Walking across the parking lot toward the bus where I was going to meet Tracey was the longest walk of my life. If I were a movie maker, I could have made at least a dozen different movies showing the different emotions and thoughts I had along the way. To say I was nervous is an understatement. Butterflies? Bats? Bigger than that! More like condors flapping around in my stomach. I felt like I was going to puke. (Sorry, I know that’s gross, but it’s true nontheless.) I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited, so scared, as I was walking toward that bus. I’d like to tell you I was overwhelmed with confidence and positive thoughts, but I’d be lying. I kept telling myself that it was going to be okay, that it was going to work out, that we would meet and it wouldn’t be awkward. We would see each other, and it would be just wonderful. While I was thinking these thoughts, I had to keep banishing the ones coming inbetween.
I told myself it wasn’t too late. I could always high tail it and run. I could go back to the van, and beg Dad to take me away (By the way my Dad would never have done that). I doubted my sanity, my intelligence, my courage, my faith. I lashed myself with all the failures of my past. How could I even consider asking another woman to be a part of my life? How in the world could I have done it this way? Here I was meeting a woman for the first time that I had never ever seen, and didn’t have a clue what she looked like.
I thought of a million reasons to turn and run, to do anything other than what I was doing, and yet I kept walking toward the bus that had just pulled up. I walked toward the gate Tracey would come through with a boquet of flowers in my hand, and hope in my heart. As I mentioned I had all kinds of reasons for not going forward to meet her, and yet I walked on, and reached the gate she was going to come through just as the door of the bus opened.
People began to get off, and here I stood waiting for Tracey. I can’t imagine how I must have looked to people as I stood there waiting for her. I can’t remember if I thought of the flowers at the last minute or not. I’d like to think that I thought of them way before hand, but in truth I don’t know if I did or not. I only know that I had the flowers with me ready to give her should she show. Yes, the thought did cross my mind that this was just a terrible prank being played on me by some scam artist on the internet, but I had put the thought away bound and determined to see it through. I figured if she didn’t show it would be no less than I deserved. So there I stood feeling more than a little stupid, as the question “Is that her” kept repeating itself in my mind with the appearance of each woman that came off the bus.
I know it couldn’t have been more than maybe ten or fifteen minutes but it seemed like it took hours for people to get off. With each woman that got off, I’d look intently at her, trying to make eye contact, with-what I’m sure was-a ridiculous smile on my face. Since I have the nervous habit of shifting my weight from one foot to the other, I’m fairly sure that I looked exactly how I felt. I knew that she had the advantage. I was the only one standing at the gate. I don’t mean the only man standing with a bunch of flowers in my hand. I mean I was the only one at the gate, so I was pretty sure she knew who I was, but I had no idea who she was. She could take a good long look at me and if she decided she didn’t like what she saw she could just walk right by me and I’d never know. So not only was I asking myself “Is she the one” as each woman passed, but I was also thinking “maybe that was her and she didn’t like what she saw.”
I kept running the gamut of emotions as each woman came off the bus. Looking for some tell-tale sign. Any kind of smile, a quick glance, a frown, a snort of disgust, a shriek in panic, anything to give me an indication that this was the woman I was supposed to meet. Here I was standing in front of this bus watching people disembark, shifting from one foot to the other, smiling insanely (how you smile insanely I don’t know, but I felt sure I was), staring so hard at people I felt as if I could look right through them, and alternately holding the flowers at waist level, then in front of my face peeking around them like I was standing behind a tree. I don’t know when it was I realized that I was playing looky loo through the flowers, but when it dawned on me that I was doing so I was really embarrassed and beet red (I turn red when embarrassed or angry so there’s never any hiding what I feel from anyone).
Suddenly, this black woman steps off the bus, looks directly at me, gives me this great big smile, and starts walking toward me with her arms open as if to embrace me. I’m stunned, frozen, can’t move. I want to move toward her. Tell myself that I have to. Command my feet to move, but I can’t. At this moment I’m absolutely terrified, and having a real moment. “But this can’t,” I tell myself. “This can’t be Tracey. It doesn’t feel right. Something’s wrong.” Suddenly I realize I’m faced with something I hadn’t really allowed myself to consider. I thought I had. Somehow, during all our hours together talking over the internet, I had formed a picture of Tracey in my mind; an impression had begun to grow; it was almost as if I could feel her, as if I knew her as I did myself, and this woman walking toward me wasn’t . . . .her. At that second had there been a hole I could have crawled into I would have. How was I going to face her? What was I going to say? How could I tell this woman approaching me that she didn’t fit the image I had of her.
I started to move toward her, then suddenly she waves at me, and veers away walking off in the opposite direction. I’m so stunned to see her walking away from me that I don’t know what to do or think, then from behind me I hear this lovely female voice say, “Hi Wayne.” I turned around to see a tall redhead standing there with the biggest grin on her face, and a big black duffle bag slung over her shoulder. “Are those for me,” she asked. Just as I knew almost instantly that the woman who had approached me earlier couldn’t be Tracey, I knew that this woman was. How? I can’t tell you except that I knew. It took me a minute to switch on, then I said, “who else would they be for?”
“You’re sweet,” she said, drops the bag and gives me the biggest, most fierce hug I’ve ever had in my life, and that was how me and Tracey met, but it was just the beginning.