3:21. Her computer clock did not have to spell out AM or PM. She knew the details of the work day. The methodical timing of lunches taken, bathroom breaks, and people passing her desk. She could now begin the count down of minutes, under an hour after all, before she’d log out and forget about this place. On a bad day she’d say it was a dreadful place, but on her better days it seemed as though this is where she belonged.
And I suppose, that’s the problem, with just belonging. It takes years to belong. Sometimes you feel like you don’t even have weeks or months to belong. Belong where? In someone’s bed? Someone’s arms? We don’t get this moment back. Ever.
She checked her coffee mug for its contents, and took the last sip before it was time to head home, and it seemed like a perfect metaphor for this moment. Her cup, now completely empty and bare… Yes, there’s no metaphor here. She just felt empty and bare. As if, somehow college didn’t prepare her for being single. In her past, being single felt like a moment. A brief flash between now and the next man who would carry her into the bed room when she fell asleep on the couch.
Life wasn’t supposed to be exactly like this. Sure, she was busy with friends, but they were the type of friends that soon got married and had kids and forgot about their old college friends. The old friends that you made stupid mistakes with. It makes sense of course, you’re past making stupid mistakes. Why would you want to hangout with the person that watched you get so drunk you locked her self in a dorm room and peed your pants because you couldn’t get out. That seems like a mistake now. And one they won’t let you forget any time soon.
Those friends were the lucky ones. They didn’t have to swipe to find their true love. He was at the bar, or in art class, or at least….he wasn’t the 27th guy in the last 8 minutes who told you he had a dog and liked going on adventures on his Tinder profile. There was a simplicity to the guy at the bar. He drank a certain drink. You drank yours. What shoes was he wearing? And did he have an Apple or Android phone? That seemed like enough information to let you know if you should kiss him or at least get his number.
She had all these thoughts in the 12 moments that exist between walking through the doors to leave work and opening her car door. The drive home was not the place to stop thinking. In fact, the thoughts just continued. As one would fade upon acknowledgment another was there to take it’s place.
It’s never clear when you’re in the car if you’re thinking about the past or the future. They blur together as the radio station tells you exactly what they think you need to hear in this moment. How could they know? Do all 107,000 of their listeners tuning in during rush hour need to hear this exact song? It seems unlikely. The truth about the past and the future is that they’re connected by this moment. And perhaps more. As she thought about her future husband, the names of past lovers popped into her head. How could she imagine vacations with out the way a past lover smelled popping into her head.
But that didn’t matter. Not now. Her attention was in the moment. Immediately. She witnessed what might be, the single biggest tragedy this week, she saw a blue bird get hit by a car. Her eyes began to water in the way that means the emotion is building and there isn’t much room for escape. Follow the moment, she thinks to her self, and she tries to remember everything she has to get done before her date tonight.
When she first approached him and gave him her traditional first date hug, she could smell the way he smelled like boy. Not just any boy though, this was not cologne or deodorant boy. This was sleep on your chest when I’m sad boy. This was protect me and hold me manliness that doesn’t come from a bottle.
Where that smell comes from kept her distracted from figuring out exactly what to order. Was it genetic? Did he pick it up in college? And how could she find more men like this if this one didn’t work out. The soft smell became lodged in her her nose and it wasn’t until the rosemary garlic butter came out that she was able to forget it.
Perhaps it was the way he mentioned his family and adventures that made her feel instantly vulnerable and safe. And this seemed like a safe enough secret to share with a stranger who she’d never see again.
She said, “And I saw a blue bird die today. It makes me sad.”
He replied, “And you saw a coyote’s meal get made by a master chef named Mother Nature”
And in a few short moments he had reframed it all. Turned it around and brought comfort. Who was this man? Something about his confidence with words and worldly notions of life and death. The way he played with their notions and twisted them around until they were beautiful gave her comfort, but also…She needed to see him again.
His blue eyes that looked like lightening bolts and waves crashing dominated the evening. She had a weakness for eyes. Or perhaps at 9:13pm, she found a weakness for them as his hand traced hers as if he somehow knew how to read palms. He mentioned that in cultures not his own the wrist and hand is seen as a predictor of the future. Of course he knew this. Of course he’d use that as an excuse to touch her. Of course. And that’s what makes this scary. Each word is a little too perfect. A little too believable. A little too well rehearsed. She loved it when he’d stumble on his words and flashed a quick smile to cover up the imperfection of delivery. It reminded her that this was a man of mistakes and misspoken wisdom as well as flashes of brilliance that seemed rehearsed.
First kisses make you feel alive. They change the dynamic from a soft touch here or there to a kiss. A single moment that can’t be taken back. They start out slow and cautious. They work themselves into knots or set two people free depending on the truth. But in all of this, I’ve learned, never to doubt the first kiss. Preferably somewhere public, where others can witness it. At least a small chance, that way, like a wedding, both parties can point back to it and say, “See, we have witnesses. It was real the way I grabbed you. The way I searched for your soul.”
And that’s exactly what she did under those flickering lights that seemed to flash simply to highlight the truth of the evening. She searched for his soul with her back against the wall of an alley way as kids ran by out to late for their own good. She wasn’t sure if she’d seen the truth inside tonight, but she was sure she wanted more of it.
There’s a certain selfishness that comes with sleeping in on a Saturday morning. As if to tell the day that your wants matter more than the power of the sun. With light that takes 7 minutes to arrive to earth, you’re racing the speed of light. You’ll always loose. The light starts to leak into the bedroom and light up the far wall. Then another wall. And another. It’s the coldness of the room that feels foreign. Particularly on a Saturday.
Each day of the week, seemed to belong to something or someone. Yoga on Wednesdays. College roommates on Thursday. But Saturday is your day, and she realized all that. Except. She wished it wasn’t. She wished that Saturday was our day. Or at least his and her day. She wondered if he’d roll over and kiss her neck on a Saturday morning. And would he bring his dog over. Where would he sleep? And would it matter. Those blue eyes could convince her of anything it seemed.
Saturday would be her day.