Michael and I like to say that our spirits met, before we were born, before we were us, and that we’ve always known each other. As a small child, I had an imaginary friend that lived in my closet. His name was Michael. My mother likes to tell this story, and completely subscribes to our theory.
Even such, Michael was born one year and one month after me. And we grew up just two towns apart. There were many instances where our paths might have crossed. Walking through the crowds of the Marshfield Fairs of our childhood. At an internship that only one of us was offered. Chance encounters in downtown Plymouth.
But it took a quarter of a century, and two new friends, and chocolate to bring us together.
Michael needed to run away to Florida, and return home, and find his own, true, new life on Cape Cod. I needed to go to school, and go home, and work, and go to school again.
And when we were ready, or nearly ready, as the case might have been, we each befriended a couple that had only just moved to the South Shore. And we each were invited to a party at their house. And we each had to decide to go. And we each had to eat some chocolate and meet and talk.
I was in the homestretch of finishing my Master’s in library science. I worked in the Children’s Room at my hometown public library. He was working at a local TV station and struggling to let his artistry rise to the surface of his life.
Michael likes to tell the story of him trying to flirt with me that first night at Dena and Chris’s apartment. He likes the part where he showed me the case on his iPhone, depicting Shel Silverstein’s seminal work “The Giving Tree.” He loves the part where I mistakenly shot him down, saying “You picked the wrong librarian to show that to, I’ve never liked that book.”
I like the part where we both stayed longer than we had planned to. And when it was midnight, and finally time to make moves, we each were secretly trying to time our exits right so we would walk out together. But I couldn’t drag the task of putting my coat on long enough, and left before him. And we each went home.
I had never experienced a crush quite like this one before. When the opportunity came up to have dinner with him and our mutual friends, I nearly had a giggle-induced panic attack at work. I felt like a girl for possibly the first time. When it was time to part ways, again, and he turned to me in the passenger seat of his car and asked, “Would you mind if we just drove around for a little bit?”
And together on New Year’s Eve, our first, when I turned to him at midnight, and said, tipsy on wine, “Merry Christmas,” as we hugged.
And when things felt fast and overwhelming and terrifying and we decided to keep on being friends, in spite of it all.
And when summer came and we spent our days walking through the woods, and swimming in the ocean, and biking all over Pocasset, and toasting marshmallows into the night, and walking all over Monument Beach after everyone else had gone to bed.
And in the end, we were sitting in canal traffic, on our way to swim at Humarock, when Michael turned my Claddagh ring around, and all of a sudden we were us.