The View from Here
by Camerin Courtney
I'm lingering at a coworker's window appreciating an especially vibrant sunset when it hits me-it's why I wore a skirt yesterday despite the frigid 17-degree temperature, why my rare early-morning enthusiasm prompted me to wish coworkers a happy Monday earlier this week, and why I'm standing here now admiring the sky that so often escapes my notice. I'm … dare I admit it? … giddy.
Recently I met a guy who's that splendid blend of interesting and interested. In our brief encounter, I could tell he's intelligent but doesn't take himself too seriously, he's a Christian who's not afraid to talk about what he believes, and he seems thoughtful and polite and fond of coffee (woo!).
I dared to think that he might be interested in me when a couple of my more observant girlfriends said so after the party where I met him. I blushed-blushed!-and responded to them in a slow, cautious voice, "You really think so?" Suddenly I was 16 again, standing at my high-school locker, watching my crush-du-jour rush to science class, feeling that wonderful ache of appreciation that we roamed the same linoleum-laced halls.
Standing here now admiring the crimson-edged horizon, which magically seems to match my romantic mood, I almost let a heavy sigh escape my lips before an older, more rational voice inside my head takes over. You sound like a silly schoolgirl, it chides me. You're many years past 16. And in a disappointing instant I'm a thirtysomething singleton again, reasoned and guarded and way too old to feel giddy.
My years of experience tell me it's too early for me to be telling a few close friends about "this guy I met who's kind of intriguing," though I've loved the way that sounds coming out of my mouth over the past week. The "mature" side of me reasons that I don't know enough about this man to be wondering what he's doing at odd moments during my day and wishing he's wondering the same about me-though these thoughts have warmed me during these first few truly cold weeks of winter. He could still be an axe murderer, a womanizer, a fan of Adam Sandler movies.
But mostly the voice tells me not to get my hopes up, that I've been here before, blushing and gushing and secretly "trying on" the last name of someone I've only just met and about whom I've caught just the smallest glimpse of possibility. I can see the roller coaster before me, the death-defying drops, the loop-de-loops that tie my stomach in knots. Relationships can be such a bumpy ride. And they always seem to deposit me right back where I started.
I remember how long it took me to ride my first amusement-park roller coaster. I was a senior in high school by the time I finally gathered my courage, and even then I did so mainly so I wouldn't look like a total wuss to the date I was there with. Climbing that first gazillion-stories-high hill, I was sure I'd made a terrible mistake. When we rounded the top and plunged back toward the earth, surely near the speed of light, I couldn't remember feeling so scared … or so alive.
Recalling that ride, and the fact that roller coasters are best enjoyed with your hands straight up, your mouth open wide, and your lungs letting rip a bellow from your toes, I decide to unclench and stop bracing myself in my current situation. For a moment I allow myself to savor the deliciousness of being giddy. For the extra hope in my heart and sway in my hips that have accompanied it. This is some of the good stuff of singleness. And I finally whisper the prayer I should have breathed from the start:
"Thanks, God, for this feeling, this moment right here. I know there's still much to learn about this guy. I know it might go absolutely nowhere. I know I need to draw on the wisdom of my years, your promptings, and the common sense you've graciously placed in my head. But even if this feeling is all I get in this situation, thanks for the glimmer of hope and the joy of being giddy."
It's getting late and I need to go home. There are errands to run, people to meet, life details to attend to. But I want-I need-to linger just one minute more, staring out at the gathering twilight, enjoying the view from here.