There are many scenarios in life and in relationships that teach us about the true nature of the people around us. Home remodels, changes in family structure, job stress are some big ones. On a smaller scale are items such as treatment of service workers, road trips and travel, and fender benders.
Five years ago this week, my then boyfriend and I were planning our first road trip together. It was not a big one, just a couple of hours to Chicago to see the river dyed green and participate in St. Patrick’s Day festivities.
The plan was for me to have the car we would be taking packed and ready, and pick him up at his work and leave from there. I would drive his car to him, then he would drive the rest of the way, leaving his work vehicle to be picked up on the way back.
Monday of that week, we had dinner at my house, and then we each needed to go our separate ways. His vehicle was parked behind mine.
It was dark.
I saw his lights pull out of the driveway and onto the street. Or so I thought.
I put my vehicle in reverse and backed straight INTO the front of his car.
“This is it,” I thought to myself, “We have been dating six months, we had a good run. This is where he breaks it off.”
I got out of my vehicle at the same time as him, mentally bracing to be yelled at for being so careless, so reckless, so “stupid.”
“Oh my God! Are you ok?”
Wait…what was that? He was asking me if I was hurt, he was looking at me with concern.
I was so confused.
We looked at both cars, no damage seemed to be done. The “collision” took place at less than 1 MPH and the distance covered prior to impact was at most 3 feet, so not a lot of force went into it.
He asked what happened, and I felt silly explaining that when a car had come down the street (which is curved) it looked like his lights leaving so I thought he had left. I explained that I didn’t mean it. I felt like such a fool.
I waited patiently for the lecture. I anticipated it down to my bones. It was what I was accustomed to, what was “normal” to me.
He hugged me, told me he was going to leave now, and told me to wait OUTSIDE of my car until he was gone. He was laughing.
That whole week I walked on eggshells. Every day I anxiously waited for him to tell me how he really felt about it. I waited for him to cancel our weekend, to end our relationship, to do SOMETHING.
On Thursday I asked if he still wanted to go. He said, “Am I not invited anymore?”
I quietly explained that if he didn’t want to, I wouldn’t hold him to it. I couldn’t see how he would. He looked at me and said, “Are you going to crash my car coming to pick me up?”
He was laughing again.
As I am looking towards our now annual trip to Chicago this weekend, I cannot help but think about the very first one and the week leading up to it. This instance was the first of many that have allowed us to get to know each other on a deeper level.
He still teases me, occasionally pointing out parked cars to make sure I see them. It has become green water under the bridge now.
At times, I still expect a different reaction. I am still a little jumpy about certain topics, the ones that I anticipate will lead to an argument. Each conversation, each issue that arises is another opportunity for me to learn this new “normal.”