Sitting across the table from me, sipping hot espresso with white chocolate and swirls of caramel, was the woman I would later marry. Of course, I didn’t know that at the time.
I drove two hours to see her on a hunch. It was like an inaudible whisper in my ear telling me to go, an invisible force pulling me in her direction. Maybe I liked her. Maybe I wanted to like her. Maybe I only wanted to like someone, anyone. Regardless, I was with her and I’d have to figure out the reasons later.
The conversation flowed from our lips like an elegant rhapsody in highs and lows moving through the air with seamless transitions. Our words were able to float back and forth unhindered by the roaring noise of coffee grinders and college students. Being an introvert, hours of small talk and large crowds of people typically horrified me as if I were a fish out of water gasping for breath. In this case, there was nowhere else I wanted to be, imminent death or not.
Who was this woman I was so anxious to offer my undivided attention?
Her tasteful dress and natural beauty suggested she was out of my league by two or three levels. Her pureness of heart and sweet disposition made me look like a vile brute by comparison. She was outgoing almost to the point of bubbly while I was more like a hermit content to remain hidden within my shell. Her sincerity was preferable to my sarcasm.
The evidence unfolding before me was leading to a single, obvious conclusion: She isn’t my type. Why am I not planning my escape? Why do I have no desire at all to flee the scene?
Before I could make sense of it, one of her friends interrupted our informal date. I was introduced then sat quietly as they chatted about—well, I’m not sure. For a moment, I disappeared into a whirlwind of my own thoughts.
“This is not the kind of girl you date,” I said to myself with emphatic declaration.
I watched her, talking and laughing with her friend, as if she were moving in slow motion. I studied her while trying to understand the surreal nature of the evening.
Without warning, revelation struck me. It fell from heaven and dropped on my head with an exhilarating impact.
“This isn’t the kind of girl you date,” I reaffirmed. “This is the kind of girl you marry.”
Those unspoken words tasted of embarrassment mingled with liberation. It was a bittersweet surprise. On one hand, I wasted ten years pursuing broken relationships doomed from the start because I demanded a woman who matched my arbitrary and misguided checklist. On the other, I could now see my prior mistakes with radiant clarity. The skies opened up, the sun shone through, and the woman standing at the end of the rainbow scarcely resembled anyone I dated before.
Years later I would say to her, “You are nothing I ever wanted.” Lucky for me, she was able to decipher the romantic gesture beneath my dismal attempt to express the wonderful transformation I underwent because of her.
But I left that night without telling her what had occurred to me. It seemed better to wait for our relationship to develop which it did over the following summer.
Little did I know, that whimsical muscle in the middle of her chest would betray me only a few months after our rendezvous in the coffeehouse. I would wait several minutes for her to work up the courage to say, “I think we should break up.”
To be continued…