A long time ago I told a girl with a wonderful laugh that I liked her.
She said she did not like me that way and I said ok and then I looked at my muffin and chuckled in an I-Don’t-Know-What-To-Do-With-My-Hands kind-of-way and we talked about something stupid like lunch or what we would be doing that afternoon. The whole conversation felt like one long, run-on sentence.
When it was over I got in my car and drove away. I told myself and I told God that girls were more trouble than they were worth. I didn’t need to date. I could be like Jack Nicklaus in The Bucket List. I could be Indiana Jones and teach classes and then go and do crazy adventures and say to swooning women, “I’m sorry, I don’t have time. See ya, toots.” Yeah. That’s what I was going to do.
I drove to the furthest coffee shop I knew.
Parking, I grabbed my backpack, lumbered inside (because when you are sad you lumber), and found a good corner to sit in. Headphones in, I tuned out the world and focused on the book I had to read for class.
But then she came in.
She walked in the room and Journey’s “Faithfully” began to play in my head. She stood at the counter and ordered a sophisticated frozen drink while I ordered wedding rings. She sat down at one of those oversized tables that coffee shops have. Even the way she sat was sophisticated. There was an open seat across from her.
Don’t sit there, Drew, I thought, because girls are lame and I’m not ever going to date and I don’t need a girl and it wouldn’t work anyways because even if it started it would end because she wouldn’t like my laugh or the way my Oklahoma accent slips out on the word “ten.”
I looked back at my book in indignation. But the coffee shop started to fill up and I was taking an entire four-person table. I furtively glanced at the open seat then down at my table. I felt guilty.
I packed up my books and sat down across from “Faithfully” girl. We looked briefly at each other, she saw me and I saw a field illuminated golden at sunset.
I put in my ear buds and continued to read; this time a lot slower because I kept glancing up to see if she was looking at me. She was reading Cicero AND chapters out of Psalms. I’m sorry, I thought, but I ordered a hot chocolate, not a “(500) Days of Summer” movie scene. She was perfect.
Still brokenhearted but recovering, I said to her, “I’m sorry, but are you reading Cicero and the Psalms? Those aren’t usually read together.”
Her eyes bounced up from her Bible and onto mine like a time-lapsed sunrise. She giggled. I noticed.
“I have to read Cicero for school, but he can be sort of mean sometimes, so I’ve giving myself a treat every ten pages by reading a chapter from Psalms.”
“Huh, that’s really cool. What’s your assignment?”
She responded and I replied. She asked a question; I answered. Thirty minutes passed. And then an hour.
Me: “Sorry for distracting you! But it was nice to talk.”
Faithfully girl: “No no don’t worry about it. I didn’t want to read Cicero anyways.”
She stood up and organized her papers and books, preparing to leave. I only knew her first name and the school she went to. Everything in me began to scream to get her number or ask her on a date or at least get her ring size.
But I didn’t. For some reason I felt like I wasn’t supposed to. Maybe it was just because I was in a funk or maybe, just maybe, it was divine. I prefer to think it was the latter. As she stood up and after we both waved goodbye, the commanding, loving, silent voice of God broke in and said, “Drew, I’m the God of coffee shop encounters.”