The next day, I tried desperately to shake off whatever feelings I had conjured up from the almost-kiss. We didn't say a word after that awkward goodnight.... so I certainly wasn't going to be the one to initiate conversation, especially since I was moping around trying to analyze what I did wrong. There was an undeniable connection. I wasn't crazy right? He didn't flinch away when I laced my fingers in his... he had buried his hands in my hair and hugged me close. Brushed his lips across my forehead sweetly. So how did we get from there, to the stalling goodbye on the back porch, to him turning and walking away leaving me wondering? I didn't call or text, and neither did he.
That night, I watched a movie with my girlfriend at her house. It was the Hangover movie, which had recently just come out in theaters. Adam had seen it twice already and had been giving me a hard time about how long it had been since I've been to see a movie. We had jokingly initiated a system of 'cool points' to confirm or deny my uncool-mom status. Driving home, I passed the small town joint where he was bartending, and smiled to myself as I saw him pouring drinks enthusiastically inside. He was so gorgeous... every movement so smooth, and I could practically hear his easy laughter float out the door. On a whim, I decided to send a short text. "Saw Hangover. 10,000 cool points for me. Back in the game!"
10 minutes went by, with no response. I reminded myself that the bar had looked busy and he probably wouldn't have his phone right there on him to pull out in the middle of his shift. I tried to forget about it, turning up the radio loudly to avoid the tiny voice in my head that was trying to convince me he was not interested. Was I interested? I pondered that on my drive. I was still married. It was complicated; messy for us both. Undoubtedly, there were feelings on my part, but that doesn't mean we can always act on them... A relationship was something I promised myself I would not do for a long time, until the girls were settled and healed and we were happy. Then maybe, a man could fit into our lives. But here was this messy situation, with these ridiculously strong emotions I had never felt before, and I knew I had nothing to lose: I had to at least see what was there. Let it play out. If he wasn't interested - or wasn't ready to move on - as I suspected, I wouldn't have to wonder what might have been. Finally, just as I pulled into the driveway, he wrote back. We shared a couple quick texts about the movie and said goodnight, again making no plans to talk again.
The next day, Friday, it was lunchtime and I was out running errands. I headed to Subway for some lunch and while I was there, thought, "Hey, maybe its his lunch hour too." Without even thinking about it, I texted him offering to bring him over lunch. He wrote back that he had already eaten. I was so embarrassed. Beep Beep! Text notification went off again. I glanced and saw, "What are you doing this weekend?" One of my very best friends was getting married the next day. I was in the wedding so I explained I would be busy with all of that. He wrote back something about how much he would hate to miss out on seeing me in a dress.. my cheeks burned as I closed my phone after promising to text him as soon as I left the reception Saturday Night.
He never did get to see me in my dress; I changed immediately when I arrived home. I let him know I was home and he replied that he would be over soon. My stomach was in knots. He wouldn't kiss me, but he wanted to come over? I started to convince myself he was only trying to sleep with me. Make sure he thought I was interested, but not in the 'relationship' stuff. It seemed easier than any other explanation, and I'm not blunt like that so I never could have just asked him. I vowed myself to make it clear from the start that if he thought that's what was going to happen, he was dead wrong.
He walked in with a smile and immediately pulled me close. Teased me about not still being in my bridesmaid dress... I cringed, sensing this was further evidence of his bad intentions. I maintained a cool distance at first, until he snuggled up next to me on the couch - soon I simply couldn't hold up my facade any more. We were laughing and joking like we'd been in each others arms a thousand times before. It was so nice having this underlying friendship that was evident between us, no matter how it turned out. I had never experienced anything like it. We talked for over an hour... and finally with him in mid-sentence, I couldn't take his avoidance anymore. This was so incredibly unlike me, but I barely knew who I was anymore and felt that rock bottom probably was as good a place as any to put my battered heart back on the line. Being rejected by the quarterback of the football team couldn't possibly compare to the pain of watching my marriage crumble before my eyes. One avoided kiss didn't come close to the anguish I had felt crying alone in a library parking lot, far from home, afraid of the person I had vowed to spend my life with. So I kissed him.
Not gently, not halfway... I kissed him like I had been counting every minute of not kissing him since the moment we exchanged glances in the bar. Perhaps I had been. And instead of the hesitation I expected, I got urgency and passion as he kissed me hard in return. In between kisses, I got the nerve to look in his eyes. I saw something that set my heart on fire. We just stared, neither of us knowing what to say or how to acknowledge what was happening right there in that moment.
There were certainly things I wanted to say. Like that I was a mother and my kids would always come first and he would have be okay with that. That legally the state would force me to remain married another 6 months before granting the divorce. That I trusted no one. That I would be insecure and confused and scared and that would be part of the deal if he wanted to be in my life. I needed someone who would help me heal. There were many, many things I wanted to say, but silence engulfed me as my head continued to spin from his kiss. The rest of the night was cliche movie falling-in-love stuff. We kissed, laughed, smiled, and took 45 minutes trying to say goodnight.
The rest of weekend we talked on the phone every so often, but we carefully avoided talking about what 'we' were or where it was going. Monday he asked to stop by after work. The girls and I were outside playing in the driveway when he pulled in. Liliana was just 9 months old, cruising up and down the driveway in her walker. Brooklyn was just over 2 and a daredevil, so she was enthusiastically attempting wheelies on her little ride-on motorcycle. I introduced him as my friend Adam, and they largely ignored him like toddlers do. My dad pulled in soon after, followed by my mom, so it turned into the dreaded 'meet everyone' date. Only he wasn't like other guys, putting on an act for everyone.
Days turned to weeks, and the bond between us grew stronger and stronger. As it turns out, I couldnt have been more wrong about his intentions, and he proved that over and over. He never pushed me, never crossed any lines, despite the intense feelings between us. He was happy to be patient for me... which only proved more that this was real. In August, we went on our first day out with the kids, to none other than Chuck E. Cheese. They had lots of fun chasing him around and I couldn't help but feel like a family. He was a natural, doting on them and letting them win all the games as he feigned incompetence. I only came with two, but went home with THREE worn-out, smiling kids that night. Riding in the dark on the way home, he mumbled something about falling in love with me.
He was in his element from that moment on with the girls. A few nights later, Brooklyn wouldn't sleep and kept crying for her Daddy and I would have to excuse myself from the movie we were watching to go in and soothe her, only to have to repeat the entire process 10 minutes later when she caught me sneaking out of the room. I groaned as I headed back towards her crib and Adam said, "Mind if I try?" I told him to knock himself out, but warned him she's impossible to get to bed sometimes. I thought it was sweet to offer, though she would never consider him an acceptable substitute for Mommy OR Daddy. 10 minutes passed without a peep from either one of them. Finally, he crept out and I stood there in shock. He laughed at my expression and offered, "I just rubbed her back until she fell back asleep."
I closed on my house in early September and the girls and I took a trip to Disney world with my mom. I missed Adam like crazy, we were used to spending every minute together by now and 7 days of barely any contact didn't diminish any part of what we had together - if anything, it was like throwing gasoline on a fire. We came home and knew we never wanted to be apart again. He pretty much moved in from that point forward and we were an instant family. Over the next few weeks, life got busier and busier. We both re-enrolled in school. Instead of spending hours talking and laughing together, we spent hours studying and typing late-night papers. Add to that my pending divorce and all the paperwork, potty-training a toddler, and a massive amount of debt he was trying to pay off, and it was more than we could take at the time. We were exhausted and stressed out everyday. My ex would call, I would end up crying. He came home for a visit and we ended up out in the driveway fighting for almost an hour while Adam sat inside unsure of where he fit into all of this mess. He had to sit by and know I was still someone else's wife. I knew it was unfair that Adam was having to witness all of this, and I hated it. On a basic level, we were absolutely crazy for one another, but still I knew it wouldn't be long til something would have to give....