People say that we always find what we’re looking for when we least expect it and I haven’t always been a big believer in that. But last January, something extraordinary happened: I found newness in the place I never anticipated I would find it.
You know how it is: everybody friends everybody on facebook. High school friends. College friends. People from elementary school. It’s a great way to stay connected to those we once knew and I’ve been able to keep up with people who mattered the most to me at one time or another. So I didn’t think a thing about it when we became friends via social media a few years ago—I mean, like I said, it happens. And then one day, out of nowhere, I woke up to a message from him saying hello. We knew each other as kids, and although we had mutual friends, we weren’t friends. He was a jock and was really quite a jerk—but he was a nicer jerk than the other jerks if that makes sense. We talked a little bit about what happened after we both went our separate ways so many years ago and caught up on the details of life that were blurry from the last twenty plus years. We talked about his career and what path I was taking since I’ve now decided what I want to be when I grow up. He complimented a picture I had posted, which not only surprised me but made me blush like a lovesick schoolgirl.
And then he said it: “You’ve blossomed into quite the beauty since we were teenagers.”
Now, for those of you who know me, you can probably imagine the look I had on my face: the tip of my tongue resting at the corner of my mouth, eyes wide, with one eyebrow raised. It’s my oh-no-you-didn’t-look—but oh yes he did! I was quick to point out to him I was a beauty even back then with an hourglass figure that wouldn’t stop (hey, age and prednisone changes a girl, literally!) and that the reason he hadn’t noticed was because he had his hands over his eyes and was too busy chasing dimly-lit stars. I’m fairly certain I threw a few unladylike words in there as well just to get my point across. He was immediately apologetic and did some fast talking to clear that up, explaining how that wasn’t what he meant. And over the course of several more days and multiple messages, newness gave way.
In all fairness, we’ve both gotten better with age. He’s grown more handsome over the years and he has a kindness in his eyes that I didn’t notice when we were kids. He’s well-educated, incredibly intelligent, and has a tenderness about him that he’s not afraid to show others. He’s a Sagittarius like me, for those of you who believe in that stuff, and that gets interesting when we have a disagreement (fire + fire = crazy anger sometimes, mostly on my part, but I am an Irish redhead, so I get it honestly). He’s honest to a fault and lets me be who I am without reserving judgment, never once making me feel bad for how I feel about things, even if those feelings are about him and not exactly what he wants to hear (and vice-versa). He apologizes on the rare occasions that he’s insensitive without any prompting from me and doesn’t hold a grudge when I act like a child and throw a tantrum. He has the patience of Job when dealing with me and my emotions because they’ve been topsy-turvy for at least a year and a half now. I admire him for the love he has for his mother, the intense passion he has for his work, and the way his kids always come before everything else. But most of all, aside from the admiration I have for him, I respect him and it’s been a long, long time since I’ve seen a man worth respecting. I feel incredibly fortunate that our paths have crossed all these years later because he’s the first person who has turned my head since I parted ways with the man who had my heart.
Newness is everywhere: in the people we cross paths with every day, in the feelings we experience when we are getting to know a new person, and even in the moments of heated anger when one thing leads to another and careless words are thrown about (believe me when I tell you we’ve equally traded barbs and that at times, it’s been a bumpy ride). There’s beauty in not having a plan and letting newness just take its course, no matter where it leads…or doesn’t. There’s no rush to change things, no urgency to establish a label of any sort, no hurry to splash the details all over facebook (egads!), and no time limit on how things will (or won’t) grow as things move forward because being in the present moment is really all there is. It takes an abundance of patience to let things play out as they will without any push from either party and I’m relishing just being in the here and now without projecting this or that. Besides, it’s the unexpected that changes who we are, isn’t it? And in the words of someone who was once close to my heart, there’s truth in what he used to say to me: sometimes, not having a plan is the plan.
Til next time,