Last night I got a text from my neighbor inviting me to a party he was having. He said, “oh btw I’m engaged.” And he said it just like that. I can’t say it wasn’t surprising since a few months earlier he was single and, I suspected, a little bit interested in sleeping with me.
I bought an engagement card on my way home and scrolled tender wishes for a romantic summer and a fun engagement. I did my best to convey support and excitement for a couple I had no knowledge even existed. I hadn’t seen my neighbor in months–I figured it was the winter time and it was his rigorous last semester of law school. I figured I’d see him as I had last summer–late at night for beers and BBQ.
I let myself into the party and immediately met the mother of the bride who introduced me to the bride-to-be. In these few moments, I impressed myself with my social grace: no stumbling over words, saying all the right and lovely things, striking the right balance between gushing happiness and I’ve-never-met-you-before distance. SHE WAS GORGEOUS. I’m saying this, and mentioning my impressive social skills because it really caught me off guard. I could have stumbled over her beauty, but I didn’t.
I spent the evening talking to her sister, who told me the romantic story of how her sister met my neighbor so quickly, how they both broke off their other relationships to be with each other, how he proposed one random evening after they had seen Jurassic Park. Apparently they had been inseparable since they met–she slept over at my neighbors almost every night yet I had never seen or heard of her.
I saw them together across the garden and it was real. Their love was calm, their excitement was infectious but not assertive, and their future seemed to stretch out vibrantly before them.
I can’t believe that a love like that happened right next door to me. It happened like any major event; like a lightning strike, but quietly and right under my nose. It’s affecting in a similar way, too. I feel the guilty/grateful “it-could-have-been-me’s” like we do when someone dies. I feel that way as if it could have been me who fell madly in love with the right person, entertaining all of the same questions that one does after an event almost happens to them. If I had just left the house 2 minutes later… if I hadn’t missed that train… maybe if I had lived just one door over, lighting would have struck me down, instead.