"Are you sure you're OK driving?" I asked before getting out of the drivers' seat. We were parked in front of my office, and for the first time, Cayden was going to take my car while I was at work. You're probably thinking, "Why hasn't he done that all along?" Well, we both assumed that he wouldn't be covered on my insurance. We hadn't thought to call and ask. Turns out, it's the car that needs to be insured. Not the driver. After 10 years of driving, you'd think I'd know that by now.
"Babe, I learned how to drive years and years before you," he said laughing. "I'll be fine."
"OK, old man. But you learned how to drive on the other side of the road. You're going to shit your pants when you try to take a left-hand turn here."
He was amused by my concern. I thought back to the day Cayden was driving me to the airport in London. I'd had to close my eyes at the intersections because I was positive we were going to be in a head-on collision.
"I'll be fine. I drove the U-Haul back in January, didn't I?"
"Yeah! You drove it on the wrong side of the road and nearly gave Mom a heart attack."
"Oh, only for a few seconds. After I got to the right I was fine."
I shook my head and sighed. I felt like a parent letting my 16-year-old son drive alone for the first time. I had to learn to let go sometime.
I flung my driver's side door open and forced myself out one limb at a time. I felt like I was magnetized to the car. I didn't want to go to work. I wanted to go for a joy ride with Cayden, maybe drive up to Norman to show him the campus. Cayden had already gotten out of the car and walked around to my side by the time I'd willed both feet out the door. He pulled me out while I tried to pull him in. Naturally, his manly strength was much stronger than my will to stay put.
"Have fun at work," he said with his arms around me. I slumped against him and pretended like I didn't have any bones or muscles in my body. He had to hold on tight so I wouldn't slide down to the pavement.
"Don't make me go," I moaned against him. He tried to prop me back up, but I slid back down against him. He laughed as he struggled to keep me vertical. For a moment, I wondered if any of my coworkers were witnessing my little no-bones act. I laughed into Cayden's shirt, thinking about how ridiculous I must have looked. I let Cayden pull me back up to a standing position. I thought about slumping one more time, but I wasn't sure he'd catch me.
"You go make some money," he said, gripping my arms above the elbows to keep me upright. "I wish I could spend the day with you, but we both know that's not going to happen."
He leaned in and gave me a quick kiss before he said, "See you at lunch," and held his hand out for my car keys.
I stood on my tippy toes to kiss him again and slid my keys in his back pocket.
"You be good to her," I said, patting the hood of my car. I pulled my hand away to see a thick layer of dirt on my palm. I brushed it off on the side of my jeans and held the door open for Cayden to take the driver's seat.
I watched him drive away to make sure he ended up on the right side of the road. It wasn't that I was afraid he was going to hurt my car; I was more afraid that he was going to get hurt. What if he was in a car accident and he was knocked unconscious? The only ID he had on him was his UK driver's license and passport. How would they know to call me?
I shook the thought of it from my head and walked into my office building. Despite the fact that I didn't want to work, I was in a good mood and determined to make it a good week. Just a 4-day work week and then we'd be off to Austin for a much needed couples' weekend.
A new girl joined our 4-person social media team that morning, so we all spent most of the morning socializing.
"It was nice to finally meet Cayden," Emory said. "I really like him. He's so good to you."
"Wait, you got to meet him?" my manager Winnie called from her office.
"When do we get to meet him?" my other coworker Laine asked from her adjacent cube.
"You'll all meet him at lunch," I said. "You can grill him then."
Four hours later, we were all sitting down at Gloria's, a nice Tex-Mex restaurant off Greenville. Cayden managed to make it from my office to Starbucks and back in one piece, so life was good.
"So, what do you do in London?"
"How long are you here?"
"What's on the agenda while you're here?"
"When are you moving here?"
The questions came rapid fire. I let Cayden answer them one by one while I dominated the chips black bean dip. Emory looked grateful to have another guy at the table. Our social media team consisted of four girls and Emory, so he always got stuck listening to us talk about relationships, wedding showers and Ryan Gosling, although Emory admitted to his crush on Gosling as well.
Cayden fit right in with my coworkers just like he fit right in with my friends. Just like he fit right in with my family. Just like he fit right into the right side of my bed and I fit right into the nook of his arm. It felt like he was supposed to be there. Removing him from any one of those scenarios didn't feel right. I was already dreading the airport goodbye that was a full week away. In eight days, I'd go back to being the third wheel. Back to being the one people try to tip toe around so I don't feel like the third wheel. Back to being half of myself.
I needed a margarita. Stat.