This latest story is about a woman I met during a baking class last year. We were the only two unpaired so I approached her but she was very awkward and nervous.
She was American from Detroit so I just kept making jokes and talking to her. Eventually she warmed up and we ended up entertaining the entire class with our humor and camaderie. After the class a few people exchanged information but I could see she wasn't interested in exchanging information and became a bit awkward again. It was no bother. While we had such fun I was really more interested in the class instructor. The way that woman made an Italian meringue had me at "turn the mixer on high speed".
Later that month a man who worked at the same bakery where the class was held came up to me and said "I understand you met my wife".
"Excuse me?" I asked.
"At the baking class."
"Oh right! The instructor. What's her name again?" I asked slightly embarrassed.
"No. In the class. The American. Jennifer."
"Oh. Right. How's she doing?"
"She's doing great. She runs a shop down the road. She would love it if you stopped by. She said you two had so much fun."
I looked down and thanked him, bought my baguette and shuffled home.
That conversation was difficult for me because I was in the midst of a period of loneliness. It's ironic how things like loneliness can sometimes push us away from the very source of the issue.
I wanted my own wife, partner, what have you, to bake with, to speak with about "fun guys at the baking class" and it didn't strike me as fun to go sit and have a barrel of laughs with this guys wife. I thought he was marking his territory, making it clear that it was his wife and that I should stay away.
What I was missing, of course, was she wasn't someone's possession. She's wasn't some toy that he's offering me a chance to play with before returning to him, and nor would be my wife and nor would having a relationship like that even have cured my loneliness. She's just a nice person who strikes me as fun and in the midst of loneliness maybe what we need is less possession and focus on mine but more focus on community and us.
I'm still looking for that co-baker (I haven't seen the instructor since) but I hope I'm as big of a man as the guy in the bakery was to ask me to go see his wife. I hope that I don't see my future partner as something I own but just as someone part of a larger community on this rock called Earth who has friendships, purpose and identity separate from me but who chooses to make me part of hers nonetheless.
By the way I ran into him today, which is why I thought of this. He said his wife was away for the next couple days but would be back in her shop this weekend.
I plan to stop by.