Authors: Lillianna Blake
“So what have you been up to?” Anisa took the mop from me and put it back in the closet.
I flipped on the switch for the fans so that the floor would dry out.
“Writing. Well, to be honest, I’ve been trying to find love.” I braced myself for her reaction. Anisa was the type to tell it like it was without sugarcoating anything.
“How’s that going?” She raised an eyebrow.
“It’s a bit more difficult than I expected. I guess I was hoping for rainbows and fairies.” I grinned.
“I know. Wouldn’t it be nice if the man of your dreams glowed gold or something when you saw him?” Anisa laughed. “You could just say—hey, you—you right there, you’re mine!”
I laughed too. “That would be perfect!”
“Too bad it doesn’t work that way.” Anisa shook her head. “But you’ll figure it out in time, Samantha. You have to give yourself room to be loved.”
“What do you mean by that?” I was curious.
“I mean, you can’t always be looking for it. If you’re always looking for it, you might look right past it. You have to invite it. Be ready and open to it. Then let it find you.” She shrugged. “At least that’s some of the stuff my mother used to tell me. But then she ended up getting married three times, so who knows?” She laughed. “All I know for sure is that I wasn’t looking.”
“Interesting.” I nodded. “So maybe I should stop looking? But it’s so much fun to look. There are so many men out there and they are all an opportunity, right?”
“You can look at it that way. But the thing is, if you believe like I think you do, there’s really only one. That one is going to show up whether you’re looking or not.”
“I’m not sure I believe that any more. But thanks for the advice.”
“No problem. Thanks for saving me from the flood.”
“Just make sure that you clean out the hoses. Sometimes they get backed up.”
“I will.” Anisa smiled. “And don’t worry, Samantha. It’ll happen. When it does, you won’t even remember what it was like to be waiting for it.”
As I left the laundromat I hoped that Anisa was right.
The next day I tried to focus on myself instead of finding love. I focused on being ready for it, inviting it in, and being open to all of the possibilities. But as the hours ticked down, I found it harder to keep my head above water. All I could think about was Blue.
The thought of him occupied my mind throughout my day and well into the night. I found that it was nearly impossible for me to sleep. I was either fantasizing about Blue or terrified that things would turn out to be a big flop.
I had to wonder if this was why he’d been avoiding our first meeting. Was he as worried about it as I was? I finally got some decent sleep the night before our date. I had reached a point of exhaustion that I could not fight against. My stomach ached on an almost constant basis.
“If this is what love feels like, maybe it’s not so great.”
I crawled out of bed and tried to get my bearings. I didn’t want to panic. I didn’t want to stress. I wanted to rely on all of the lessons I’d learned over the past few months. I could meditate to calm my anxiety. I could use the power of positive thought to transform the way I thought about the date. I could dance, stretch, leap, and twist in an attempt to keep my mind off the upcoming date.
However, nothing I could do would prevent me from thinking of Blue. I was more than excited to finally meet him. But I was also incredibly nervous. When we met would the chemistry still be there? Was most of our connection based on our both being so anonymous? Or was I trying to force something that just wasn’t the right path?
“I guess I’ll find out tonight.”
I headed for my closet. I had an idea of what I wanted to wear, but of course I second-guessed it. I didn’t want to look like I was trying too hard, but I also didn’t want to miss out on what might be my one chance to truly wow him. Of all the firsts that couples had—the first kiss, the first dance, the first fight—Blue and I had a very unique first to share. Everyone had that first moment when they first saw one another, but I had the distinct luxury of planning for mine.
I decided to try on a few different outfits to see which one felt right to me. I laid out a simple dress, a skirt and blouse, and a pair of cute jeans with my favorite top. The restaurant we were going to wasn’t fancy. It was more like a dressed-up diner.
As I tried on the different outfits, I noticed the changes in my body. I’d worked hard to see those changes. I wanted to feel confident, but I kept looking at my reflection through his eyes. Would he mind that my thighs were so full? Would he notice the way my hips jutted out?
I decided against the dress because the sleeves were too short and my arms were still flabby. I decided against the jeans because they were just a little tight around the waist. Darn that dessert cart.
I was left with the skirt and blouse. As I hung the outfit back up for later that night, I frowned. Despite all of the work I’d done on my self-confidence, I still didn’t see beauty when I looked in the mirror.
“Maybe this was a bad idea.” I tugged on some jeans, and a t-shirt that was baggy enough to hide what I thought were my flaws. As I walked into the kitchen, my body seemed bulkier and heavier. By the time I reached the kitchen I didn’t see a point to choosing a healthy breakfast. It didn’t matter—not if I still didn’t look the way I wanted to—did it? I opened the fridge and began searching for something sinful. As I was searching, my phone began to chirp with a new message.
I gave up on my hunt, as I kept mostly healthy foods in the house, and checked the phone. There was a message from Ben, a man on MatchMe that I had sent a few messages back and forth with.
Are you available tonight? I can’t wait to meet you.
I frowned as I studied the message. Ben had been pushing for a meeting, but I didn’t actually want to meet anyone. I just needed the ego boost and something to fall back on if things didn’t work out with Blue. But the more I learned about Ben, the more curious I became about him. I didn’t like stringing him along.
Not tonight. I will let you know tomorrow if we can get together. Thank you for the invite.
I smiled a little when he sent a happy face back. It reminded me that there were men out there that found me attractive. With all of the media focused on perfect bodies in tiny swimsuits, it was easy to think that my body type was repulsive. But it wasn’t.
Just like I was attracted to many different kinds of men, men were attracted to different body types too. If Blue couldn’t accept me for how I looked, then I had a good feeling that Ben would.
I decided that I would wear what I liked best, without considering how anyone else would view it—my favorite top and my cute tight jeans. That was who I was—casual, fun, and lighthearted. That was how I wanted to look.
About an hour before the date, I got dressed. I applied a little make-up. I fiddled with my hair. Then the pacing began.
All afternoon my focus was on positive thoughts and deep breathing to prevent anxiety.
But all of that went out the window as the time started ticking down. With each minute that passed my heart beat faster. I was excited, but I was also terrified. What if he didn’t show? What if he blew me off yet again?
How would I handle that? I picked up my phone and called Max. After several rings he answered.
“Max, I need a favor from you.”
“I need you to be on call for me—just in case things don’t go well with Blue.”
“Oh yeah, that’s tonight, huh? Are you sure you’re up for it?”
“I’m trying to be.”
“Well, if he doesn’t show, it’s his loss.”
I sighed and closed my eyes. “I know what you mean by that, Max, but no, it won’t be his loss. It’ll be mine. It will be a huge loss. Because I really, really want him to be there. I just need to know that I can call you if he doesn’t come.”
“You can always call me.”
I wondered if he was with someone. He was keeping his answers short. Was he tired of me blathering on about Blue and my anxiety about the date? Was he impatient with my neverending insecurities?
“Sammy. You know, no matter what, you’re an amazing woman. He’d have to be nuts not to show up.”
I smiled at his words. “You think so?”
“Of course I think so. Just call me.”
“You’re beautiful. You could have any man in that restaurant. Just remember that.”
I rolled my eyes. I did not believe that for a second. But I knew his intentions were good.
“Thanks for the pep talk. I really appreciate it.”
“I’ve got to go.” His voice wavered.
I wondered if he had a girl next to him. Was she kissing his neck? Was she rubbing his knee? Was that why he had to rush off the phone? I started to get jealous, then I had to laugh at myself. Here I was about to go out on a date, and I was jealous of Max, being on one of his own. It would be good for both of us if I began dating someone. I was sure that Max could use a break.
After I hung up with Max I felt a little better. I was ready to meet Blue. I looked in the bathroom mirror for a final check of my make-up and hair.
“This is going to be the best night of your life, Samantha. There’s no reason to worry. You are going to have a great time. This should be exciting.”
I coached my own reflection. It felt good to say positive things, but it did not erase the twinge of deep fear that was still stabbing me in the gut.
I grabbed my purse and pulled on my favorite shoes. Then I headed out the door. A part of me wished I’d asked Blue to pick me up at the apartment. Then, at least, if he didn’t show I wouldn’t be in public. But I thought having our first conversation trapped in a vehicle together might be a little awkward.
Instead, I drove my car toward the restaurant. I turned up the radio to build up my excitement and to drown out my fear. With every mile that I got closer to Blue, my anticipation built. Earlier in the day I was so preoccupied about how I would look to Blue that I hadn’t really considered how he might look to me.
What if he was much older than I expected? What if he was grotesque in some way? That would explain why he had avoided our date so much. I thought about the different issues he might have with his looks. I realized that I really didn’t care what he looked like. He could have a third eye and I would still feel the same way about him.
When I parked the car in the busy diner parking lot, I glanced around at the other vehicles. I wondered which one might be his.
Then I reminded myself that I was a little early. Blue might not even be there yet. I braced myself for the possibility.
I stepped inside the diner behind a large group of people. With so many in front of me there was no way to even get the hostess’s attention. I had to wait for them to be taken care of first. As I waited, I tried to peer past the glass barrier that separated the dining area from the entrance. I wanted to see if Blue was there yet. Then I realized how silly that was. Even if he were there, I was not likely to recognize him. Once the people in front of me were guided to their seats, the hostess returned. She smiled at me.
“Thanks.” I beamed back at her. Hearing a compliment from another woman was a special kind of confidence-builder. It was given freely, without expectations, and it meant that she truly admired my jeans. “Is anyone waiting for Samantha?”
“No, I’m sorry I don’t have anyone waiting right now. Would you like me to get you a table?”
“Yes. I’m waiting for someone to arrive. Matthew.”
“Okay, let me get you settled.” She smiled and led me to a table in the center of the diner.
I noticed there were quite a few people seated around it.
“Do you have anything more private?” I smiled a little. “It’s kind of a special night.”
“Oh, sure. Let’s see.” She surveyed the dining room. “There’s an empty spot by the bathroom. Is that a problem?”
“No, that’s fine.” I was relieved at the idea of being so close to a place to hide. If I said or did anything silly I could excuse myself easily to the restroom. She led me over to the table.
“Would you like a drink or would you like to wait for your date?”
I liked the sound of that. Date. Blue was my date. I tried not to giggle with excitement.
Once she was gone, I glanced around at the other people around me. They were all couples. I was surprised that there wasn’t a single family or a mother and daughter duo. It was quite clear that all of the people at the tables and booths around me were madly in love with one another. I liked the idea that there was so much love surrounding me. Maybe those good vibes would rub off on me and Blue.
While I waited, I began looking over the menu. I wanted to make a healthy choice, but I also didn’t want to be stuck eating a salad while he was eating something amazing. There were a few options on the menu that would keep me in my calorie range.