A few moments later, as I was chatting away with my mother, giving her some sense of what to say and what not to say if and when Ricky was to approach me once again, our eyes met. Just then, I saw Ricky walking with a woman. She looked sweet and kind, and I’m not sure what made me think that she was sweet and kind, but I think it had something to do with her demeanor and the way that she carried herself. She dressed in a fashion that was ladylike, and dignified. And there was something about the way that she walked. There was something beautiful about her energy, her essence, and she seemed so poised and graceful. It made her come across as if she was a very polite, good girl type. I didn’t think much about who she was, and I didn’t even really have a chance to do so, because the next thing I knew, she was standing right in front of me.
As she stood in front of me, Ricky stood about 5 feet behind her in the background, still staring straight into my eyes. I tried to avoid making full on eye contact with him, so I could hear what she was saying. Her name was Helen.
Helen was a pretty girl, or even a young woman I suppose. Her demeanor was exquisite, unlike the people that I was used to seeing at this congregation—on the rare occasion that I would attend services. I was assuming that she knew Ricky to some extent or that they were close friends by the way that Ricky was staring at me, and perhaps because of the fact that she didn’t come across as jealous or bitter for me chatting with him earlier—in case she’d noticed. I’m not sure why she even started talking to me in the first place, so I assumed that maybe she was just being friendly.
She introduced herself and asked me where I was from, so I responded, “Upstate New York,” and quickly introduced my mother. We talked for a little while and then she’d mentioned that her brother, Ricky had told her that he was talking with me inside, and mentioned that he rarely, if ever talks to anyone that he meets in the temple. And then she quickly waved her hand towards him in a welcoming fashion, to join in our circle of conversation. I then immediately introduced my mother to Ricky. “Ricky, this is my mother, Penelope. Our conversation went on for a bit, as Ricky made his way in, adding to the conversation in the most polite, humble, and sweet manner. It was hard to hear exactly what he was saying for the most part, because he seemed a bit shy and spoke quickly, but in a low and humble tone, or perhaps I couldn’t hear him because the satisfied congregants were making their way outside causing way too much commotion for being so satisfied. But his demeanor was sweet, and he was nothing short of intelligent, witty and confident.
It was almost hard to look at Ricky directly in his eyes, because the feeling, the fire, and the intensity was so strong that it made me more shy than I normally would’ve been. I suppose it could’ve had something to do with the fact that he was a complete stranger, but still, there was something special about Ricky, and just looking at him was speeding up my pulse, like he’d just set my heart on fire.
But I wanted more—I wanted substance, foundation, and some logical reason as to why I felt the way that I did, and without even really speaking very much yet. I wanted to have the chance to get to know him on a deeper level. I just didn’t know how to go about it, especially with my seemingly new shy personality that had just developed. I wasn’t even a very shy girl, let alone, afraid to talk and speak my mind—I’d actually be what some might refer to as “a girl with a chip on her shoulder.” If you’d asked Mom, what I am, she’d respond with, a beautiful girl inside and out, that comes with an attitude problem. She’d say, “no one is perfect.” How annoying, if anything, I was more of an anxious girl, and at times, perhaps it came across to others as if I had an attitude problem, but it was likely just a self-defensive mechanism.
Now keep in mind that, I never really believed in love at first sight, and although I’m one that has lived a life of believing in true love, I feel that it tends to take a lot of hard work, effort, and time, in order to attain the type of relationship in which would even remotely be considered as something along the lines of involving true love. In other words, I’ve always believed that real love is something that should involve the heart and logic, and not just one or the other. All I knew was that there was definitely no logic in the way that I was feeling when I’d look at Ricky, and somehow, I knew that he felt the same way.
Everyone seemed to be making their way out of the temple, and in the process, interrupting our conversation. The four of us, huddled in a little closer so that we could hear each other talk, but it seemed nearly impossible, getting bumped and shoved around. It kind of reminded me of my trip to Israel, visiting Shuk Ha’Carmel—which was always packed with herds of people. It was clear that there was some beautiful connection between Ricky and me and anyone could see it. It was almost as if when we’d speak, the sun shined brighter and an illuminating light shined down upon us covering, yet protecting us both. It was like a spiritual light from God. I mean, it had to be—after all, we did meet at the temple.
Suddenly, Mom suggested that we leave, being that it was getting too crowded and it was also too hard to hear each other. Ricky promptly jumped in, “Alana, I’d love to continue this conversation, if you’re free after we leave here. I mean, if you don’t have any other plans? I mean… if you’re up for it.” I suddenly felt under the impression that Ricky has been just as nervous as I was, only it seemed more evident after he just spoke, almost as if the fear of me walking away, without even so much as getting my phone number had just occurred to him. He stumbled for words and although he still appeared to be confident, his demeanor changed somewhat into one more so similar to mine, self-conscious, anxious, unsure, and perhaps, a bit eager—Eager, I assume, to get to know me more, and better. In other words, our feelings were mutual.
Mom jumped in to say, “Yes! Definitely! You two should go out and have fun! Get to know each other.”
“But Mom, I thought we were going to spend time together today.” I added.
Ricky said, “it’s O.K. if you have plans, we can get together another time.
Mom responded, “No, go! Go! Go out and have fun! I’ll be fine, we can catch up later.”
I could barely get a word in.
“Thanks Mom.” In my most sarcastic but light hearted tone.
Although, I genuinely felt gracious for her speaking up. I sure couldn’t find the courage. I wanted nothing more than to spend some alone time with Ricky and find out all about him. And I was ecstatic to know that he felt the same way.
Ricky suggested that we meet somewhere nearby, a place that I’ll never forget, the Rubin Museum of Art. It was only about 20 minutes from where I lived, and only a few blocks from the temple, so I thought, “perfect.” We all said our farewells, and Ricky winked at me as we headed off to our cars.
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