What if you find your soul mate and she’s a girl? I’m a girl, sort of. I’m also not gay, because a) Paul Bettany and b) Damian Lewis.
Turns out, I’ve been living in the same cul de sac as my soul mate for 13 years. I didn’t like her on sight, and I think the feeling was mutual. We avoided each other like the plague for about 10 of those years, thinking we hated each other. We both were too busy anyway with mom duties, and holing away in our respective homes as natural misanthropes, her with her wine and me with my popcorn.
Until one day, I said what the hell after she made me laugh at another neighbor’s Fourth of July party. I was bored out of my mind because this neighbor was boring and had boring friends who didn’t talk to me. Then, out of the darkness I heard Gen’s voice bellow, “Get away from the fireworks!” to the kids. Her voice sounded familiar. It was the way she said it. It sounded like something I would say.
I took a chance, after a few half-hearted (I honestly don’t know why either of us even bothered, after our fucked-up intro and antipathy) greetings as we passed each other driving our kids from one sporting event to another. (Our kids, btw, were thick as thieves, ever since we moved in and my son was just three — he’s 16 now.)
I friended her on Facebook. We exchanged bullshit pleasantries that we knew were bullshit pleasantries and unbecoming of us until one of us broke the ice, and finally, blessedly dropped the bullshit.
Every time I saw her, I felt something shift deep inside me. Recognition, familiarity, a calm that knows no understanding started to wash over me. It truly felt like coming home for the first time.
I had to break down my own walls that I’d built up from 40 years of living on this fucked-up planet that encourages us all to build fortresses around ourselves until we no longer recognized who we really were deep inside. After spending five minutes here and there around her, I became more comfortable in my own skin, able to really enjoy her company and stop the restrictive voices inside me trying to make me behave, over-thinking, overanalyzing. She never let me anyway.
I could never really get in much of a funk. Ninety percent of the time, she’d always find a way to get me to forget my problems, or shrug them off. When she couldn’t break through the stress, she’d validate me like nobody else ever has — as if she’s been there and back, and can give me the shortcut out, as if she saw I had value.
It’s funny. Whenever I see her, I still go the other way. Not because I hate her anymore, but because I’m afraid if I go over to say hi, we’ll shoot the shit, and shit will never get done. Because we’re the OC-D twins, that can’t fly. Shit has to get done. So more often than not, we wave from across the cul de sac, her in her raincoat as she pulls weeds, me in my bathrobe writing jazz articles on a self-imposed deadline.
Yesterday, I found time to watch one of her sons at a high school soccer game. She and half her family arrived about 10 minutes later. A miracle happened. She opted to sit next to me for the entire game instead of pacing up front like they usually do. Most people opt to avoid me. I’ve got that kind of serial-killer face, I suppose, and I don’t attract many friends. But she was glued to me, completely at ease. Like she wanted to be there.
We make each other laugh. I don’t even have to try. Although truth be told, I’d set myself on fire to get her to laugh until she pissed herself, I love her so much. Being around her is like going to the movies on a weekend with free popcorn, a million carnivals and an all-you-can-eat buffet in Paris, France. It’s the best thing in the world.
I am so happy around her. Even when she texts me a one-liner, I’m in heaven.
I don’t have to explain myself to her. I don’t get possessive of her. I don’t need to see her 24/7. If I’m at a Trader Joe’s on a random Tuesday and I see a Danish Kringle, even if I don’t know what the fuck it is exactly, I think of her and text if she wants one. If she says yes in time, I get it and drop it off, no questions asked. I’ve texted her in desperate need of one more bottle of bleach for my husband’s last day of BCG treatments in his first round, and she leaves a fresh bottle on my front doorstep an hour or so later.
I always assumed a soul mate was the love of my life, a man. Not some wise-cracking, accident-prone chick that disaster follows everywhere. Another version of me.
Not the best friend I always wished for and never could find for the life of me.
Maybe we were lovers in a previous life. Or maybe soul mate just means two souls that get each other, no questions asked, and we here on earth complicate the matter with sex. It wouldn’t be the first time.