billions of options
and one choice
She’s sleeping as I write this.
We met twenty years ago this evening.
It was a brisk November night. I had a thing - I didn’t wear jackets, only sweaters.
When she knocked on the door to my flat, I burst down the stairs to greet her.
Hi, I’m Jim, I shook her hand, cocked my head and said, Wait here. I’ll be right back. I need another sweater.
My plan for our date was simple. We’d walk and talk. If things were bah, I’d merely run away. That seemed more reasonable than enduring another painful internet dating ‘dinner and a movie’. I didn’t have a cell phone and that kind of engagement seemed like too much of a commitment. Though she said she ran marathons, I figured that I’d be able to run fast enough to get away in a sprint.
We talked. We laughed. She wore red lipstick - but not too red. It sorta had a bit of purple. I’m not sure. Either way her lips looked pretty damn kissable. Grapes maybe? They were refined. Her face had a certain nobility to it that I wasn’t certain how to take. She seemed reserved and compelling all at once.
We walked for a long time. Her blue shoes - bought in Tokyo don’tchaknow -were up to the task -as was she. My sweater plan was a poor one. It was almost as poor as I was at the time. I was working at some shitty bar, or perhaps that was when I had quit the bar and was killing myself doing deliveries in my car. Either way I was broke.
I guess that’s another good reason we merely went for a walk.
I had sold a couple of CD’s that morning. With the proceeds and some exploration of the neither regions of the sofa I scraped together a dozen dollars. That was either my laundry money for the week or would be used to pay for our date. I decided that I’d invest that in the date. Underwear has four sides and can be worn over eight days in a pinch.
I suggested we get tea. There was a place nearby that was cheap and sold tea. I hate tea. But coffee, that could have become expensive really quickly. I was in my early thirties, didn’t have a credit card, couldn’t hold a job for much more than a month or two and blew my money on therapy and pints of guiness when ever I could afford more than two. Coffee was a decadent expense beyond my reach.
Thankfully, she agreed and we had our tea. Her cheeks pink from the cold. Her hair? Was she pretty? I couldn’t really tell. Noble? Totally. But not in an inbred sort of royalty kind of way, but she had a grace about her, perhaps not in her movements, but in how she engaged with the world. Her eyes then, as now were deep and sparkling blue. She had the yellow (blonde) hair of the thirty something single woman of the day.
She wasn’t so much as ‘pretty’ but interesting to look at - compelling. Then her voice, how she spoke and what she spoke about? I couldn’t get enough. I pretended to be more interesting that I was / am. I had BIG PLANS! Oh yes, another man with BIG PLANS for the future, living in a present filled with squallor, and cockroaches and a toilette that hadn’t been cleaned in six months. What a catch.
Somehow though, I faked it enough. At the end of the evening, we agreed to see each other again. We had a handshake, then said goodnight.
What attracted me about her wasn’t so much her looks. She’s beautiful. Nor did we have big hobbies that we shared. Her taste in music I wasn’t really into either. She was however really fucking smart. And curious. She, unlike so many others I’d been out with was able to ‘keep up’ with me in a conversation. She wasn’t certain about much. She was willing to explore. She talked a lot about ‘making meaning’.
As a fool invested in making nonsense, she seemed like a good match. We could make meaning out of this chaos of life together.
I’ve had a hard time committing to anything. Ideas and careers, jobs and hobbies skip along the surface of my mind like plovers skimming a beach. It’s been really tough for me to dig in and commit to anything.
A marriage and a family have been no different.
It’s taken a lot of work from me, her and the kids to put up with each other.
It’s take a lot from them to put up with having me around.
I’m happy to report though that they like me. I adore them. But they like me and want me around is a real sense of comfort. I’ve strained this at times by my erratic, difficult behaviour. But lately, with some of what I’ve been learning about ADHD and my weird wiring, we all have found a more kind bit of ground to stand on.
In a world with billions of other people, other options, we chose each other. Have we had doubts? Lots.
As we’ve learned about ourselves and each other, we have come to appreciate each other more and more. It’s been a lot of work. It’s because of one simple reminder that we give to each other when things get heightened:
Remember: you’re my best friend. I’ve got your back.
What more could a fool ask for?
Life gets better when we make a choice and stick with it.
(also, the image here was created by DALL-E using the text from this post. It looks nothing like us or what we ever looked like, but it’s pretty neat how this tool works…)