Every Little Thing Anticipates You
[Found my happy place]
Six years ago this week, I met my husband -in person - for the first time. We had known each other for months thanks to a bit of serendipity and AOL.
Getting to know someone through instant messages and six hour nightly telephone conversations is interesting. In a way, it’s better than face to face dating because there’s no movie to watch or dinner to comment on. There’s a forced sense of conversation. You have to keep the talk flowing and in the process you get to know each other faster and on a deeper level in a few phone calls than most people do over a plate of pasta.
We spent months racking up the phone bills, sending each other surprise packages and sentimental handwritten letters. We fell asleep on the phone together most nights, in a bittersweet sort of ritual where fooled ourselves into thinking we were together.
At some point in a long distance/physical strangers relationship, you realize it’s time to fish or cut bait. There was a certain romantic magic in waiting every night for the phone to ring, a nervous kind of anticipation that made our love for each other somehow urgent and intense. We were ready to make the leap, to see if we could take that intensity and urgency and those deep conversations and carry them over into the flesh.
So we set a date. First week in March, he would travel to New York from Pennsylvania. We’d meet at Penn Station. We’d find out if what was already an unconventional relationship in more than one way would work.
As I sit here writing this - listening to Nick Cave and listening to the March wind whip the branches outside my office window, in much the same way I did six years ago - I can conjure up every single emotion I felt in the three weeks between planning his trip here and the actual fruition of that trip. The nervousness, the worry, the anxiety, the constant reassurance we gave each other that everything would work out, that we shouldn’t be worried about things like the way our hair looked or the zit that suddenly made a very untimely appearance on my chin. We talked each other down off of absurd ledges, like what if you hate the way I look and you run the other way, or what if there’s no physical attraction, no spark, no fireworks when we kiss for the first time?
Was I worried? Absolutely. After a few years of being depressed and lonely, and after giving up all together on relationships and men in general, I had the proverbial knight in shining armor show up out of the blue. I was happy. Comfortable. Content. In love. Of course, the old self esteem issues showed up and I spent days freaking out, thinking he would find me a hideous beast and completely unlovable, that he would step off the train, take one look at me and throw himself under the tracks rather than have to face me.
And then there was the fairy tale dreamer in me that envisioned the whole thing, night after night, laying in bed and playing out the scenario as if I were writing the script for some happily ever after movie. He steps off the train, their eyes lock, he drops his bags and holds out his arms and she runs to him as the train platform turns magically into a field of poppies and wildflowers and the wind is blowing her hair back and he’s wearing chain mail and his white steed looks on admirably as she falls into his arms.
Ahem. Where was I?
So the day finally came. His train wouldn’t be in until early evening, so I had the whole day to pace back and forth and talk myself out of throwing up. I finally boarded my train to Penn and slipped my headphones on, calming myself with a mix tape that he made me on New Year’s Eve, the one he sent with the long letter and the drawings.
I think of you in motion and just how close you are getting
And how every little thing anticipates you
I watched out the window as town after town went by in a blur, each passing station bringing me closer to either realizing a dream or - and here’s one I didn’t think of until just then - meeting with a serial killer who meets women over the internet, has sex with them, chops up their bodies and boils their flesh. Baldwin. Rockville Centre. The conductor called out the stops and each one that took me farther from home made my stomach clench a little tighter and my heart beat a little faster.
At Penn Station, I hesitated. I just stood there in the middle of the moving throng, being jostled and pushed and cursed at. I stood there and imagined, for the last time, what was going to happen when I went up those stairs and to the platform where I was supposed to meet him. It will be the most romantic moment of your life, I told myself. And I walked.
My train was late. His was a little early. So instead of having this envisioned moment where his train pulls up and he sees me standing there waiting for him and he smiles and nods approvingly and blows me a kiss (I know, I can come up with some real vomit-inducing scenarios), he was already there, on the platform, waiting. That was him, right? In my heightened state of paranoia and anticipation, my brain decided to throw some doubt into the mix to really mess me up. What if that’s someone who just looks an awful lot like him? What if it’s just some random guy waiting for a ride and your guy not only isn’t there, but bailed on you and is back in Pennsylvania, watching a movie and contemplating how he’s going to tell you that he just doesn’t feel that way about you?
Whoa. Deep breaths there, babe. Calm yourself.
He looked up. I knew right away it was him and my first instinct was to just stand there like an idiot and stare at him. Which I did. And his first instinct was to just stand there like an idiot and stare at me. Which he did. I’m not sure what happened next. He insists that I made the first move an practically tackled him with a bear hug and shoved my tongue down his throat. I think he made that up, because I remember him walking towards me. Either way, it wasn’t quite the romantic moment I thought it would be and frankly, it was kind of awkward. For just a few moments, though. When we regained our composure and he smiled and I smiled and he reached for my hand, I knew. He knew. Yes, we could take that intensity and urgency and those deep conversations and carry them over into the flesh.
We walked outside and the March air made me shiver. He wrapped his coat around me and we stood on a sidewalk in New York City and kissed and held each other and smiled and I swear there was no one else in that world but the two of us for that time. Every sound of the city, every person, every building was obliterated and we were the last two people on earth, standing on top of the world and making out like two kids kissing for the first time.
“You guys on your honeymoon?”
A raggedy man in a smelly coat and dirty ski cap was standing within inches of us, grinning, showing us all of his three or four teeth. I smiled back at him.
“You could say that.”
“Heh. Got a cigarette?”
Justin handed him a Marlboro, and we all lit up at the same time. We stood there smoking under the city lights, Justin’s arm around me, my head on his shoulder and our new friend just hanging out, looking at us with that goofy grin.
“Welcome to New York,” I told him.
“I think I like it here,” he said.
I guess he did. He’s still here.