I took April Mae’s advice and went home and prayed again. This time, I didn’t attempt to jump to an answer but I tried to listen. In the last 31 days I had offered two soul-changing sincere prayers. I hoped for a clear, distinct answer like, “Forget them both and head to Europe.” I did feel more peaceful when I finished praying. The peaceful feeling allowed me to fall asleep rather quickly after I said amen.
When I woke up the next morning, my confusion came rushing back though. “Good morning to you,” I muttered to the sun rudely shining through my window.
I knew I wouldn’t be able to concentrate at work so I called and spoke to Leslie. She let me take the day off if I made up my time on Saturday. Sure, I’m sure my life will be in order within the next two days.
The morning seemed to tick by slowly. For some reason, I felt a bit anti-technology at the moment. I didn’t want to turn on my computer or even use my phone. Luckily, Matt still liked to read the Ensign magazine in paper form so I went through his stash. I looked for any article related to receiving answers.
By the time noon rolled around I felt restless. I decided to take a drive and sort my thoughts out. However, it only takes about ten minutes to drive around Laramie, Wyoming. The next thing I knew, my car was taking me east on I-80. “I guess we’re headed to Cheyenne,” I told my car. It agreed by not turning around.
Once in town, I pulled into a gas station and looked up Mac’s address. I wasn’t sure I wanted to see Mac but something seemed to be pulling me to his residence. “Why am I even doing this?” I asked myself.
I found his house and sat in my car looking at it. “Okay genius, what am I going to say?” my car still offered no answers. I took a deep breath and walked to his door. “This is nuts,” I mumbled and knocked.
He opened the door and a look of confusion spread on his face. “Grace, this is a surprise.” This was the first time I had ever seen him dressed so relaxed before. He donned jeans and a t-shirt.
“For me, too,” I said.
He recovered and smiled. “Well, c’mon in.”
I walked in and noticed his immaculate living room. There were no piles, no clutter. A place for everything and everything in its place. It didn’t look lived in and the feeling it gave was cold and aloof. I looked at him and he looked uncomfortable.
“You look nice,” I said reassuringly.
He nodded but he didn’t look like he believed me. “I wasn’t expecting company. You should have told me you were coming over. I would have dressed properly. If you give me a second I can change and we can go get something to eat.”
I smiled. “But I like you the way you are.”
His brows furrowed.
That’s when I saw it. Matt was right. Mac is an extension of Eric. The same mannerisms. The same priorities. The same annoying qualities.
“I just stopped by to say,” it was still coming to me slowly, “thank you.”
“Yeah, thank you. I’m glad I had the chance to reconnect with you. You’re a great guy…”
“Uh oh,” he said sitting down on his perfectly clean couch. “I don’t like the sound of this.”
“I don’t think there’s a future for you and me.”
He stood up and moved closer to me. But I had the feeling it was mainly not to mess up his couch. “What?” he asked again. “I disagree. We are perfect for each other. If this is about last night, I’m sorry. I was upset. You can understand, right?”
“Actually I do understand. I understand that it has taken me 6 years and one rude awakening – of which I am now extremely grateful for – to understand you are not my type.”
“I wish you the best. I really do. But I have decided to take a nice long trip,” yeah, a trip. Why not? “I want to visit some places I’ve only read and dreamed about.”
“I’ll wait,” he said.
“No, there’s no need. I’m going and you need to move on. Find a girl who appreciates your humor,” and doesn’t get sick when she hears your ‘I like you the way you are’ joke for the umpteenth time.
He looked at me without saying a word. I could tell he was not used to rejection. He definitely was not used to failing to obtain a goal he set for himself.
“You’ll thank me for this,” I whispered and left.
I climbed in my car and took a couple of deep breaths. “This has got to be some kind of record,” I mumbled to myself. “I, ungraceful Grace Perkins, just dumped two guys in two days.” I started the car and headed home. Before I reached the interstate though, I saw a walk-in beauty salon. I pulled the car over quickly and walked in.
“What do you need?” the young woman at the front desk asked while chomping on some gum.
“I need a cut.”
“All right,” she looked behind her. “Gladys, you ready for a cut?”
An older woman sweeping the floor looked up. “You bet, c’mon back.”
I nodded my head and walked to her.
“What can I do for you?” she asked me.
“I need a cut,” I replied as I sat in the chair.
“How much off?” she asked holding my hair up.
“To my shoulders,” I said.
“You sure?” she asked and let my hair drop. I could feel her playing with the ends in the middle of my back.
I took a deep breath and nodded. A world traveler needs a sophisticated ‘do. “You bet,” I replied.
After the beauty salon, I stopped and got a bite to eat. It was after 4:00 by the time I returned home. Once inside, I pulled out a world map I had kept since junior high and looked at all the dots of places I wanted to visit. So many places to see. So many dreams to fulfill.
I felt confident I had made the right decision about Mac. After all, Matt was right. Mac and Eric were a lot alike. Of course, it would take years before I admitted to Matt he had been right. I’d keep that to myself for quite some time.
Look at me. I dumped two guys, cut my hair, and I’m making plans for a dream vacation. Look who is beating this rock now!
At seven o’clock, I decided I needed fresh air. Reluctantly, I folded and put my map away for the night. I planned on going for a walk, but the evening air felt a bit chilly. So, I decided to go for a ride instead. No particular destination, just a ride to get out of the apartment.
It surprised me to find myself pacing in front of an apartment door a few minutes later. I had no idea why I was there. But I couldn’t seem to leave. I also couldn’t bring myself to knock on the door. This is silly. A sudden burst of confidence helped me walk to the door with my hand ready to knock. But I couldn’t do it and stepped away. I stopped at the top of the stairs and went back to the door. I was stuck in this pattern for a few cycles.
Finally, I took a deep breath and knocked on the door quickly.
“Please, don’t be home. Don’t be home,” I mumbled. No one answered. Despite my pleas, I felt a little disappointed. I sighed and started to walk away.
As I reached the stairs, I heard the door open. “Grace?” a familiar voice asked me and my heart fluttered. But I attributed it to nervousness from my new laid plan.
I bit my bottom lip and slowly turned around. “Hi, Wyatt.”
“You cut your hair,” he said. “It looks nice. It looks real nice.”
“Thanks,” I blushed. He was the first person to see my earlier moment of confidence exhibited.
He pressed his lips together and bent his eyebrows.
This would have been a lot less awkward if we hadn’t had that phone conversation yesterday. “Do you…” he tipped his head inside his doorway, “want to come in?”
I started to answer but stopped. “I…” I looked down the stairs.
“What? You were just roaming my apartment building for exercise and decided to door ditch?” He smiled, “C’mon in.”
My shoulders relaxed and I was able to offer a hint of a smile in return. “Thanks,” I said and walked past him into his apartment. The smell of Clorox assaulted my nose and I noticed everything was in place, not even one pile was out.
“This is a good day to visit,” he closed the door. “I’ve had some nervous energy all day. Mr. Craig is supposed to call today and tell me one way or the other about the website. I’ve been cleaning all day waiting for him.”
“Looks nice,” I smiled.
“Please, sit,” he motioned to a leather couch. “Can I get you a pop or lemonade to drink?” His words were polite and his manners cordial but there was a distance that hadn’t been there before.
“No, thank you,” I sat on the couch. He sat on a chair. I realized it was my turn to talk but didn’t know what to say. How could I explain why I was there when I wasn’t sure myself?
He lifted his eyebrows waiting.
“It cooled off tonight,” as soon as the words tumbled out I regretted saying it. The weather? Really?
“Yeah,” he agreed. “It has.”
“It’s because of our altitude,” I rambled borrowing Nile’s observations.
Wyatt nodded his head slowly.
“We’re colder than Denver because we’re way up in the mountains,” why couldn’t I stop talking? “Denver’s usually cooler than, say, Salt Lake.”
“Because of the altitude?” he offered good naturedly.
“Because of the altitude.” It’s official, I’m an idiot.
He nodded his head again and looked at his watch.
I sucked my top lip in. Now would be a good time to exit. Leave him a memory of me as a rambling idiot and he’ll be glad I dumped him. “So,” I surprisingly continued. “The decision about the website is coming today?”
He seemed surprised by the change of topic. “Yeah,” he looked at his watch again. “Talk about taking it down to the wire, huh? I’ve been waiting for over 12 hours today. I’m going out of my mind!”
“It will come,” I said reassuringly. “And it will be great news. He’d be an idiot not to go with you.” I could have phrased that better.
Wyatt scratched his neck and looked down. “Yeah.”
We sat for a few minutes.
“You sure you don’t want anything?” he stood up and backed toward to the kitchen. “I think I’ll get something for me.” He turned to escape to the kitchen.
C’mon, Perkins. What are you doing here? I felt like I was making a bigger mess of things. I sighed and looked down at his coffee table and saw a book. ‘Pride and Prejudice?’ I remembered our conversation about the book. He was reading Pride and Prejudice?
“Mac annoys me,” I blurted out. It just came out and there was no way to recall it.
Wyatt peaked around the kitchen corner slowly.
“I can’t spend another second with him. Because, well, every time he speaks, I want to cover my ears and sing la-la-la-la-la as loud as I can.” That was a bit of an exaggeration. I would have been content to leave the room.
Wyatt stood there.
“I guess that’s an answer, right?” I said more to myself. “So,” I continued, “I guess this is goodbye. I’ve got some money saved up. I think now’s the time to start an adventure. I’m thinking of backpacking across Europe.”
Wyatt nodded his head slowly. “So, what? You’re going to run?”
“No, backpack,” I clarified with a smile. “Definitely no running.”
He looked at me. “Why were you willing to give him a chance and not me?”
“I don’t know,” I said but Lexi flashed in my mind.
He studied me. “If you don’t know, who does?”
I bit my bottom lip. “You’ll be okay,” I said reassuringly. “I have no doubt someone,” Lexi’s picture in my mind just got a bunch of darts thrown at it, “will pick you up.”
He ran his fingers through his hair. “You mean Lexi?”
I shifted in my seat.
“I am not interested in Lexi. She is interested in me. There’s a big difference.” He stepped closer to me.
“She’s a cute girl,” I shrugged.
“Yeah,” he agreed. “A girl.” He looked into my eyes with an intensity that made me sit up straight. “I’m not Eric.”
“I didn’t say that,” to you. But his words were weighted and finally sinking into my thick skull.
He noticed the opening. “Forget about Eric. Forget about Mac. Forget about Lexi. Forget about everybody except you and me. How do you feel about me?”
My pulse quickened. “I…”
His phone rang.
I closed my mouth and waited for him to answer the phone. It rang again. He didn’t move. “That’s Mr. Craig,” I reminded him. “It’s important.”
“So is this,” he said still looking at me. The phone rang again.
“It’s your future,” I tried again.
“I think this is, too,” he didn’t even flinch when the answering machine came on.
“Wyatt,” Mr. Craig’s secretary said into the machine. “Good news! Mr. Craig has decided to go with your design. I’ll be here till eight – please call and let us know if you accept the offer.” Click.
“You got it!” I exclaimed and stood up. I looked at the clock. “You only have ten minutes to call back. Go ahead and call.”
He didn’t move. “First things first. Answer my question.”
I almost forgot about his question.
“How do you feel about me?” he asked again.
I looked at the blinking light on the machine. Then at him. This rock wasn’t going to beat me. I stepped closer to him, looked him in the eyes, and kissed him. I’m not sure who was more surprised, him or me. My kisses with Eric and Mac were nice and pleasant. Or, should I say comfortable. This felt different. It was like coming home – a home I had been eagerly searching for. A place I felt excited to come to. I looked at him, studying his face, hoping for a pleasant reaction.
“Grace,” he said softly. “I love you.”
That reaction works. “Good,” I smiled. “Why don’t you call your boss and accept the offer.”
Wyatt bent his eyebrows.
“Then,” I continued. “You can take me out for my 31st date because,” I couldn’t stop smiling, “I think I might love you back.”
He smiled and hugged me.
“Go call, go call,” I laughed.
While Wyatt talked to Mr. Craig’s secretary I realized Mac had been right. Up till then, there hadn’t been anything I felt deeply about. There was always a tiny lock to prevent me from feeling too emotional about anything because I needed to remain in control. For the first time in my life, I felt like I was ready to give my all. It was a little scary, but also freeing. I am ready to truly love and be loved. What a great journey my 31 dates had given me.
After he hung up the phone, I walked over to him. I kissed him again.
“What’s that for?” he asked.
“For doing your homework,” I replied and handed him the book from the coffee table.
“To be truthful,” he said, “I don’t see what the big deal is about Mr. Darcy.”
I noticed that the bookmark was in the middle of the book. “That’s because you haven’t reached the best part yet.”
“Ah,” he said and dropped his head.
“And because you have to be a chick to get it.”
He nodded his head. “That I believe.” Wyatt opened the door and stood in the doorway with his arm stretched to the other side of the frame. I slipped under his arm. “You know what’s really great about all this?” I asked sweetly.
He grinned. “I have some ideas.”
I stood on my tiptoes. “No, I mean, I won the game.” I kissed him quickly on the cheek and walked down the hall laughing.
“Doesn’t matter,” he laughed and caught up with me. “You’re still gonna meet Aunt Mabel.”
© 2014 ck’s days