Soulmates

Soulmates do exist--They're all around us

[After a night of music and exploring Orlando's party scene, Tom and Hope head to Cocoa Beach to wait for the sun to rise]

      Hope and Tom sat next to each other on the sand, facing the ocean and talking. A faint light came from the hotel building far behind them, but not enough to compete with the stars filling the sky. The moon had set and there was no sign of dawn.

      Through the haze in her mind, she was having a hard time classifying the man sitting next to her. He was definitely different. She was still trying to decide if it was different as in “odd” or as in “fascinating.” (...)

      “How about you, Hope?” he asked. “What's on your bucket list for real? Is there anything you have yet to do in your life that you'd regret not having done if you died tomorrow?”

      A sudden faint sadness settled in her and a sigh escaped, against her will. She answered with a weak voice, “I used to say I wanted to find my Soulmate before I died... I'm no longer sure that exists.”

      He seemed surprised. Silence fell between them and, finally, he said, “I see. You're heart-broken too.”

      Shaking her head, she sighed and started peeling the foil off the wine bottle, then began fussing with the cork. “At least being heart-broken has a magic on its own. Soul-tearing sweet and sour pain is almost pleasure, but it's not even that. I'm more kind of...heart-worn out.”

      He looked at her in silence, inviting her to talk. When she didn't, he took the wine bottle from her hand. She saw his hand moving toward her chest and held her breath.

      He carefully extracted a pen from the front pocket of the jacket she was wearing. He used it to push the cork inside the wine bottle. He served two paper cups of wine, then put the bottle back on the sand, between them. She thanked him.

      After taking a long sip from her cup, she said, “I'm done believing in relationships. Mine last shorter than the flavor in my chewing gum.”

      He chuckled. “You're too young to sound that cynical already! I disagree! I do believe in relationships and I can't wait to be in one again.”

      Narrowing her eyes, she turned to look at him. “You can't wait to be in a relationship? Is that your line to sweet-talk girls?”

      He answered with a head-shake. “There's nothing romantic about it. I'm just a lousy single man. My married friends say they envy me for having a chance to be single again...but I hate it. I think I was born to be paired up.”

      She looked at him with attention. He continued. “Being single feels as if I have a big pending item on my to-do list constantly bothering me.” He paused, then straightened up and added. “Besides piano, when I was a kid I was obsessed with large, complicated puzzles. Nothing unsettled me more than being almost at the end of one and realizing some pieces were missing. Well, that's the way I feel right now, as if there were a big piece in the puzzle of my life missing...and it drives me crazy.”

      She raised her eyebrows, impressed. He could say whatever he wanted, but she'd found his last example quite romantic.

      For a moment, she wondered if he was sincere; then, she remembered the women at the bar and her inner cynic rose again.

      She snickered. “Oh, please! If you're single, it's by choice. After what I saw at the bar while you were playing, you're not going to make me believe you have any trouble getting lucky with the ladies!” She finished her cup in one sip and served herself another.

      He grimaced. “I admit that I rode on that during my rebound. When I'm playing on stage is the only moment of my life when I don't have to do anything else to get women's attention. But it doesn't end well. I gave up using music to get hooked-up after Gregg's double birthday last year. You were wondering about my adventures on that holiday?” He grunted. “Well, let's say one of those adventures scared me straight.” He shuddered, as if remembering something unpleasant, and took another sip of wine.

      He put his cup down and swiped his hands against each other, then raised them up. “I'm done with one-night-stands. I don't want a different woman every week. I want one woman so interesting I wouldn't mind spending every night with her for the rest of my life.”

      Still trying to figure out if he was playing her, she looked at him, squinting. He turned to look at her. “You're too young to understand this. How old are you? Twenty-two?”

      She smiled without answering. Maybe that had been a premeditated play, but he had definitely scored a point.

      He continued. “Maybe it comes with age. To me it's no longer only about 'getting lucky'. It's about company. It's about having somebody to have an insiders' joke with, and to whom I can point out beautiful things. Someone who knows my history. Someone who can hear the thought I'm trying to express, if anything so it becomes more clear to myself.”

      She was moved. Nodding, she added. “Someone to bear witness to your life, because if nobody saw it...did it really happen?”

      Surprised, he widened his eyes and nodded slowly.

      She took another long sip of wine, then cleaned her lips with the back of her hand and sighed. “I wish I could believe that was possible, but the truth is in the statistics, relationships don't last. Definitely not for me.” She groaned. “The longest romantic relationship of my life lasted two years.” She made a grandiose hand gesture. “I rest my case.” She took one more long sip from her cup and put it down.

      He asked, “Now tell me, what is the longest lasting friendship you've had in your life?”

      She was startled. Michelle had been her friend for six years, Louis for twelve and still going strong. Then she realized there was someone else, her sister Joy. She had been her best friend for as long as she could remember.

      “Decades,” she answered weakly.

      A sweet and sour smile reached his lips. “Gregg and I were friends since middle school and until the day he died. Twenty-two years. Yes, geography separated us a few years in between, but when we got back together it was as if time had never passed. Yes, there were days when he got on my nerves and we argued, but that never made me doubt he was my favorite person in the world.”

      She nodded. “It's the same with my sister.”

      He pierced her with his gaze. “Do you see my point? We've all met people like that, people with whom we have an almost instant connection, people we learn to love so quickly after we meet them, it would be easy to believe we've known them from other lives. Loved ones like those are our soulmates. They prove to us that love that can stand the test of time does exist. If we were able to find those platonic soulmates, why can't we find the non-platonic one to share our lives with?”

      His words sounded so logical she was having a hard time finding a counter-argument. It may have also had something to do with her rising alcohol levels.

      “You're forgetting a few things: physical chemistry, compatibility.” She grunted, feeling drunk. “The only male soulmate of my life, my friend Louis, is gay, and so messy we almost killed each other years ago when we tried to be roommates!”

      He chuckled. “Well, I never said my theory was perfect, but it's something to start from!” He served himself more wine.

      She looked at him, admiring and envying his optimism. She felt suddenly old, as if he was starting with enthusiasm a path she was returning from, defeated.

      She sighed. “I'm actually 34.” He brought the cup down, surprised. “I had my first real boyfriend when I was 17. That means I've been looking for that 'romantic soulmate love' now for exactly half my life. Shouldn't I've already seen it if it really existed?”

      “I know it does exist. I may have never had it, but I've seen it.” He leaned forward, speaking with enthusiasm, as if someone relating the day of his UFO sighting. “I've seen those couples who are also best friends, and their lives together are like an eternal slumber party. They bring the best out of each other. They're the ones who are still together and happy twenty, or thirty, or fifty years later and they no longer have to complete each other's sentences...because by then they speak by telepathy.”

      Hope looked at him in awe and felt an unexpected feeling of peace settle deep in her heart. It was the certainty of being exactly at the right place she had to be. It was also the feeling of future nostalgia, as if she knew that some day in the future she'd be remembering this moment with sweet and sour joy.

      Her voice was soft. “Maybe I've been chewing gum, when what I really needed was real, nourishing food.”

      She wrapped him in her arms and started kissing him.