Lightning In A Bottle

I’m trying to get a concept out of my head and out there for everyone to see. My best way of relating this is to write, particularly romance.

How do you know you were in love with Dad? It’s a simple question. Every kid asks it of someone when they’re growing up. It always seemed like a mystery. I remember being told nothing that made sense. Mom said the best thing, and the only real answer, which was “I just knew.”

Love is a confusing emotion, and understanding it from the outside is almost as impossible as understanding it from the inside. It will make no sense, especially in the beginning. It’s an “it feels so wrong it’s right” kind of thing. People will tell you when you find someone you love you don’t hear violins, or choirs of angels singing. No light from heaven comes down and shines like a halo around the person’s head. No voice from on high tells you anything, and God does not point his finger as a confirmation.And lightning doesn’t strike. Ever.

In the Spring of 1996 I met my husband in a Star Wars chat room. Face unseen, voice unheard, I fell in love with who he was all the while thinking that he was far too young. (Yes, I married a younger man.) Meeting him in person 6 weeks later only confirmed what I knew already. It wasn’t the first time I had thought I was in love.

I grew up boy crazy. Make no mistake I wanted to find the person I’d love desperately and I thought that would be easy. Silly me. I must have determined I was in love with over 2 dozen people in my first 18 years. Much of it was never even noticed by others, let alone requited. I didn’t date a lot, didn’t go out with friends in a group a lot. I honestly had no idea exactly what it would feel like. Most people ask themselves at some point “How do you know when you’re in love?”

Another thing that isn’t easy.

When my stepdaughter met her girlfriend and wanted to propose, she called my husband and asked a similar question: “How did you know Sandra was the one?”

He took the call in another room so I did not hear the answer, nor did he tell me what he had said. But, my husband has been so abundantly clear why I’m important to him, how I make him feel, the effect my very presence has on his whole being I didn’t need to hear it.

His experience in knowing that is far different from mine.

My husband? He. Just. Knew. I typed three posts to him in the chat room—one welcoming him, a second asking how he was that evening, a third offering to help him with the operations of the chatroom if he needed help. While I was typing this, he has told me he had these internal revelations: one was “she’s hot,” two was “she’s probably bi-sexual,” (and he was right) and three “I want to marry her.” In that order.

I should add I did not have a picture of myself up at the time, nor were there any of me on the net. In 1996 uploading a photo meant owing a scanner or an expensive camera you could plug into your computer which cost around $700. Being a working girl, my money was tied up in such frivolities as rent and food and transportation. I only had my Mac because I used some of the claim from a car wreck when someone slammed into me to buy one instead of getting a better replacement car. Which, by the way, was a stupid financial decision that came back to bite me in the ass. However, it also changed my life forever.

So the “she’s hot” comment always made me wonder. I didn’t realize he meant my personality. I didn’t think I had one.

For me knowing he was the one was far different, and less immediate. Yes, I did fall in love with him before we physically met. I did not, however, know he was the person I had been searching for in all the different people I thought I had fallen in love with. I learned early on it’s easy to have the feelings, and you can wish them into existence.

That does not make them real, no matter how hard you try or wish for them.

So he’s sitting on my sofa, eight feet away, as we did not sit next to one another. I figured he was younger, I was playing with fire on that one just letting him come over. He was the nervous long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs, not stringing together any more words than amounted to a couple of short sentences at a time. For him it was proceed with all caution so as not to blow it.

For me, I wanted to have conversations with him like we’d had online. In depth, flirty, fun. I loved hanging out with him to a magnitude 10 on the Richter scale. It was rocking my entire world. But when he arrived that Saturday in June, and for several hours during his visit, I didn’t know he was The One.

So I asked about something we had been talking about online—his acting, and in particular, the mechanics of doing a stage fall, which is planned, and how it effected his injured knee compared to his moving a refrigerator. Gone was the caution. He jumped up from the sofa and began demonstrating right there how you do a fall on command on stage. He transformed. He was so very passionate, intelligent, well spoken. Then something paranormal occurred.

I was struck by lightning.

Okay, not literally a “bolt from the blue.” Yet it was. Ever been shocked, feeling the electricity vibrate as it invades the point of contact? That’s what I felt on the crown of my head for a number of seconds. Then it shot through my body all the way down to my toes. At the same time the electric feeling possessed me, my mind perceived a light shining down. Not on him. On my soul. In a flash it lit all the things we don’t see about ourselves, showing me who I was as a spiritual person. Didn’t see my shade, or a copy of me or anything. I saw something that looked like a wheel, with spokes made out of pieces of images. Many of them were faces, reminding me of an Art Deco al fresco detail on the front of a fancy building, all cherubs or Roman gods in classical poses. They had details, but they were not the most distinct. It was more like a feeling about each of them. I knew it was something in me, part of me, and watching me, oddly enough. From in my heart. I have, since this happened, thought of it as The Very Heart Of My Soul.

The hub of the wheel seemed to be dead center of my chest, between where my lungs were. The spokes radiated outward like, well, a wagon wheel. In the hub, the very middle of The Very Heart Of My Soul was someone looking back who was not me. In an instant I knew it was this younger man sitting back down on my sofa who had just educated me on the mechanics of a stage fall.

I’m not a stupid woman. I knew enough to know that lightning wouldn’t strike the same way ever again. So, when I had the opportunity, I said yes, trapping the lightning in a bottle forever.

That’s what I try to do on paper, with every romance I write. Maybe my books will help someone see how to answer that age old question of “How did you know?” and capture lightning in a bottle of their own.

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