In the sixth grade production of Oliver, I played Nancy the ragamuffin lady friend of Bill Sikes. I wore a blue shmata of a dress and grey jelly shoes. As I stood on the side of the stage waiting for my cue to enter, I suddenly got ridiculously nervous. My palms were sweaty. My stomach was knotted. I seriously wanted to vomit. Flash forward twenty-two years to this past Thursday and I was suddenly dealing with the same symptoms.
Arriving a few minutes prior to Mr. Perfect, I settled in on a sofa in the lounge, ordered a glass of Pinot Gris and plucked a New Yorker from my bag. I was halfway through an article about Google and the digital library craze when I felt someone else’s presence. I looked up and there he was. I’m sure I stumbled a little as I got to my feet. My skirt was twisted. My boot was caught on the hem. As I straightened myself out, my eyes met with his. I’m pretty sure I looked away so I could catch my breath.
There are details to the next few hours. That in the middle of our first conversation, as I spoke about something inane, he leaned forward and kissed me. That sometime after the first course but before the second, as I sipped some sparkling wine in between smiles, he stretched his leg under the table simply so it was touching mine. That I rested my chest against his back and wrapped my arms around his waist as we stood in the darkness of his room, the river illuminated in the near distance. That as I curled up against him and rested my head on his chest, it felt like home. Comfortable. Oddly familiar. Safe.
“I should probably head out,” I said as I started to rustle myself to an upright position.
“To catch the train,” he replied in that soft voice of his.
“Yup. Plus, I have another guy down on the sixth floor I’ve gotta service before returning to Philly.”
He laughed. The kind of laugh that understood my humor. Not the kind that’s nervous and uncertain. He walked me to the entrance of the room, slightly opened the door and kissed me. A gentle, soft caress of his lips against mine. I pushed the door closed and kissed him again. Still gentle but filled with more want.
And with that I dashed to the lobby, to the curb, to the cab, to the train station. With plenty of time to spare, I sat down on a chair in the waiting area and let out a slow breath. A sigh laced with silly girl bliss. Lacking both the focus and energy to read, I sat patiently and quietly. All of those feelings from before, the sweaty palms, the nervous knots, the urge to throw up, were gone. Replaced now by a simple calmness.
Unsure of how much time had passed, I reached for my phone. There was a message. Sweet dreams, it said. The corners of my mouth curled to a smile, my happiness only interrupted by the announcement of the train’s departure. I folded up the phone, tucked it in my pocket and headed out to the platform. A winter chill pushed past as I made my way forward. People shuffled in search of a resting spot. I scooted in against a window, rested my bag by my feet and took a seat. I read the message one more time as the train pulled away from the station. Then I closed my eyes. Sweet dreams indeed.