Today, I went through my long forgotten Dropbox account and downloaded a couple dozen old files filled with scraps of writing. Much of this writing is awful; some of it has a few lines of promise; and other pieces just make me laugh. This piece made me laugh.
I wrote it in 2010, either right before or right after I started dating my husband. It’s by no means autobiographical, but if you know us, you’ll understand where the inspiration came from. The photos below were taken right around the time this snippet was written.
Edit: I wrote this in one sitting 5 years ago with zero editing afterward. It was tempting to edit the life out of it before posting (especially the awkward tenses in the first paragraph), but I wanted to keep this retrospective. In that vein, I did only minor editing and proofreading before posting. Please forgive the imperfections!
Our first photo together
Our first official couple photo
Jack and Jane
When you first see Jack and Jane as a couple—possibly sometime next September, or perhaps next year, or even several years from now—and you see them walking into the Corner Cafe on their first date, you’ll probably think to yourself, “They seem like a cute couple, but at the same time, something seems a little off.” And when you meet them again several weeks later at an art opening, your suspicions will intensify as you see how different they are. Jane loves bright colors and talks constantly. Jack stands by in his long black coat and listens to her chatter. Jane mingles. John sulks. Jane automatically treats everyone as her best friend. Jack looks as though he might bite anyone’s head off. After these initial meetings, you will probably think their relationship is doomed to failure. However, when you see them again several years down the road, seriously dating and happy, you’ll think again of that first impression and wonder, “How did this all happen?”
Jack and Jane met in the park or maybe it was at a mutual friend’s barbecue. Jane might say the barbecue, but Jack might say the park. Who knows. Perhaps it was a mutual friend’s barbecue in the park. The point is, they met. They didn’t hit it off. It wasn’t that Jane wasn’t friendly enough. She asked him about his past, his family, his job, his house, his animals. And it wasn’t that Jack didn’t answer her questions. He told her he had been human all his life; he had a mom and dad and some siblings; he worked at a place of employment; he lived under a roof; and his animals were mostly furry. It was just that, for some reason, they failed to make a connection.
Jane walked away thinking nothing more of Jack than that he was slightly grumpy. She then forgot about him. She couldn’t know that Jack had tried to be kind, tried to talk, tried to chit-chat but had somehow failed. It wasn’t that he was shy. It was just that, well, he was private. Jack walked away thinking that Jane talked an awful lot. She seemed like a bit of a surface personality. And then he promptly forgot about her. How could he know that Jane was scared of people, that she talked a lot to cover her own fears, and that she found herself especially verbose around solemn pillars of self-assurance like Jack? It wasn’t that she was a surface personality. It was just that, well, she was private.
I’d like to say that after this meeting, despite their entire lack of actual communication, Jack and Jane couldn’t stop thinking about each other. That Jane fell asleep to dreams of Jack looking down at her with eyes full of stoic love. Or that Jack stayed awake at night, vainly trying to forget Jane’s rapidly moving mouth and trying not to imagine stilling it with a kiss. I’d love to say that Jane and Jack found themselves entirely in love after this one unsuccessful meeting. I’d like to say these things, but I can’t. The truth is, Jack and Jane didn’t think anything after this meeting. In fact, they so entirely forgot each other that when they saw each other three weeks later, it took both of them ten minutes of surreptitious staring and intense memory racking to remember where or when they had met before.