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An Unexpected Valentine’s Date (Inspirational Story)

valentine_2If only it had been a different accident. Something more elegant, less embarrassingly clumsy. But no, I tripped over a curb and fell headfirst into a low brick wall, whacking my nose and splitting my forehead open. Fortunately, my parents lived mere blocks away. Clutching my bleeding head, I managed to pull my cell phone from my purse and dial home. My dad arrived within minutes, gave me an ice pack to press against the golf-ball-sized lump swelling on my forehead, and drove me straight to the hospital.

It was Valentine’s evening but I had no plans anyway. Six months before, I had ended things with George, my long distance boyfriend of two years. He was fun and sweet, always the life of the party, but had the focus and self-discipline of a four-year-old. What I once found charming — his spontaneity, his boyishness, his tendency to make a joke out of everything — devolved into a source of stress. It became routine for him to call me at two a.m. in a panic, only half a page into an eight-page paper due the next morning, wanting my comfort. But there was nothing I could say or do to help. He needed to find motivation within himself. The next morning, he’d call and apologize and say he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me, to be partners always.

I began wondering what it would be like to have him as my partner in life. If eight-page papers were so difficult, what would a real job be like? What about mortgages and car payments and, my goodness, children? George’s rosy daydreams about our future caused a tightening of panic in my chest, a need to press the escape button.

And so I did. Three weeks after my college graduation, on a sunny morning in George’s childhood bedroom with the action figures on the bookshelves, I finally worked up the courage to tell him it was over. Even as the tears streaked my face and clogged my nose, I was flooded with relief.

valentines 3Still, I missed him. A lot. After the break-up, all our inside jokes and shared stories, what seemed like hundreds and hundreds of them, were suddenly irrelevant. I had no one to call and say goodnight to, no one to appreciate the minutiae of my day, no one to celebrate my small successes like getting a free chai latte because it was the tenth stamp on my frequent customer card. I felt adrift in the world, a single person once again. Even though I told myself it was better to be single than to be dating the wrong person, I couldn’t help but feel I’d taken a step backwards. I had once thought George was the love of my life. I had thought I was done looking.

Now it was back to square one. I moved home with my parents to save money and began working as a freelance writer. Adjusting to life after college, and single life after George, was tough. I joined a gym and began writing at coffeehouses instead of at home. I forced myself to go out some nights, even if it was just to a local open mike by myself. Slowly, I met people. Slowly, I began dating again.

Living in my parents’ house gave me flashbacks to dates in high school, when boys would pick me up for school dances and I’d wait anxiously in my second floor bedroom, peeking out the window, waiting for their cars to pull up. When they did, I would hastily clomp down the stairs, yelling goodbye to my parents, running out the door. In high school my dad would always leave the porch light on, and he did the same thing now. But guys no longer walked me up the brick path through the grassy lawn to my front door; instead, they parked their cars in front of my house and said goodnight, promised to call. I would walk up the brick path alone, open the squeaky front door, and turn off the porch light. Heart heavy, feeling like an old maid, I would climb into bed and try to sleep, fighting away dreams of George. I hid my phone in the bottom of my sock drawer so I wouldn’t call him.

The guys I dated sometimes called, and sometimes we went out again, but things quickly fizzled for one reason or another. Chris, a lawyer gunning for partner, told me to quit writing and get a “real” job; Kevin, a newspaper reporter, was eight years older and condescending; Ian and I had no spark.

images (1)Then I met Robert. He was a nursing student who worked weekends at the local hospital. I really liked him and we had an immediate connection, but something was holding me back. I told myself that the problem was his schedule — he was so swamped with classes and twelve-hour shifts every weekend that it was difficult for us to find time to see each other. But instead of calling him, I retreated. It was easier that way. I thought of George, and how even our best experiences were now just memories soured by heartbreak. I thought of Chris, Kevin, and Ian — I had been so excited and hopeful before my first dates with them, and it had only brought more disappointment. What was the point of putting myself out there just to get my heart broken again? I decided Robert and I simply weren’t meant to be, and left it at that.
Flash forward to Valentine’s Day. My dad led the way into the E.R. I shuffled slowly forward, clutching the ice pack to my forehead, blood dripping from my nose onto my white skirt and shoes. A nurse in blue scrubs rushed over to help us.

Of course.

“Hi, Robert,” I said sheepishly, peering up at him from under my ice pack.

He did a double take. “Dallas?”

“She fell and hit her head against a wall,” my dad explained. I cringed with embarrassment.

Robert led me to an empty bed. A doctor took my vitals and gingerly examined my head. “It doesn’t appear that you fractured your skull,” he said. “We’ll take a CT scan to make sure. You’re going to need a couple of stitches, too.”

I lay back, shivering slightly. Robert brought warm blankets and spread them carefully over me. He wheeled my gurney down the hall for the CT scan. Before he left to attend to other patients, he reached down and squeezed my hand. I closed my eyes, realizing that I felt safe.

The next morning I woke up in my bed at home, bruised and sore but healing. A text message was waiting for me from Robert: “How r u feeling this morning? Wanna make sure ur ok.”

valentineI smiled and hit Reply. I didn’t know what would happen — maybe things with Robert would fizzle out; maybe he would break my heart. But I wasn’t doing myself any favors by holding back.

I realized that as painful as my break-up with George had been, I was still grateful for the time and memories we shared together. I needed to risk heartache for the beautiful possibility of love.

I closed the text message and dialed instead. “Hi, Robert, it’s Dallas. Do you want to get dinner this week?”

Sometimes you just have to let yourself fall and hope for the best.

~By Dallas Woodburn, Chicken Soup For The Soul, The Dating Game

“Supposing you have tried and failed again and again. You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing we call “failure” is not the falling down, but the staying down.”~Mary Pickford

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Michelle Grigsby
Online Marketing Coach

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