I couldn’t help but grill Bonnie with questions. She had insider information about Mike, after all.
“He’s not some kind of crazy ax murderer, is he?” I asked, continuing the theme I’d started with Mike the night before. It was the only way I could express what should have been misgivings with my immediate comfort towards someone who was practically a stranger. I was more inclined to just trust my instincts–which were telling me to just go with the flow of this whole thing–than listen to the voice of caution–which sounded suspiciously like my mom–in the back of my head.
Bonnie chuckled, amusement in her voice when she answered. “As far as I know, all of his ex-girlfriends have survived the experience.”
“So should I go on this trip?” I asked.
“I think you’ll have fun.”
I knew I’d have fun. That wasn’t the question. But was I really willing to leave the country with a guy I barely knew? Of course, by August, I’d undoubtedly know him better. But would we last that long? Oh, how I hoped we’d last that long. There was no reason we wouldn’t last that long. Or so it felt. Maybe it was just my hormones talking. Still, there was something very special about this man. More special than I’d ever known. Who had ever made such bold moves with me? Was it our age difference? Was I simply not used to the progression of dating in the adult world? Whatever it was, I was breathlessly swept away by the romantic quality of it all.
Mike called me once that day to prod me to give him an answer about the trip. We exchanged a few email messages. Things started to roll along as if I’d already accepted. I just had to turn in a vacation request. And then tell my mom. Ugh. It was all too much. In the end, however, Mike was always a good salesman.
Date: June 10, 1998 12:15PM
From: Heidi E (Work)
To: Mike F (Work)
Subj: Request Submitted
Okay, after putzing around all morning, nervously trying to convince myself to back out, then relaxing myself, then telling myself “NO YOUR MOTHER IS NOT GOING TO KILL YOU,” then making a few snide remarks to Bonnie about whether or not you were a mass murderer, I FINALLY submitted my request to my boss, and it really didnt seem like it was that big of a problem to her. Good… so I probably have it, but you still have to hold your breath until the paper is signed (We’re like a military operation in here).
Next mission: to make this sound like nothing to my mom… I’m probably getting all nervous for nothing…. (she might only grumble something about “Looks like you are getting exclusive w/ your dating again.” [she doesnt like it when I date one person at a time, rather than 50 at once… but nevermind that… ])
Well, I’ll “give you a ring later” (after my mother abuses my ears with shouting and/or my body with physicallity ;)
I was such a kid back then. I wonder, sometimes, how Mike had patience for me. We lived in two separate worlds, practically, in those days. Though he was only six and a half years older than me, these years often seemed a bigger gap than they should have. Maybe it took me a longer time than most to mature. I felt very young back then; when I look back at that time, I realize I was even younger than I felt. I’m not sure I’d have much patience for me, or someone like me for that matter. Years later, in a small discussion group affiliated with my church, I would meet a girl about my age back then and I’d see the younger version of myself reflected in her as she talked about her problems understanding and communicating with her parents. I’d remember what it felt like to be that young, to be trying so hard to assert myself as an adult in the world, when I still felt more like something in between teenage and “grown up.” It wouldn’t give me the patience always to listen to her complaints; however, I would understand where she was coming from, at the same time understanding what everyone else dealing with me must have felt. The duality of adulthood, maturity. May the Universe favor everyone who had to put up with me back then. I know I wasn’t easy.
Anyway, the die was cast and I would be going to the Virgin Islands later that summer with Mike and his married friends, Mike and Betty. But there was still almost an entire summer to live between then and where I was that day in June.