My turn into adulthood was less than climactic, and I was not happy about it. I had been entirely alone. Not a friend or a family member or a significant other to be seen. Like I’ve always said, B, my parents relationship made me wary, but it hadn’t scared me away from people, and definitely hadn’t scared me away from wanting a functional relationship. I was just going to be more careful about it than Mama had.
Moreover, thus far in my life, I hadn’t found anyone that I really liked enough. They’d all just kind of been there, like groupies and admirers. Friends, sure, but no one that I really wanted to hang out with one-on-one. They were far better as part of a group, at a club or in a bar.
Candy, despite the fact that she had missed my birthday, was my best friend. It wasn’t her fault that I’d forgotten, after all. And, when I texted her the next day that it had been my birthday (very casual-like, a simple “thanks for hanging with me on my birthday” text), she had been extremely apologetic that she had missed it. I could imagine the mournful frown that would turn down the corner of her eyes, followed by the bright smile and bashful shrug that surely graced her face and shoulders when I told her that it was alright, that she was amazing.
She was enchanting, B. That’s all there was to it. It took me days to even realize that that was what I was feeling—that I was enchanted, and not just wrapped up in having a best friend again…
When my mother and father had been around, the need for a life partner had not seemed imminent. But now that I was alone… I really didn’t like it. I needed someone. And I wanted Candy.
But it had to be approached carefully.
One morning a few days after my birthday, I went through my routine as I always did.
Then I went downstairs, sat at the kitchen table and, very casually, called up Candy.
Janie: “Hey friend. Would you like to hang out with me today, as a friend? And do, you know, friend stuff?”
Candy: “Um, sure, friend. But is everything okay? You sound… off.”
Janie: “Yeah everything’s great k bye!”
I hung up quickly. Then I patted myself on the back. Smooth, Janie. Great job. A performance worthy of the mature adult that you are.
Then, I panicked. Oh, by the Creator, she’s coming over. Coming here.
Should I change? What should I put on? Should I make food? What if she was hungry?
I quickly checked the fridge. Nothing but a bit of slimy salad, stuck to the bottom of the bowl.
Janie: “I’ll make something!”
My voice was a bit higher than usual.
Janie: “Gotta be fast. Gotta be fast fast fast.”
But, before I could even pull out a bowl, I heard a knock on the door.
Janie: “Hey, friend. So good to see you! You got here fast!”
Candy: “Uh, yeah… I live just down the street, you know that. Are… are you okay?”
I took a deep breath. Settle down, Janie.
Janie: “Yeah, I’m good. Sorry, just had a lot of coffee this morning.”
Good, Janie. That was believable.
Candy: “How have you been?”
Janie: “Good. Really good. I’ve been playing violin more-it’s really been helping me stay sane, you know?”
Candy: “Good. That’s good.”
We chatted for a while, just standing on my porch. We settled so quickly into comfortable conversation, it was hardly even noticeable that we hadn’t moved from the place where she had knocked on the door.
Lost in the flow of the conversation, I wasn’t watching what came out of my mouth.
Janie: “You look beautiful today.”
Candy: *blushes* “Thanks. You-you look pretty gorgeous yourself.”
There was that blush, that bashful shrug. By the Creator, how had I not noticed how enchanting she was before now?
I didn’t let the conversation get awkward. I wouldn’t allow that. Instead, I sat down on the bench, and Candy followed suit, and we continued our previous conversation about the best violinists.
Janie: “It’s totally Lindsey Stirling! Have you seen her perform? She’s an artist!”
Candy: “You’re insane! Obviously it’s David Garret! He’s so much more talented!”
Janie: “Come inside?”
Once Candy was in my house, it solidified my knowledge that I never wanted her to leave. She seemed like she belonged here, and it seemed she felt it too. One of the first things she did, after all, was to take out my trash.
Candy: “Can I grab this for you?”
Janie: “Oh, you don’t have to!”
Candy: “I know, I just like to be helpful.”
What a doll.
When she came back inside, I couldn’t resist.
Janie: “Thanks, doll.”
She blushed so bright, it looked like she’d overpainted her cheeks with rouge.
And then, before I lost the nerve, I pulled a rose out of the arrangement on the table.
Candy: “You wanna get out of here? Maybe go to Break Down?”
I acquiesced. We were starting to get flirty, after all, and in front of the door in my living room wasn’t the most romantic place to be. But, Break Down was like our place. Not to mention it was beautiful, overlooking the main square of Windenburg. There was hardly a more romantic place that I could imagine.
Janie: “So, I know I’ve been kinda weird today.”
Candy: “Yeah. But that’s okay. I haven’t minded. It’s a good weird.”
I sounded more confident than I felt (I hope, at least).
Janie: “Cause it’s not because of the coffee. It’s because I’ve been wanting to do this all day.”
I leaned in.
I couldn’t imagine a better first kiss.
Candy had work that afternoon, so we had to leave Break Down earlier than I would have liked. But I went home with a wide smile. I couldn’t stop smiling, actually. You know, I had never been interested in someone before. And now that I had found someone who I thought was worthy of me… they liked me too! This wasn’t like my mother and father’s relationship at all. We weren’t rushing into things. We had started out as friends—as the best of friends—and she seemed to like me as well! I could see this lasting far into the future. I just had to continue to be careful. To take it slow.
I resolved that I would call Candy the day after tomorrow. I didn’t want to seem too eager, after all. I wanted to be cool. Calm and collected. That way, I would avoid getting attached too soon, avoid getting caught up in the romance the way my mother had (of course, it helped that we were both ladies. There would be no surprise pregnancies here).
Candy, it seemed, had another idea.
Sometime between eleven and midnight, when I was getting ready for bed, Candy called me up.
Candy: “Hey, I just got out of work. I was hoping you’d wanna go on a date with me tonight.”
Janie: “Oh! Oh, umm-“
She quickly backtracked.
Candy: “It’s fine if you don’t. I just, today went so well, and it seemed we were getting on, so I thought…”
Janie: “No, no! I would love to! I’ll just need a few minutes to get ready.”
She didn’t tell me where we were going before hand.
Janie: “Are you sure about this, Candy? You know I haven’t been in a club since… the incident.”
Candy: “Yeah, but this is different, Janie. Then, you were alone. Now you’re here with me.”
I’m not sure what, exactly, that was supposed to change. I’d been with people—lots of people, in fact—at clubs before. But the words made in impact, somewhere inside of me. Then, I was alone. Now, I was here with her.
Screw being cautious. Screw being careful. She was here with me, right now. And I wasn’t going to let her escape because of being too tentative.
Candy: “This okay?”
Janie: “By the Creator, yes.”
We WooHooed in a closet. We WooHooed in a closet. It would have been ironic, if we had been trying to hide our romance.
Instead, we proudly strutted back out the dance floor, all wide smiles and flushed faces. We danced the night away.
I couldn’t remember ever being happier.