By David at The Rest Is Still UnwrittenI spoke to her father today, our first encounter of the new year. It's never uncomfortable. He's my attorney for work so I see him on a somewhat regular basis. He helps me compose and signoff on contracts for my business clients. He's a good lawyer, always offering to work pro bono for me. I have to refuse. Everyone needs to make a living. He should be paid for his work. He's a good man, a good husband and a great father. A father to an only child, a daughter who happen to be my first love back in college. He hands me a pen and instructs me to sign here, finalizing a deal. In mid signature swoop, he catches me off guard saying..."You know, she asks about you, how you are, if things are well." I keep vague contact with her these days. So I shouldn't really be surprised by those words. It sounds like polite conversation, friendly concern. For some reason I'm distracted, too distracted to finish my signature. It's hard to pick up where you left off, the signature that is. Or maybe I mean...no, that's not it. I'm over her. I don't just tell myself that. I honestly feel it. I know it to be true.
I glance away from the dotted line in front of me, but I don't make eye contact with him. He's holding down the top edge of the paper for me. I stare at his crisp white shirt complete with silver cuff links. The man is always dressed to kill. I suppose being one of the best lawyers in the country will help one's wardrobe attire. I have mixed emotions to what he just told me. I don't want to send the wrong message when I don't even know what the messages in my head are telling me. I remain emotionless. I'm detached from the idle chit-chat and focused on the reason why I stopped by to see him - for business. I want to remain distant, but not cold. I need to say something. Surely he has noticed me pause. I reply with a simple..."She's doing well too I assume?" I form it like a question. I do hope she is doing well. I do hope she is happy. There are those "I do's" again, haunting me.
My pockets weren't deep that day. The day I invested the better half of the money I had been quietly saving. Earnings from my post college career, my rookie year out in the real world. I was about to make a huge purchase, a shiny diamond ring she was sure to adore. A clear stone I could look into and see myself taking the plunge, holding her hand by my side. A diamond free of any imperfections, the same way I saw her. Mounted on a perfect unbroken circle of platinum, that without doubt, would please Daddy's little girl. I don't want to reiterate exactly what happened that day. I don't want to go into long explanations and give vivid details of what unfolded. Let's just assume a few safe facts. I asked his permission for her hand. He said yes. Then I never got on one knee to take her hand, the very hand that held the answer to the most important question of my life. I never got an answer because I never proposed the question.
I came prepared with ring in pocket, trying to conceal the nervous beads of sweat mounting on my forehead and filling my palms. I was so rattled that as I practiced my speech in the mirror, my voice cracked and my hands trembled. I don't think women truly understand how nerve racking it can be for a man. Even the most confidant have broke under the surmounting pressure. Pressure that if you don't get the words out right, that she will forever remember it. Truthfully retelling the tale to her friends and family will shatter that romantic vision she has built-up in her head since age 8. I couldn't let that happen. I wouldn't let that happen. I made certain of it by even jotting in "kneel now" and "pull out ring" in-between the lines I had written. A short speech that only a fool like me could fumble. Words to be heard by her ears alone. I only planned on doing it once. So I wanted to do it right. I didn't want to read it. I wanted to recite it...literally from my heart.
Looking straight into the future. A future I had already begun planning. One filled with goals and ambitions that I was anxious to share. Share with her. I was ready to close that dating chapter and begin on a new page. Unfortunately she was on a different page, or maybe reading an entirely different book. She wanted to travel. She wanted to set aside her fresh college degree and not slip on a shiny ring, but hop on a shiny plane. Not to get away, but to move around and continue moving. Experience life. A life that didn't have wedding bells in the near future. She didn't need my permission to do that, even though she asked for it. What was I to say? I want her to do what's in her heart. To follow her heart wherever it takes her, even if it's oceans from me. She assured me that she didn't want to breakup. That her heart loved me very much, but traveling was something she wanted to do. Traveling was in her heart too. She was a pre-law student. She put off taking the bar so she could spend a few years traveling for her new job. She was more interested in "finding herself" than finding out what was inside that little velvet box and what was written on the crumbled paper I stuffed into my jacket. It's ok. I don't find fault in her. These days, I don't hurt about it. I'm over it. I may wonder what could have been. Perhaps she wonders what should have been? I don't know. I don't want to know. It's better not to know sometimes.
I finish signing my name, just as her father asks me a leading question. Lawyers do that sometimes. He asks..."Do you think she made a mistake?" He continues on to say..."I feel she made a mistake. She's sees you with your niece. I know she wonders if she should have done things differently. It's not my business, but for the record, you never needed my permission. You always had my blessing." I wasn't going to respond to that. I just smiled and said thank you. Then shook his hand and left. Our deal was now officially closed. The "deal" I had with his daughter, it never really opened. I've permitted myself to move on, long ago. I realize everything in life happens for a reason, even if the lesson is unclear, it's still taught.