed a man who looked like he was in his mid-thirties staring at me. I said, “Sorry!” because I was taking forever to put my coat on. I have a combination of OCD and Tourette’s, so sometimes I move around more than the average person and it takes me forever to do things. Frustrating, but true.
The man said, “No worries, you’re good!”
I moved away to a different table and continued to put my scarf on with a few different movements, but still felt the guy staring at me. I turned around, and sure enough, he was still looking at me. He didn’t seem bothered by it, he just seemed intrigued. I said, “Sorry!” again, and he said, “Really, it’s no problem!”
“Happy New Year!” I said to him.
“Happy New Year!” he said back.
As I opened the door, the bartender told me, “Happy New Year, Ruby!”
“Happy New Year!”
I was already halfway down the block when I heard a man saying, “Hey, what’s your name?” I turned around and didn’t say anything for a second. “Hey, what’s your name?”
I smiled. It was the same man from the restaurant. He was smiling at me too.
“I’m Ivan,” he said. “I just wanted to introduce myself.”
“Oh, I’m sorry if I bothered you!” I said, laughing.
“Oh no, you didn’t bother me. I just noticed you were sitting all by yourself. You’re very cute…I don’t care, about this –” he said motioning to my dancing feet, “You are very cute, very attractive,” he said, waving a hand down in the direction of my entire body. I suspected he was a little drunk, but I didn’t care. There was something very sincere in his voice and his glance, and I immediately felt drawn in.
“I know!” I said laughing, with an innocent voice.
He told me where he lives and asked me what I do for a living. He told me he helps lift stuff and works with dirt, and I said, “That sounds interesting!”
“No, it’s really not!” he responded, laughing back. There was an immediate chemistry between us, and I almost kissed him but held back.
“Can I get your number?” I asked him after a long pause.
“Sure! Of course!” he said, handing me his phone.
It started pouring rain, and he pulled me under an awning. “Here, you don’t want to get wet.”
He pulled my arm again under the awning to protect me from the elements, and I didn’t mind. He had a nice touch.
I entered my name and number quickly, then gave him his phone back, and he called me right on the spot.
“Okay, so now you have my number, and I’m Ivan — like Ivan, the Terrible!”
I laughed. “Okay, got it!”
“Oh my god, it’s pouring now, let me give you my umbrella!”
He had run from about five stores down to catch up with me, and now was leading me back to the restaurant to give me his umbrella.
“Wow, I really went a long way…this is far!”
He opened the door to the restaurant and in one smooth and spontaneous motion handed me his umbrella – it was a huge black umbrella that must have weighed about five pounds.
“Wow, this is really big…you really don’t have to lend this to me!”
“No, please, it’s pouring outside! I don’t want you to get wet!”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, you’ll just have to make it up to me!”
“Okay, bye!” I said, laughing, and left the restaurant, walking swiftly down the block.
It is about two weeks later and we are saying our goodbyes.
I am crying into his chest on a poorly-lit street by a convenience store, and I say, “It’s not fair. I really like you.”
My mom had just dropped the news on me that she was planning to move in March to a one-bedroom apartment, and I would have to find a way to support myself or start in a day-treatment program – in which case she would offer me a place to sleep. She also threatened to call the police and report me as a missing person if I didn’t tell her where I was by 6 pm every night.
“I think I’m just going to be a distraction. I don’t want to get in your way.”
“Then distract me! Get in my way!”
“No, I think you need to focus, to concentrate on your own thing right now. You really need to take care of your health and living situation. This is your time,” he said, smiling at me.
“It’s my time [to shine]!” I thought to myself the words “to shine”, but I think he knew what I meant without me having to say it and we both laughed.
I felt a warmth through the tears. There was a light in the darkness – a silver lining in all this – there had to be.
“Please don’t block me,” I said, knowing that would hurt even more.
“Oh, no, don’t worry, I won’t ghost you or anything like that.”
He smiled at me while some fresh tears still glimmered on my face.
“I’d better hear some good news and some updates from you.”
Later I texted him, saying, “I don’t want to lose you.”
“I don’t want you to lose yourself.”
I started crying when I read this. I knew he was right, but I still wanted him to hold me, and tell me everything was going to be okay, that I am safe, that I will be protected from the elements.
But I am safe. I know I am, and I will have to stand on my own two feet, and learn what that feels like.
This is my time. This is my time to shine.
One thought on “Ivan and the Umbrella”
Love your story. It’s inspiring.