My friends were very good about not making me feel like the spare tire, a tag along, the extra player on the field who wanders around aimlessly looking for a position to play until she realizes they're all taken. We had plenty of girls nights, and when the whole group got together we usually separated into guys and girls anyway. The guys would sit on the back patio and drink beer and smoke cigars while the girls dipped out for margaritas and a movie. I was blessed to have such a wonderful group of friends. But it didn't change the fact that everyone else got to go home at the end of the night and doze off with their certain someone while I drooled on a stuffed animal that would wake me up when I rolled over on it and activated the recording of Cayden's voice.
But at some point, date night lands on the same night for everyone and I end up on a hot date with my couch and a pint of Ben & Jerry's Clusterfudge ice cream.
"What are you doing?"my sister Meg asked on the phone on one such night.
"You don't want to know," I replied, shoving another spoonful of peanut buttery ice creamy goodness in my frozen mouth.
"Well, all of my friends have boyfriends," she whined. "It's a Saturday night. If I don't get out of the house, I'm going to lose my mind."
"Welcome to my life."
She'd recently broken up with her boyfriend, and she, too, was trying to readjust to Life After So-and-So.
"I have wine," I offered.
Forty-five minutes later, she was at my door with her pajamas, her two dogs and an overnight bag. It's true what they say about misery loving company and all. It also loves wine.
"So, does it ever scare you that you'll never kiss another guy, like, ever?" she asked after a couple glasses of wine.
I stopped to think about it. Did that scare me?
"Scared me shitless," I answered.
It was true. I thought back to that morning in London, the last day of my first visit when I completely freaked out on Cayden. He'd asked me to be his girlfriend. I'd said yes. And then I freaked the fuck out. I knew with him it was forever, and was I ready for forever? At the time I wasn't sure.
"But then one day you wake up and realize you never want to kiss another guy," I said. "And then there's nothing to be afraid of."
I almost laughed at how cheesy it sounded coming out of my mouth. Those words would have never come out of my mouth during my pre-Cayden days. But Meg didn't laugh.
"Well, I must not have woken up yet," she said. "Because I'm not done having first kisses."
She had a point. First kisses were fun. They were a rush. The flirting that leads up to a first kiss--the laughing, the subtle touching, the eye contact that makes your stomach drop because you know that look--is sometimes more exciting than the kiss itself.
But I'd had plenty of first kisses. I remember one day during my senior year of high school, one of my girlfriends and I decided to make a list of everyone we'd kissed. My number landed somewhere around 20-something. And to think I hadn't gone to college yet or really started drinking! It's safe to say I was addicted to first kisses, which, come to think of it, is also probably why I never really had boyfriends.
Now I get that same first-kiss rush from other things... like spotting Cayden at the airport or hearing a story about his childhood I'd never heard before or hearing him say, "Goodnight, baby" in that heart-melting accent. And sometimes I even get it from kissing.
Am I afraid that rush will fizzle out one day and his accent will become more annoying than adorable and he'll run out of childhood stories to tell? Sure. Aren't we all? But if/when that happens, I'm confident I'll come across other moments that create that rush, like hearing him say "I do," or watching our hypothetical kid take his first steps together. Hell, one day I might even get the rush from Cayden helping me pop my dentures back in.
Until then, I'll just have to enjoy the rush of knowing he'll come back.