Grocery shopping on a Sunday afternoon. What can be more uneventful? After leisurely sauntering through the aisles, I guided the trolley to the shortest checkout lineup.
The cashier is a young woman. She is wearing pastel Easter bunny ears in commemoration of the upcoming holiday season.
After a pedestrian exchange of pleasantries, she casually, yet conspiratorially reveals her evening plans in a manner of two gals chatting over cocktails. She’s seeing a man that she’s been “talking to…a lot.” Her mouth wraps around the words.
“Have you met him before?” I ask, leaning in slightly.
“Yes, but this is the first time we’re going to really hang out. We have so much in common; there’s so much to talk about,” she sighs.
That seizes my heartstring a little bit. That twitterpated-kind-of-feeling is simply magical. And really, it’s the only thing in life that matters. That friendship connection. That spiritual recognition. When that you meet someone, and you know that you know. Or you know that you want to know them…you know? It’s like finding other people that seem to share a slim fraction of some ancient soul.
It’s also exactly like when Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly discover their commonalities after a brief feud in “Stepbrothers”.
“Did we just become best friends?”
The cashier was enthusiastic but cautious. Clearly, she’s been burned before. “There are guys on ‘POF,’ that just message: “sex?” When it clearly says, ‘no hook ups’ on my profile.”
I furrow my brow trying to figure out what “POF” means. Finally blurting out “Oh, PLENTY OF FISH?”
“Yeah,” she says with just a hint of “Duh.” Obvs, lady, catch up.
He lives alone. She still lives with her parents. As the owner of a rather sizable dog and rodent collection, she’s finding moving out a challenge.
The date will take place at his home (naturally). The plan is to watch YouTube videos.
The containment of her excitement is like steam whistling under a pot lid.
“I’m looking for something lasting, you know? I just want to be honest. I just want to be myself.”
This girl hungry-hearted girl is killing me. Jamming cans and loaves of bread together in the same bag, while pouring her soul and exposing her loneliness. She speaks with absolute certainty; as if she wants to believe it, but can’t quite conceive it. As if love is like wanting to live on the moon and wear nothing but flamingo feathers and Chanel.
“Well, that’s a healthy attitude,” I say, reorganizing the provisions in the bags. “Sooner or later, our true selves come out.”
What is “our true selves” anyway? Under the aesthetics and armour we simply skeletons and skin stuffed with sad stories. We’re red hot messes, emotional icebergs, tangled twisted piles of traumas and tragedies. Still, we cling to the veneer for as long as humanly possible don’t we?
Whenever a relationship was on the cusp of ending– when all those red flags were flapping in the wind as the storm started to pick up, I’d think about the beginning. I’d remember being coy and unfamiliar as you approached intimacy. When you didn’t know about each other’s failings. You weren’t disappointed yet; you were all hopped up on the possibility of finding everything you were looking for. Isn’t that a Feist song? Let it Die?
“The saddest part of a broken heart/Isn’t the ending so much as the start…..the tragedy starts from the very first spark?”
Yes, yes it is, and now I’m listening to the album in its entirety. Let’s go down that emotional rabbit hole, shall we?
“The last guy I was talking to, he met me once, and then never texted again. I mean, what did I do wrong? I wish he would just tell me,” the cashier huffed.
Sheesh, what do you say to a single bunny with shaky romantic past?
Sometimes, it’s not about doing wrong; it’s about not being a right fit. Ultimately, it’s about not having the emotional connection that equates to the matching of ancient necklaces. Or you have the matching necklace, but you get taken you in opposite directions. It doesn’t make less of the love; it’s just that you sometimes just have to go.
OMG, this is SO Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford in “The Way We Were.” How those two couldn’t make things work out is beyond me. Still, the love is unending. In the final scene, she brushes the hair off his brow, and gives him a look that says, “Get out of here you gorgeous bastard before I kiss you on directly the mouth.”
At the root of this fear, is that all magic is just an illusion? When we reveal our “true selves”, perhaps it’s more akin to wrenching the mask off a Scooby Doo villain as opposed to a magician pulling a rabbit out of a top hat.
Where did I go wrong? Did I reveal too much? Too soon? Too late? Not enough? Too much? In the matters of love, a sleight of hand is essential part of the act.
We all want to love and be loved, accept and be accepted. Meanwhile we build walls around ourselves to protect and defend from unknown enemies; we tear the wall down and then…build up new walls, brick by flipping brick. We trust, break trust, fail, fall, open up, clam up and clamor back up to seek that connection.
I pay my bill, and wish ole bunny ears the best of luck with her evening plans. I leave the store, my mind buzzing from that conversation. Love can be quite the magic trick. Some days it’s about illusions, distractions, angles and disappearing acts. Other times, it’s such an inexplicably magnificent experience that it’s best not to question the spectacle.
Images Courtesy of Google, and the fine people behind the internet