This past weekend, we went to NY for theof my first cousin. She married the man of her dreams, and if you spend just a little bit of time with them, you can see they are meant to be together. We were at the wedding because the bride is my cousin, yes, but the groom is also a friend of my husband’s. The funny thing is that they both attended our wedding – separately. Before their first date, before any get-to-know-you talks, before they even spoke to each other, they were in the same room watching us feed each other wedding cake. My cousin was a bridesmaid in the wedding, he was a guest. Neither of them brought a date. They began dating less than a year later, thanks to a re-introduction by my sister and her husband, and have been inseparable ever since, but we couldn’t help but notice the clip in our wedding video where they walk right past each other, both looking opposite directions, through the Viennese hour. The first time we saw it, it was like watching a movie: “Holy crap! Just turn around! How are they not even seeing each other?!” But alas, no sparks flew over chocolate fountains and cookie trays. No matter how many times we watch, there is still no hooking of arms while feeding each other sips of champagne; no flirty glances from across the room. How could this be?!
The first answer, of course, is because life is not the movies. Most of the time, relationships don’t just blossom out of thin air in romantic settings. Relationships often begin sloppy. Unconventional. Unexpected. We know this, but it still doesn’t stop us from expecting fireworks. But the second reason is that it simply was not the right time.
Who says you can’t meet anyone in a bar?
My husband and I met in a bar. I should really say RE-met, since we actually knew who each other were for quite a while – he was a friend of my brother’s for years, although we had not seen each other in a long time. I had just gotten off my waitressing shift at a sports restaurant, where I worked with my friend Sarah. Like we did every Friday night, we would head over to and talk about the crazy customers we had, while spending our tips at the bar on beer and cranberry/soco shots (my shot of choice at twenty-one.) We would never change our clothes after work since we would get out so late, so there was no time to pretty ourselves up before getting there. Like every Friday we would arrive around midnight, dodging our way through the forest of Glamazons in six-inch stilettos, trying to avoid getting poked in the eye by a spike of hair that some dude spent forty-five minutes perfecting a few hours earlier, until we finally reached the bar.
That particular night, Greg found me through the crowd and came to say hello. Maybe it was because I wasn’t wearing heels, and my 5’7 husband was thrilled to find someone he could talk to without straining his neck trying to hold a conversation. Or maybe it was the whiff of wing sauce that enticed him, probably coming from my hair. Whatever it was, he took a chance to talk to me. I did not leave that night thinking I met the man I’d marry. I did not leave dreaming about the next time I’d see him, or how. As he walked away through the thick of porcupine heads and leggy ladies, we did not keep looking back at each other to catch a second glance. But on the flip side, I did not leave judging him and picking apart everything I wasn’t crazy about. Being that I smelled like a blue cheese burger, I was really in no position to judge. But still. The relationship evolved gradually, and it just so happens that it was the right time and place for the both of us.
I think that sometimes we expect too much too fast, or are too closed-down, and have a hard time letting things happen naturally, and in turn, we sabotage ourselves a little bit. And this type of thing does not stop at romantic relationships – it holds true for friendships, business opportunities, and conversations with strangers that may change your life. It’s only natural that there are points in our lives when we are receptive to things and times that we are not. But as long as we keep an open heart and a positive outlook, and let our guards down just a bit, we will be receptive enough to let a little light in. And the next time you watch a couple cut into a wedding cake, or read about a wildly successful business venture, remember: it all started from someone being open-minded, and taking a chance on someone-or something-else.
What kind of chance encounters have you had? Ever meet a stranger who changed your life?
“Ring the bells that still can ring, forget your perfect offering, there is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.” – Leonard Cohen