I haven’t told you yet. We are slow and steady movers when it comes to relationships, especially this time around, but I know. I wasn’t sure how I would recognize it, as I’d never encountered it before now, but I am definitely, unequivocally, all-of-the-sudden-Michael-Bolton-songs-are-relatable, in love with you.
It didn’t hit me like a ton of bricks, thank God. That might've been too much for my unseasoned heart. I had warnings. I first suspected that I loved you when I whipped out that glossy brochure and placed it giddily in your hands one evening as you were dropping me off. I’d finally chosen an apartment that suited me, nestled on Music Row, and I wanted your approval.
“I feel like this building is not too fancy, not too sketchy,” I gushed. “Not too hipster, not too grannie. It’s juuust right!”
“Alright, Goldilocks,” you teased. “Let’s have a look!”
Instead of glancing at it apathetically, mumbling, “Sure, looks nice!” - you carefully read the pricing page. Calm and cool, easy and careful, you unlocked your iPhone without a word, your jet-black eyebrows furrowed into check marks as you selected the calculator app. You added and subtracted, multiplied and divided until the numbers proved that I couldn’t afford it. Your conclusions crushed me, because I knew they were accurate. After all, I’d been apartment hunting for months; my lifelong fantasy of living in Nashville was so close I could hear the steel guitars in my sleep. Your chocolate chip eyes dripped with concern as you executed an impromptu lesson on budgeting in the most gentle, non-dream-crushing manner possible. At first I felt defeated, but in the end I felt looked after. You didn’t want me to get into financial trouble and be forced to return home. You said you wanted my dreams to come true more than I did. As if perfectly choreographed, two tears simultaneously escaped each of my green eyes without my consent and passed through the corners of my mouth. As they tumbled onto my jeans, I licked my lips and noted that they tasted of honey, not salt.
My feelings were confirmed a short time later when you accompanied me to three different stores helping me track down a birthday card for my friend, Chesney. I’m big on birthdays, I explained. You seemed to get it. You often do.
“She likes peacocks,” I instructed before our first stop, as if we were huddling up for some kind of national card-finding championship. “You take aisle 2, I’ll take 4. Ready…break!” I may as well have said. You chuckled at my ridiculous briefing and I rewarded your willing attitude with a quick peck on the cheek. “For real, though,” I half-pleaded, half-laughed as we stepped into Super Target. “I want to find a card with a peacock feather, or at least those tealish-green peacocky colors. Bonus if it rhinestones!” It was like a little couples scavenger hunt that no dude would ever sign up for. I recall how extraordinary I felt on that ordinary Tuesday evening, knowing that plenty of men would be rolling their eyes and crossing their arms in protest of these errands, or at least the number of times I said “peacock.” But you were game.
"I hope we see someone we know," you even said. "I like being seen with you." Geez...how are you real?
After coming up empty-handed after two stops, I suggested that I just do it on my own later. I meant it, but you dismissed me.
“We’re gonna find the perfect card, kiddo,” you assured me coolly. And we did. At Wal-Mart of all places. And even though a couple of times you asked, “Wait, what are we looking for? Dragonflies?” you still rummaged through the rows of greetings as if the grand prize were a million dollars instead of my uneven smile.
Somehow, this frivolous mission sealed my feelings for you. Your patient, willing disposition proved that you were someone I could do life with, because life is not always live music, sloppy kisses, and sushi dates. Sometimes it’s realizing you can’t afford your dream apartment. Sometimes it’s searching for an emerald pheasant amidst generic cupcakes and balloons.
Oh my gosh. This is it. I love him. I really love him, I silently concluded as we triumphantly collapsed back into your Toyota.
“What?” you asked, looking at me, as you flipped on The Lumineers, interrupting my life-altering realization. I clearly have a problem with letting my face announce my emotions- or maybe I just have resting smitten face when I'm around you. I was enchanted and you knew it, but I wanted to hold onto my secret a little longer.
“What? Nothing,” I lied, “I just really love this song.”
"I don’t gamble, but if I did, I would bet on us," your stereo crooned as we pulled away.
My thoughts exactly.
image: Chris Dlugosz