Simple encouragement becomes complicated when love is involved.
|"Look," she said, "There are five things you need to do. You need to assert yourself. Stand up to her. Go to her directly, right up to her door, and knock until she—she alone—answers. Tell her how you feel, and be honest, not pleading, not hoping, not demanding. Then, walk away—don't wait and don't hope; just drive it out of your mind; go do something, be something; live a new and different life, if you have to. But let her make her own choices. That's how it works with Amy."
Cindy was Amy's best friend at one time. She knew Amy all the way from babyhood until they moved apart after high school and Cindy went to college while Amy found employment in Chicago. Years later, they both moved back to town but never renewed their past closeness. On opposite sides of town each one found a new path in life: Amy looked for a new career in nursing, and Cindy lost herself in managing her new husband's business.
I myself floundered. A couple years at a state college, some work in construction, a stint in apprenticeship, some wandering both geographically and emotionally, and I found myself looking at thirty, no longer feeling youthful. Or hopeful. My gang was all married or moved away; visiting them meant sharing time with their little kids or girlfriend battles. I returned finally to construction, finding myself assigned as foreman in various projects.
I learned that Amy had come back home, was living with her parents for a short time, and then she found herself a little rental home where she was living alone, looking for a suitable roommate. I found this out when I was told to take a crew over to the house to make repairs and make it suitable for the new renter. Amy was there to examine the progress.
I always liked Amy. We flirted in school, drove around town in our little group, and shared some common interests. We were never a couple, nor did we expect to be. But when I saw Amy at the house, when I went over the plans with her, when I showed her the changes and asked for her ideas and wishes, when I furtively dug into her private life, and when I found out she had no close ties to anyone romantically—then I became interested. I don't know what came over me. I found myself thinking of her more and more, dreaming about her, noticing little things I never saw before or knew about when we were younger. I began to obsess over her. I wanted to date her and fall in love with her. I wanted the family life I never knew would interest me. I was tired of my wandering and my pointless life.
I still knew Cindy and saw her occasionally. I had worked with her husband when he was building his business and even did work for him on some of my construction projects. It was no challenge for me to move into their confidence. After carefully outlining my desire to get close to Amy, Cindy realized what my true desires were. She coached me with what she could remember about Amy, and she even called Amy to renew their old friendship. While Bill, her husband, busied himself grilling steaks, she unloaded the five suggestions to me to capture Amy's heart. She couldn't promise that Amy would be receptive, but she knew how to approach her.
It took me three weeks to build up the courage and practice what I would say and do. I even resorted to passing by Amy's little house and determining the times she would be there as well as looking for the possible boyfriends or admirers. I cleaned up my car and my habits, bought new clothes, and shed the old me for a more acceptable version of what I had been in high school.
When the day came, I knew she had been home long enough to get settled but not being crowded with meal or evening preparations; this was her usual idle time. The weather was comfortable and the sun was still high, a moon was forecast early in the evening and birds sang in the late afternoon. Leaves were freshening on the spring trees.
I parked my car squarely in front of the walk up to Amy's door; I wanted her to see my confidence and determination. And I wanted her to notice the attention I gave to my personal bearing, my manner and my material possessions.
It was five steps to the stoop and five steps up to the door.
I knocked five times.