“So, here I am, drunk at your New Years Eve party thinking that some jerk friend of Jim’s is hooking up with some floozy blonde girl in your guest room and that Jim wants to get back together with you,” Shell enlightens Kyra with the rest of the story as they sit on the couch, legs crossed with glasses of wine in their hands and beauty products scattered around them in true girl’s-night-in fashion. As was habit with the two of them, they would get together in what they called “crisis mode,” whenever either one of them had an issue and would spend the night talking over Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, nail polish, wine and face masks. Kent always kindly offered to go to the store for whatever they needed before hurriedly leaving them to their devices. He knew better by now not to get involved in ‘girl talk.’
“But that isn’t what happened?” Kyra asks, more confused than she was before she heard the story. To know that Dave had been there at that party years ago and she hadn’t even remembered, what did that mean? For so long, Kyra had forcefully held shut the floodgates of her emotions, but it was getting increasingly hard to do so.
“No, and I didn’t find out until you and Dave’s first date. Originally, I had set you up with Jim, and not Dave for Valentines Day,”
“With Jim? Why? Jim and I hadn’t spoken in ages. I had pretty much given up on him ever since the night of that party. Something about him that night just seemed…over it,” Kyra thought back to that night and the look she had seen Jim giving her across the room. It was like he had been thinking how wrong Kyra was for him and though she knew he was right, it was hard to let go of all of that history. All of the time and effort she had put into their relationship came rushing back to her every time she saw him in person.
“Well, I guess your intuition was better than mine then. Kent invited Jim over for dinner a couple of weeks before Valentines Day and I asked Jim how he was and if he was seeing anyone. He mentioned that he went out on dates, but had yet to meet anyone really that special. And so I told him you had been dating as well but hadn’t found anyone yet. Then Jim said something like, ‘Man, I really messed things up with Kyra. I would probably do it differently if I had the chance.’ So, stupid me, I assume that he wanted another chance and I told him I had been meaning to set you up with someone for Valentines Day. I asked him if he would like to be your blind date,”
“Ah! Shell, he probably thought I had been pining for him all these years and that I had asked you to set us up!” Kyra exclaimed as she slapped her free hand to her forehead in embarrassment over the assumptions Jim had most likely made over Shell’s request of him and thanked god that they had somehow never had that blind date. “Ok, so what happened then? I’m dying here Shell.”
“Alright, alright, so it’s Valentines Day. Oddly, I get this call from Dave of all people who I had pretty much forgotten about after that party.
“Dave says something like, ‘Shell, it’s Dave, Jim’s friend from the party forever ago? Listen, I’m not sure what I did that night to upset you, but I just talked to Jim today and he said he was thinking about backing out on this date with Kyra. You’re probably going to think I’m crazy, but I care about Kyra, and I remember her being so upset that night of the party and I wouldn’t want Jim to do something like this to her again, so take it or leave it, but I just thought I’d give you a heads up.’
“I’m like, what the heck? I never remembered you being upset or that you and Dave had even met that night and I had been keeping a good eye on you since I knew you were tipsy and that Jim was at the party and those two things were not a great combination. I ask Dave, ‘Dave, what are you talking about? How do you even know Kyra?’
“He says, ‘I mean, that night you were so upset that I had walked into Kyra’s room I didn’t get a chance to explain all of this, but basically through Jim and his descriptions of Kyra I had just always kind of wanted to meet her and that night I accidentally walked into her room and we talked for a little bit before she went to sleep.’
“All of a sudden, I realize, crap, that was Dave in the room with you not Jim. And, of course I ask Dave if he knew who was in the other room with the girl and he hesitates, but with my prying he finally tells me it was Jim. So, I apologize profusely to Dave, and we work it out that he will be the one to meet you that night instead of Jim, since now I fully realize what a complete jerk Jim is to agree to go on a date with you in the first place if he hadn’t wanted to go,” Shell pauses as Kyra takes on this new information.
Kyra takes a sip of her wine slowly while giving Shell that, “I am so confused right now” look over the rim of her wine glass. Should she be creeped out by the fact that Dave had known her before that date, or that he had been wanting to meet her? Or, should she be glad? Kyra had no idea what to feel, but in the back of her mind, she wondered what Dave was doing right now, or better what he was thinking.
Shell finishes off the story, “Kyra, I know this is a lot. I haven’t told you all of this stuff about Jim because you were already so messed up after the relationship ended and I didn’t want you to think that you guys ended because of anything having to do with you. And then once you met Dave, it seemed like things were going well and why dredge up the past, you know? But, It was all Jim. He regretted ever leading you on to thinking he would marry you. He realized later that he had moved too quick when you guys started dating, but felt like he had already taken it too far to leave you. When he told me he would have done it differently, he meant that he never would have taken it that far in the first place.”
“I wish he had just left me sooner. Or that I had left sooner. Instead of wasting all that time in the same house together, but not really together if that’s how he felt. I was so numb after awhile that I didn’t even realize how unhappy we were. I probably just would have stayed with it forever if he hadn’t left,” Kyra says, more to herself than to Shell.
“I know. I can totally relate to how you’re feeling right now. Which is why I don’t want you to make the mistake of leaving Dave because of what happened with you and Jim. You and Dave are happy. And Dave, loves you and the only thing he’s ever asked for is more of you where Jim always asked for less of you and more of what he wanted you to be.”
Kyra really thought about what Shell is saying. Is she right? To think that Dave spent all the time, just waiting to meet her was amazing. With Jim, the questions had been, why? Why did they work? Why did he love her? Why did he leave? But, with Dave it always just…is. There’s no question pushing and smothering it’s way in between them until the distance is too far to travel. Dave could have told her all of this, and he was probably planning to earlier today, but he didn’t care about how they finally met. He just cared that they did. Isn’t that what she had always hoped for anyway? Someone who just liked her for the person she is instead of the person she could be?
“I think you’re right. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but as strange as this story has been, I’m glad it all happened,” Kyra said in reply to Shell.
“Oh thank god. Because I texted Dave to come pick you up while we were talking,” Shell said with a sly smile on her face. With a talent for bringing people together, Shell always knew just what to say and how to throw someone directly into the action.
“Shell! I’m not ready. I have a face covered in blue clay, I’ve had several glasses of wine and a pint of Ben and Jerry’s. I haven’t showered and I don’t even know what to say to him…I’m going to kill you.”
“I’m fully aware,” Shell laughs and throws a towel at Kyra while she pushes her off the couch and into the bathroom.
A shower had never felt so good. Kyra puts her face directly into the stream of water coming from the faucet for a couple of seconds. She thinks it’s almost like she’s washing away the past for good. All of her insecurities over what she was and how things had been were unfounded. It wasn’t that Jim was a “jerk” as Shell had described him for Kyra’s benefit. It was that they just weren’t right for each other. When relationships end like theirs did, there are no delineations of fault only a realization that it’s not working. Kyra thinks, “God, why couldn’t I have figured this out earlier?” She had been holding back for so long with Dave, what would he think if she suddenly gave in? Is she ready to give in?
Just then she hears a knock on the door and her heart skips that familiar beat as it does every time she knows Dave is on the other side…