It starts with a chance encounter.
A friend of a friend introduces you, or you stumble across their profile online. You’d like to say you weren’t looking for love, but you were, and knowing that makes you all the more anxious about those first words you utter – how do I show my best, most confident and attractive self, when my stomach is a freaking butterfly factory?
But you push the nerves down, and you send the email, make the call, throw your little self out into the deep blue sea of people all looking for the same thing you’re looking for, and hope for a response.
Your inbox haunts and taunts. You act like that tab in your browser is the same as any other, like it’s not the most important thing in your life, like it’s not the portal through which the be all end all of your entire existence will or won’t come. You try to distract yourself, read an article, make a cup of tea, run an errand, but that tab’s gravity distracts from the distractions, and before four minutes have gone by you’re back at it, stabbing at the refresh button like you’re trying to perforate the world’s thickest leather.
If you’re lucky, it works. 503 unread messages becomes 504 (don’t judge), and your heart leaps like a cat chasing the red dot from a laser pointer halfway up the wall. Your sweat glands have been waiting your whole life for this moment, and now that it’s here, they ENGAGE. With hastily dampening armpits, you open the message.
"Coffee? When are you free next week?"
Your crush WROTE YOU BACK, and now it’s time to show ‘em what you’ve got. But what have you got? What will you talk about? What will you WEAR? Is there time between now and then to get your sweat glands surgically removed? What if what your friend said about them is true? It’s okay, she doesn’t know anything. But what if it is? And how will you know before it’s too late? Shut up brain, that doesn’t matter. What matters is is this skirt too short? Is my navy cardigan clean? Is it too cold or too forward to go without tights? OH DEAR GOD HOW AM I GOING TO DO THIS I NEED A DRINK.
*~break for wine~*
Okay, okay. You gather yourself together, have a friend weigh in on the outfit you’ve chosen, and attempt to go to sleep early the night before. You’re up all night dreaming about your teeth falling out and that bully from high school tripping you on your way to present to the class. You wake up and your stomach is acting like it wants OUT, like it would be so much better off without you, like “NO! I don’t want food, GOD, Mom, can’t you just leave me alone?!” You eat a piece of toast, and your mouth is so dry that it takes fifty chews to get a bite to go down. This is your day! Doesn’t it feel great?
You leave at precisely the right minute in order to arrive at precisely the right minute (ten minutes early). You chew a piece of gum as fast as you can, sucking every last breath-freshening moment out of it, before realizing you have nowhere to dispose of it before your date arrives. (You figure something out; you’re resourceful.)
You debate whether to buy your coffee ahead of time, or wait to get in line until your date shows up, so you can offer to pay for theirs, as well. You decide to get yours first, just to have something to do with your hands. You say a prayer to not spill the coffee on yourself. At the “amen,” your date walks through the door. Here we go.
Introductions, small talk, history – things are moving so fast you can barely wrap your mind around what it was you had planned to say – what you’re good at, what you want out of life, what you love – you’re on a cloud and you’d float away if the tag of your skirt weren’t rubbing a raw patch in the skin of your back, therefor keeping you grounded – who you are, who they are, who you could be, together.
You exchange information, you say goodbye, you get in your car and drive away, but just to the next parking lot so that it looks like you left when really you just need to text your best friend RIGHT NOW! You make a plan with your friend to meet up and go over every detail that night. You drive home, still sweating, now smiling, switching news radio for pop fluff and singing along like you’re god-damned Mariah Carey. Because you know what? You ARE Mariah Carey, and the world is lucky to hear you sing!
It worked. You did it. The skirt didn’t do it. YOU did it. And you’re a badass and you’re excited and you’re in LOVE (maybe don’t let that slip just yet though, you still have some negotiating to do), and you’re starting a new relationship and doesn’t the world just feel GOOD right now? Go give it a hug. It’s already hugging you back.