I am finding myself reluctantly in love.
He is a handsome goofball I met in a bar after an afternoon of day drinking with my girlfriends.
He’s a musical guy with musical friends and he drinks Bud Heavy and chain smokes and tells horrifyingly inappropriate stories to people he’s just met.
Right after our first date, he sent me a photo of his mullet from high school.
On our second date, he shared with me his feelings on religion, national politics and abortion.
The first time he met my fashion conscious friends, he wore a powder blue leisure suit.
But on our fourth (or was it our fifth?) date, he was quoting lines from Cyrano de Bergerac to woo me away from my office , and then from Bill Gates when I returned to work to finish up a PowerPoint.
On our sixth or seventh date, he wrote a song for my cat.
A few weeks ago he drove over from East Nashville at 6:30 a.m. to get my Franklin yard ready for my daughter’s birthday party.
Last night, he and Dad played a made-up trivia game of obscure music-from-the-60s while he, my parents and I drove home from the Steve Miller show at Fontanel.
On my birthday, which is two days after his, he gave me his favorite novel. When we had our first fight a month or so later, we made up by having a conversation about that book – A Prayer for Owen Meany – and its themes on the nature of faith, forgiveness and certainty.
Every morning, he texts me a song. Every night, he texts me goodnight.
I thought he’d be fun. It turns out he is also smart and thoughtful.
But I have been reluctant to fall for him.
Early after my divorce from my high school sweetheart (whom I will always love as both a dear friend and as my daughter’s father), I was so eager for romance that I found it easy to very quickly hand my whole story over to people who – for whatever reason – wouldn’t or couldn’t return the favor.
I gave people the Cliff Notes version of myself – which is to say I gave them every factual detail, but without any context or chemistry. You know the promo on the back covers of novels? That’s typically, and understandably, what I got in response. Not much more than a lot of promise.
I am a wildly optimistic person, bordering at that time on naive. Even if I never made it past the back cover with a person, I assumed the whole book was a work of art.
As a writer and editor, I should have known better; I should have realized those back covers are written by marketing professionals who know how to get you to buy the book, but that the books themselves might be trite and poorly constructed.
Of course, epiphanies often come with an overcorrection.
When I met my musical goofball – or, more precisely, when I began to realize he might be more than a fun guy I met in a bar – I had developed a layer of cynicism. Very early on, I told him, “If you’re going to get to know me, it’s going to be 10 pages at a time.” To myself, I said, “He can have a page. Maybe.”
But because he has been both determined and patient, I have avoided becoming a “Back Cover” tease with him. We’ve both been graced with something creative, open and good.
I have to thank a lot of people for this. Reluctantly (luckily) in love, I am finding myself.