On January 2, 2016, I stood just inside my front door. Decked out in a brand new dress and knee high boots, I checked my freshly blown-out hair for the tenth time, all the while whining to my best friend on the phone that I did not want to go on this first date. What if we had nothing to talk about? What if he looked nothing like his profile picture? What if he was a serial killer, or worse…a Republican?!
On January 2, 2017, I woke up and rubbed my sleepy eyes as my boyfriend of exactly one year deposited our cat on my lap for morning cuddles.
For the world at large, 2016 was the Year of the Great Dumpster Fire: beloved celebrities dying, a clusterfuck of an election, global strife, and disasters both natural and manmade. For me, 2016 was the year that love caught me by surprise.
I have always been a romantic. I distinctly remember dancing around my kitchen to Boys II Men ballads when I was too young to understand what they meant. Jane Austen is one of my favorite authors and nothing makes me feel all warm and fuzzy more than a Disney Princess movie. Even when it wasn’t “cool” to be a hopeless romantic, I never stopped being a sap. I just coated it in a hard candy shell of sarcasm. But dating in the age of Tinder can make even the most dedicated romantic feel a bit cynical about her options. So when said best friend suggested I join a bunch of dating apps “for fun” I grumpily resisted. Besides, I wasn’t looking for a relationship right now. I needed to focus on my career and all that.
Despite my protests, I found myself on the phone with her, on my way to a Bumble date, voicing all my various doomsday dating concerns and making her promise that she would call me at precisely 8:30 pm with a fake emergency in case I needed an escape hatch. I’ve been less nervous for job interviews. Which is probably why I only remember that night in bits and pieces. His ridiculously bright blue eyes and endearing awkwardness as he admitted that I had no idea what to do with the wine list. The way he listened and asked questions so that the conversation never dropped. The weird mix of nervous butterflies and comfortable familiarity. My arm through his as we walked to another bar for after-dinner drinks. A first kiss full of electricity.
Still, I was skeptical. I’d dated for years in New York City. I’d gone through the cycle of promising first date, flirty texts, delicious kisses and the magician-level vanishing act. Whenever anyone asked how the date went and if I liked him, I shrugged and said it was good and yea I liked him, but I don’t know…we’ll see. He was sweet, cute, nice, but it’s not like I was in love or anything.
Now, looking back, it makes me laugh how I didn’t see it coming, and how everyone from my boss to my best friend did. How what finally got me out the door on that January evening last year were the words, “It’s just a date, it’s not like I have to marry him or anything.” I have no doubt, those words will be recounted at our inevitable wedding. If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.
When I first moved to Atlanta, I had the idea for a blog I called From Apples to Peaches, documenting what I imagined would be the comical and adventurous transition from being a lifelong New Yorker to living in the South. It never went far, but I’ve held onto that name/idea ever since, loving the sound of it too much to let it go. Little did I know that it would be the theme of my romance: a girl from apple country falling in love with a true Georgia boy who, true to his sweet sentimental heart, presented me with apple and peach blossoms on our one year anniversary.