2016 has been a shit year for a lot of people.
But not for me. In fact, this year seems to be year of impossible things happening all at once.
On September 14, 2016, Mike and I got officially engaged! It wasn’t some big, grand production, just a very sweet moment when, after a few months of talking about it, Mike looked at me and said “I’m going to marry you,” and that was about it. Well, until two days ago, when we picked up my rings and he asked, just before sliding the ring on my finger. I’m happy and excited, but even more than that is this feeling that it’s right. Like we make so much sense together that it’s the most natural thing. We thought we were sappy and schmoopy and obnoxious before, but holy cow. This is a whole new level.
About a month ago, I finished the second longest interview process EVER, and I was offered my first choice job, just 4.5 miles from (as opposed to the 43 miles each way that I was driving), with an unbelievable raise in salary, and out of the toxic mess my previous company had become. I was able to give my notice and take a week of “staycation” before I start my new job on Monday.
And then, tonight. Tonight, I saw the impossible happen: my Cubs, the team I’ve loved my whole life long, won the World Series. I screamed and cried. I couldn’t believe it. It still seems surreal. Impossible.
So now, here I am, outside of a Dick’s Sporting Goods at 1:30 AM, waiting for my sister, who made it inside, to buy me a shirt, with a ring on my finger, the best fiancé at home waiting for me, and a kind of excitement that I can’t express.
I almost don’t know what to do with this hope. What do you do when all of these things that were otherwise impossible start actually happening?
I guess you just go with it. You take a deep breath and hold on tight, and you keep both eyes open so you don’t miss a moment of it.
One night, seventeen lifetimes ago, my college roommate and I found ourselves in a spectacular moment of heartache and wistfulness about former loves. We were up quite late that night, discussing all of the charming attributes we missed about our exes, and at some point, I ended up tossing and turning enough that my bed had scooted across the tile dorm floor and I was nearly under the desk. Since then, being “under the desk” was a shorthand phrase for longing, pining, dwelling on the sweetness of the guy one of us couldn’t stop thinking about.
I have been under the desk for days. Only this time, it’s not an unrequited crush or selected memories of an ex; this time, it’s CJ.
I’ve tried to play it cool and not be a huge dork about it, but I think I have given up. I’m not cool – think Amy Farrah Fowler from The Big Bang Theory, but with fewer pieces of wool clothing. I mean, one of the best things about this adventure is the ability to be myself in every moment, no matter how honest or risky, and have it be OK. So I am going to give myself the freedom to embrace my dorkiness and to just have fun.
In honor of Steph and the nights under the desk, here is my partial list of the things that I find endearing or charming or funny or otherwise wonderful:
~ He pays attention to and remembers what I say. He knows my niece and nephews names, which uncle I’m closest to, and my high school mascot.
~ He does sweet little things, like notices when I’m cold and gets up to bring me a blanket, or knows to bring me water instead of pop.
~ He does a pretty decent Eddie Vedder impression that never fails to make me laugh. He’s also a good singer, though I don’t think he has realized that I hear him when he sings under his breath.
~ Our level of desired affection is the same. He doesn’t complain if I want to hold his hand, but he doesn’t make me uncomfortable with an overabundance of PDA, either.
~ We have the same favorite lullaby. I got a piece of wall art from my niece and nephews for Christmas what has the phrase “You are my sunshine” on it, as well as their signatures. It’s one of my favorite things ever because it is the song I sang to them as teeny ones. When I showed CJ, he said it was his favorite because his mom sang it to him. I know it’s not an uncommon song, but I still think it’s sweet.
~ He makes seeing his family a priority. Bonus!
~ Let’s be honest: it doesn’t hurt that he’s a good kisser.
~ We don’t have to talk all the time. Sometimes, we just watch Jimmy Fallon and eat cookies. And that’s cool.
~ We seem to have a rhythm of being together that works. In true INTJ style, I can’t put my finger on why, but we fall into it.
~ It didn’t seem to phase him that my life has been turned inside out lately. Instead, he’s supportive, encouraging, and thoughtful. He’s mindful of it without dwelling on it.
~ I love the sound of his voice, the grayish edges of his irises, and the softness of the backs of his hands.
~ We spent part of our New Years morning talking about all the reasons we don’t want kids, from the silly to the significant, and never once did he look at me like I was a freak for any of the reasons I cited.
~ He just makes me smile. A lot. A lot a lot.
If you read this far, I’m impressed. I know it’s early on in the relationship, but so what? Part of the fun of relationships is the optimistic goofiness that happens at the beginning when everything is new. We aren’t the magic of movies and sitcoms, and it’s certainly not so revolutionary that it’s nothing you’ve seen/heard/experienced before. Maybe that is the magic, though: that ability to take something as mundane as cake pops and New Years Eve on TV and experience them as something altogether new and vibrant simply because of the person sitting next to you.
These little bitty moments of romance when he takes my hand while we walk or lets me have the better parking space are delightful, and I am having an incredibly fun time with it.
In the words of my therapist, my “brain doesn’t run on jet fuel, it runs on rocket fuel,” by which he mean my brain runs hotter and faster than average. It can be a good thing, like when I catch on quickly in school, but it can also be a bad thing, particularly when my super fast brain tangos with my anxiety disorder. Anxiety is perpetually asking what could go wrong? and my hyperthinking brain comes up with answers at warp speed. This is why I sometimes refer to myself as Super Anxiety Girl: able to jump to the worst possible conclusion at any time!
Just a couple of posts ago, I wrote about how horribly online dating has been going, and the responses from my friends were either a. It has been just as awful for me, or b. It worked for me, so keep trying! Figuring I had nothing to lose, I kept at it.
There was a profile I’d noticed a few times, but he had made the first contact. At first, the interactions seemed stunted and awkward, but I kept talking to him, and eventually, we fell into some good conversation. CJ asked me out just after publishing that post, and I said yes. A lunch date wasn’t too much commitment, I figured, and so despite all my previous online dates going terribly, I shaved my legs, consulted my bff about which skirt to wear, and carefully decided on Yves Saint Laurent Glossy Lip Stain in Vintage Rouge. My hopes were admittedly not sky high, having been let down before.
The food was so-so, but holy crap, we clicked. What was supposed to be lunch turned into 3.5 hours and only ended because I had to go pick up my mother. We giggled. Our knees kinda sorta touched under the table. He sweetly asked permission to kiss me before he did, and the kiss wasn’t bad at all. I smiled the whole way home. I hadn’t been gone from the restaurant for 20 minutes when he texted and asked if I wanted to hang out that evening. I said yes, and when he texted me his address, it turned out he lives four blocks from me. We ended up watching Harry Potter and Comedy Central and talking until 3:40 AM.
The next few days, we texted, hung out after he got off of work, and it is weird how well we both seemed to fit together. He’s 35, has a reliable job, owns his home, has a stable, normal family who lives in town, is kind, funny, sweet, a good kisser, and doesn’t seem to mind holding my hand. We kind of fell into each other and I wish I could explain it better than saying “we just make sense,” but that’s honestly how I feel. Somewhere along the way,very early on, we decided we weren’t going to see anyone else, and a bit after that, we decided that it suited us to use the boyfriend/girlfriend labels.
In a few weeks, I went from hardly talking to him to feeling like I’ve known him for forever. One night last week, I had to drive from northern Illinois to Detroit and back in one marathon drive. Twelve hours on the road, not counting the hour and a half I spent stopping for gas and delivering the packages to the Chrysler plant. I was happy when he called me after he got off work, but I never imagined he would stay up literally all night to talk to me while I was on the road. At times, we didn’t even talk, we just were there, silent, miles apart, but still together.
All these things are wonderful, right? Right.
Except that this relationship is different than all of my previous relationships. It’s less complicated, more intense, faster, deeper, scarier than any other relationship I’ve had. And that’s where Super Anxiety Girl swoops in.
On Monday, CJ and I spent the day in Chicago, my favorite place at my favorite time of year. He traipsed around Macy’s, Millennium Park, and the Magnificent Mile with me, in the rain, no less! When we got back to his place that evening, we talked and watched TV, and in the midst of the conversation, we ended up in a weird place. I’ve fallen a bit farther than he has. Not that he hasn’t fallen for me at all, but he’s more cautious. I told him that I didn’t expect us to be in exactly the same place, and that’s the truth. I told him we can slow down and take things easier. It had seemed so easy for both of us to fall into the relationship, but we responded a bit differently.
I left his place and almost cried while I drove home. The next day, I barely heard from him. The day after that, Christmas Eve, I didn’t know what to think. Were we over? Had it ended that quickly? What had I done to screw it up? Was he lying when he said that he liked being with me/that it was unexpectedly “right” with me/that I was beautiful, smart, and vibrant? Did I misread every kiss/every hour of handholding/every “thinking of you” text he sent me? Was I too much of myself too quickly, and that turned him off? When he talked about going to a Bulls game or a theater show sometime, was he just blowing hot air? But more than anything: What is so very wrong with me that makes me so undatable and undesirable? A million questions a minute, each worse than the preceding question, and it didn’t stop for nearly two days.
Looking back on that conversation now, I see that it wasn’t as catastrophic as I felt it was at the time. Truthfully, it was going too fast for both of us. Slowing down is a good thing. But slowing down doesn’t mean ending. Being in slightly different places doesn’t mean not being together. I have come down from the proverbial ledge on that one, but it was a tough few days of questions without talking much to him. However, we’ve texted since then, and we’re good.
We were originally going to see each other Christmas night, but he rescheduled for tonight. Then, tonight’s date was rescheduled for tomorrow because he works at the airport and there are flight delays. It has been an epic feat of cognitive behavioral skills to keep myself from over thinking the reschedules. I know that flights are delayed, and that means he has to stay. It’s not that he doesn’t want to see me.
It has all happened really quickly, and it has been really intense. It scares me. It’s nothing like my previous relationships, yet I’m terrified that history will repeat itself. In the past, whenever I hit a rough moment in a relationship, the guy bailed. I wasn’t ready for someone who would stick around through it. As smart as I am when it comes to many things, relationships are where I feel like I hardly know my head from an acorn squash. The cues that everyone else seems to pick up on fly right over my head, and all my intuition is useless.
Dating CJ has been so much fun, and endlessly exciting, even if it’s hell on my nerves. I’m honestly glad he said something about needing it to slow down because I didn’t realize then that I needed the same thing. I hope that this lasts for a while, because I really like him. It is completely new territory for me, but oh sweet mercy, I hope it works.