Our meeting was unplanned and unexpected and through two mutual friends. I was living in Walnut Creek, California and received a new promotion and job in Key West, Florida. I had made closure and acceptance with my single life in California and looking forward to my last days with my closest friends. As single people do at pool parties I found my beverage of choice and enjoyed the sun, fun, a pool side naps. Slowly people trickled in on the pool side-good-bye-gathering. My close friend told me there would be a new person visiting and keeping one of our mutual friends company. I always look forward to meeting new people, so I thought it was pretty cool that would be meeting a new person before moving.
Having briefly talked about the new guest, I moved back to my pool side fun and beverage. The day was a perfect sunny California day; the families were out, oversized-unicorn pool floats, fun and free-fun music, and bar-b-que plans in the works. Lauren finally showed up and I was happy to give her a cheery “hello” and excited to meet a new person with all the fun around. Caught completely off guard; Lauren pitched back a cheery “hello” with as much energy and this uninhibited, no regrets smile.
I was not ready nor expecting that much energy to be reciprocated, since it had been proven that I tend to be a ball of energy. But there I was….. completely and utterly shocked by her electric response. I was hooked…. and found myself overwhelmingly curious about Lauren.
We spoke for a few moments, giving each other small talk with how each other was doing and what the fun was about and filling her in on my future travels. Then she was off to her friend’s side to keep on with her friends. Leaving me stunned and curious, I made a mental note to check-in with her again before she left, and very-much wanting to make sure I knew more about Lauren. My goal before the end of the day was to know more about her before I left for a new world. She possessed a sense of life to the world that I found difficult to find and felt there was a mutual reaction to the people in our lives. Thinking to myself, I knew this person was awesome and had a deep projection of love for the people in her life. I respected that projection of energy and knew Lauren would be an awesome person to have, at bare minimum, as a friend in my life.
As soon as the pool fun had started, the pool herd had ended. My friend and I were left hanging out with the closers. I looked around and realized I had failed my mental-check and Lauren was not around. Everyone had moved to the bar-b-que location and I was hoping that she had migrated as well and I had not missed my opportunity to meet this wonderful person. We moved to the bar-b-que, and I made my peace with most likely not meeting Lauren again. Knowing I was using blind hope that Lauren had moved to the cooking spot; I scanned the area and did not see her. “Damn…,” that echoed regretfully through my head….. Internally, I was really bummed and felt I had a “Craigslist: Missed Connection” moment. The two bottles of coconut and pineapple juice did not help my internal moodiness but, as paths go, treasure what you receive and people for what they offer.
Making my small talk with friends and making sure to get my share of tons of food; life was great and I was life-happy. Finishing my first plate of food, I realized the seat next to me was empty. It was symbolic of my move…. on my own again, traveling to something new, more challenges to overcome….. mysteries….. Rested and awake it was time for a second plate of comfort food in honor of moving away from everything familiar. As I made my way back to my seat, the empty seat to mine was no longer empty. Instantaneously, life had converted to a pop culture romance moment. They type where the chance meeting occurs again; similar to the closing of “Serendipity” just no glove being tossed at me. “Shit……” echoed nervously reverberated through my head, like some one had just played the power notes of Jimmy Hendrix’s take on the National Anthem through seven speakers, seven feet tall, and seven feet from the strongest echo point in the Grand Canyon. Seven, Seven, Seven, because somehow I had just used up all my luck on this moment. The cliche’, “you always meet someone, when you least expect.” It is the wish that is granted, because it is the humblest and innocent type of wish; that is only granted because of its purity.
All this taken into account as I completed the ten more steps required to my seat and not look like a fool in completing the task and not scare her off. That fear and dread of embarrassment we feel when we are nervous about looking our worst with some of the silliest things that involve someone we are hoping to share time. It’s the moment where you go to speak and your voice turns into a squeaky, high-pitch, no-relation to your soul, and sounds like a you were speaking through a broken kazoo….. I might as well have been walking a straight line during a sobriety test after binge drinking the barrel of rum I swam….
I survived the journey, barely, and survived delivering to her a second cheery “hello!” My internal monologue…. “Oh my god, I though you left and I was swallowing horse pills of regret coated in lemon and lime juice!!! I love your energy, even though we only spoke for a couple minutes, but you seem like that kind of person I really enjoy being with and things are so cool because we are justing going to feed each other like we each have a sight that says “PLEASE DO NOT FEED THIS ANIMAL FOR YOUR OWN SAFETY” but we both have that sign and we are just going to heave a bag of sugar to each other and enable each other and then watch the world around us freak out and completely lost at how to handle the situation!!!!” [End Internal Monologue]….. She gave her signature uninhibited, no-regret smile; I felt safe and confident to keep this conversation going and enjoyed every moment of conversation with her.
We spoke nonstop, focusing on our mutual love for the movie “Armegeddon” and how the theme song just rocks. I threw my personal free-time fun of kickball in the area and suggested she come out and check it out. More so attempting to create another opportunity to spend time with her. At this point, I was hooked. I knew I was moving, but I needed to know as much as possible about her. Something just clicked in my head, maybe it was the alcohol, but I was not going give up easy on getting more time with her. Completely aware I was in deep on rum, I was nervous about coming off as a drunk guy hitting on her. She politely said no to kickball, and I pitched it a couple more times through our talk like a broken record, hoping she did not understand my intent and would soon understand. Soon though, it was time for her to go, and as I gathered her things we continued to talk.
I knew I was running out of time and I still wasn’t sure if she was being polite about me hitting on her or if she was not understanding me. Finally, I was out of time and the self-esteem was running low. Feeling caught between a lack of sobriety and unsure how to not come off as drunk and desperate, I shifted gears. “Lauren, I want to be direct with you. I have had a great time with you and would like to get to know you better.” She had a look somewhere between confused and possibly inferring I’m not understand her. Dread showered me like gasoline as I stood in a camp fire. Here it is…. I’m the drunk guy that didn’t get that she was being polite about turning me down…. There weren’t enough seatbelts on this crashing plane and there isn’t enough air in this panic bag I’m ripping breaths through…. Seven seconds of eternal humiliation….. [Strong desires to bury my face deeper in this imaginary pillow in my head]. Another guy noticed my attempt and spoke out, “Laying it on kind of thick; don’t you think???” That was what was missing from this moment as Lauren took in his words and extended my eternal humiliation another seven seconds; a freight train just hit me while was falling out of this tree of humiliation and hitting every branch on the way down, but just before I was satisfied I was hitting the ground and ending this; a train plows into me from my blind spot…. Lauren looks at me….. [Here it comes……] [I’m looking down the barrel of the gun now] [She is gonna put me out of my misery in one shot] ……….. She begins to speak….. So this is what the milliseconds of eternal humiliation feel like…. Her: “OOOOOOhhhhhhhhhh!!!!! [Me:Wait……What…..Huh….] Her: "That is what you meant….” [Me: …..Am I getting my hopes up that she didn’t understand me???] Her: Yes, ok, what did you have in my mind?
We exchanged numbers as we spoke in synchronized understanding now, still talking as she walked away and heading through an exit and turned left out of my sight. A couple long distance “have a good days” and she was around the corner. Two years later…. and now we are getting married. Life is either eternal in seconds or a flare of existence; now it is both and I stretch every second in her presence. Now I learn what it means to be forever with Lauren.
Wedding Photographer: Rachel E Ligon
Videographer: Martha Hooten
Wedding Planner: Ralph Segar
Ceremony Location: Argo Navis
Officiant: Key West Wedding Day
Hair & Makeup: Amri Key West
Wedding Paper: Blue Thistle Studio
Caterer: Martin Liz Key West Personal Chef
Cake: Leigh Hooten