We were born seven months apart.
Two miracle babies. I say that because he was never supposed to be born at all, and I was dead (for a little while at least).
We existed in worlds that brushed each other, but never fully melded, finding out odd mutual acquaintances and childhood haunts that were the same. Our stories are different. He was a rebellious rabble rouser, breaking and making his own rules. I was the reserved, quite often serious bookworm— the kind of girl whose parents’ worst thought of punishment for me was threatening to take my books away.
He knew loss and betrayal early. I learned hard things a little later.
He turned his life in a different direction when he was 17, choosing to walk away from things that a lot of people run to. He made hard choices on faith, going from New Hampshire to Texas and back again, a path of decisions that eventually put him outside of my hotel on April 26, 2016.
I worked hard to graduate a year early from college, a decision that would lead to other decisions that would collectively work together to place me directly in his path two years later. And if I’d been hired for that fabulous job the first time I applied, we would have missed each other completely.
But I was hired for that fancy corporate job the second time around, several months later, and that landed me in Boston for a business conference on the exact (and only) week he had off from driving UPS and was picking up passengers for a shiny black car service during daylight hours.
I still have the voicemail saying, “Ms. Diaz this is X Limousine Company calling to confirm your 4 PM pick up at 101 Harborside Drive . . . “
Only he was there exactly 10 minutes early, which prompted a text message: Hi this is your driver Kevin with X Limousine Company, I’m early but right outside whenever you’re ready. No rush.
Ok! Be right there!
I walked outside to see a tall, handsome young guy standing beside a shiny black car and immediately my face turned red. He was cute. So obviously I couldn’t look at him properly. He took my bag and I slid into the backseat before he could do his job and open the door for me.
Classical music was playing on the radio, which was, of course, perfect for reading. I pulled out my book, ready to read and ignore the lame attempts of polite, please-give-me-a-good-tip conversation.
But I was tired. Fried from talking and presenting so frequently during the conference. And those who know me, my words flow more freely when I’m feeling tired. And silly. He laughed. Not at me (I think). But he genuinely thought I was funny. Eventually, I gave up and put my book away altogether and kept talking. And he did too.
It wasn’t awkward, stilted stranger conversation. It was the kind of conversation that reminds you why it’s a good thing to talk to people you don’t know. The immediate and rich connection that so rare to have, but when you do it’s fun and amazing. And you wonder why all conversations couldn’t be like this, because if they were you’d definitely commit to being more friendly.
We got stuck in traffic, as predicted for coming out of Boston at 4 PM on a weekday. And it definitely helped that I didn’t have to look at him. It was very safe conversing with a handsome stranger when he couldn’t see my face, when the only parts of him I could see were the back of his neck and the strong hands that gripped the steering wheel steadily.
“How old are you?” I felt prompted to ask.
“23,” he answered, and paused before shooting the question right back at me. Once it was established that he was safely within the realm of being a little older than me, our conversation continued.
And then somehow, we got to talking deep. Religion, beliefs, faith.
What were the odds, that this handsome, funny, easy for introverted-tired-me to talk to was also someone who shared the same values and faith as I did?
And then the biggest surprise of them all. He liked classical music. A 23-year-old male liked classical music.
All bets were off.
By the time we pulled into my driveway I felt slightly strange, I knew something important was happening and I was praying like crazy that my sometimes awkward, shy, exhausted brain wouldn’t somehow mess it up. I climbed out of the car, my hands shaking, and tried to play it cool while he grabbed my bag from the trunk, brought it over to me and leaned all cool and calm against the shiny black car in his fancy limo driver getup.
And then he asked me out in the smoothest way I’d ever been asked out.
Granted this hadn’t happened that often, I was pretty purposefully standoffish all through high school and college when it came to guys, thinking it was far more important to do things than it was to have a boyfriend. And here I was, 22, a successful and independent college graduate and world traveler, feeling like I was fifteen all over again, hoping the cute guy would notice me. Only this time he had noticed me.
And I couldn’t look at him. I remember. My eyes couldn’t go any higher than the collar of his shirt.
Before we’d pulled in, I mentioned the Boston Ballet as a great place to go and listen to live, beautiful classical music (you can never go wrong with Tchaikovsky).
So he said, “So, would you want to go see the ballet sometime?”
I managed a complete sentence, “If you buy the tickets, I’ll go with you.”
Still couldn’t look at him. Although, I succeeded in remembering to hand him his tip, and walk without stumbling to the front door.
I immediately called my best friend and told her the whole thing.
To which she said, “Oh my gosh, B. He sounds like husband material.”
I had no response. I thought it unlikely that anything would actually happen. But it was a cool story either way.
Two weeks went by.
I realized that he might not actually think I meant what I said, because, well, I hadn’t made eye contact with him. And I’m pretty certain I sounded like I was about to pass out. So, I shot him a text. (Remember, I wouldn’t have been able to do that without him being early to pick me up—perfectly lined up variables).
Hey Kevin, I was thinking coffee would be just as good as a ballet. No pressure, either way it was nice to meet you!
He responded (eventually).
We talked back and forth for a month before we went on a date. And I was panicking the night of our first date. I had absolutely no memory of what this guy looked like. I remembered thinking he was cute but beyond that and knowing I really enjoyed talking to him . . . that’s all I had.
I remember thinking, while waiting for him to show up, Gosh, I hope he’s not actually ugly.
Good news— he wasn’t.
*photo credit goes to All Digital Photography