I have never fallen in love at first sight. I always wanted to. As a writer and as a woman who grew up watching, not only the perfumed and cotton candy-infused tales of Disney princesses, but of the great love stories: Jane Eyre, Pretty Woman, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I felt obligated to. My mind was programmed to seek the type of all-consuming love that ended in stabbing your lover through the heart with a sword in order to close a gaping portal to Hell.
So in 28 years on this earth, you can imagine the 28 years of disappointment when man after man turned out to be less than perfect. When dating websites forcibly pair you with another because you both checked the “I’m against genocide” box. When innocent flirtations at work turned into embarrassing, month-long “mornings afters” of poor sex and awkward kissing in a walk-in refrigerator. (Nothing is sexier than having a man stick his tongue down your throat while you’re standing next to frozen squid.) When every man you’ve ever had a crush on doesn’t live up to your fantasy — a custom-built one that is created somewhere between the moment you see him and the second he says, “Hey! You’re standing on my foot.”
And that’s the best thing about it! You gave them all ample opportunity to sweep you off your feet the exact way you had planned it in your brain. All The Best Friend had to do was to leave his girlfriend, who he was unhappy with anyway and confess to you at your mutual friend’s house as you both stand in the chilly night air, that it was you all along. For The Bad Boy, he only had to reach across the front seat of the car, take your hand in his, and tell you that enough was enough – he didn’t just want to have occasional sex with you – he wanted commitment, goddammit! And as for The First, well, Jesus, it was in every movie! The slow motion run to the airport to tell me in the terminal not to go, to stay with him forever, and never EVER leave his side?
But none of these things actually came to fruition. The Best Friend stayed with his bitch of a girlfriend, The Bad Boy started (or continued, actually) dating someone else, and The First snorted another line of coke and left me to find my own cab.
So, yeah, if you can think of a stronger word for “jaded,” that’s probably what I am.
Until I met Peter.
It was a complete accident – a friend of a friend-type thing. A going away party at a bowling alley filled with 30 year-olds, fried food, and craft beer.
None of these details really matter, of course, because the important fact was: It was like a movie. I saw him from across the bar, across the lanes of bowlers. He had dark hair, a full beard, light eyes, and a blue plaid shirt that matched, but not in the annoying, conscious way that some men match their clothes to their eyes, but in this beautifully simple way that made him all the more attractive to me.
He stood only an inch or so taller than me – but I instantly felt protected? Safe? Womanly?
Being near him felt as though I had stepped into a patch of sunlight – when the heat pulsates against your skin and the warmth buried deep inside of you comes up to meet it. That’s what it felt like, like heat waves flowing to and from me at the same time. Like my whole body and the air around me was blushing.
When I looked at him, it was as though a part of me recognized a part of him – like we were friends from a very long time ago, finally crossing paths for the first time, but somehow, again.
We talked of important things: the Vietnam War, my sucky bowling skills, his sucky pool skills, Travel, Art, Love. We touched each other hesitantly, but bravely; a brush of the arm, a brief connection of hands, a closeness of hips. There was an understanding in us, an excited familiarity. We were rediscovering something we had lost from our past and it made us giddy.
The night ended as most nights of significance do, at a bus stop around 4 am. We never spoke again, save for one e-mail saying it was nice to meet the other.
There are some nights I think of him and I smile, the man who made me realize that it is all true, Love and whatnot. The man who made me believe that given the proper timing (and a couple glasses of beer), Love at First Sight could be mine. There are nights I think of him and hope he is well and that one day, someday, we will see each other again.