As I'm sure you've learned by now, I've changed a lot since I met Cayden. I no longer want to Red Rover couples holding hands on the street. I want to know how they met. I don't dry heave and roll my eyes anymore when I hear a guy say, "You're so beautiful, baby." Instead, I play it over and over again in my head until it's burned into my memory and I can recall it whenever I want. I don't run from commitment and cling to flings. I don't dread weddings. I don't think a dozen roses is a cliche cop-out gift. And I don't think my non-single friends are lame for not wanting to go to a crowded bar with loud music and drinks we have to pay for on a Saturday night, because, let's face it, I don't want to do that either.
Nowadays I daydream. I love. And I cry. A lot.
It used to be that I could count the number of movies that made me cry on one hand: Fievel Goes West, Lion King, My Girl, and Titanic. The list for TV shows was even shorter: Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. Gets me every time. Since meeting Cayden it's movies, TV shows, radio shows, books, the news, emails, proposal videos, weddings, and quotes like the one I put on Shanna's wedding gift that bring me to tears. So I don't know why I thought taking Cayden to see 50/50, a comedy-drama about a man who finds out he has cancer and has a 50/50 chance of living, was a good idea. I suppose I figured any movie with Seth Rogan could only result in the type of tears that come from laughing too hard or choking on your Dr. Pepper.
Tears, snot, and bloodshot eyes does not a good movie date make. I literally bawled my eyes out for a full 45 minutes. It wasn't even a sad movie, necessarily, but it was emotional. The movie showed a part of the male best friend relationship you don't usually see. I peeked out of the corner of my tear-filled eye at Cayden and saw him look away from the screen during one of the more emotional parts. My coworkers Emory and Laine were sitting on the other side of him. We'd gotten free screening passes together. I couldn't see Emory, but Laine was experiencing the same tears-and-snot battle I was fighting. Cayden squeezed my hand and I wanted to jump on his lap and squeeze him and make him promise me he'd never, ever get cancer or any other life-threatening disease, knowing full and well that's not a promise anyone could make.
I was nearly out of tears by the time the credits rolled. I was afraid to leave the dark theater and let anyone see my splotchy red face and eyeliner-smudged eyes. I couldn't remember a time a movie had made me cry that much. I reluctantly followed the crowd out of theater and into the harsh light of the lobby. I tried to hide behind Cayden until we were safely outside, but as I looked around, I saw that everyone's eyes were bloodshot.
"Well, what did you think?" Cayden asked, pulling me out from behind him.
"I think I wish we would have seen What's Your Number instead," I said, pressing the back of my hand against my one cheek and then the other to dry them.
"But it was so good!" Emory said, with Laine nodding next to him. "I'm not going to lie, though, I got a little choked up."
Cayden nodded. "I had to look away at one part," he admitted. It made me feel a little better that the guys struggled as well, but they didn't look half as rough as Laine and I did.
We stood in the lobby for a few more minutes, discussing our favorite parts and which scenes made us cry most. Then we parted ways and headed to our cars.
"Next time we have a movie date, let's see a cheesy rom-com. Or a thriller. Or an adventure movie," I said as we pulled out of the parking lot.
"You used to be so tough," Cayden said, laughing and shaking his head. "Now look at you!"
I glanced at my eyes in the rearview mirror and laughed at how puffy my eyelids already were.
"It's your fault!" I said. "I never used to be like this."
"Well, it appears I've turned you into a girl," Cayden said. "The birthday girl."
I glanced at the clock in my car and saw that it was still a couple hours until from midnight.
"But it's not my birthday yet," I said, somewhat confused.
"It is in London," he said. "So now you can't call me an old man, anymore."
It blew my mind that I was 26 in London and 25 in Texas, but I didn't mind that it meant we got two "midnight" kisses on New Years.
"Do you want your present tonight? Or in the morning?" he asked.
Part of me wanted to open it that night, if only to pull me out of the hazy mood that movie had put me in.
"In the morning," I said. "So I have something to look forward to."
It would be my first birthday with Cayden in town. Hopefully the first of many.