“Seriously. Incredibly.”

“I think you should say something to that guy,” she whispered.

We had already traded seats so I could have an unobstructed view of him. She had said, “You’ve got to see this guy. No ring on his finger, so we’re good. I’m going to go get some water. Slide into my seat.”

She’s my married friend who instigates her single friends to do bold, courageous acts in the dating world. She paints the scene, invites us to step into it, and prides herself as a Wing Girl.

Most of her friends are embarrassed when she writes a phone number on the restaurant receipt. Most of them bawk at her suggestions.

Hi. Have we met? My name is Tricia. I’ll follow through with your great idea. Especially if there’s a memory at stake, a positive outcome on the line, or a dollar on the table.  If it might add a little plot to this story, then probably don’t dare me if it will embarrass you when I follow through.

“Sure, I’ll say something.”

“You will?!” She barely knew what to do with my cooperation.

“I totally will. Go stand by the door, because when I’m ready to go, I’m really going to be ready to go.” She was giddy with anticipation; I was blazing with courage.

Baseball cap. Five o’clock shadow. Attractively intelligent in his gray t-shirt and distressed jeans. His fingers clicked away on his Mac, as if that isn’t music to my ears.

“Excuse me, sir? Can I say something before I go?”

(Add ‘dark eyes’ and ‘long lashes’ to the above list.)

“Sure.”

(Add ‘great smile.’ The list continues.)

I stood on the other side of his table and gently leaned in. “I just wanted to tell you that you are incredibly good looking.”

“Really?”

“Really.”

(Great smile again.) “Well, thank you. That just made my whole month.”

“You’re welcome. I just thought you should know.”

I tap the table in farewell, and I head on out the door of this chic, hipster coffee shop. Wing Girl is biting her nails, clapping her hands, and bouncing, but she pulls it together and we stroll to the car. Casually. Like I do this all the time.

With the doors closed, she squeals. “I can’t believe you did it! You did it!”

“I totally did. And I might not be done… let me think.” I didn’t have a business card with me, but I had a plethora of 3×5 cards. Naturally. With my girly script, I wrote:

Seriously. Incredibly.
Tricia
tricialottwilliford.com

I walked back in with the hipsters, straight to his table. I slid the card under the corner of his laptop. Eye contact. Smile.

“I just wanted to make your month one more time.”

Tap the table in farewell. Out I go. Finished this time.

For real, they should bottle that boost of confidence and sell it on eBay. Because there’s nothing like it in the world. I could have tap danced to the moon and back.

Foreword Afterthought: Basketballs and Defining Relationships

Foreword Afterthought: 

I don’t write about the people I date, have dated, will date. If I go out with him, my respect for him is both implicit and explicit: he will feel my respect in my actions, and the world will see my respect in my words.

When I wrote this piece, I aimed to show what I was teaching my sons about authenticity, about the differences between loving someone or keeping them around for the benefits, about holding a standard for a man who suits me as a lover and them as a dad, about patience and faith and readiness.

After I published this piece, I realized it sounded disrespectful to Sam.  

Sam, I’m sorry.  And you deserve a girl who will light up your world, not the interwebs. 

Please forgive me.

* * *

 

Tyler left his small basketball in the garage. I ran over it, it popped, and the lesson therein is don’t leave your toys under my van. Unhappy things will happen.

We were in the car yesterday, and Tyler said, “I really hope we can see Sam again.”

Sam and I gave a good year to trying to make a relationship work, and it just never took flight. Not for lack of chivalry, conversations, gifts, or trying. Sometimes you just can’t help the flame find the wick.

“Guys, I don’t think we will see him anymore.”

“What? Why?”

“Well, he’s just not going to come around anymore.”

“Why? He always gave us presents. And I want a new basketball.”

“Well, buddy, I can get you a basketball.”

“Why can’t Sam?”

“He’s not going to visit us anymore.”

“I don’t understand why he wouldn’t want to come back.”

I don’t intend to tell them this, and yet here it comes: “Guys, Sam just wanted more from Mommy than I could give him. He wanted to marry me.”

Silence in the backseat.

“Sam was your boyfriend?” I wouldn’t say it ever got to that point, no.

And then Tyler says, “Mommy, that was your one chance.”

He says this as though I passed on dessert and now there is none left. He says this as though marriage is simply about an offer.

“Lovey, I’m not looking for a chance. I’m waiting for the man God has for us.”

“And he wasn’t the man?”

“He wasn’t.”

“Why?”

“Sometimes someone has feelings, and the other person doesn’t. And it gets tricky and complicated, but you just have to say goodbye when you can’t make it work. Like when you’re playing at the park and someone wants to join your game, but you kind of want to do your own thing.”

“Well, you always tell us to be kind and let that person play the game.”

True. Not my best analogy. “Well, it’s a different kind of game when it’s grownups.”

“So he’s not coming back?”

“No.” And this is why I don’t let you meet the people I have coffee with. Because I don’t want to explain the intricacies of defining relationships to children who don’t yet know multiplication.

“But I wanted a new basketball.”

“Do you want to see him? Or do you want a basketball? Because it’s not a good idea to want someone in your life just for what they can give you. If you want a basketball, we can get a basketball. But that doesn’t mean he is the man God has for us.”

Silence.

“Okay. Can I have a basketball?”

That’s what I thought.

Foregone Conclusion

“Tricia, you seem to write and think and talk about marriage as if it’s definitely going to happen. Like it’s a foregone conclusion.”

Actually, that’s exactly what it is. I know I’ll marry again. I know this with an absurd sense of clarity and assurance.

“So does that mean you’re seeing someone?”

Nope. But one doesn’t need the bird in her hand to know that she’s made for the nest.

I think he’ll know that he knows. I already know that I know. We simply need to know each other. There is a place in my heart with his name on it, even though I haven’t yet fallen in love with him. But I’ll know when I do.

I think he’s looking for me.
I think he’s been waiting even longer than I have.
I think his heart has been broken in the way that brings perspective.

Perspective that shows you not to worry about little things,
not to fight about stupid things,
and to let most of it go
in the name of peace and grace and love and
I’m happy to see you again.

Perspective that shows you it doesn’t matter if the boys’ fingernails are trimmed,
that sometimes it’s good to eat dessert first,
that hellos and goodbyes matter,
the scattered Legos are a work in progress,
and silence is a language all its own.

I think he loves God and asks questions.
I think he’s solid in his career,
he’s established and confident,
and we can fearlessly support one another
and dive into a life of words together.

I think he’s smart and funny and thinking, and thereby the most handsome man in the room.

I think he’ll be afraid,
because so am I,
because the only way to be fearless is if you’ve never loved to a place of brokenness before.
I think he’ll be courageous,
because so am I,
because the only way to live is to love enough that you might break into pieces.

I think he wants to be a dad to somebody.
Or to two somebodies.
I think he understands the heart of an artist,
the mind of a writer.
I think we can walk alongside one another,
creating a sum that is greater than all its parts.
I think we will create.
I think neither of us can breathe unless we do.

I belong to him,
and I’m making today’s decisions with him in mind.
I think we will be great.
And we’ll know when we know.

It’s a foregone conclusion.

Classiest Breakup Ever

That’s a good man who will buy a cup of coffee for the girl whom he believes is about to break up with him.

I didn’t intend to break any hearts in this season of my life.  I did not.  But sometimes I just know that I know I can’t continue down this path without breaking …  something.

The worst is when I don’t want it to end, when I really like him, when conversation is endless, chemistry is palpable, when I really wanted it to work, to be great.

(Great is the word I use when I can’t think of the better word that means amazing.)

He waited for me at a table just inside the door.  There, with my drink, waiting for me.

He took both of my hands and said, “Hey, you know what?  It’s okay.  I know why you’re here, why you asked for coffee today.  This isn’t my first rodeo.  I’ve said goodbye to a great girl more than once.  I will forever think you are amazing, I will speak well of you, and if you ever need a friendly companion to join you for an evening, I will be honored.  But this, today?  It’s okay.  Really.”

I had written a few sentences in my mind on the drive to Starbucks, but they were nothing I was excited about or wanted to hear myself say.

And he, knowing that my emotional energy is a premium commodity, did all the talking for me, in a graceful, gracious, blue-eyed way.

“Hey, you.  I know what you need to say, and I know you don’t want to.  So let’s not make you.  I can do it.  And it’s okay.”

Pure class.