Marnie had been in Atlanta for six weeks. Harp’s Irish Pub was less than a mile from her new apartment and she could not have been happier about that. She sat where she always did when she was at a pub alone – right near the stage while she waited for the music to move her feet and then her feet to inevitably move the rest of her. Once the music did that, she caught his eye.
Jay was single again and that was just fine with him. That April evening he’d met up with a college roommate for a little reunion of sorts at one of his favorite pubs. Being the only single one in the group, he’d kept his eyes peeled for any interesting girl prospects. He had a thing for redheads. When the music stopped and he realized the dancing redhead was alone, he made sure he caught her eye.
Five months later Marnie knew there was a problem. They were having, oh, so much fun until then, but now Jay was having fun – and Marnie was falling in love. They clicked – and in ways she had not thought they would, given their four year age difference. He was talented. He was funny. He was sexy. He made her feel like no one else ever had. It would have sounded cliché and ridiculous to tell him that, no matter how true it was, so she didn’t.
As much as she knew deep down that they could have something spectacular together, she also knew that he was not ready for it. If she tried to push, she would lose him; if he took too long, he would lose her. The inevitability of it made her ache. When she asked him the question, she got the response she knew she would get. He was not ready to fall in love – with anyone, not even her and no matter how good things were between them. Marnie saw herself standing on the edge of a cliff – the only question was would she be pushed off the edge or would she jump?
She drove the fifteen miles to his house one evening. Marnie did not tell him this would be the last time he would see her, she simply soaked it all in: the food he cooked, the wine they drank, the conversation, the music, the dancing, the laughing, the loving. There were times when she fought tears. There were times she had to bite her tongue to keep from telling him to ask her to stay. But in the end she did not. The night was the perfect one she’d intended it to be. In the morning when she left, Marnie did not ask Jay if she would see him again like she had every other morning they’d parted. Jay did not seem to notice.
Five years later Marnie stood in a new apartment drinking a glass of wine. She looked around her and sighed with relief. The marriage was finally over and all was back in its proper places in her life. Her son slept soundly in his new room. He would be two soon. The wine was doing its job and memories of the last time she’d lived a mile from Harp’s Irish Pub flowed as freely as wine from the bottle. She went to her computer, typed one sentence and hit send. Her heart was racing, but she made herself go to bed.
Fifteen miles away, Jay was fighting a nasty flu bug. Even if he had not been highly medicated, he would have been taken aback by the email that showed up on his blackberry. It was simply, “How have you been?” Marnie had not bothered to sign it. He replied immediately.
On October 26, less than a week after the email, they met at the Five Seasons Brewery. The only thing that had changed between them was that both had learned a valuable lesson in the five years they’d been apart. Jay had discovered he never should have let her go. Marnie had learned she never should have left. Everything clicked right back into place. They found the bliss that, by mutual agreement, they had walked away from those years before.
On the seventh anniversary of that April evening at Harp’s, Marnie walked down the isle in an historic chapel. Not long after their wedding day Marnie was amazed by one more thing: when the doctor gave the due date for their first child, it was October 26.
Note: this is my own love story and every word of it is true. I have heard that “happy endings are just stories that have not finished yet,” and while my cynical self has always agreed with this, I had to modify that view a bit after this. Now I wonder how many more happy endings Jay and I have ahead of us. If you are interested, there are a few other posts about our romance here, here, here and here (that’s all of them, I swear – well, so far, anyway).