We had three and a half years before our meeting.
I used that time well. I had relationships, flings, crushes. With a few of those men, I wondered, “Is he The One?” For various reasons, the answer was never “Yes.” Might it have been “Yes” if Howard and I didn’t have our date planned?
Maybe, maybe not. In any case, most of my interactions with men, whether short or long-lasting, only strengthened my sense that Howard probably was The One and that I had been prudent to arrange our second chance.
A part of our agreement that didn’t make it onto the dollar bill was that we would tell no one, a rule I promptly forgot. At some point, I told my best friend. She thought the plan was creative (but felt bad for the guy I was seeing at the time). I also told my mother, which was a mistake.
At the five-year mark, I was living in Minneapolis. I was in a relationship that had been staggering along for months. As for Howard and me, we hadn’t spoken or communicated at all for a couple of years. I vaguely knew of his whereabouts from mutual friends, but this was before cellphones, the internet and email, a bygone era where you could actually lose touch with people and not know how to contact them even if you wanted to.
That’s what had happened with us.
Nevertheless, a few days before that first Sunday in May, I flew home to the Jersey suburbs for a visit with my mother, planning to head into the city for the weekend. My sister had an apartment on the Upper West Side, and it would be nothing unusual for me to stay with her because I always did when I visited.
But my mother kept suggesting an alternative plan, arguing that it would be better to go into New York when my sister wasn’t working (as a restaurant employee, she was busiest on weekends).