The first time I met Bonnie, we’re standing in the parking lot of the church waiting to carpool to a Tuesday Night Young Professionals service called 97 West.
“So, what do you do?” I asked.
“I’m a potter.” she responded casually.
“I’m not exactly sure what that means…?” I continued.
“I’m a ceramic artist. I make pots.”
“You’re an artist! Got it. Very cool. So, is there any truth to old ‘starving artist’ stereotype?” I asked.
Just then, she took an apple out of her bag, looked up at me and said “Nope” and then took a bite out of the apple.
“Wow.” I thought to myself. “Cool girl.”
And that was pretty much the last thing we said to each other for entire next year. Not because we disliked each other, but because we were in completely different places in life. I was recently divorced at the height of my corporate career and she was a young bohemian artist. What could we possibly have to talk about?
About a year or so later, I was in a pretty difficult place. I was so incredibly tired of my job and incredibly frustrated with my personal life. It had been about a year and a half since my divorce and had been dipping my toe into the dating pool. The problem was that I was still too hurt, too damaged, and carrying too much baggage to be getting into a relationship. It was to the point that I felt guilty even talking to single girls as I might give them the wrong idea. By “wrong idea”, I mean that I would give them the impression that I was a regular guy who was capable of trusting another person in the confines of a personal relationship, which was definitely not the case. As such, I decided that I really needed to stay out of the dating scene for a while longer. I was so set on this idea that I had even told a couple of close girl friends that I was officially taking myself “off the market” and swearing off all dating.
A week after that (9/7/2007), Bonnie and I hung out for the first time and I fell hopelessly in love.
It was the weekend of “Rock the Universe” which was a three-day Christian music festival at Universal Studios Orlando. I had arranged to borrow one of the church vans so a group of us could carpool together. We had booked a couple of hotel rooms at one of the nearby resorts and the plan was to spend all weekend at the parks, riding rides during the day and going to the concerts at night.
Bonnie and I had never spent time together before, but we started talking at the first concert on Friday night. I told her about my “being off the market” and she said she was equally frustrated as she had just gotten out of a relationship. She told me that she wasn’t in to “corporate jerks” and I talked about how I was planning to quit my job. Last, but definitely not least, we talked about our faith which is where we really found our common ground.
After the concert that night, I talked all the guys to hit the hotel pool. Though most of the girls declined to join us, Bonnie and another girl decided to come along. Bonnie and I ended up hanging out all night, just laying on the deck chairs next to the pool, talking. By the next morning, we were thick as thieves.
So went the next two days. Roller coasters all day, concerts in the evening, pool party at night. By the end of the weekend, I felt as though I had really found somebody special. It was too bad that we had both sworn off dating.
Over the next couple of days, we started texting back and forth, but the fact remained that we were both “off the market”. By Wednesday that week, we had set a lunch date to go out for Thai Food at Bangkok 9. We had a sweet little meal and at the end of lunch she gave me a CD she had burned for me. It was of an artist named Tristan Prettyman and the album was titled “Love, Love, Love”.
After that lunch date, I was so very confused. I knew we were both not interested in dating, but for not being interested, I was super interested!!! Not being one to pass on a great opportunity, I knew that I needed to make a move soon so as not to fall into the dreaded “friend zone” and stay their forever.
That weekend, we made plans to grab dinner on the beach. I remember jumping into her little silver Volkswagen Jetta and noticing the very short jean skirt she was wearing. I remember thinking to myself: “No friend zone! No friend zone!”
As soon as I got into the car, she informed me that she had to pick a friend up at the airport right after dinner. To this day, I’m still not sure if that was actually the truth or whether it was an escape plan in case dinner was a bust. Nonetheless, we had a great time at dinner and her friend’s flight was delayed by a couple of hours.
After dinner, we decided to take a walk on the beach. It was a perfectly clear night and the moon was as full as could be. There was nice ocean breeze and the temperature was amazing.
As we walked down the beach, I kept praying to God, asking Him to give me a sign to show me if I should actually make a move. To which he responded: “Clear night, full moon, ocean breeze, perfect temperature, delayed flight… What more do you want from me?!?!”
So, finally, I kissed her. And she kissed me back.
And I dodged the friend zone.