Today is the anniversary of the last first date I will ever go on, forever and ever. Amen.
The week after I called Mr. Smith was one of the longest weeks of my life. I felt nauseated the entire seven days. I could not sleep. I could not think straight. I was exhausted and sick. I was losing weight (awesome!), but felt like hell (not as awesome!).
From the moment we hung up on that Friday evening until after close of business the following Friday, there was absolutely no mention of our conversation or our imminent date. I had almost decided that it was a dream or a joke. A very very sad April Fool's Joke...on me!
As 5:30 pm got closer, I got more and more panicked. People were making their exits, saying goodbye, wishing each other good weekends. Silence from Mr. Smith. Deafening, scary, silence. Who would be the first to say something? Would anyone say anything? Was this some dating game? I SUCK at dating games!
The last person to leave was Sweet Sarah, the receptionist. That would leave Mr. Smith and myself. I said goodnight to Sweet Sarah and waited. I was pretending to work while trying not to puke into my garbage can.
Suddenly, I got an instant message.
"Want to go get a drink?"
My heart started racing. I can only imagine what my blood pressure might have been.
We drove in our respective cars to The National Sports Bar. It was close and low-key and there was little chance of us running into pesky co-workers. We didn't park together and I got out of my car first. When Mr. Smith got out of his car, he was on the phone. As he walked toward me, he mouthed, "Mr. Boss."
Yikes, he was on the phone with our loathsome boss. Our meddlesome, intrusive, self-absorbed, childish boss. I stayed quiet so Mr. Boss would be none the wiser.
If this went further than one date, there was no way in hell Mr. Boss and his horrible wife, Mrs. Boss could ever know about it. I would never give The Couple Most Likely to Bring Inappropriate Gifts for Employees Back from the Porn Show access to my personal life.
It was a warm Spring night. We chose an outside table. We ordered drinks and dinner. I ordered a Chicken Caesar Salad and had to practically choke it down. See the recipe below for a better alternative to the usual chicken marinade.
We talked for hours. I don't remember a single thing we talked about.
I remember that it was easy. I remember my nervousness ebbing away. I didn't feel that jittery, first date frenzy that I usually felt. I felt more comfortable with Mr. Smith than I ever have with anyone. I knew I could tell him anything and he would get it.
I knew he got me.
He got me in a way that no one has ever gotten me in my entire life.
It was getting late and it was time to head home. He walked me to my car. Neither one of us wanted to leave, so we kept talking, trying to say goodbye.
And then...he leaned over and kissed me.
I don't remember too much after that kiss. Oh, that kiss. That is one of the greatest kisses EVER. You know the scene in The Princess Bride. The grandfather talks about the greatest kisses of all time? Add that one to the list. Seriously.
I vaguely remember getting in my car. I am not completely sure that I said goodnight. I am not sure I said anything. I just know I was in my car and I was pulling out of the parking lot and I had no idea where I was going. I was headed home, but I had no clue where that was or how to get there.
I got on the freeway going North and I needed to be heading South. I got back off the freeway and eventually made my way back to the on-ramp. Again, I got on going North. I got back off the freeway yet again, got lost for about 15 minutes, and eventually found my way back to the freeway. Once again, I got on going North. Once again, I got off the freeway and got lost in a business park for another 15 minutes.
By this time, Mr. Smith was on the phone and was insisting that he should come and get me. Naturally, I refused and just kept getting lost over and over again, making a complete ass of myself.
At long last, after a total of about 45 minutes, I got on the freeway going South and was able to negotiate my way home from that point.
The moment he kissed me, I knew. I knew we would be together for the rest of our lives. I knew we would get married, and have children, and be unbelievably happy together. From that moment on, all the rest of it, everything else, became background noise.
I was a cynical person. I had become bitter and sure that I would never find the man that I was looking for. I had closed myself off to avoid being hurt ever again. I was determined not to be hurt by a man every again.
For some reason, I and I will never be sure why, I found the courage to open myself up to this man.
By giving up my cynicism, and allowing this to happen, I have been rewarded with a love that completely obliterates all the hurt and pain. It has erased any trace of loneliness. This love that is so much bigger and more powerful than any bad relationship has made my life something I never thought it could be.
Every single day I get to wake up with my darling Mr. Smith. I feel luckier than a lottery winner. I am happier than a kid on Christmas morning.
Every day I get to see these little faces.
I have finally found The Big Love...a gift that will never stop giving.
On an unrelated note, my beloved Papa Doty would have been 90 years old today. I still miss and think of him every day. He gave the best bear hugs and I making sure to teach that to my children. When I said goodbye to him the last time, he was chuckling at me and my crazy life. I cried that night because I knew that would be the last time I would see him. But, I will carry that chuckle and the image of him holding my baby daughter, in my heart for the rest of my life.
The Best Chicken Marinade
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp. thyme (fresh or dry, use what you have)
4 cloves minced garlic
Add ingredients to large ziploc bag. Squish it around to mix the marinade. Add chicken. I usually put the bag in a glass bowl, just to be safe. I let the meat marinate for several hours.
When you are ready to cook it, just arrange the chicken on the broiler pan, pour the marinade over it. I bake it at 375° for about 40 minutes (time may vary depending on thickness of chicken).
I serve this with Mixed Baby Greens and some shredded parmesan. Add some Balsamic Dressing and you have yourself a dinner.