Her smile… My road to love.

I remember it like it was yesterday. I guess in the age of the universe it was, but for us it was months ago. If you’re a regular on my blog or other places I write then you know that I write about all of my failed relationships, dates, and nearly everything else. Jennifer and I were on and off again for months. I guess we always were, always holding on to something, someone who wasn’t real. We both had our idea of who we wanted. She wanted me, the me that she wanted to create, and I wanted, no I needed someone else. Someone that made me better, that made life better. I’ve never needed anyone, but I always wanted someone there to make the adventure of life a little more exciting. That’s when I fell for Caroline.

It wasn’t a coincidence I was off to Arizona. It was work related. Everything these days seems work related, except for time with my kids. I had been talking to Jennifer most of my trip while driving through California. I guess some part of me wanted to rekindle something. The truth is I missed her. I missed hanging out and skating with her. I didn’t miss the abusive way she treated me, and this was a huge part of our conversation. She had been on assignment in San Francisco for several months now. She came home every few weekends to see me until I ended it. In a way she was very important to me, hell I left Stacey waiting to run back to her. It always ended horribly though. I have my theories as to why she’s the way she is, but none of those matter anymore. She was trying to convince me into taking a side trip to see her. I had time. I even called my best friend, Bonnie, and asked her what she thought.

Now, I’m paraphrasing, but I’m sure Bonnie said something along the lines of “I will kill you, and feed your balls to the pigs if you go see her!”

Real friends are always protective when they see you following a path of self-destruction.

Ultimately she would respect any choice I made. I chose not to go see Jennifer. Mind you, not because I was afraid of having my balls eaten by pigs, but because it was still a better alternative to Jenny’s abusive manipulating attitude.

Jennifer wasn’t happy about this. We didn’t talk for nearly a day. Finally I was just outside of LA heading east towards Arizona when she called. The traffic in LA was much preferred to the venom that she spewed when she talked. Out of her anger she started to soften like I had never heard in her voice before and it sounded like she was crying. I had never heard her cry, never once. She got quiet and spoke slowly. She said “Tanis, you really need to get away from those girls that hurt you and use you. They all want something from you. Money, rides, what the fuck ever, but they all want something from you. You deserve better, much better.”

An awkward silence fell over us, over the entire conversation. I felt like she was waiting for me to tell her she was the one. I felt like she thought that I’d see that she was trying to be different, but she’s done this before so many times. Lady Antebellum “Need You Now” started playing on the radio. The silence hung like a noose. I really started to think about the past several months. I started searching for one reason, any reason to make this work. Here she was opening up, crying, and vulnerable, but all I could see was a pattern of how she and I always ended up hating each other.

I cleared my throat. I was trying to find the words to say, trying to find anything that would make sense to her. You would think as a writer I could, but the only words that I could find were “You’re right” because she was. I did deserve someone in my life that wanted me for me. Not the me that you see in my writing, or the me I am on Twitter, but me. Tanis. A loser with a blog who likes to skate, loves his kids, and eats tacos. I did deserve someone who wouldn’t ask for money, use me for rides, or like me because of who I know or what I can do.

That was it. I told her that she was right, and I just hung up. I drove for about twenty miles crying. I had only one person on my mind, only one woman I could think of that I’d gotten to know that didn’t need me as much as I didn’t need her, but wanted me as much as I wanted her.

I called Caroline.

Caroline and I had been getting to know each other for months, and even though I felt an incredible gravity in my heart to be with her I didn’t try. I just got to know her, all about her. We laughed about our past, talked about how fun life should be, and shared nearly every interest known to the stars. She had slowly become my best friend, a closer friend than I’d ever really known. I don’t think either of us expected this to happen.

I remember the call. I was nervous, and I know she could tell. She just asked if I was ok. I told her what was going on, and then told her that as soon as I got back to Portland I wanted to see her. She didn’t hesitate when she said “Hell yeah!” We talked until I got closer to Arizona and stopped for the night. We said our goodbyes, but for the first time in so many years I actually felt truly alive. That night I sat on top of the camper I was driving, shivering under a blanket, and watched stars. I watched a shooting star, and said quietly to myself “Ok, Universe, I’ve been really trying to trust you. I’ve been really trying to examine how I feel, and even though I can’t say I believe in signs I’m willing to listen to anything my cosmic whispers tell me.” It was then that I watched as three more shooting stars streaked across the sky just as if the Universe was speaking to my soul. I finally fell asleep. I talked to Caroline the next day, and every day until I was ready to return to Portland.

It was in Northern California when I broke down. I messaged her, and told her what was going on. I felt like shit because I’d have to break our first real date. It was a cold wet Saturday. I remember thinking Sacramento was just like Portland that day. She wasn’t upset at all. She was actually very happy and supportive. This was something I defiantly wasn’t use to. She paused for a second in our conversation and said “How about I meet you somewhere near the California border?”
It got quiet for a second, but not that awkward silence right before it falls apart. It was the quiet you get when you finally find your Zen. When you roll that perfect strike, or see your first sunset. I wasn’t sure if she was joking. I didn’t want to give her any more time to change her mind. My answer was obviously “Yes!” but in a cool calmer way.
Once I was back on the road I remember every stop I had to make was an eternity. Every stop put me further away from seeing her face. I finally made it to Grants Pass. I was earlier than I thought, and because of the snow she was running a little late. I sat outside my truck trying to look cool but I was shivering. It was cold enough that I could see my breath. I honestly believe it was freezing as it fell to the ground, like unspoken words from my soul. My heart raced as I get the text that read “I’m here. I don’t see you.”

It was then that I looked over, and our eyes met. She leaped out of her car, and I got to see her smile like never before. It was then I fell in love. We just held onto each other. For me I held her closer than I’d ever held anyone. She knew everything about me, she knew me. She wasn’t only my best friend at that point, but she also became the woman I’m in love with. We spent the entire night talking over coffee. I watched her talk, and had glimpses of jealousy for the cup touching her lips. I could only think of how much I wanted to kiss her.

Thinking back now it seems crazy. I’m very impetuous, but that was even a stretch for me. I just put my heart on the line. Hung it out and told the Universe to direct me. We just took the leap, and didn’t care what the rest of the world thought. Isn’t that how life should be though? Does anything really exciting happen inside the box? We have to take chances if we ever really want to find a love we can believe in.

Every person I had met and loved until this point in my life paved the road that led me right to her.

To her smile…

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