At Dusk

For somebody new, it’s a small crime, and I got no excuse. Is that alright?

(Photo credits: Ottawa Tourism)

It was a chance encounter. One of those moments you believe only exist in movies; an extraordinary event that somehow emerged from an ordinary day. And if you’re me, on a day when you haven’t showered since last night or washed your hair since Saturday. But it happened – and as the cliché goes, a moment in time can change your life forever.

I was at yoga one cold spring/winter evening – my usual lovely way to end a long and draining few days of class, internship and work. In the middle of the class, and in fact in the middle of my reverse triangle pose I saw out of the corner of my eye the door open and a man step in. Startled by the presence of 10 women twisting their body in unimaginable positions he apologized and left only to linger around the studio jumping rope. So focused on my poses and the peaceful pain that power yoga brings, I and the rest of the class thought nothing of it.

The class concluded and as I was packing up and leaving to go he entered the room to apologize again for barging in, except he was apologizing to me. Confused I looked over at the instructor who was coming up next to me (we are friends) and the three of us had a little conversation in which I ended up saying that he should just come in and do the class next time. And some how, some way that line started a seemingly endless conversation. At first I was standing towards the door, the next I was away from the door, then I was stretching, and then I was on the ground stretching – all while talking without pause or breaks with this mystery man. An American soldier in Canada for one month, this well cut, well mannered and well spoken gentleman and I conversed for almost an hour until he asked me the crucial question – where downtown was good to eat.

At this point I think nothing of it – Once myself a stranger in a strange land it is not uncommon for one to reach out to another who is currently in a familiar situation as once you wished someone would have done for you. I had this overwhelming feeling that he had something to say to me, so after a brief pause I let my subconscious decide and said yes to his invitation.

Now unfortunately for me and for most people around me I was in no shape to go out in public – class and the gym doesn’t count. We walked out of the gym to the street and as I tried to juggle my purse, gym bag and coat while putting said coat on, he offered to hold my bag and even carry it while I slipped on the jacket. Again I thought nothing of it, other than it was kind of him to do so. That is, until he opened the door for me, managing to beat me to the handle of the door every single time. Even when I reached for the opposite door to the one he was entering he would let go and grab the door that I was going through, saying ‘please’ as if to ask for the extreme pleasure of opening my door.

Now as a modern Manolo-lite, this of course caught me off guard. The American noticed this and asked ‘what, are you surprised when someone does something romantic?’ and honestly I am. I think it’s romantic when someone gives me a seat on the 95. The American laughed as if I was joking, which clearly I wasn’t when I didn’t return the laughter. ‘Seriously?’ he asked, half confused and half insulted. ‘Seriously.’ He shook his head as he followed me to the table with a disappointed tone in his voice. Clearly I was in for a surprise.

Before I go any further I wish to reiterate a few things to my readers: I informed The American that I was with someone; I informed him that I do not like seafood; and by my actions and future plans The American knew that I was independent, strong and didn’t need anyone to do anything for her. But that didn’t stop him from treating me like a lady in a very Old Great Britain fashion; ordering for me, listening to me, respecting me, complimenting me… And most shocking paying close attention to every little thing I did. I don’t ever think in my entire (albeit short) life have I ever had someone be so attentive to my every action or verbal/nonverbal cue as this American.

If that wasn’t enough to surprise me, the questions he followed with were. ‘So tell me’, he said, ‘Why is it that you don’t have men falling at your feet?’. ‘What?’ I replied with both my words and my facial expression, completely caught off guard by this bold and outlandish statement. To be perfectly honest with everyone, I believe myself to be a pretty average looking person. I am somewhere in the bell curve of statistics proven time and time again – nothing stunning, nothing revolting. Apparently the American thought different. He wasn’t necessarily commenting on my looks, which I may remind you that I had not washed my hair in 4 days, EVEN when going to the gym for some hard-core cardio, and my clothing selection was determined by whatever was on my floor and clean at the time. No, he was commenting on my personality; the very same personality he had met not 2 hours ago and that’s what was so attractive to him – Attractive enough, apparently, to divulge his desire to take things slowly, get to know me, get to love me, care for me, support me, be the man, the knight in shining whatever that every little girl dreams of… that I apparently dream of. Oh, and to fly me to Europe for a weekend to see him if I so wish, and if I was uncomfortable staying in his home in the States put me up in a hotel.

It was here where I thought I would faint only to wake up on my futon with my glasses on the floor, the television still on and mounds of unread/unwritten papers still dangerously overdue. Could this really be happening to me? Could the very image of a gentleman, an older gentleman whisking me away to my happily ever after even possibly be remotely true?

In complete and utter shock and awe I sat there – and apologized. I figured that through my Good Samaritan actions of a familiar face in a strange land I had mislead this American into thinking that I was his dream girl; His princess perfect. I told him that I was with someone and that I never meant to mislead him – And that I, like the rest of the twenty-something girls of my generation, had given up on the idea of a knight in shining whatever. I mean, neither of us are in to flings and he wants to continue talking to me instead of fucking-and-forgetting me… And throughout the night he continuously made it clear that he had no intention of bringing me to his bed. NO, he was more interested in rubbing my feet and then making me dinner and going for a walk to talk about my day.

I had to stop him then and there. Why, you ask? Well… Have you ever had something you thought didn’t exist suddenly appear only when you couldn’t possible have it? I couldn’t say it at the time because I thought I was caught in some sort of rift in time and space… and I was no longer sure if this vision of a perfect life remained my vision of perfect life. I mean… The American is a man looking for his Mrs. The mother of his children. His forever-and-a-day lady. At almost 10 years older than I it is his time to settle down and be with one person and one alone. But for me, at 22 and still in school? I don’t believe my time has come for the white-picket fence with my children running around after the dog in the backyard as I gaze from my kitchen while making supper for my husband. Seriously; I am not slaving through my program and at work to pay for it to become someone’s trophy Stepford wife. I have dreams. I have goals. I believe I have to do something with my life, let alone my degree! But I must admit – there is not one woman alive who doesn’t want to be swept off her feet by a strong, brave, capable man… but if she is literally swept off her feet she can no longer walk towards her own destiny; she can only be carried to another’s.

I believe in my heart of hearts that The American can and would take me away to a happily ever after… His happily ever after. But I can’t help but wonder if I go down this path, what will happen to my happily ever after? What about what I am supposed to do with my life? Am I to forget everything that I have and will work so hard to achieve? How is it possible that in order to get what I want I have to give up, well, what I want?

Not to mention that The American is only in town for a month, so there is always the idea of an expiration to this opportunity. I may never see him again or encounter someone like him again and I would have missed out on a Hollywood love story, an affair I would remember forever in letters to my grandchildren, or I guess in this day-and-age, printed out copies of this blog. Not to say that I would regret anything – Forget regret. Life is too short, and too long for that matter for any of that. The problem with a movie-like romance is that in a movie you know how it’s going to end; the script is already written, the actors paid in advance and the edit room ready to fix all flaws and unfit scenes. In life, while some may believe our history has already been recorded, there is no fast forward button or edit mode. So I don’t know what’s going to happen – but I know it will.

And I’ve never felt so alive.

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~ by Carrie on April 11, 2007.

21 Responses to “At Dusk”

  1. Hi

    Thanks for stopping by my blog- glad you like tabloid thursday it’s a favorite and a passion / obsession of mine LOL

    I think women want it all and why not! aim high girl.

    love your blog I will be back to check it out 🙂

  2. OMG! I can’t believe that he sounds super dreamy and honestly just about what EVERY girl would kill for. As if you just happened to meet him that way and how romantic is he like seriously!

    Honestly why don’t you just see how it goes? I mean I know you’re with Vegas but your not getting married to him now right? Why not just spend some time with this guy for a bit, see where it goes, I mean he is only here til the end of March right? BY THEN you will know for sure if you maybe want to take a chance and pursue or just leave it as a fling that you will remember always.

    ON THE OTHER HAND maybe it’s not fair to do this behind Vegas’ back. Yeah he messed up before but do you really wanna do a ‘two wrong make a right’ situation? If you are really serious about maybe seeing what is there with this American then maybe you should be honest with Vegas and tell him. I mean THIS GUY IS GONNA TAKE YOU TO EUROPE, Hello? Is this thing on???

    You gotta ask yourself if you want to live in regret or hold onto what you think is true love?

    OMG how exciting tho, he sounds sooo sweet and hello he is 31 EXPERIENCED! And Loves women and specifically YOU! How flattering, sweet, dreamy, romantic and comforting 😀

    What timing tho huh lol as if you met him in Yoga lol classic!

    — Love Nicole 😉

  3. Wow! That sounds so amazing. And all of that in one afternoon? I hope this is one of the happiest, adventurous, romantic months of your life. Please do keep us updated!

  4. I teach in a prison, so I’m thinking more along the lines of “Boxing Helena” when you talk about this guy.

  5. He even ordered for you at the restaraunt? I’d only READ about things like that, like some dating urban legend! If things don’t work out with the American, feel free to send him my way. 😉

  6. What a great story! And so well-told…I’d love to hear more.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog via Brandy.

  7. This is quite well written. I just read the last three posts and…wow… you had quite the experience with the American. Are you going to keep seeing him while he is there? There are pockets in this country where such behavior is still part of the culture though I fear that those pockets are decreasing in size. Consider yourself lucky for meeting a true American gentleman; we are not known for such behavior!

    As for the name post… I kept my name while my daughter has her father’s and mine but with a space/no hyphen. I know lots of women in the generation between mine and my parents, who did not take their husband’s names, but I don’t know that the trend is so common now. I wouldn’t change my decision, were I to have the chance. The paperwork is daunting in itself… but more, I am a part of a family that goes back generations upon generations. Sure, not all of them were upstanding citizens, but… they are each, in their own way, a part of me. I know that they remain a part of me… and a rose by any other name is still a rose, but…

  8. This is a fantastic post.
    Isn’t it sad that we get so jaded that real romance shocks us because we aren’t expecting it?
    I’ve grown to be a bit cynical lately. The American sounds like a perfect dream. But in my experience, those perfect dreams are never what they seem.
    But who knows? He could be your Prince Charming! But even if nothing major transpires from this, you will always have this experience and be able to remember how he made you feel. You can’t put a price on that.

  9. WOW!

    I think he is the only American man like that….because I live here and I’ve never met one like him.

    and WOW!!!

  10. i really enjoyed this. so very well written, and really got me thinking. I love how you talked about a movie-like romance… and how in life, there is no ability to cut out the bad parts, edit the fights, rewind and do over, and fast forward to the good stuff. I guess all you can do is follow your heart, and if it is telling you to pursue this further, I say, do just that. If you feel that your heart is leading you in a different direction, and if by pursuing this romance you don’t feel like you would be true to yourself and your dreams and what YOU WANT, then I would think twice.
    But I can honestly say, I’m not sure what I would do if I were in that situation.

  11. oh ps! i love your damien rice quote (right?) up top!!

  12. wow — THAT is romance!

    All I can say is that I’ve learned that when you find the right man, it doesn’t seem like a sacrifice to drop your “I don’t need a man, I can take care of myself” ways. It really becomes so much more gratifying and fulfilling for both of you to take care of each other. But, of course, the key is finding the right man that you trust enough to share that level of emotional intimacy with.

    …um, and this guy sounds pretty great 🙂

  13. He sounds amazing and if you were to let it happen, you never know, it could be great or it could be terrible and anyway you’re already with someone. This way, leaving it as one date, will let you have it as it was for always. A great story, a great memory and something to smile about.

  14. @ b – thanks for stopping by!

    @ brrr – yup, all in 1 afternoon. Ridiculous, no? Sometimes I can’t believe it myself!

    @ nicole – I emailed you!!

    @ jr – thanks for stopping by. I admit I had to google “Boxing Helena” to get the reference and now that I know yeah.. it is kinda creepy.

    @ lala – SERIOUSLY. He was like “The lady will have…” because I don’t frequent sushi bars too often so I didn’t know what was good or bad. He asked permission first to order, though… sigh.

    @ jennifer – thank you for stopping by as well! Thanks… writing it down makes it real to me, so that I can think instead of float in this dream.

    @ the exception – thank you; I hope I was able to convey everything that happened/I was experiencing. I lived in the States for 3 years myself and yes, I am SO lucky to have met a true gentleman – regardless where he is from.

    @ brookem – there was one point in the evening when I even said to The American that this was too much like “Before Sunrise”, except instead of one night it’s a month. Which is why, I guess, I’m still unsure if it’s really truly happening to me. And yeah… I would like to fast forward to find out what’s going to happen, but in real life we can’t. So I guess I’m stuck waiting for things to play out.

    Oh and yes, it’s Damien Rice. I adore that song, and fittingly enough it was the last song I heard from my ipod on my way to the gym.

    @ mel – that was my reaction (in my head) the entire time. WOW.

    @ beth – it really IS sad that I’m shocked when someone treats me nicely… shouldn’t it be the other way around? perhaps my cynicism is preventing me from accepting what could be reality… or maybe it’s something else.

    @ undercover celebrity – it was surprisingly easy to ‘let go’ of my self-care and I admit.. it did feel pretty great to have someone take care of me. But the question is, is he the right ‘someone’?

    @ ruby – you’re right; I am with someone, and just recently too. It will be a lovely memory no doubt and I don’t plan on having dinner with him again just because I don’t want to send any signals at all…

  15. Lovely sentiments. I’m jealous. I need a soldier.

  16. I apparently need to go back and read a few other posts about The American. This is a very intriguing story.

  17. Love, love, love this. The perfect post to read on the first really nice day of spring!

  18. @ brandy – thank you, although here in Canada it is STILL snowing – I had to retrieve my winter coats from the basement!!

    @ egan – that was my first encounter with The American… but he’s here until the end of the month, so I’m sure there will be more.

    @ jessica – it is lovely… I didn’t think soldiers like that existed outside of The Bachelor.

  19. carrie, i’ve been meaning to stop by your blog ever since you visited mine (thank you!), but i just got around to it today…and i’m so glad i did! i love it!

    i’ll definitely be back again, girl! 🙂

    take care!

  20. @ jenna – thank you for stopping by and I’m glad you like what you’re reading!!! Dont worry, there will be more!

  21. Yep, I’ll say it again.
    Publish this.

    I’d eat it up.

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