You meet someone and there is a spark. You feel a connection and a magnetism that neither of you can deny nor ignore. There is mystery and intrigue and excitement. The experience imprints into your memory, and it becomes a part of you forever. Over time your relationship levels out, shifts, and changes, maybe for the good or maybe for the bad, but you always have the enchanting story of the beginning. Here is one of mine:
I stared out my windshield at the cloudy sky. “It’s definitely going to rain,” I said into my cell phone. “Maybe we should just meet up another time.” I took my foot off the break and inched closer to home in Friday rush-hour traffic. “I don’t think it’s going to rain until late,” K. countered on the other end of the line. “We can leave the dogs at home, and just you and I can meet at the park for a walk instead.” I was nervous about this plan, but his determination to keep our date despite the chance of rain convinced me to agree.
I use the word “date” but truthfully, I wasn’t sure what this was. K. and I had met through a mutual friend and had chatted casually at a few social events. We learned that we lived only a few miles from each other and that we both had dogs, so after a particularly festive night out with friends, K. sent me a Facebook message suggesting we go for a run sometime. He included his phone number, so I texted him, and thus began our five-day text conversation. We asked each other personal questions, shared stories, and began flirting. The format of texting made it easier for us to open up. Plus, he was quite witty and intriguing. Then came his invitation to meet at the park and take our dogs for a walk together.
Only 5 months earlier I had surfaced from a long and disastrous relationship and had decided to focus on work and school and plan my move back to L.A. I was not interested in any type of pointed dating situation. But this wasn’t necessarily a date, right? This was just a casual meet-up of two people with shared interests.
I stood nervously on the park path waiting for K. to arrive. The setting sun was a faint glow just below the horizon and the air was thick with humidity. When I saw K., we greeted each other and fell into a natural step, walking side by side down the path.
The path was a 1-mile loop around a large scenic pond. We lost ourselves in endless words, awkwardness, and laughter, ignoring the light rainfall and finally pausing after 5 loops around the pond (yes, that’s 5 miles!) to realize we were hungry. We got some fajitas and margaritas at the Mexican food place across the street and then returned to the park for 2 more loops.
Throughout all of this, I knew I was giving mixed signals. One moment I was flirting and giggling, and the next moment I was trying to create a some distance. I did not know what I wanted from this blossoming friendship, but I knew I liked this guy. It grew late, and it was time to call it a night. K. walked me to my car and there it was – the inevitable final moment. He asked if he could kiss me, and I said yes.
One word: Fireworks! It is not a cliché. It is not an urban legend. It’s a real phenomenon. When K. kissed me for the first time, I closed my eyes and saw fireworks.
Two years later at the same park, once again taking a stroll in the rain, K. asked me another question, to which I also said yes.
This month we are celebrating our 1-year wedding anniversary. Every day I feel lucky to have K. in my life. He is accepting, open, and has a big heart. He gives me space when I need it, crowds me when I don’t, and pushes me to be better. He makes me think and teaches me not to take life so seriously. He is my best friend. Reflecting on the beginning of our journey and our time together so far reminds me not to just appreciate him but to show it freely and often.
It is so easy to take our loved ones for granted, to grow used to their presence in our lives. Daily distractions get in the way of what is important. We forget to say thank you. We forget to express our gratitude and our love. Sometimes we even forget why we came together in the first place.
Think about the beginning of a meaningful relationship in your life, maybe with your best friend, or life partner, or someone with whom you have reconnected. Remind yourself of the things you love so much about that person, and openly show them your appreciation and love. Remembering our beginnings and how we came together reminds us to cherish what we have. After all, our time together is limited.