Sitting in bed after his five-year planning exercise, I asked him what traumas he was working through. Despite being the daughter of a social worker, or perhaps because of it, I still haven’t learned how to gently ask that question, or rather I still haven’t learned how to not ask it.
“I’m actually doing really well,” he said.
I wondered about the voice in his body, one that I learned keeps him awake most nights with its anxious chatter. Living far from his family and divorced from a woman he used to love, he had a black hole in his chest so evident I could already feel its gravity trying to pull me in.
The voice in my body said, “This person might suffocate you.”
On Tuesday afternoon, I would later discover, he canceled a second date with Zerrin at the last minute because he had a sore throat. The sore throat was because of his late night and deep connection with another woman, which he confessed to Zerrin in an honest but unsolicited overshare.
Zerrin, of course, did not know that the other woman was me. (Nor did I.) Rather, she was confused and annoyed. He had been so affectionate and proactive with her — so intent on building a life of adventure together, which was music to her ears after years of New York City dating.
“This doesn’t feel right,” her body told her.
On that same Tuesday afternoon, after leaving his apartment still under the spell of rekindled human connection, I thought, “Well, you have some things in common, and you can’t have it all, so maybe he’s The One.” After all, he likes folk music; I write folk music. Also, whenever he buys a new T-shirt, he donates one from his closet, just like I do! And when he asked what kind of fruit I most identify with, and I said, “mango,” he said, correctly, “Ah, you must have delicate skin, sweet insides and a strong core.”
It is sometimes these delightful but accidental alignments that fool us into thinking we are meant for each other.