I told everyone who had a set of ears at work how the beautiful stranger came back to see me. And not only that, but I now knew his name, Rich… So I began telling my coworkers:
“The guy with the ponytail came back! And dig it, he came to see me! And I know his name now, it’s Rich. Now we can stop calling him ‘the guy with the ponytail’ and ‘the Indian’”.
Coworker: did you give him your phone number?
Me: didn’t have to. He came to give me HIS number! And he was so smooth with it. You shoulda saw it. He was on some Billy Dee shit!
Coworker: are you gonna call him?
Me: what kind of question is that? Of course! Tonight!
As I walked away, I thought “Oh shit! I put his number in my jacket pocket! Everything falls out of that pocket. Oh my God, if it’s fallen out, he’ll think I’m not interested and I might never see him again. And it was a tiny piece of paper!” I hurried and reached into my pocket, half afraid that it had already fallen out. When I felt a small piece of paper in my pocket, I gave a sigh of relief and prayed out loud, “thank you, God!”. Then immediately, I put his number in the upper pocket of my jean jacket and buttoned it shut. There was no way I was going to miss this opportunity.
I figured that no matter what, he’s definitely at least worth trying to get to know. If it works out, awesome. If it doesn’t, then meeting him and the way he approached me would have given me renewed faith in people. But I was sure that I’d be impressed by him. He had that kind of vibe.
So as I floated on the very air I was breathing, I continued my shift and replayed the event of him introducing himself to me for the rest of the day. I don’t think I had ever smiled so much at work. I kept seeing his face; I could even smell him. I was stunned. I had never felt that way before. I wasn’t cool (as I am usually). I was giddy- like a girl in high school.
The First Communication…
I couldn’t wait to get home and settled so I could call him. However, I ended up hanging out with the friend I was staying with at the time and it was too noisy to try to make a phone call. So I sent him a text.
In that text session, as expected, we began getting to know each other. I told him how I was really hoping that he’s come back to the store, and that I hoped that he would approach me, because I wouldn’t have had the nerve to approach him. He said that he “hoped that I was hoping”. And that, the first day he saw me, he wanted to come back and meet me. But in contemplating that, he had fallen asleep. I expressed gratitude for him coming back, and he said:
“Me 2. I had to. I felt struck by lightning. I talked myself out of coming back, thinking I’m being foolish. But then I’d be a fool not to come back… so either way…”
I felt butterflies in my stomach as I read that text. I knew I had met someone very special. Even though he was quite eloquent in his speaking, it didn’t sound rehearsed, or like he said these things to every woman he meets. I felt special, and this was only our first conversational volley.
He told me that he’d been practicing Kokoro Dokoro, which means “where is your heart. Checking into one’s heart and then playing from the heart”. And that that is what lead him back to me. As I read that text, I imagined that my face resembled that emoji with the smiling face and heart eyes. I never felt so special.
Had counting my blessings finally paid off? Had the other superpower kicked in, “knowing it when I seen it”. I knew he was special the first time I saw him. Even before he’d spoken to me. It was that eye contact. I felt him. And now in conversing, I knew that my super powers were on point, and that I was now reaping the benefits of patience, gratitude, and treating people with honor and respect (at least, those who deserved it. But that’s also where patience comes into play).
The Next Day. After Work.
It was a new day and once again, I was at work. Because of this new special person in my life, it was rare to find me without a big smile on my face. Knowing him, seeing him – albeit only a couple of times – was having a very positive effect on me. He carried a very peaceful and enveloping presence. I spent the day looking forward to talking to him more.
Later that night, after getting off from work, I couldn’t wait to talk to him, so we continued to text. I asked him more about Kokoro Dokoro. He answered:
“Nihongo language, Kokoro has several meaning, having to do with the Heart. There’s the little heart, our individual personal. Then, the heart for our family, then for our friends – then for our clan, tribe, country, the world and then Earth and then Universal Heart.”
“Dokoro means location/where. Where is your heart is a question in a statement form to check in where one’s heart is in relation to all our relations. A path of healing through forgiveness, redemption, empowerment, joy, enlightenment through play, arts music culture”
All of that was so foreign, and so beautiful to me. I had never heard of Kokoro Dokoro, but I was about to find out. Somehow I just knew this; and I was very excited about it.
Wait A Minute, Sir… Are You Saying That You’re Perfect?
I guessed that he was probably in his late 30’s to early 40’s. I definitely thought he was younger than me. So to be sure, I asked… and boy was I surprised!
Rich: I turned 50 in January. It sounds old, even to me. When I was in my 20’s and 30’s, 50 sounded like so far away. Now that I’m here, my next 50 are even greater.
He then asked me my age:
Me: I’m 45 until September. Congrats on reaching 50, I’m looking forward to doing that! I thought you were younger. I was actually thinking that you were in your late 30’s to early 40’s You look really great!
He thought I was much younger, and I’m used to that being the response once my age was identified. I told him about my kids and my grandson, who all live in Tennessee.
In this thread of text, I found out that he’s 50, no kids, never been married, and a Shaman! I heard jackpot bells! And to add to all of that, just like me, he was born in Michigan (Grand Rapids). However, he’s been in California for most of his life.
I thought, but did not text:
“Cha- Ching! Jackpot for me!!! OMG, he’s perfect!”
From the text conversation I could tell that he was highly intelligent, conscious, and spiritual – all things that I not only admire, but need in my life- always.
The next day he texted me while I was at work, and suggested that we go get coffee or a smoothie or something. Since I was at work, I couldn’t. So I asked him to come to the store and get coffee, “…so I can see you”. He responded with a grinning emoji and agreed, and said that he was coming from Long Beach. I told that was fine, and that I’d be there until 2:30.
So uhhh, yeah! I was excited! I would get to see him and talk to him person to person.
The last text that I got from him was at 10:43am, so as of 11:30, I began watching the clock. Probably every 15 minutes my head would swivel to the right hoping to see that hat, that ponytail, and those beautiful labradorite eyes!
He showed up at around noonish. I saw him walk in. I can imagine that my entire face lit up! Even with half of it being hidden by a mask. When he came into the cafe, I walked from around the counter and gave him a hug. I don’t think he was expecting that, and honestly, I’m surprised that I had the nerve. It’s not that I’m a nervous person, but he made me nervous. He made me care about things that I ordinarily wouldn’t. How he saw me was, and still is, important.
We talked as much as we could between customers, and I noticed quite a bit of nervous awkwardness. So I joked, “I guess we’re getting the awkward part out of the way”. We laughed. There was also another obstacle/ hindrance/ annoyance, my coworker, Jeff. Jeff and I love each other to life, but we have a very “Fred and Esther” relationship. Our main purpose for coming to work isn’t the money, it’s to antagonize each other.
Jeff kept interfering. I’m sure I had asked him had he ever seen Rich before, back when I hadn’t met him – but maybe I didn’t. At any rate, he was being his normal lovingly obnoxious self. And as always, he ended his tirade with an insult for people from Michigan, and accused me of being from Auburn Hills. “I’m from Saginaw!” I yelled back to him as he walked away.
I apologized to Rich and explained to him that this is just how Jeff and I play around (while secretly hoping that Jeff would run into something sharp. Just kidding…maybe). And I also secretly hoped that he didn’t think we “liked” each other, mostly because “ewwww” that would be like “liking” a relative.
AHHHH! There It Is…. The Catch.
Rich and I continued to talk, as much as we could between customers. I asked him if he lives in West LA, and did he just move there. I had been working out there for a while and pretty much knew the area, and had never seen him. He told me that he lives up north…about 11 hours away. And that he had been to Arizona to visit his parents and was in LA to see some other relatives, and was heading for Vegas next. My thoughts on this:
DAMN! I knew there was a catch! 11 hours away… Why did he even come back to see me and give me his number. Surely I can’t up and travel 11 hours up north all “willy nilly”. Damn…
I responded, “wow. That’s far…. Are you going back up north when you leave Vegas? How long are you staying in Vegas? When are you leaving?”. I was trying to at least spend some time with him since I might never see him again. This made me sad. He told me that he’d only be in Vegas for a few days and was coming back to LA for a few days.
Me: cool! Then hopefully we can get together and do something before you leave. I wish you didn’t live so far away, but maybe I can fly out sometime. How often are you in LA?
Rich: not much. But you can go back up north with me.
Me: (locking eyes with him again) that might not be a bad idea… But I’m interviewing for a new job that pays pretty well. I can’t leave.
Rich: you can get a job up north.
(And he looked so serious!!!)
Customers kept interfering, so I asked him if he would meet me outside in a few minutes when I go on break. He agreed and I watched him walk out.
As I tended to customers, I kept asking myself: “did this man just offer to take me up north to live with him? And, did I just say that might not be a bad idea? And was I serious? YES! Do I think he’s serious? YES! Oh my God, what’s happening?”
I was snapped out of my trance by the sound of the walkie talkie. My manager was paging me to tell me that my break would be late.
FUDGE! You’re kidding. You HAVE to be kidding.
I accepted that. What else could I do? And, because I was at the register, I couldn’t even text him that I’d be late. DAMN!
About 15 minutes later, I got my 15 minute break. I flew up the stairs to get out of my Whole Foods apron, and then flew back down the stairs, slalomed my way through customers, and ran out the front door. At first, I looked on the sidewalk to my right, where lots of people like to stand. He wasn’t there. I looked around, I texted him- no answer. I guessed that he got tired of waiting and left. And I didn’t blame him. Maybe he’s driving and can’t answer the text. Either way, I missed out. I acquiesced, tucked in my tail and went back upstairs.
A couple minutes later, I got a succession of texts from him. Somehow, I didn’t get his texts. He told me he was outside. So I repeated the same process as before, and ran outside. I got another text, “ I’m in the far corner of the front parking lot “. By now, I had 2 minutes left. I would have stayed longer and broke my break, but I had done that too many times. I hugged him again, and he introduced me to his dog, Kokoro (Koko). We talked briefly, but it was still kind of awkward.
Rich: I feel electricity when you’re around.
Me: really? (I’m sure I was blushing 😊 )
We planned to get together on the upcoming Saturday, when he’s back from Vegas. We’d discuss the details later. I hugged Koko and then hugged him again and headed back to work. I kept thinking, damn… he can’t leave…
I walked back up the stairs, slowly put my Whole Foods apron back on, walked down the stairs, let management know that I was back, and then proceeded to the cafe. Floating on air, but missing him, and disappointed that our visit was cut short. When I got back to my register, my phone vibrated. There was a text from Rich. I’m not supposed to pull my phone out at work. However, if one of my kids call, I voluntarily make an exception. I had seen Rich three times, and already he was getting familial privileges! I read his text:
“I want to run my fingers thru your hair”
“Standing nx to you feels like soft electricity ✨”
I had to make a deal with my knees to hang in there for a few more hours, because they were weak! I clutched my stomach.
Why did you send me this man who lives so far away, and I might never see him again. I need to know him. I feel like he needs to be in my life. I feel like I’m supposed to be there.
Oh my. This is quite the conundrum.
To be continued…