4:30 am, February 13, 2014
It is past four o’clock in the morning and I am wide awake. I’ve been away from my family for two days, not counting the two days I was actually at home but not able to hug or kiss them because of my quarantine. It was stress and lack of sleep that triggered the shingles and I find myself unable to sleep again. I didn’t even nap this afternoon hoping that I would be tired enough to fall asleep last night. I was tired at 9pm and started getting ready for bed. Down by ten and I was sleepy. It didn’t take long before my mind starts racing with the things that I want to do, things I want to write… alright, stop thinking about the future and think about something that brings you peace.
I attached the speakers on to my iPhone and turned on white noise app that we use to put the kids to sleep. I set it to urban rain. The steady hum of the rain and the inconsistent droplets on the roof and ground reminded me of our little apartment in the Lower East Side last spring when the rain was hardest. That distant thunder seemed to pound my being deeper into the couch. I held my body pillow and pretended it was Zoey on my chest and started singing her to sleep. I imagined our little bedroom. It had barely enough room for the furnishings. The light blue curtains on the windows and an insulating blanket placed over the window on the steel patio door kept most of the light out. I imagined it was late afternoon and Trystan was sleeping out in the living room and Zoey had woken up so I was putting her back down. I looked around our apartment.
Instantly, this peaceful scene turned into an empty room, the way we left it when we moved out. Dust, dirt and random litter on the ground. No furniture. The whole stressful move out of our apartment replayed itself in my head and I was wide awake again. Not just my mind, but my body. I felt it. I still feel it. Which brings us to almost 4:30am. Now.
I’m an insomniac and usually staying up becomes a vicious cycle which consists of worrying that I won’t get enough sleep, getting less sleepy, frustration about not being able to sleep, and getting even less sleepy. But I do remember one time when I was up all the way past 6am and didn’t mind it one bit. And even only slept an hour, if not a few minutes afterward.
It was early Saturday morning, June 13, 2009. Shelly and I had been close friends for a over a year and she came with me to my brother Paul’s two-weekend birthday party. This weekend was a party with the family and the second weekend was spent with the friends. There were six kids in our family and we pretty much have a “Samson friend-share”. If you were a friend to one of us, you were a friend to all of us. It’s the Samson way. When we had parties, it didn’t matter who it was for, everyone was invited. Naturally I invited Shelly, I had already developed a pretty deep attraction to her by then and I accepted the fact that I really wanted to take our relationship further. We had been hanging out a lot as friends and after a couple of weeks of not seeing each other, it seemed longer than normal, so we planned on going to brunch that Saturday morning. We were very busy at the time, and Saturday was no exception. My schedule had brunch with Shelly in the morning, competition dance rehearsal with the One2Swing Jitterbugs in Pasadena in the afternoon then my brother’s birthday party in Seal Beach in the late afternoon into the rest of the weekend.
My other brother, Alfred who lived in Palmdale called me on Thursday morning and asked if I wanted to have brunch with him and his kids. Hmm, how can I make this work? I gave Shelly a call. “Hey, wanna come with me to Palmdale on Friday night and have brunch with my brother, Alfred and his kids in the morning?” “Sure.” That’s how she always answered when I asked her if she wanted to hang out. She never asked to check her calendar, she never said maybe, she would just say yes.
So we went to Palmdale and she met my sister Anna who played video games with us until we all went to bed. The next morning we had breakfast at Crazy Otto’s and sure enough, I started running late for practice. I wouldn’t be able to take Shelly home to Miracle Mile then make it back to Pasadena in time without a helicopter. Alfred offered to take her to Paul’s party and we’ll just meet up later in the afternoon. Now, let me tell you, this is the first time Shelly is meeting my family. Any of my family. Little did she know that she had already been assimilated into the Samson friend-share.
By the time I saw her that evening, she looked like she had known everyone forever. We became more comfortable with each other as we spent time with my family. We laughed, watched “scary” movies, played games, hung out at the beach, ate tons of food which was never put away all weekend, it just stayed out and you ate when you got hungry. Saturday night, Shelly and I shared an inflatable mattress in the middle of the living room surrounded by the other party flops. Flop is a term used to describe people who usually get too drunk or wasted to leave a party, we just have really big sleep overs. We laid there, my arm around her waist, both facing the window which stood between us and the ocean. We talked until almost 6am. My heart was bursting by this point. I could not hold it in anymore. I had to let her know how I felt.
But how? Early in our friendship, she had told me that she didn’t want to date anyone. She had gotten out of a really abusive relationship a couple of years back and was in single-mode. She was enjoying her life, and made it clear to every guy she met that she was not interested in a relationship. So how do I tell her?
The next morning I had to drop her off at home before I had to go to another dance rehearsal. I drove slow to buy myself time to get my nerve up to tell her. Then I told her my carefully thought out, and well rehearsed (so my nerves don’t betray my intent) words,
“Shelly, I hate confusion and I hate the ambiguity of body language. So I want to let you know that I am totally falling for you, and if you have no objections I’m going to try to win you over.”
Her face went bright red as the soles of her shoes pressed flat on the ceiling of the Millennium Chicken (my VW Golf’s name, which is a story for another Throwback Thursday). She was folded in half in the passenger seat, arms around her legs , and with a high pitched squeal she replied, “I have no objections.”
I continued, “I want to let you know my intentions in trying to win you over. There are two things I want to preserve: number one, your heart; number two, our friendship. If at anytime you feel either of them are threatened, just let me know and I will stop.” She continued to listen and I continued to talk.
The next weekend we hung out at Paul’s again, and this time I asked her if she wanted to go out on a date that Wednesday. She said yes. And yes, this date was our first date that you read about in yesterday’s post.
A couple of weeks later, we went to meet some friends at La Luna in Los Angeles and walked up to the table holding hands. One of her friends, Izzy looked inspectingly (I made that word up) at us and said as she pointed, “wait, did I miss something? Are you two dating?” I didn’t say anything, since I was still trying to win her over. The ball was in her court.
Izzy: “Is this a recent development?”
Izzy: “How recent?”
Shelly: “About a couple of hours ago.”
So you see, I never asked her to be my girlfriend… …I asked her to go on a date, then asked her to be my wife, which we’ll save for another Throwback Thursday.
It’s just past 6am now, how appropriate. I have another beautiful memory to go to sleep to.
Happy Valentine’s Day!!!
Celebrate éros with a whole lot of fun and respect and you will get philía, agape, and storgé for the rest of your life.