One Sunday, a few months later, I showed up at church. It was summertime, and I was wearing a long, sleeveless blue dress that I lived in that summer. And, I'm told, red lipstick. I can't imagine ever wearing red lipstick to church, but that's what I'm told.
I'd like to tell you that when Clay walked in that day, and settled into the seat in front of me, I was immediately attracted to his gentle spirit. Or his kind smile. Or...anything less shallow than my actual first thought. Which was, "Wow. Look at those ARMS. It's like they're CHISELED or something. How weird would it be if I just reached over and gave one a squeeze? I could claim he had a bug or something that I was brushing away..."
Of course, no, I couldn't actually do that, and not only because it would be weird. At the passing of the peace, he turned around and extended his hand to me and I froze to the spot. Now, passing the peace isn't a socially challenging event. I mean, it even comes with a script. But the minute his eyes met mine, I fell mute. I shook his hand and maybe nodded my head and muttered some random combination of sounds. It was charming.
I did not know this man at this point. All I knew about him was that he came to church one morning, and he was in the company of a couple I adored. He could easily have been a puppy kicker. Or a serial killer. Or a serial killing puppy kicker. But oh, I liked looking at him. For years I'd avoided eye contact with men, and I found that it was fairly easy to get overlooked. Don't make encouraging expressions at them, and swath yourself in young children. Voila! You are invisible to most of the males of our species. And that had suited me just fine.
But oh. I liked looking at THIS man.
And that scared me to death.
He made his way over to me after the service, and struck up a conversation. I thought I was conversing amazingly well. I even managed to drop a reference to my EX husband in there, which I thought was very smooth. He couldn't figure out what I found so fascinating about his shoes. So perhaps I didn't come across quite as coolly confident as I thought.
Soon enough, it was time to go. I rounded up the boys, said good bye to That Man, as I was mentally calling him (yes, I knew his name), and headed out to the car. I was riding with my dad, so he drove home while I stared out the window, lost in thought.
"Well," I said after a while, "I talked to a man." Dad agreed that I had. "And I didn't dive under a chair or anything," I concluded. Dad wisely refrained from commenting.
I was mildly proud of myself, but I figured that was the end of that.