302 Days Remaining
My cell phone is ringing.
I glance down and don't recognize the number. For a moment I think it looks slightly familiar and have the thought "it could be HB..." but since I've got ads up to sell some furniture I shrug off the idea and assume that it's someone calling about a couch. Nevertheless, I take a deep breath and try to sound casual...just in case.
And the moment before he speaks, I know it's him. "Heyyyyy, stranger!" he sings happily. His voice, even though some part of me expected it, still hits my heart hard. I close my eyes as his image floods before them. I know him so well that I can picture him sitting there right in front of me. I want to hear his voice in my ear forever, but I know that I don't want to start this cycle all over again...
It had been a few months since Stringer and I had finally called it quits, and I was feeling great about myself. I had a sassy new haircut; I'd finally gotten around to piercing my nose; and I had started working toward getting into nursing school by enrolling in an evening Biology course (I had three high school courses to upgrade before I could get on the waitlist). At that time, also, I started my first blog, in which I began a new experiment. Here's an excerpt from October 2009:
"A friend told me today that you have to date thirteen people before you’ll find “The One”; some psychologist mentioned it somewhere and she is sticking to that notion (not for her – she’s happily married – well, married anyway – but for me). Now, I am enough of a skeptic to think that this formula is not necessarily going to work, but I am also enough of a romantic to like the idea of trying. ... So this is what I will do: I will commit to dating thirteen men (either from plentyoffish.com or the Real World) and see what happens. I’ll blog about it here and we’ll see what we come up with. Is this truly the magical formula for love? If it is, maybe I’ll find out, and if it isn’t, maybe I’ll have some interesting fodder for writing."
|You can date thirteen men, but preferably not all at the same time...|
One profile stood out to me. I didn't really like the picture he had up; it seemed a bit arrogant and "heyyy...come and get me", and he was wearing a sleeveless shirt that looked suspiciously like a wife-beater. However, he had posted a link to a video he had made while teaching children English in China. I clicked on the link and watched and my heart melted. For any single mother, watching - or in this case, listening to, as he was behind the camera - a man interact with children is going to be a heart-wrencher. I liked his voice; I liked the way he talked to them in Mandarin; I liked the gently teasing tone he adopted as he reminded them to speak in English and the way his voice broke slightly as he attempted to sing "Row, Row, Row Your Boat". He obviously wasn't a singer, but he sounded kind, and I decided to send him a message.
We arranged to meet for coffee. He texted me asking what coffee I drank, and I gave him my usual long-winded order (I have one hot drink and one cold drink that I order at Starbucks...I can't be bothered to trip over any more words or try to figure out any more flavor combinations than that!).
I pulled open the door and walked into the coffee shop. My eyes were instantly drawn to where he sat, my drink patiently waiting in front of him. I recognized him from his photo, but fortunately, he didn't really resemble the "arrogant" man I had imagined from that two-dimensional picture. He had short-cropped salt-and-pepper hair, green eyes, and stood a couple of inches taller than my five-foot-eight. He was handsome, but more importantly, he looked like he was the type of person who cared. About other people, about issues; I could tell he was someone who was kind. Our eyes met and he stood, his eyes crinkling at the corners as he smiled.
There was a spark. An instantaneous spark, but oh, so much more.
Something happened that moment, as we looked at each other. As strange as it sounds, as as tripe-y-romantic-novelly as I'm being, there is only one way to say it: my heart recognized him. It was as though we had known each other for a hundred years. I stood smiling stupidly, filled with hope and excitement and relief, because all that I could think was, Oh, there you are!
He greeted me, drew me into a hug, and we stood for a long moment in each other's arms. It felt right.
He was HB. I was home.
For a moment I'm shocked; the next, I'm wondering how to respond. Not wanting to be overeager - and really not sure how I am feeling about this phone call - I settle for a "Hey...wow...wasn't expecting to hear from you!"
"I know," he says. I sit back in my chair, heart hammering against my ribs, as he continues, his voice softer and laced with fondness. "I had to call...I just had to tell you that I'm really missing you...and I think about you a lot...and...I hope to see you when I come back to Victoria."
"Are you planning a visit?" I ask, attempting indifference and succeeding in ignoring the other more tantalizing parts of his statement.
"Well..." he says slowly, hesitant. "Originally when I came over here I said that I'd spend five years here, but...well, now I'm thinking I'll come back after one."
"Wow," I say, because I have absolutely no idea what I am supposed to say to this. Part of me screams No! I'm just starting to get over you! but the rest of me is thinking I can't wait to see him and be in his arms again. He doesn't need me to say much, apparently, because he continues, telling me how expensive everything is; how he doesn't even like the city; how he doesn't have the people he cares about and the job isn't as great as he had thought it would be. Then he delivers the low blow.
"I want to come back. I miss you. And...I was hoping that when and if I come back...we could find a place together."
...to be continued...