Today seems like a good day to talk about love (or something like it) finding you when you least expect it, because in the last couple days, I heard two great stories that fall under that heading--and last night, I had my own nice (very minor) experience of something a little bit like love, at the end of a day of highs and lows (but maybe mostly lows).
1) "DON'T I KNOW YOU ... FROM THE INTERNET?" LOVE
Yesterday, I mentioned that I ran into a magazine friend at a party over the weekend. She was recently married--and the story of how she unexpectedly found love when she was least expecting it is so awesome that I made her tell it again, even though I'd already heard it. Let's call this pal Cookie. She was approaching 40 and still hadn't found her man. She'd been in a few long-term relationships but, as she put it, she felt like she always had to "bend over backwards" and tie herself in knots to make them work. And much as she wanted to meet someone new, she was getting sick of always forcing herself to go to parties and bars. Our mutual friend Amy--the author of that new book about "dating optimism"--told Cookie she should skip the shindigs and instead do whatever made her happy; Amy said that there's nothing that attracts people like happiness. Cookie liked that advice ... One Saturday night, she even decided to stay in and bake a pie for a brunch she was going to the next day because that's just what she wanted to do. So off she went to the Food Emporium to get supplies.
Unbeknownst to her, there was a man standing behind her with what he calls "a dork haul": two frozen pizzas, a jar of banana peppers (which he was going to add to the pizza) and a pint of Ben+Jerry's Cherry Garcia. He thought he recognized her as the cute girl from the online personals. He ran home, after paying for his snacks, logged into the dating site ... and thought, That really WAS her. So her wrote her a note, saying he thought he'd just stood behind her in line at the grocery store. She hadn't seen him, but the whole thing was so serendipitous that she agreed to go out with him ... and within a year, they were married.
Guess who's not doing backbends outside of yoga class any more?
2) "FYI: YOUR HUSBAND'S CHEATING ON YOU" LOVE
The second story of love-when-you're-least-expecting-it comes from John Bowe, author of US: AMERICANS TALK ABOUT LOVE. For his book, he talked to a guy named Gerd Kohler. Back in the 70's, Gerd knew that his wife was having an affair with the husband of one of his neighbors, a woman named Dina. One day, he marched over to tell Dina what was going on. Over the course of a few weeks, the cuckolds joined forces, kicked out their cheating spouses and became fast friends. Eventually, they fell in love, divorced the cheaters, and ran off with the houses and money. "Thirty-five years later, they are one of the most contented, fun couples I've ever seen," John Bowe says. "Their secret? They began their relationship as friends and allies, never suspecting they might fall in love."
3) AN UNEXPECTED REUNION
Here's my story: Yesterday afternoon, my agent told me it's not looking good for my novel. It's not completely over yet ... but nearly. The book came close at a few places, but for one reason and the other, just didn't make the cut. People keep telling me it's a terrible time for the publishing industry ... but ... that's not much solace. The idea that this project that I literally sacrificed just about everything for--money, time, happiness, my mental health--is going to come to nothing? This thing that I would never have worked on if I didn't think it would be out in the world some day, for other people to get something out of? Roughly five years of my life ... and just about nothing to show for it?
Wow: I have to stop thinking about it.
Almost directly on the heels of the bad news, I had a tiny bit of good professional news; someone in a good position told me he's willing to help me think about a new project I'd never be able to get off the ground myself. That, too, is a very dicey proposition; the project may very well lead nowhere. But I'll know much sooner (and with much less work) what's going to happen. And if it works out, it would be very cool.
Then I learned I have to basically throw $1500 away. Long story, which I may explain another time. But that's an enormous amount of money for me--close to what I make in a typical month!--and I'm pretty upset about it.
Anyway, I worked on a proposal thing till late last night, and then I went to the gym. I was on the summit trainer ... when who showed up but my adorable young friend Khalid, an immigrant from Tanzania. I was emotional anyway, but tears came into my eyes when I saw him. He'd disappeared around 6 months ago, and I figured I'd never see him again--that maybe he'd moved back to Tanzania, or moved to a different part of the city, or who knows what. And then suddenly, there he was again! I asked where the heck he'd been. "Just too busy for a while," he said. Then he continued, "I see you're still as pretty as ever." Which I ate right up, even while blushing and shushing him. Then it was closing time, and as we got our stuff out of the lockers, he told me I'd inspired him to purchase a bike. We went outside and he showed it to me; shiny and red. I said: "Where's your helmet?" He promised he'd get one. Then we got on our vehicles and he biked out of his way with me, towards my place, before saying he was going to backtrack to get some food; did I want to come with him? I told him it was nearly past my bedtime. "But I thought I would never see you again--I'm glad you're back!" Then we had an awkward on-our-bikes hug good-bye.
Even if it's not quite love, it's pretty nice when someone is suddenly reincarnated.
I'm going to sign off--sing off?--today with a song that seems appropriate: Beck's wondrous cover of Daniel Johnston's song TRUE LOVE WILL FIND YOU IN THE END. Listen to the lyrics--they might give you shivers--and then step out into the light.
-Paris: I'm glad you liked the entry--but I'm sorry about the motivation. Maybe you need to collaborate on something with a friend? Or read a good book to inspire you? I'm glad you liked the entry.
-Pez: Right on. I have faith it's all going to be great between you and your boyfriend.
-Rina! Good work, lady! Keep us posted on the coffee. (And weren't you the one who recommended "Us" last week or so?)
-Kell: Ha! I think John Bowe *IS* single.