Monday, April 11, 2016

A Brief History of Our Brief History

I remember Saturday April 11th 2015th remarkably well. The first part of my day was spent drowsily fighting my way through a hangover while barely getting through a brunch shift at the restaurant I was working at.  Just a few days before, a man I was casually seeing on and off since December had uttered the words “I think I’m starting to fall in love with you” over facetime and I had responded by hanging up. I was hungover because we finally met up for drinks the night before and I explained to him I wasn’t ready to commit to anything yet. I had just gotten out of a 3 year long relationship that past August and I couldn’t picture myself being in love again. I enjoyed dating, dipping my toes into the pool but never enough to dive in.

I discussed it a bit with my friend Maeve as we rode the M train into Brooklyn after work. We were heading to our other friend Rachel’s apartment to celebrate the one year anniversary of her roommate’s restaurant being open and to meet the new guy she was seeing. I couldn’t get the words out properly that something about myself seemed closed. It felt like the internal pilot light, that hope that I could really connect with someone, was out. I told Maeve that it was the standard single girls blues, feeling almost professionally jaded. I shook the thoughts out of my head by the time we arrived at Rachel’s and after a quick catch up session we all headed out to the restaurant.
The Bushwick establishment was a lovely, dimly lit space with an almost rustic vibe. Music filled the room as servers passed around buffalo chicken sliders and grilled cheeses. We stood together in a corner with wine in our hands getting  to know Rachel’s date and her roommate. With nothing tying me down and and feeling the slight buzz of my wine, I quietly mentioned to Rachel that I thought her roommate was cute. Always one to encourage me, Rachel gleefully told me that he was single and that I should get to know him. I happily agreed and caught some of the cold early April air with him outside. He was sweet and kind and I can remember thinking “Hey, why not?”
At some point in the evening the cute roommate excused himself to make a speech to thank everyone for coming and I made my way back to my group. The girls and I began to talk about my conversation with the roommate. Rachel’s date, Spencer, did the best he could to keep up with our rapid girl talk but eventually confessed that he invited a friend to meet us at the restaurant. “It’s just a lot of girl talk, which I don’t mind! I just know my friend lives close by.” It was a small detail that we all nodded our heads to and then returned to our conversation.
Some short amount of time later, I was holding Rachel’s hand and admiring a new ring she had when I heard Spencer say loudly “hey buddy you made it!” I looked up and tightened my grip on Rachel’s hand. It’s cliche, I know and when I say it I feel like a crazy person but I remember the first time I saw him. Time slowed down and I saw him walking in with his black leather jacket. I immediately squeezed Rachel’s hand and said “Oh my god, who is that?” He walked over to us as Spencer put his arm around the stranger’s shoulder. I observed the two colorful bird tattoos that covered each side of his neck and moved my eyes up to his face. He had the greatest smile I had ever seen, one that I still admire today, and followed my way up his strong features and looked at his eyes. To my surprise, he was already looking back at me. “Guys, this is Jonathan. Jonathan, this is Maeve, Rachel and Emma.”
After our introduction all three of us got to know Jonathan. “Do you live near here?” Rachel asked, “Yeah I live about 10 minutes away” he replied.  Maeve continued with the conversation “Those are some impressive tattoos. What are they?” Jonathan smiled and rubbed the back of his neck, I could tell this was an ice breaker question that he got a lot. “Well this one” he said as he pointed to the big bird on the right side of his neck whose raised wing revealed a cage with a heart in it “Is a robin. My friend Sophie did it. And this one on the left here is a mocking bird.” I cut in immediately and asked him “Why a mockingbird? Why not a hummingbird or a blue jay?” He locked eyes with me and the corners of his mouth moved upwards with a smile. In a mixture of seriousness and absurdity he tried to keep his face stern. “Excuse me.” He asserted at me and pointed to the top hat and monocle that I didn’t notice the mockingbird wearing before. “It’s a fancy mockingbird.” For a split second I was confused and we both held each other’s gaze in silence before both of us cracked up laughing.

We got to know each other for the rest of the night. Discussing our love of space and all things silly. When we left the restaurant and walked to another bar, we lingered back from the group. The man had me in stitches and I was keeping up with the jokes as well. I learned that he was a photographer from LA and I with every new thing I learned about him, the more infatuated I became. We sat next to each other in the booth, whiskey in my hand, tequila in his and I we went into our own world. That was until 11:59PM, when my alarm rang.

Like cinderella who was worried about midnight I rushed out of the door. For the past 10 years or so I’ve been calling my best and oldest friend, Krystal, at midnight, to ring in the her birthday. April 12th had always been an important day in my life. I always celebrated my best friend’s birthday loudly (I’ve always been one for birthdays) and it’s also my parent’s wedding anniversary. After my phone call, Jonathan eventually found me outside shivering and giddy with excitement as I explained to him the tradition I just completed again. We stood in the doorway of an apartment building next to the bar we were at. Standing close together and smiling, the whiskey and wine inside of me was searching for the right time to make the move and kiss him. Just when I was about to take the leap, a man interrupted us, trying to get into the apartment building. He was carrying a massive bouquet of roses in his arms. As he politely passed us, I joked with him if any of the flowers were for me. “No no” he laughed “These are for my wife.” After he went inside and the door closed Jonathan offered “yeah, but I get you get flowers from all the guys.” I remember feeling kind of strange and remembering for a second why I didn’t want to get involved with anyone. “I use to have to beg my ex to get me flowers. He wouldn’t unless…” and I trailed off. Getting mad at myself for letting him slip into my thoughts again. Just when I was about to completely get lost in my own thoughts Jonathan’s infectious laugh interrupted me. “Well that guy seems like an idiot. I’ll make sure to get you some flowers.” I put my hand on his cheek, got on my tippy toes, and met my lips to his.

The rest of the night was a blur. Kissing this mysterious stranger, hanging out with Maeve, Rachel and Spencer and then eventually stumbling into an uber over to Maeve’s apartment, where I ended up staying for the night. Jonathan asked me if I was sure I wanted to leave and I said yes as I kissed him goodbye and let the whole magical night fade into a fuzzy memory. I woke up the next morning groggy and made my way over to work. I got into the slow routine of setting up for opening. Shortly the customers started to flow in and I got an unexpected text sent to my phone.

(Stolen from Jonathan's computer. Jonathan = Blue, me = gray)

Of course I realized later that I had been following Jonathan's work on Instagram for quite sometime.

I texted my friends gushing.

The idea of meeting this man and sharing our first kiss on they day my parents decided to spend the rest of their lives together, looking back now, seems almost a little kismet. 
The next conversation moved into this.

That Tuesday, we met for the gallery and things became more serious. About a week later, before bed, I gathered up all of my courage and said "Jonathan, I like you. I haven't liked anyone the way I like you before. I know this is so soon and if you would like to continue seeing people I can understand that but I don't want to see anyone else. I want to see where this goes." I remember the words feeling cold when they left my lips. The last time I was in a serious relationship I lost my voice and kept my opinions and words to myself. This was the first time I was saying what I wanted and felt comfortable enough to accept any answer. "Wow." Jonathan said with a pause that lasted a lifetime "I guess it's a good thing I deleted my tinder earlier today. I'm in." Days after that, while sitting on the couch watching TV, I heard the same words that made threw me into semi chaos a few weeks before. "I think I'm starting to fall in love with you." Except this time I felt differently. The uncertainty that I felt before was replaced with this warm feeling of certainty. "I love you." I said confidently. "I love you too." He returned.

A few weeks after that I was nuzzled in his arms when I said “I can see us being together for a long time.” It was late at night and all of the lights were off. Post coital, we laid with our bodies intertwined. The electricity of my words made my body buzz. Part of me was terrified to be saying something like this while the other part never felt more sure. He laughed and kissed my forehead “I know. We should just get married, huh?” There was a second in a brief silence before I laughed out loud and said “oh yeah, that’s what I meant.”  I felt him shift and move so his face was close to mine. The orange streetlight outside of our window illuminated his strong, sharp features and he held my face in his hand. “I’m serious.” He said to me “I could see us getting married. Why don’t we?” His words hung in the air and seemed to echo in his room. Time seemed to freeze. How did I end up here? How did the random events of life fall into place to bring me to this moment. So many fateful, small choices made by different people to bring me from meeting this man in the beginning of April, to being asked to spend the rest of my life with him just 3 weeks later. I gathered my thoughts and asked “Are you serious?” He sheepishly laughed and I could sense him get nervous as he pulled away a bit, wondering if maybe he was too forward.  I brought my face quickly to his and kissed his lips. “Yes.” I said “I’d love to marry you.”

And well, as you know... the rest is history