And here we are. I thought pulling into the driveway. I sighed, shifted my car into park and glanced toward the house before me. I shouldn’t sigh; I ought to be happy. No, I ought to be ecstatic! This moment was the accumulation of a nearly seven-month experiment. This moment that I was currently experiencing would be fleeting and rapidly deteriorate. Before I knew it, this moment would be over with and gone. This moment would soon be another moment that had happened rather than one that was happening or would happen. I should enjoy this moment, even if it doesn’t pan out and turns out to be another waste of time and money: I should enjoy the moment. I should enjoy this. My mind spun and rambled on as I opened the car door. My fingers tapped the lock button as I step out of the car. That’s one of those small habits that my mother always said I should develop.
“It’s helpful!” she claimed when I was younger. It always seemed like a big deal to her that I learn those little tricks. Now, years later, I’m not even aware I use the little tricks she had spent so much time teaching me. They were memorized long ago by my muscles and directed by my subconscious. Though, they remain as helpful as she claimed they were.
I closed the door and took my first step toward the house. Adrenaline fused with a nervous tension cycled through my veins, igniting my body with a jittery brand of hope. My heart beat in an irregular and excited fashion. I felt the steady, yet awkward, thumping resonating from my chest as I walked. That wasn’t normal but nothing about this situation was. I had never been here before nor had I done anything quite like this before. Much of today was going to be a first. And hopefully in about thirty seconds I will began another section in life, triggering another branch of firsts. Perhaps the last group of firsts. I thought.
I took my second step toward the house and recalled the conversation that sent me on this rather enticing journey. The last few months had been filled with a spirit and youthful fervor that I had not felt in years. I believe it was that change in emotional atmosphere that sparked my interest. I mean, there were other aspects of this experiment that intrigued me beyond measure, but it was that revolution in the emotional energy that truly drew my attention. It was something I had yearned for without realizing. But when I felt this new charge of emotion, I knew I wanted to embrace it.
I took another step toward the house. I could see faces peering through the windows. One belonged to a large fluffy beast that I had been told was a Saint Bernard. From my vantage point it looked like an enormous fluff ball. I could make out nothing more than a big slick tongue protruding from the mass of fur. The dog is massive; I had been told. And during that walk, I decided that the dog was indeed massive! Also I might add, huge, fuzzy and utterly loving as I would later find out. The dog let out a thunderous yet joyful bellow. Even the dog is excited to see me. I thought. What is his name again? His name…her name? Oh great I can’t do this. I can’t.
But my feet were on a role; they just keep moving toward the house. It’s like they wanted me to step inside and say hello. They were vigorous in their efforts because my forward motion never ceased. My nerves and my stomach were however protesting a fair amount. I felt sick and uneasy. The feelings were so intense; I should have considered them puke worthy. But with the help of another inspiring bit of wisdom from my mother, I pressed on.
“Put one foot down, then your other foot, then your other foot and so on. That’s all you have to do when you’re nervous or afraid!” my mom had sung to me when I was a child. “One foot, then the other.”
Another face passed in front of the window. It belonged to a man. An older fellow, perhaps in his early or mid-fifties but I can’t tell. I was never good at estimating ages. Unlike the dog, this face was neither smiling nor upset. His lips were flat and his eyes were locked on me as I trotted along. He was evaluating me.
A second face popped out of the semi-dark background. This one belonged to a woman. She was close to the same age as the man, maybe just a few years younger. She appeared kind. She didn’t flash a frown or present a me with an ugly expression. In fact, she was smiling. Slightly, but she was smiling. This prompted me to smile. My dorky, half-cocked smile that was warped and out of shape. It drooped and slanted to one side. That always bothered me, but it was my smile so I never changed it.
And then I saw her. The girl, the lady friend and love interest. She was the reason why I launched this expedition into an unknown and murky arena of dating. Her heart was gorgeous in a way that I had not witnessed in nearly a decade. Even now, at the onset of adulthood, she had not shed her quirky spirit or youthful spunk. And her words were always so elegant and cheerful. Her eyes were kind and appealing. Her laugh, even though I had only heard it once, possessed a rare quality. It was genuine, whole hearted and joyful. All of these splendid fragments were pieced together in the most perfect and alluring fashion.
Most men would have rejected her based on this alone. Her figure, as they would have put it, was far from perfection and lacking certain enchanting qualities. But these vile tastes disturbed me. Moreover, this tenacity often boiled over into rude comments and remarks. These traits ruin the reputation of many good men.
But this tale is not about the wretched habits of men. It is about this woman and all I saw in her. Because I saw something different than most, you could even say I glimpsed something more. I saw potential. I saw potential for a future filled with laughter and deep conversation. More so, I saw the potential for love, happiness and joy. Real love, happiness and joy I will add! Not the run of mill, cheap Internet variety either. I saw the serious kind that blooms and flourishes and lasts for many decades. I saw the kind that spawns a warm home and a couple of children.
All of this potential I saw through her photos and texts. Each word bolstered something tangible and great. Every smiley face she sent me felt real and personal. Nothing she sent read like it was mechanical or hollow. She typed everything out herself, putting some piece of her personality and love in each message. Each conversation always led me to see some new potential. I was constantly glimpsing pieces of a future. And soon this potential became tangible. I held each piece of “potential” in my mind as a tiny snapshot. I stored them there for a little while, savoring them like a grand treasure. Then I started to assemble them.
When I began stitching these small photographs together, the overall picture became sporadic and confusing. Each bit of potential was spread out and didn’t offer a real picture, in fact the distance between each piece was startling. And my collection only obscured my vision of our future. Somewhere in the middle of that period I played with the idea of breaking away. I actually thought about destroying the monument we were erecting before I knew what it was supposed to look like. Thinking back about that always makes me upset. Luckily, I didn’t cease communication with her. I pushed through and kept sewing the mental pictures of our future together.
And then, all at once it seemed to be complete. We had been talking, or dating; I am still unsure of what our title would have been, but that matters not. We didn’t have a title but we were definitely a single unit bonded together by a string of conversations. We had become a couple without the benefit of spending a second together or hearing each other’s voice. And here we are. I recall thinking when I noticed what we had become. It was then that I knew that I had to meet her and take her on a proper date.
The entire walk from my car to the front door took no less than twelve seconds. In that twelve seconds I nearly died twice. The first near death incident occurred when I saw her father observing me. This was motivated by fear and tension. The second near death incident occurred when I saw her. This was motivated by a force entirely different. A combination of utter truth and longing had been sizzling somewhere deep within. In that moment when I saw her this concoction exploded in a fantastic display of affection. The fiery blast coated my heart with a truth so obvious and profound that I still cannot believe I had not come to realize it before: I was in love with her.
When I reached out and knocked on the door my breath became slow. My chest was tight with tension. My eyes were struck open with a feverish mix of fear and infatuation. My knuckles slammed into the door in a short rhythmic fashion alerting the family that I was awaiting their invitation inside. I heard the bolt scraping and the handle unlocking. My heart pumped faster, smacking itself against my bones. The door began to move, slowly revealing the room that lie behind it. As the seam parted my world began to turn slower. Everything I knew was about to change, and I hadn’t the slightest clue.
The door finished opening and she stood before me. She stood directly before me for the first time. I soaked as many details up as I could. I studied her hair, gently flowing across her shoulders. I sniffed her perfume and committed its unique scent to memory. I enjoyed as much of the moment as I could because it would soon pass. This was indeed our first moment together. Everything about her was raw, mysterious and charming. Nearly everything about her was a question mark. This was also the last moment that could be categorized in totality by a curtain of mystery. After this moment, those question marks that dotted her life would become snapshots in our life.
Once that first moment passed and we had soaked up the unique rawness our life together began.
“And here we are,” I finished softly laying the microphone down on the table. I took my wife’s hand and kissed it gently before escorting her around the table. Our guests were seated before us, tears crawled from their eyes as their hands clapped excitedly. We made our way to a space set aside for dancing. A slow beat thumped throughout the room. An easy trickle of sad lyrics oozed from the speakers, serenading us as we enjoyed our first dance as a married couple.