I have fallen in love three times in my life, and each time My Higher Self (that clairvoyant voice that chimes in my head at important, life-altering moments) knew precisely what was going to happen.
The first time I brushed against my college sweetheart—business attire, clean-shaven and brown skinned—my Higher Self knew he was going to be my first true love.
My next love I met at acting class. When he walked through the door late—full of intense, brooding energy—my voice said, “Well thank God. Someone interesting…” and I knew he was going to be significant. When he invited me over to read lines, my Higher Self redecorated his apartment in my head. It didn’t matter that he had a roommate. I knew I was going to move in within the next six months. Four months later and my boxes were all unpacked.
So when that same voice told me that I was going to marry Nightingale, I didn’t question it. It was a smooooooth exhale. I had finally found my one.
There was only one hurdle: He needed to feel the same way about me.
So the day of our coffee date I visit my hairdresser (whom I trust with my life because she looks like a delectable playboy playmate). She gives me a fabulous cut and style. My makeup is perfection, but right as I’m about to walk out of the mall and onto the Promenade for our date, I check my messages. There are three voicemails. Something about a car…not working…PCH…OH MY GOD! Is he CANCELING!?
My stomach is knotted so tight I feel like I’m having appendicitis. I call back but he hangs up after uttering an incomplete sentence. What? WHAT?! So I sit on a bench and wait for the next ring. I am not…good…at waiting….RING!
“I’m so sorry,” he says, “I was so excited for our date that I got here early and had some time to kill so I went to play my guitar by the ocean and I left my lights on like an idiot and now my car is dead.”
Oh my God. He’s going to cancel. And my hair is so perfect…
He continues, “This really nice couple is going to jumpstart my car, so can I meet you in 20?”
“Of course, yes, that’s fine!” Just. Don’t. Cancel.
Two minutes pass. Ring! “They didn’t have jumper cables so I called AAA. They said it’ll take half an hour.
“I can pick you up if you’d like,” I offer. “I have jumper cables.”
“Oh, you’re so sweet,” he moan-sighs. “I’m on PCH by Gladstones.”
But before I turn on PCH, AAA arrives and we agree to meet at Starbucks in 15. I am not at all annoyed. I’ve waited a lifetime, what’s an extra half hour and a U-turn?
Nervous energy slows my usually brisk walk. Nervous he won’t like the way I look, nervous I can’t compete with the me he’s already created in his head. He spies me from a block away and smiles that heavenly smile, and I know…he feels it too. My stomach flips and then settles in for the ride.
We embrace. I give myself a moment to notice what 5’7” feels like and then I never think of it again. Within a split second I have adapted and we fit perfectly.
We talk nonstop as we wait in line. I learn he is thinking of buying a Yaris, the employees at Starbucks know him well, and his grin never seems to fade, even when it’s not ear-to-ear. When it’s finally our turn to order, we decide instead to share a ravioli dish at Johnnie’s.
We are the only people in the restaurant. Or maybe we aren’t… the other patrons fade away like blurred out movie extras. I tell him about the books I’ve written, the books I want to write. He says pretty things, like, “All you need to do is put your face on the cover and you’ll make millions.” A cheesy line on paper but a genuine love letter from his lips.
We engage in flirtatious dialogue. “You’re a stunning looking man. I’m sure girls take off their panties when you start singing. So why online dating?”
He assures me that he hasn’t met the right girl…a girl like me. And he isn’t interested in the girls who offer up their panties (and yes, he confirmed that they do), although he would gladly take a peek at mine. This is said with such candid charm that any cheese is of the low-fat variety.
My Higher Self celebrates a smug “of course” moment when she discovers that our families both live in the same sleepy Chicago suburb. Neither of us has ever lived in this town, a happy coincidence that points to green light go.
The subject of children comes up. He doesn’t know if he wants any, but gives a percentage…49% to 50% (or maybe 30/70, he says), scales tipping in favor of no. I say that I’d like to be a mom at some point in my life, but it’s not a non-negotiable.
We listen to a musician. He puts his arm around me as we ride the Ferris wheel. As we walk back, I confess I’m going to be on television that night.
“You’re kidding me!” he says, hooked and reeled in. “Like real TV? Can I watch with you?”
“Well, I don’t have TV, so I’m not sure where I’m going to watch.”
He doesn’t have TV either, so we end up at his brother’s house, where I meet the brother, sister-in-law and nieces.
“Isn’t she pretty?” he says to his 4-year-old niece.
The thought that perhaps the first date is too soon to meet family never crosses my mind.
At some point during the evening my wardrobe malfunctions. My shirt has come undone and my bra is completely exposed. No one has bothered to tell me, and when I look down to check my cleavage, I say, “Holy moly! My shirt’s unbuttoned!” My comment is skillfully ignored and while I fix my buttons everyone pretends that what is happening is really not happening.
Still, I’m not worried. I am certain these two quirky people are a match. Nightingale starts to tell a story about the time he had an agonizing case of diarrhea but is quickly hushed by his brother and sister-in-law who whisper simultaneously, “too much, too soon.” I am not at all bothered by his story and think it’s sweet that they are rooting for us.
The end of the night is marked by some delicious kisses, tongue and all, and a plan to get together in a few days. I do not concern myself with if he’ll call, or when he’ll call, or how much he likes me, because I am certain of all this and more…I am certain that nothing will stand in the way of our happily ever after.
So I’m not sure what is more painful. The fact that he turned NOTHING into EVERYTHING, or the fact that in doing so he took away my certainty…my trust in my voice…and I do not think I will ever get it back. (To be cont’d…)