My sister is 21.She's in college. She dated a lovely boy for a couple of lovely years, but then they split up. Because that's kind of what happens in college. The whole family loved him, and the breakup was incredibly hard for her — and hard for me to experience vicariously, because I know what that's like — but now, months and months later, she's got that single and fabulous thing going. And that's amazing to experience vicariously, because I know what that's like, too.
There's a Starbucks near her campus where she camps out to work on some school days. And lately, there's been a mysterious boy camping out, too. He's a medical student. She's written Facebook updates, Twitter updates, texted me about him. She's gleaned little morsels of information about him each time; she created a Twitter hashtag about the mystery Starbucks man. It's been going on for about two weeks now — and yes, I stalk my sister: I've just spent the past 15 minutes going backward through all her tweets since then — and I adore the entire scenario. Today, she found out his name. Almost talked to him. But not quite. His earbuds were off, and I'll bet she looked adorable. He probably noticed her. She's single and fabulous, but not fearless. Not fearless, but she'll get there. Less-mysterious-by-the-latte Starbucks boy got up and left, but they know him there. My sister's favorite barista found out she was diggin'. He texted mystery boy. This story is not over.
Anyway, that's the kind of anticipation I always craved. Watching, waiting, halfway-stalking someone, until the tipping point. When someone finally edges onto the frozen pond and the surface begins to crack. The icebreaker. It's happened to me before. It happened with the Knight. The waiting is thrilling, exhilarating. But it's all anticipation and holding back and wondering what it's like, and then? Once the ice is broken — so to speak, or whatever — you're suddenly in the water, gasping for air, drowning in each other. And after that, the thrill's kind of gone. It can still be exciting, but something is lost in every subsequent experience. And suddenly, it's been a year, or three, or 10 — and you're that couple.
Jesus. At least that's where my consciousness disappears to. When I go to my bad place.
The Knight and I are living together now. We share a mailbox, an electric bill. I bought us a little self-inking stamp with our address on it, though I'm still not sure who I'll be able to write letters to and not have them resent me for stamping it like that. Last night, I stumbled in the door at 6:45 p.m., cross-eyed from a long day at work and a longer drive in from the suburbs. I wanted nothing a quiet night. "A quiet night." Less than two weeks, not even completely settled into our new home, and all I can think about is a quiet night. So I made us oatmeal for dinner, parked on the sofa to read my Real Simple, and went to bed wondering if it was just…going to be like this. Because I've never done anything like this before. Never lived with anyone. I couldn't even stand the idea of a roommate after I left college, though it was a necessary evil when I lived in New York. I like my space, and I like the idea of separate alone time and together time. But even more than that, I liked the idea of building a life with this man. I'm scared. I don't want the thrill to dissipate. I'm not scared enough not to push forward, to swim through the cold water and see what it's like on the other side of the frozen pond, but I'm still scared.
I've been going to my bad place quite a bit lately. It's a warm spot where I can hole up for the season. The winter blues seem to have a vice grip on me, and I'm craving sunshine and warmth and a dry sidewalk to run on. I'm not terribly fond of myself lately; "sorry" is the most frequently used word in my vocabulary, and I beat myself up for the littlest things. Eating an extra piece of pizza, going one more day without hitting the gym, waking up five minutes late, too late to make my bus. Name it.
But spring is coming. And here's the thing: When I'm not somewhere between catatonic sleep and the bad place, I realize all my worries about the departing thrill are silly. The Knight and I have fun. Despite our age difference, we do a pretty amazing rendition of "5-Year-Olds on a Sugar High." Last night, after I heckled him about not loading our bowls into the dishwasher, he chased me into the kitchen as I shrieked in delight. We talked about the movie we'd just watched — had an intelligent, thoughtful conversation — as we drifted off to sleep on Saturday. The single-girl thrills, the thrill of wondering when he'll call next? Those are gone. But that particular thrill isn't one I miss, really. I don't have that thrill anymore because he's right there, next to me. Those thrills can be fun, but it's also fun to order personalized self-inking stamps.
Really? There's no rush to get over to the other side of the pond now that we're in here. The water's not so bad once you get used to it; there's all kinds of life just below the surface. Turns out I've never been the best swimmer, but I do love to splash around. Hey, watch this. Watch my handstand.