“I’m not someone who people fall in love with,” I wrote in my black, hardcover journal I’d been keeping for three or four years – years which had proven to me that those nine words were true.
I knew, deep down, that those relationships – the ones I watched from a distance, where couples laid in each other’s laps at the beach and laughed, throwing their heads back in exhilaration – weren’t going to happen for me.
I knew it like I knew that someone in my life would one day die of cancer. Or that one day I’d experience physical pain greater than anything I’d ever imagined. Or that my future was full of nights where I couldn’t sleep, mornings where I groaned as I got out of bed, punctuated with people who’d decide they didn’t like me for no particular reason – and there’d be nothing I could do to convince them otherwise.
And then I met Liam.
I was in a bar with a friend when I saw him for the first time.
His face was kind before it was handsome, and it had a quality to it that made me think he was attractive specifically to me.
My friend happened to know him, and introduced us for what was just a split second. As soon as we left, I said to him – which, to be clear, I had never done before – “can you ask him if he’s single?”
He was, it turned out. My friend told him I was interested.
It was a Tuesday when I got the Facebook friend request. He then sent me a message, and as we began speaking I felt something I hadn’t in months.
There was hope. A hint that my future might look different to the life I was currently living. All that, just from a Facebook message.
And then came the date.
The nerves were overwhelming. It felt like much was at stake. The potential conversations played over and over in my head, until I felt like I might go mad.
But that Saturday night, I got on the train in black jeans and a silk, patterned top. And the moment I saw him, the nervousness dissipated.
He had cut his hair since I’d first seen him. We joked about my forwardness. We talked about our families and our jobs – making them sound infinitely more interesting than they actually were. We dropped in the parts of ourselves we wanted the other to see, carefully storing the unflattering parts away, wondering if they’d emerge as we lay side-by-side at 3am one night.
I’d not felt something like that in years. With his blue eyes, framed by blonde eyelashes, he saw me; a me that was better than the one I knew.
We walked to his house afterwards, and from the corner of my eye I saw how he looked at me. I was an enigma. Something he didn’t see coming. I was interesting. Funny. Maybe even beautiful.