I saw it again, that quirk when he smiles. He’s the kind of guy you can’t read. His face doesn’t show much emotion but when you get him to laugh, his smile makes his eyes crinkle. Those eyes have lines now. Understandably so. Years etched onto his skin and an underlying weariness.
I wanted to smooth away those lines like I want to smooth back that lock of hair that kept falling down. He surprised me. I wasn’t really looking for him. He was a random set of circumstances who just happened to land us in this moment. The moment where I catch the quirk of his smile. He’s amused by something I’ve said and I’m a tad bit shy.
I’m not used to this situation. Being caught off guard. I usually know where my heart is before I walk into a hang out. Maybe it was the busy nature of our first meeting, but I walked in unguarded because he didn’t pose a threat. When I met him that first time, I was overwhelmed and swamped. I noticed him but we spoke maybe half a dozen sentences to each other. A promise to catch up later tucked in the back of my brain.
Weeks went by until we made good on that promise. I walked in confident. Self-assured. Witty. Professional. Without really having an agenda or plan for this meeting, our conversation took a few twists and turns, leaving me unguarded and vulnerable. My depth of vulnerability was in turn matched.
When we had to part ways, my brain was shouting things I hadn’t heard in a long time. I shook away the thoughts, smiled, leaned in for a hug, and turned to walk to my car. What in the world? I thought. What just happened? My mind spun for awhile. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. I couldn’t quite figure it out.
The best way I can describe it is like almost drowning and not realizing you’re almost drowning until you gasp for air. And there is a moment of sweet relief when you realize you’re still alive. It was like that. That second meeting with him. Like being dragged up from the depths of drowning so close to blacking out because you forgot you need oxygen and not water.
I got home and audibly gulped for air. My body caught up with my heart. Air. Beautiful, wonderful, life giving air. The thing I forgot I needed. Breathing has felt more like an inconvenience than a necessity lately. I recycled stale air and let that be enough.
But then my mind got involved with that air. The distinct scent of salt was somehow altered. What was very clearly salt was manipulated into something else. Something with hints of spice and musk. Adventure. Mystery. Challenge. Depth. Wisdom.
So my brain went into overdrive. It started inserting me into the plot. It started inserting him into my story. I settled into watching the movie of our day. The nuances and pauses. The hesitations and exhales. They played over and over until I could recite them from memory.
And before I knew it, we had a dog and his name was Roger. I figured how we would take the messy pieces of his story and the shattered pieces of mine and fix them. I wondered if he would call. Every time my text message alert went off, I held my breath hoping it would be him.
I vowed to be better this time. To not unleash my crazy and to not pursue. I promised myself and my friends that I was cool. But I became a hammer and everything looked like a nail.
Because sometimes, my brain is my own worst enemy. It will dream up a life, not necessarily a fairy tale, but a life I want more and hang onto it. I don’t want anyone or anything else except for the story I’ve written in my own mind. And given the opportunity, my fatal flaw of manipulation will take control. I’ll make a mess of the pieces and end up confused and hurt.
I think I’ve already done that. I’ve become the bull in a china shop of new potential. It’s frustrating and heartbreaking and makes me mad at myself. Because I really liked the quirk of his smile. I like how he narrows his eyes just a little bit when he’s listening intently. I like his fidgeting. I like his stories. I like his introverted personality. I like that he thinks I’m funny. I like that he’s lived a little more life than I have. I like all of the things I know about him.
But I’m tired of being the bull. So it’s time to stop messing these things up and stop making decisions out of fear. It’s time to grow up a little bit more.
Walked in expecting you’d be late
But you got here early and you stand and wait
I walk to you.
You throw your head back laughing like a little kid
I think it’s strange that you think I’m funny ’cause he never did
I’ve been spending the last 8 months thinking all love ever does
is break, burn, and end
but on a Wednesday in a cafe, I watched it begin again