We stood in line for the potluck, him just ahead of me by a few inches so we could talk without having to shout. Lots of family members and others were in the room, shouting, running, and doing all of the crazy things families do when there are too many people in a confined space. It was a large cafeteria room, yet the voices still echoed around. But I don’t really remember what any of them were saying. I just remember that every once in a while, standing in that line, our shoulders bumped into one another and neither of us moved away.
He went through quickly, choosing scoop from almost every plate. I thought about how simple that was, and almost brave. Okay, I was definitely overthinking what potluck choices meant for him. I walked through, only choosing from two of the plates, because they were favorites, and then doubled back to fill in. I could see him waiting at the end, laughing at me as I shimmied in between others in line to get something from the beginning. Somehow I took twice as long and ended up with less food. I noticed later on that even the plate he had picked (a red basket) was better than mine (a white plate). How did he “win” at potluck?
This gathering was a potluck meal, and a show of some sorts, so there was a stage area in the front. I hadn’t been part of the planning or production, so I had no real idea what was coming. There were blankets spread out throughout the room for us to sit on. Since we would be on the ground, that would give the performers more room, and kids height to see and be seen in the audience. Much like all the conversation around the line, I don’t really remember much of the show. There were dances and lots of colors. Maybe some pieces of fabric swished through the air. It was a family performance. They are fun, but not really memorable.
Instead we talked between scenes about nothing really. I admitted that he had done better at the potluck than I had, and that maybe he could help me next time. There was a pleasant silent pause, and smiles, as we both realized I had said “next time” and this first date wasn’t even finished yet. The conversation continued without comment because there didn’t need to be. Later on, as we sat and watched the show, a few of the fingers on his left hand covered a few on my right. Again there were no words, and no efforts to change a thing. I’m pretty sure I blushed, but he either didn’t notice or was good enough to pretend he didn’t.
After the performance ended and the plates were taken back to the kitchen, I walked him out toward his car. Since I hadn’t helped with any prep for the night, I had to stick around for clean-up. It was cold outside so we said goodbye in the hallway, around the corner and out of sight of those still in the cafeteria, but not quite to the outside doors. He leaned down and kissed my forehead, and then started to head out. He promised to text me later, and I believed him, which was an amazing feeling. All of it was an amazing feeling. I had questions I wanted to ask him, about important issues and those things that seem to cause so much trouble in Hallmark and Lifetime movies. But he would text me later and there was going to be a “next time” so we could deal with those then. For now I turned back toward the large room to help.
The prompts for this art project come from a list that was created with the visual rather than written art in mind. That means some prompts, like “Caricature of Yourself” make a lot of sense regarding a painting, drawing, or sculpture, but less for an essay or story. I write about myself a lot in this blog and wondered what piece of me to intentionally describe for this week.
Then I was gifted with a lovely dream. Yes, I am sad to share that the entire story above was based on a dream rather than a lived experience. The reason I share it was because when I woke up the next morning, and realized it had been a dream rather than a reality, at first I was bummed that this date had not really occurred. Then I was happy because it was me in the dream. The real me. The curvy, weird, shy (unless I’m teaching), hopeless romantic, innocently naive, can’t-not-help me. Not some idealized dream version with Rapunzelesque long hair, Broadway singing voice, Kara Goucher speed, and other impossible combinations.
Like most women, I have a hard enough time during my waking hours building and retaining a positive self-image. So its a nice gift when my sleeping hours help out. Because that great (but not perfect) dream guy liked the great (and definitely not perfect) real me.
#52sparks is my year-long writing series based on an art prompt challenge. The title is inspired by a quote from Star Wars: The Last Jedi: “We are the spark, that will light the fire that’ll burn the First Order down” (Poe Dameron). The spark that lights a fire to toast a marshmallow or to ravage a forest begins in the space of an inch. So just imagine what hundreds of inches and words can do.