“My mother always used to say that you can’t know when love will show up, it just will when you least expect it to. It sounded so cliché at the time, I mean, ok sure Mom, if you say so.”
She glances at me over her coffee, wry smile pulling at the corners of her mouth.
“Then it happened, when I least expected it to and I had to admit she was right.”
I laugh along with her and sip my latte. Love agrees with her, beautifully. Her hair is extra bouncy and her skin extra clear. Her eyes shine with a mischievous secret as she talks about it; life, love, him, and all the suitors that crawl out of the woodwork when they spot a closing door. I looked like that once, I think, or maybe I just thought I did. Close, but no cigar. Here is the difference in her unlined face while mine was creased with the stress of keeping it all together, pretending I was ready for all the things he whispered to me in the night. How beautiful I would look pregnant, glowing.
I ask her if she thinks they will end up married and she nods, this reformed commitment-phobe, like it’s the most natural thing in the world. The way your left foot feels following the lead of the right. Just another step forward.
“So, what about you? Any men in your life?”
I nod and think about where to start. It’s been months since I’ve seen her. I could lay out all my heart wrecks like a forensic scientist and pick them apart, analyse. But, I don’t. I tell her about the new man whose kisses I crave but have nothing in common with. How it feels like wasting time but in a luxurious way; those last five minutes in bed before you force yourself up. I tell her about the cowboy and how afraid I am that I’ll never find another personality that fits me the way his does. His brilliance, his passion, his playful side. I tell her he’ll be a famous author someday, it’s only a matter of time. I don’t tell her that he is my muse (if a muse was a great big bully constantly hammering at you to write) and that my words are always his words wound round and inside out. That I’m not sure anymore, what writing is without the thought of him in the back of my mind.
How carelessly I let my loves intertwine.
I tell her that it doesn’t ever seem to work out for us but inside our own heads.
“Well, you know, G and I had known each other for four years before we got together. It probably wouldn’t have worked out if we tried to date at the beginning. You’ll see, things have a way of working themselves out. Eventually the lines meet up, sometimes in ways you never could have predicted.”
I imagine thin rainbow coloured lines of light reaching out from me in every direction, looking for something to connect with. Wondering if I will ever be in the right place at the right time, knowing that I won’t know it’s that moment until all the other moments have followed it, proving its worth.
“It’s exhausting,” I say looking at her with pleading eyes. “All these men and nothing ever feels quite right. I feel like Goldilocks crushing chairs in a selfish search for the right fit. I’m tired of the game, the constant up and down. I think I’m going to spend some time alone. Maybe, I’ll never date again. Get some cats.”
She laughs then watches me steadily.
“You know that’s what they always say.”
“All who say?”
“Everyone. That’s what they always say, right before they fall in love.”
I glance around the coffee shop. The lines of light twinkle faintly in my peripheral vision.
I take a sip of my latte and change the subject.
Mates of State – My Only Offer