Do you remember the last time you had butterflies? I have thought of that moment or really for me, that person who brought on a rabid and nervous case of the butterflies. This cute boy from Raleigh who I had known for years was living in Edenton and coming to Chapel Hill to pick me up for dinner. I was giddy with excitement and had secretly always admired the way he never gave me attention. If anything, he went out of his way to ignore me or that is what I like to believe. He did marry me after all so the evidence proves he had ulterior motives.
We had a long history of being acquaintances. The story of our meeting from his angle is ridiculous and only partially grounded in a tinge of truth. I was a freshman at Meredith College and he was the same year at NC State. A group of fraternity boys that had grown up with my brother made sure to include the freshman in an innocently admirable way. They invited me and my friends to football games and band parties, always making sure we had a pledge as chauffeur.
One evening as we sat on the back deck of the KA house, pretending to drink keg beer, I remember Thomas meandering through the crowd and thinking he had amazing green eyes and a genuine smile. As he tells it, I was perched on the rickety deck and he was on clean up duty below. He loves to say that I casually threw my cigarette butts below just to watch him pick them up. I mean really.
Throughout college we ran in the same circles and dated friends of one another. I always was enamored of the boy that was so nice, popular, and did not play by the rules of college popularity. He drove an old tan van around town and I had indeed ridden in the back with a dozen other friends to watch the Wolfpack play football. I also was included in weekend house parties in a little town called Edenton where his family had an old plantation house, complete with spooky portraits, antique furniture, and usually a lot of barbecue and entertainment by a one man band, The Mighty Quinn.
I had never received an actual personal invite but clearly felt secure in making the three hour trip to hang out in the pitch black country in Eastern NC. In fact, I remember sharing the weekend stories and the listener commented on the beauty of the water where the house has stood for 200 years. "Water! What water?!" I replied and fulfilling the blond girl stigma, had never taken note of the expansive Albemarle Sound. Good heavens.
As the years went on, our friendship remained the same, not particularly amicable but always a friendly but knowing smile. And now, four years later I found myself waiting nervously for the green eyed boy to take me to dinner and I found myself totally overcome to the point of nausea, with the rapturous butterflies. I talked to a dear friend as I waited and admitted my nervousness and have always remembered his reaction of sheer delight and the glee that resonated in his voice when he stated in all seriousness that, that was the best feeling in the whole world.
I love that memory as that friend disappeared out of my life one cold winter day and how I cried and wept with the thought he would not be at my wedding to the boy he had put his blessing upon. Oh, the butterflies. It was later that evening as we sat on my concrete stoop that served as my front porch that I thought for the first time that this was the person I was going to marry. And I did.
Almost 14 years, 4 children, 3 graduate degrees, 3 houses, 2 towns, 4 jobs and innumerable mountains and valleys later, the butterflies had made way for a deep love and adoration. Heart pounding love, yes, but butterflies, no. I thought of this from time to time and sometimes mourned the nervousness of the "best feeling in the whole world".
It is the butterflies. They have returned and never in a way that I could have dreamed of or even thought to expect. Yes, I have realized that one's own passion brings butterflies and this time they come with discovering the second love of my life, writing. As I sit down to enjoy the hour or so quiet that comes with a toddler's nap time, the butterflies swarm, my heart quickens and I feel giddy with delight as I get comfortable in my oversized chair, worn and used, purchased from our local Habitat Re-Store (in my defense, I did know who it had belonged to).
What. A. Feeling. I shall embrace the butterflies and know that the last time I remembered them this way, I was making the smartest choice of my life. I can only go with experience to follow them now on this unfamiliar path, seemingly treacherous, scary, but beckoning to a lovely future and so, I shall embrace my butterflies. Where are yours hiding?