Over the past two weeks, my romantic past, present, and future all happened to collide in the type of way that makes you feel like you’re living in a movie. Except, since this is real life, and things never start and end in a picture-perfect 90 minutes, there’s no happy ending … yet.
I spent last week in Israel. What an amazing experience. This trip for me was first and foremost about vacation—I definitely needed some down time and felt a huge craving for sun and warmth. But it ended up being so much more.Besides reconnecting with the Israeli branch of my family and feeling a renewed bond with my cultural ties there, something slightly eerie and fortuitous happened there. On my second day, we decided to drive to Jerusalem to do the touristy thing—see the Old City, do some shopping, check out the market, and, of course, stop by the Western Wall (or Wailing Wall, if you prefer). Splitting up from my male cousins, my aunt and I entered the women’s area where we stood to admire the ancient bricks and say a prayer. Following tradition, we took out scraps of paper to write wishes on, to stick into the wall. My note asked for guidance in continuing a strong career as well as help for finding “a man to love who loves me.” Silly, yes, but it couldn’t hurt, so I rolled up the paper and wedged it into a crack, kissing my hand and touching it to the wall one last time.
Two days later, I got an email from my best friend who lives with my parents in NYC. “Your mom met your future husband,” she wrote. Oh God, I thought, and rolled my eyes. “She told him all about you, even showed him a picture. She says he’s perfect and cute and he wants to meet you.” Ha! I laughed out loud. Sounded like typical Mom stuff. I started crafting my response: “Jeez! How do you live with such crazy people … ” when suddenly I remembered what I’d written in my prayer note. Oh my God. Literally. Not that I’m such a huge believer, but I do tend to believe in serendipity and that whole idea of Things just happen like this. What if there was just a tiny possibility that this guy was something amazing and we did end up together? It seemed unlikely, but I was nevertheless cautious and intrigued. What to do now? I wondered. If the universe grants a wish like that, do you just do nothing and see if things actually play out? Or do you have to pursue it—get this guy’s email or phone number and start up a conversation?
Cut to: Back in Paris last Tuesday. As soon as I landed, I saw an email on my iPhone from Pierre. It was a bit jarring to see his name in my inbox—I’d hardly thought about him at all when I was in Israel, and was surprised that I hadn’t thought of him more. Where we’d last left off was what I presumed to be “the end.” His standing me up two Saturdays ago had been enough for me to move on and stop with the getting yanked around. His email was apologetic about everything and asked if I could come for lunch at his place on the weekend with his best friend and girlfriend. I considered my next move while waiting at the baggage claim. The thought was nice that he apparently felt comfortable enough to do an intimate double date, but still … was this guy really interested? Moreover, was I? No, I decided. While I felt really uncomfortable responding with a slightly harsh “I’m sorry, but I’m just not convinced that we’re going in the right direction and that we’ll work out,” I knew it would be better than either not writing back or saying something wishy-washy. (After all, if I’m sick of getting this from guys, why not deliver things the way I think is fairest?)
Here’s where everything collides: Later that night, I meet up with my two best friends here to see a show at a small, slightly underground music club. We’re sitting on the floor (don’t ask, they just do this in Paris at concerts, and yes, it’s kind of weird), drinking our beers, and I’m basically telling them the same things I’ve just told you. I’m finishing up the story about Pierre when I stop mid-sentence.
“Ohmygodddd,” I blurt out and turn my face away.
“What?” They asked.
“I think an ex is here.”
“Are you sure?”
I looked again and saw the all-too-familiar striped turtleneck of American Boy, and instantly felt disgusted. Ugh, I’d worn that shirt myself with no bra and his boxers.
I can’t tell if American Boy saw me and decided to sit next to me (it was pretty dark), or if he just happened to choose the unoccupied spot to my right.
“Uh … American Boy?” I said.
“Oh hey! Leo … how are you? Did you get my message about my birthday party?”
Was he really just acting like we were still friends? When was the last time we’d talked? It had to have been months ago.
“No … when was your party?”
“Well, it doesn’t matter. Anyhow, do you know Solange?”
From his right a girl peered over. I’d failed to notice her before. She was a beautiful French brunette with long legs and shiny hair. I suddenly felt very aware of my shaggy begging-for-a-trim haircut and winter spare tire. Of course, it wasn’t as if I was jealous. In fact, American Boy was already reminding me why we wouldn’t have worked out anyhow with his slightly cocky personality and loud mannerisms. It’s just that it all felt incredibly weird. Paris is small, sure, but running into someone like him in a place like that was extremely, extremely unlikely.
When I got home that night, I opened up my laptop and sent off an email to my best friend back home: “Hey … find out this supposed husband of mine’s name and/or email. Let’s see who this kid is.”