There is a troublesome moment when you discover your heart slipped through the cracks and went and fell in love again. The moment is fleeting, typically some tiny instance the other person remembers as an afterthought, if at all, a moment that leaves you shaken and smiling to yourself on the bus and wondering how you were duped so easily.
It might have been the inspection of a glass, the careful way he turns it in his hand and tilts it forward that has you noticing the veins in his arms and how fragile they are. Maybe it’s the moment you noted how her jaw clenches slightly just before she’s about to be proven wrong, or just the way you feel when you know his eyes are resting on you from across the room and find you suddenly can’t look up.
Maybe it’s a sign that spring is finally here, but I am finding that more and more of my friends are falling into those moments. And I adore witnessing the fledgling days of a new relationship. It’s kind of like watching old people search for their cars in grocery store parking lots – fits and starts in opposite directions, a look of confusion and wonder plastered across their faces.
The beginning interactions of a new relationship are never smooth, never filled with silver screen moments of precise conversation and perfectly timed kisses. Instead, they are awkward and fumbling, frightening and painful, and oh how fun. (At least for me.) They are the moments where both parties are standing on the sidewalk, hands shoved in their pockets, shifting from one foot to the other in the cold, and wondering why the other person is standing so very far away. They are the nights we stare at our phones and silently will them to ring and toss under the covers imagining why they don’t.
I am increasingly curious how several of these starter relationships will play out – when the moment will arrive where they eventually locate the car and decide to give it a test drive. And despite one’s best attempts at avoiding these moments altogether, it’s strange how easy it is to fall into that space and find yourself suddenly committed to the way a person rolls his jeans and making space in your heart for him to unpack and stretch out, hang up his coat and stay awhile. It’s kind of sad really.
I was having this very conversation with a friend yesterday as she was washing dishes while I sipped a glass of water and listened to her recap her situation. She tried to hide her excitement about her date tonight, saying she had no expectations whatsoever. “I’ve dated enough San Francisco boys to know,” she said. But I knew better. Normal people don’t smile that much while washing the dishes. Finally she turned around, scrubber in hand and just shook her head in defeat.
“Damn,” she said. “It doesn’t take much.”
I just clapped my hands and laughed.
Editor’s note: I find it bittersweet to be writing so hopefully about love today since the California Supreme Court just announced it was upholding Prop 8. If only people cared more about what was happening in their marriages rather than the relationships next door the battle to preserve the word might not be so laughable. Separate definitions are not equal. I look forward to the day all couples – however, they are comprised, can wed and call it what it is: a union between two people in love without exception or explanation.