It’s one of my favorite stories to tell. And since it was this glorious month 4 years ago that we first laid on eyes on each other across a crowded room, I thought I’d share with you the most amazing thing that has ever happened to me. Oh, and it wasn’t a crowded room. Actually, it was an empty room. But that’s neither here nor there.
Winter 2006/07 was one of the darkest periods in my life. I have had anxiety and panic attacks since I was 12 years old (that’s another post for another time). In the fall of 2006 I was finishing up my last semester of college and by the time I graduated in December, I was spread so thin I was practically translucent. The pressure of a full credit load combined with losing a dear loved one had me at a breaking point. I moved back to my parent’s home, and while my friends were spreading their wings and becoming grown ups and all that jazz, I was spending my days (and nights) in the rainbow and butterfly warm fuzzy that is panic attacks, shrink appointments, and the heavy sedation of ativan.
By the time the spring of 2007 had come around I was finally myself again, and I was itching to get a job. A job is actually a pretty elusive thing. Well, the full time ones with actual pay and benefits are. I COULD NOT FIND ONE. (It may have had something to do with the fact that my degree was in History. I’m still not sure what someone with a history degree gets a job doing.) Anyhoo, in a last act of desperation, I walking into a local museum and accepted a position as an unpaid intern. Sigh. Thankfully, it turned out to be the most serendipitous situation.
I was hired to be the collections intern, which basically meant that I wore gloves (your hands have destructive oils, fyi) and took pictures of the artifacts. Snoozeville. So every morning I would come into work, sign out the key to the collections room, and escape to my oil-free temperature controlled room for the next 4 hours. I had been working there a couple weeks when I walked into the intern office and was introduced to the new marketing intern. I said hi and walked out, not thinking anything of it. I look back at that moment and wonder how I didn’t know that my future was staring back at me. Apparently Mike did, because after I left, he looked at our boss and said, “who was that blonde goddess that walked through the door?” Actually, what he really said was, “she’s cute. you should really have the two of us work on some projects together.” Suddenly I was taken from my temperature controlled room and brought down to the intern office full time to work on marketing projects with the younger college guy.
I couldn’t stand Mike and first. I couldn’t effing stand him. He was 21 and still in his party boy phase. And he was trying so hard to impress me- waaaayyy too hard. So I set him straight and told him he was. Thinking back, it was actually pretty bitchy of me, but it worked, because once he relaxed and was just himself we became best friends. I got to know the real Mike. The funny, unselfish, compassionate Mike– but I still wasn’t attracted to him.
Mike, bless his heart, tried to confess undying love on more than one occasion, and every time he tried I somehow managed to change the subject. I’m pretty much a conversational wizard. His friends told him that he was doomed to the friend zone forever. But Mike, being the patient man he is, wouldn’t let himself get discouraged and continue to pursue me in the least threatening way he knew how- by being my friend. And it worked.
By the end of the summer, my internship had come to a close and I had accepted a job in Minneapolis, a couple hours away. I figured Mike and I would drift apart with the distance between us. And as much as I didn’t want that to happen, I still knew that I couldn’t make myself feel more than I actually did. But we didn’t grow apart. He would make frequent visits to Minneapolis, on the pretense that he had to visit family. A likely story.
And very gently, something stirred in my heart. Something wonderful and scary and real. One day I was talking with my best friend about my weekend plans. Those plans, of course, included Mike. I was mostly talking to myself in a conversation that went something like this:
“Mike and I are going to do so-and-so and Mike blah blah blah. Mike and I blah blah and then we’ll blah blah blah.”
Pause for breath.
“I miss Mike.”
**insert an eyeroll from Liz here**
“I think I like Mike. I like Mike A LOT.”
To which Liz replied,
“Finally! I know you like Mike. Everyone knows you like Mike. NOW YOU FINALLY KNOW YOU LIKE MIKE.”
And from that moment, I knew that I wanted to spend my life with my best friend. It terrified me. And suddenly I wished he would try to confess undying love again.
And then one day, he did. With the same gentleness that I had come to know and expect from Mike, he asked for my heart. And this time I didn’t try any conversational voodoo. I gave it willingly. And I’ve been happy as a clam ever since.