While I’m out honeymooning it up, I thought I would keep the entertainment headed your way with some pretty fabulous guest posters. Wahhoo!
Margaret is my writing buddy. We went to grad school together, she got me my long lasting 9-5 job once I moved back to San Francisco after a small stint in Seattle, and now we write together weekly. Margaret and I write differently, she writes in ways that I hadn’t thought of. She’ll tell a story in a way my brain doesn’t initially work. She challenges me to write better, and so I do. And this post is no exception. She’s also one of my favorite people ever and I’m so happy that she is writing here today.
In the beginning, you get invited to a party. Or you move into your college dorm. Or you click on a cute stranger’s profile. Maybe you can’t remember exactly because at first you were just a friend-of-a-friend. Or you had a little too much to drink that night. You sat down in your airplane seat. Or maybe it was something else entirely. It was a Friday. A Tuesday morning. It’s impossible to remember.
One of you smiles. Nervously. Flirtatiously. Accidentally. Coyly. You say hello. You have to yell to be heard over the din of the bar. You type it quickly, hitting enter, waiting. Your friend exchanges your names for you, tacking on a little autobiographical detail. Maybe you’re blushing because you’ve just lost an armful of books. Or you haven’t been introduced at all and you interject in the conversation anyway. You pass the point from before to after, whether you realize or not. The first night you stay awake, talking into the dark long after it seems the rest of the world has slept, you wonder if this is it.
Except by now you’ve learned that there aren’t really any rules and it’s hard to see coming. (But it comes.)
There is a first kiss. There are dizzy early days. You collect facts and observations. He grew up in a small town. She always orders her dressing on the side. He likes funny science fiction movies. She bites her bottom lip when she’s nervous. You text your best friend from the bathroom on your third date (OMG! or I have so much to tell you! Or maybe just a string of smiley faces in a row). Maybe you don’t tell anyone and it’s your own secret universe spinning around your own personal sun. It turns out he lives just down the block. She’ll only be in the country a couple days. You are surprised to find that it doesn’t matter, much.
For a while you spend your days wondering if your life could, in fact, be some sort of fairytale lovey-dovey utopia.
Someone has a bad day. Someone leaves their socks in tiny balls on the floor. Someone forgets. You let him down. You don’t prioritize her. You yell at the top of your lungs. You lie straight through your teeth and say that nothing’s wrong. Or maybe you leave, the door slamming behind you so hard it bounces back open. Or you let every call roll into voicemail. It lasts an hour. It takes two days. For weeks you live in an angry stew without admitting it.
At some point you are forced to admit that you’re both human. Fallible. Not entirely flawless. (It is understandably disappointing.) You reluctantly acknowledge that you continue to live in reality.
You discover that this time, it is not so bad. You apologize. You pick up the phone. He puts his hands against your hot cheeks. She moves closer on the couch to tuck an arm through yours. He makes a joke that makes you laugh. When she says, “I love you,” you believe her. You are very far away but you are wishing desperately to be very close together.
You forgive. You are forgiven.
It’s hard. But one of you smiles. Nervously. Flirtatiously. Hopefully. Shyly. You know it’s not this simple. Of course it’s not. Even so, it’s enough to remind you. This is how things will go.
You get lucky. (You are grateful.)