If I had seen me and him in that little dodgy bar getting introduced by mutual friends four years ago, I would have laughed and never put two and two together.
We just didn’t fit.
If you had looked at him and if you would have looked at me, you would have thought, never mind their vastly different personalities, they are worlds apart in different life stages.
One reeling and so broken reconciling what was with what is of being a divorcee and the other has never even dated anyone, saving himself for the girl that he would give his everything to.
Where do you even start to find common ground?
I warned that this was not happening. I said, “I don’t date, I’m not interested in dating and I’m too selfish right now to let someone else into my life.”
I friendzoned him and he repaid me back with kindness.
Where I saw walls and guards piled so high up, he saw fire and spark of a lost girl that just needed some place safe to begin again.
So he just showed up, again and again and again, friendship in one hand and a lifeline of the possibility of so much more. He didn’t push, he just stayed there, in this place of being friends and gaining trust, but he held his own.
Waiting for me to see him, offering to change my light bulbs for ceilings I couldn’t reach, both literally and figuratively. Meeting me for lunch downtown when I had appointments there so I wouldn’t have to eat alone and always always picking up an end piece of an ooey gooey butter bar from Amy’s bakery for a treat for me to take back after.
He showed up at 6pm on the way home from work with a venti skinny no foam 4 equal latte.
(I teased that I needed to be careful around him, my little stalker paid attention and memorized my coffee order!)
He showed up at 8pm with a China King beef and broccoli takeaway, knowing my Achilles heel was Chinese food and the Mecca was from my favorite store in Springfield. I was working late, starving, and my defenses were down as soon as I saw fluffy white rice.
He showed up at 3pm on my day off, DVDs in hand ready to wait out laundry time. Ready to trek laundry baskets in the snow and fold and iron despite me insisting that I could just drop it off at the laundromat. But he enticed by saying “Oh but this would be so much more fun and cheaper…besides, what do you have to lose?”
He showed up at 11pm closing time on Valentines Day, after sending flowers and chocolate covered strawberries to the store, knowing that I would turn him down for an “official” date but armoring his ammunition with chocolate covered cherries for the rest of the girls I worked with. Subtly thanking his partners-in-crime because he knew they would butter me up into at least sharing a midnight cap with him. He felt bad that our bones and brains ached from one of the craziest shifts at the store and chocolate always makes it better right? He knew that even if I didn’t humor him, I would humor my girls.
(He was right.)
He showed up at 2am downtown or orchestrated a night out with our mutual friends. Offering to be my cab ride home because we lived a mile away from one another and he knew I always took a cab even if I had just one drink. “Conveniently” being at the right place at the right time in exchange for company and being invited in.
He would say he just wanted to see Charlotte, (my roommate’s cat) and I would say, “Uh-huh”.
And he would smile that smile that lit up his eyes, and he would sheepishly say, “Okay, maybe I’d like to spend some time with you too.”
I would let the nice guy with the kind eyes in, but just before that, I would say, “Just so you know, we’re not dating, and we never will. We’re just friends and I don’t play games so you’re not allowed to fall in love with me. Okay?”
And he would say, “Uh-huh”.
So we’d spend the rest of the night talking and getting to know each other until it was 4am and I’d be shocked with how fast time flew by or how I even ever let someone stay that long in my “safe” place.
I didn’t need saving and I was stubbornly independent in this new normal I had clawed to build. But the precious part is knowing what I now know of him.
That this suave Mr Smooth is completely out of character for him.
He is shy and quiet, he is not a pursuer, and he certainly almost never insists on his way nor does he even talk that much.
So for him to show up again and again, despite being rejected constantly, is crazy to me.
You did that for me?
Because I knew you were the one.
I knew before you did, and I knew you just needed time.
Remember the second time we met? The one I turned down ice cream after because I was nervous and stupid?
I knew then.
I had made you laugh, and you were so alive and bubbly and fun and I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life making you laugh that loud crazy laugh and loving you.
So I just showed up, again and again, until you let me in.
Until we became friends and you got to know me. I talked and showed up so you would finally see that I am not like the other guys.
And he is not like the other guys at all. The heart breakers and the kind of boys that I thought I needed in my life to protect me.
He is kind and genuine and real, and I am grateful everyday that he took a chance on loving me. He didn’t give up on this stupid stubborn 5’3″ polar opposite Subaru Forester driving Democrat even when I said, please don’t mess this awesome friendship up and complicate it with love.
J, you are the real superhero in this story. You saved me from myself in places I didn’t even know I needed to be saved, and you have colored the rest of my life with joy and laughter and happily ever after.
But most of all, you have cushioned it with love, and faith, and your optimism in always seeing the best in me even when I don’t.
You dream big dreams with me, whether it’s crossing a continent to be with me or crossing off things on our shared bucket list and celebrating with a happy dance after.
You call me to tell me about your day, or sing some random song you have in your head.
You laugh with me in dorky jokes because we have a broken sense of humor that no one else finds funny but us.
You read up on beauty articles then buy me sunscreen because you think my gel nails will give me cancer.
You drive me around to different places to find those stinking ribbons in just the right shade and you get coffee to wait it out with me while I get my hair done.
You tell me my burned experiments are yummy and you tell me I’m beautiful even when I have officially named the zit that is trying to take up residence in the middle of my face.
You download Scandal and Greys for me even if you can’t stand the drama and you hug me when I tell you McSteamy died even if you have no idea who he is.
You bring me my back brace and karate chop my old lady body and you stand up for me when I am scared of the world.
You listen patiently to my silly stories and you read all five gazillion words on this page in the morning when you let me sleep in because you know I’ve stayed up too late trying to figure out the things in my head with words.
You acknowledge a little girl you never met on Mother’s Day and big days when it hurts the most and you don’t judge.
You show up, again and again, you show up and you make me a better person.
Happy anniversary my bold, strong, courageous, kind, Captain America.
I love you and thank you.
“This is love with the lights on and eyes wide open. This is the brave love, the scared love, the sacred boring, the holy ordinary over sinks of dirty dishes and that one cupboard in the kitchen with the broken hinge.”
P/s Thank you for all your shares and likes on the Marriage is Hard Work post. I had to re-read my email when it told me that 687 people viewed it in one day. That is both insane and humbling and my mind is a little blown. Thank you for being a part of this community and thank you for sharing your stories with me. Love, love, love.