Open heart surgery
Without any warning
Stumbling around with
Guts hanging out
(Can you see this picture? We were never full of cotton or feathers
or some kind of poly-fiber stuffing.)
Swinging about with threads
Of pink, and red, and blue
Yet I have this yellow one
I would use
To sew your heart for you.
A goldenrod middle C
Hertz level to help the hurt levels
Tailoring the hem of these moments
To not drag through past transgressions
Brought about by broken people
Doing broken things
Stumbling like myself on those outside stairs
When you saw how I could dance dance dance only a few hours ago.
It was said,
“You are the last thing I needed and the very thing I needed all at once.”
That is still true.
Complex the complexion becomes
With all this talk of jam and jelly
Writing words in a book
On a table
In The Small Market on Hosea Williams
The light coming through at a just-so angle
Enough to highlight the blue in your eyes
To pull out the strength I see there
(yet you say you are not strong
You are, my darling, you are.)
Fourteen thousand conversations at least
Bated breath waiting to have
But never enough time
to do tosaytoplaytowritetomaketogotoseetolovetohold
This is what I know --
A goldenrod thread
In the needle
Cross my heart
Wherever these times together take us
You are a marmalade man, an enigma,
You are a midnight-blue treasure
Trove of redemption and
If the prize was you
I would buy at least a million raffle tickets
Redeem them all for the chance
To spend another evening tall boy drinking dancing to the blues.
-- Midnight Blue Marmalade Man by Meghan Quinn (that would be moi, by the by. My maiden name is Quinn.)
I think it was a conversation with my sister, Erin, in the Spring of 2016 that convinced me to sign up for OK Cupid, but honestly I can't remember. She had been sharing some horror stories of "men" who were contacting her on the OK Cupid app; they were so awkwardly bad and yet simultaneously hilarious I decided to jump on there kinda out of solidarity and kinda out of curiosity. I had resigned myself to the fact that, indeed, love alone was not going to save my marriage. Erin told me that, too. "You need to get over him, Meg. He has moved on, you need to as well." That was a hard thing to hear. If any of you know me at all and my story, you know that the end of my marriage to Zack Arias was truly one of the most devastating times of my life. I loved that man so so much and the fact that it was not returned, the fact that the year before he had already found someone else he liked better, was a blow I thought I would never recover from.
I summoned my inner Bob and told myself, "Baby steps, Meg. Baby steps."
Wading through the craziness of online dating is not for the faint of heart. However, through all of the detritus, I was lucky in that I met a few gentlemen who seemed nice enough, went on a few dates, but nothing sparked really. Mostly I was going through what Erin was going through which was an inundation of men messaging me who obviously had nothing in common with me and hadn't read anything about me at all. I did my due diligence when my profile was "liked" by another by visiting their profile. This was usually disappointing and resulted in me reaching for a bottle of wine.
July 29, 2016. I had just finished reading the profile of a man who had liked my profile. Despite the fact that that he lived in Woodstock, GA and despite the fact that I wasn't too sure what he looked like (his profile picture was of him playing the drums and looking down and another picture was terribly dark and hard to make out) I appreciated his use of the English language and the fact that he seemed to possess intelligence and wit even in his description of himself. Double points went to him as well for not sending me a marriage proposal, a dick pic, or some sort of monosyllabic greeting along the lines of, " 'Sup" or "Hey" or "UR pretty". So, I clicked the little star next to his user name and liked his profile back.
"You like each other!" OK Cupid told me.
Great, I thought, we like each other.
So a day later I wrote him a little note:
"We like each other. So says this app. So. Let this be the first contact."
A day later he replied,
"I shall. This provides a convenient segue to this being second contact. As the respondent I somehow feel as though the weight of substance is on me. Must write something quality. Have I yet? Sorry I was distracted by thinking of something. Besides we all know man was created in god's image which is why god is so fucked up."
(In that last sentence he was referring to something I had written in my profile about religion)
This is promising, I thought. I wrote back,
"And now this is the third contact. I am still mulling over your last sentence. It makes sense and then it doesn't. Do you mind elaborating?"
"There is something altogether disturbing how, if we were created in god's image, every portrayal of god is so man-like. The statement that god created us in his image almost seems to go both ways, i.e we say we are of his likeness in order to justify him being of our likeness. By doing so we are able to sanction and/or justify mutually agreed-upon goodness as god-like and the opposite of an entirely different ilk. Enter Satan. But that is for further discussion. The outcome (in my speculative opinion, of course) is that god must therefore be arbitrary, fickle and subject to the aegis of the moral majority. This the best I can do in informal writing. I'm much better at connecting the dots in conversation."
Jibbers Crabst I'm actually having a decent message exchange with a man on OK Cupid. My interest was more than piqued at this point.
"I am much better at connecting dots in conversation as well. At least on topics like this. Your explanation was quite good, actually. For the record I am quite good at connect-the-dots as well and am quite the daredevil in that I use an ink PEN. ;-) So...Woodstock, hey? I live in Atlanta -- in Kirkwood to be precise. I think I was in Woodstock once. Do you ever come into the city?"
"When given reason, yes. I saw Swans at Terminal West little bit ago, braved IKEA, etc. I used to live in Home Park area and Cabbagetown before that. Once I lived in a loft apartment on Mitchell St across from the juvie building and the GA Dome. I haven't been around the city much since I moved back 2 years ago. Kirkwood is west of the city, right? Near Ormewood?"
"It's actually east in between EAV and Decatur."
"Ah. That's an area I have little experience in. Went to downtown Decatur a few times to see shows at Eddie's Attic but that's about it. Unless that's not Decatur in which case I'm totally lost. I believe I have seen a band or two at the Earl also. My time in the city is a little blurred unfortunately and it's been almost 10 years."
The fact that he lived in Woodstock did not deter me. I sensed something special in this man. Did I know what he looked like? Nope. Did I care? Not really. My gut was telling me to follow up on this. There is something here, my gut said. I agree wholeheartedly, my brain said. Well, since we're all in agreement I told myself, I'm going to ask him out.
"Would you like to remedy that? Meet me for drinks?"
He replied that he would be delighted to and after some back and forth logisticating we settled on meeting at Johnnie McCracken's in Marietta Square on August 9th at 8:30pm. He said his name was Philip. I told him my name was Meg. We exchanged phone numbers.
"See you then," he wrote. And then, about an hour later he wrote, "Happy emoji."
The evening of August 9th I think I tried on about 17 different outfits.
Okay. Maybe more like 6. I don't even have enough clothes to make 17 different outfits.
Okay. Maybe I have enough clothes to make 17 different outfits but they'd be comprised mostly of ratty ol' t-shirts and pajama pants.
THE POINT IS I WAS NERVOUS.
I met Philip before I realized I had met Philip. When we met I thought his name was Ryan.
Let me 'splain.
I was driving around looking for parking and messaged Philip to say so. He replied to say that there was parking behind Johnnie McCracken's which is where I happened to be parking at that exact moment.
"Great! I'm already here and parking!" I replied.
I got out of my car and saw that there was one of those old parking stations with the little slots where one is supposed to stuff cash in according to the number where one's car was parked. I didn't have cash.
"You don't have to pay for parking after 6pm," I heard a voice say to my left.
I looked over and saw a handsome man with glasses standing there with a PBR in his hand. Black t-shirt with Buddha playing a guitar on the front. Jeans. Converse. Cute. I really hope this is Philip, I thought to myself. I smiled brightly, extended my hand and said,
"Hi! I'm Meg! Are you Philip?"
He took my hand and said -- well, let me clarify -- I thought he said, "No, I'm Ryan..." at which point I kind of tuned out and went back to my car to get my purse. I needed to reserve all of my energy on the person I was there to meet, not some guy named Ryan helping out women with their parking woes in the back parking lot of Johnnie McCracken's.
"Well, thanks so much for your help! I appreciate you letting me know about the parking."
I began to walk towards the pub thinking that any minute this man would veer off and join whatever he group of people or person he was there with. I thought perhaps he had been in the back patio area, saw me staring at the parking thingy, and thought to help.
He followed me up the stairs and inside. I turned and thanked him again for his help and began scouring the bar for Philip. I wasn't sure what he looked like. Would he recognize me?
Ryan stood next to me for a bit while I looked around, trying to ignore him, and then he said,
"Um. There's an area up front that's more of a dining area if you'd like to sit there or I've been hanging out in this little room on the couch. Where would you like to sit?"
It hit me then.
This was not Ryan. This was Philip. I had been acting aloof and had donned my polite-with-strangers-but-have-no-intention-of-making-conversation-Meghan persona. This was the wrong persona.
I quickly tried to rescue the situation.
"'Cause you're Philip, right?"
He looked confused.
"HAHA! I knew that. I was just kidding. I have to pee."
I took off for the bathroom where I did not pee, I just stood in front of the mirror and grimaced at myself and said, "How did you miss that? Great way to start things, Meg. REALLY GREAT."
I walked out and sat down on the opposite end of the couch where Philip was sitting and began the arduous process of making small talk. That very quickly turned into not small talk. He made an Eddie Izzard reference. I fired one back. Our eyebrows raised. We moved closer together on the couch. We found out that we both attended all kinds of shows at Miracle Theater and shows at The Strand in the 90s and that we knew a lot of the same people. We had been standing next to each other at Prayer Chain and Violet Burning and Sunny Day Real Estate shows for our teenage years and yet had never met.
"I do hope you don't think me too presumptuous, but would you be interested in coming back to my place to continue talking?"
I didn't think that was presumptuous at all. I followed him home. We hung out for a bit and then he suggested that we jam. He jumped on the drums and I grabbed a guitar and we played and I sang and I just reveled in the fact that I was having a blast playing music with this man I just met but felt like I had known for forever.
I left around 3am. He kissed me goodbye. It was a really good kiss. A gentleman's kiss. Do you know what I mean? I felt...safe. Concerned for. Seen.
It would be two nights later, when we were hanging out again, that we connected the dots on how I messed up our introduction.
"I thought you said your name was Ryan!"
"OH. That makes so much more sense now!" Philip laughed.
"What did you say?"
"I said, 'No, I'm just a random man offering unsolicited parking advice to a lady in a parking lot."
Which, now that I know Philip the way that I do, makes me laugh even more because it makes perfect sense that he would respond in such a dry humor sort of a way.
He wrote me a song. He wrote me words that actually said something. I mentioned him indirectly in this blog post.
Why am I writing this?
Because we've known each other now for one year and two days. We've been pretty much inseparable ever since. Because the moment I let go of something that I didn't need to hold onto anymore my heart was able to heal, and in the healing I was open and able to receive a gift in this man that I cannot quantify. There aren't words. The next chapter of my life started the day I met Philip, or maybe the next book of my life. His voice is midnight blue in my head and he is sweet and bitter and yummy and unexpected.
There is so much more I could write about his strength and kindness and sense of humor and intelligence and talent and way of looking at the world. So much I could say about how well he loves me and my boys. He is a treasure. He is a gift.
So. That's all for now, I guess. I wanted to mark this time.
Life is very hard and very good all at the same time. Sometimes the things in your life you would have never ever chosen for yourself end up being the best things to ever happen to you.
Can you relate?
P.S. Erin will most likely kill me when she reads this but -- If you happen to be someone who has the balls to be in a relationship with a kick-ass single mom of four kids, who is funny and beautiful and quirky and smart and tough as nails, and who is my sister, Erin, let me know. She has had the WORST luck finding someone worth her time. Oh, and you must love Jesus. She is a very dedicated Christian. But seriously -- she's a lot like me only way prettier and in possession of some crazy strong willpower. Erin sees a cookie? Meh. Probably has gluten and dairy in it and I don't need it, she says to herself. Meg sees a cookie? OOOOOH. COOKIES. I EAT COOKIES. I PUT COOKIE IN MOUF AND GOBBLE IT ALL UP.