I had no idea that what started out as a horrible day, would ultimately end in my greatest happiness. This is a story of patience, faith, and understanding.
Bang, bang, bang! There was a firm knocking on my front door followed by a loud voice. I stumbled to the door to see what was happening and upon opening it, realized it was my friend, Marci. “Hurry up woman! We don’t have all day.” was her response.
I looked over at the clock on the oven to see that it was just before 6:00am. I had barely slept and quite possibly was still drunk from the night before. “Andie, hurry up!” Marci said again loudly. It all came flooding back to me now. I had agreed last night at the bar to go to formula 1 race with Marci and her family. It was supposed to serve as a distraction so that I didn’t die of self-pity and depression. The night before, my boyfriend had given me the crappy speech about us wanting different things, aka I got dumped. I was drowning my sorrows in alcohol with Marci when she informed me that I was joining her for formula 1 the next day. She wasn’t about to take any excuses, so I agreed.
The racetrack was cold, as it was mid-November and very early. Marci and I were scouting out alcohol when we ran into some friends of Marci’s, a group of 5 guys, all really into cars and racing. I wanted to go stretch out on a section of the lawn and catch a few more hours of sleep, but the arrival of the additional friends forced me to keep pleasantries. I knew nothing of cars, racing, or anything that pertained to the conversations being had, but I forced a smile and kept sipping my drink.
One of the fellows turned to me and introduced himself as Vinny. He was roughly 5’9”, average build, with brown skin, big dark eyes, and a scruffy beard. His clothes were rather baggy, and he wore an oversized leather jacket. Nothing about his appearance was necessarily eye catching but when he shook my hand, I felt calmed and supported, almost like meeting a close friend that I’d known my entire life. I felt the sudden urge to curl into his arms and take a nap.
The next few hours I spent with Vinny, talking about fascinating topics and viewpoints. He asked me to close my eyes and listen to the track as the cars rounded the corner. He pointed out notes made by the engines, as if we were listening to a symphony, and he spoke about the grace and musicality of the cars. He talked about the cars’ ingenuity and evolution, making a rather boring topic very interesting. We spoke about him being born in India and growing up in Chicago, my travels and years spent abroad in Spain and Mexico. The more we spoke, the more I found myself being drawn to this man. We were so caught up in conversation that we didn’t even notice when our friends had disappeared until they returned hours later. Something about this person felt so good, so safe, so familiar. I knew there was something more to this meeting and I was certain that I wanted this person in my life for the rest of my life, but I wasn’t sure in what capacity.
When the race day ended, I wanted nothing else but to continue spending time with Vinny, but my body was beyond exhausted. The mere 4 hours of sleep from the night before, fueled by two days of heavy drinking, was not enough to fuel more social hours. Instead, I invite him to Thanksgiving the following week. He lived in Dallas and me in Austin but said that he’d be sure to come regardless.
The next day, I ridiculed myself for getting so caught up with another man. Here I was, one day out of a relationship and trying to find my replacement boyfriend? Pathetic! For years I had run from one long term to the next, never spending much time alone to discover who I truly was. I wasn’t even sure if I knew what I was looking for in a man. I felt miserable and as if I wasn’t allowed to continue communication with Vinny. He was however already invited to Thanksgiving, and I wasn’t about to be rude, just because I was a hot mess.
The week dragged on and I found myself eagerly awaiting Thanksgiving and feeling conflicted about it the whole time. I was sure there had been something magical between Vinny and I, but I was not about to lead this man on. Besides, he lived in Dallas and I wasn’t a long-distance kind of girl. As time ticked by waiting for him to arrive, I found myself getting more and more nervous. I started drinking wine to calm more down and before I knew it, other friends were arriving to celebrate the holiday. We started playing games, drinking, and eating and soon enough, I was having a blast. Vinny arrived late that night from delays on the road and I was half intoxicated and very jolly when he graced my door. He joined right into the games and celebrating and we had such a lovely evening. When it was time for him to part, I felt this huge magnet pull towards him. I didn’t want him to leave! I grabbed his forearms in my amorous state and pulled him towards me. I can’t be sure of who initiated the kiss, but I do remember his big lips and their soft touch. I recall my temperature rising and a desperate need to hold onto him while feeling a guilty need to push him away.
In the morning, I woke with a horrendous hangover. The guilt and self-resentment immediately set in but was teased with the arousal of that lovely kiss. I was determined to push him out of my mind. Weeks went by with no word from Vinny, save a small text here and there but very cryptic. Then one day he called me and let me know that he was coming to Austin and that he wanted to see me. I quickly agreed, telling myself that I was going to set the story straight.
When he arrived at my doorstep, I felt my heart start thumping and began speaking very fast. He had driven down on his motorcycle from Dallas and wanted to take me for a ride. I jumped at the excuse to press my body around his and hold on tight. We went through Austin’s rolling hills of luscious green and untouched live oak trees, stopping here and there to rest and take in the sights. At the end of our ride, Vinny bid me farewell and left for Dallas. There was no kiss, but he gave me a warm embrace. A hug? Really? Was he as confused as I was?
Over the next few months Vinny and I would randomly call one another and chat. Typically, the conversations weren’t with direction, about anything relative to what was occurring between us, but more like a conversation of getting to know one another.
Vinny made another journey down to visit and we met at my work.
As I waited for him to arrive at the bar, our mutual friend, Stephane, was sitting at the bar. Stephane asked if I was seeing Vipul. I had no idea who he was referring to, so he explained that Vinny was actually Vipul but that Vinny was just a nickname. He also shared with me that Vipul had a daughter and asked if we’d met. My thoughts felt very chaotic. Here I was totally conflicted about a man that I apparently didn’t even know.
When he arrived to pick me up for dinner, I felt a distance between us that had never before been present. We dined that night at a cute French fusion restaurant. I asked Vipul about concealing his real name, about why he hadn’t shared with me that he had a daughter, and if there was any other major news he was hiding. He told me that he was sure that he had shared the matter of his daughter with me on Thanksgiving but that in my jovial state, I likely hadn’t grasped the news. He also let me know that it was also a very sensitive and private situation that he didn’t talk about often. He felt a lot of guilt and sadness at not being able to be around her, since she stilled lived with his ex-wife in Chicago. As for the name, he laughed because Vinny was such an endearing nick name given to him by friends and that he hadn’t been intending to conceal anything. After a few glasses of champagne bravery, I told Vipul that I could sense his feelings for me and that I didn’t feel the same way. He was a really nice man, but I didn’t see us becoming anything more than friends. I told him the distance between cities would never work and that I was happy to continue friendship but to abandon any other ideas about us. I could feel his disappointment and my own.
He admitted that I had been correct in my speculations but that he would accept our friendship, as it was, should I want nothing more. He told me that my presence in his life was significant and that he wasn’t ready to lose me. I felt crushed. What was I doing? We wrapped up dinner not long after, and he returned me home. I remember feeling so sad as he drove away and wondering if I’d done the right thing.
True to his word, Vipul continued to call me and maintain our friendship. I still loved our chats and the times when he’d come down to Austin. My feelings for him never changed but I began feeling better about myself, devoting time to being just me. I was rediscovering what I liked, how I wanted to spend my time, with whom, etc.
One afternoon Vipul called to ask for my help in shopping for an apartment in Austin. He had become fed up with the vibe in Dallas and wanted to be closer to his friends in Austin and the fun, smaller city. I agreed and immediately started shopping online for apartments near my place. When he arrived two days later to apartment hunt, he had already made his own list of places to see, none of which were near to my place. He settled on a beautiful place in the rolling hills to the west of Austin. I remembered our first motorcycle ride through this scenic area and understood his draw here. I myself preferred the bustle and throb of the city center, mostly commuting by bike and spending as much time as possible in the public spaces.
I expected to hear more frequently from Vipul, now that he was living in Austin. I could still sense his affections for me, but he instead gave me space. One night I called him and while chatting, I told him about my last boyfriend and the timing of our meeting. I thanked him for his profound presence in my life as a good friend, while simultaneously suggesting that we would only ever be friends. If he could keep me at an arm’s length, I could do the same. Was I the only one with crazy inner dialogue in my mind?
A month after that, I injured my back badly and could hardly walk, sit, or anything else. I was crippled and in need of help. I called Vipul to ask if he could drive me to a chiropractor. He was over to my house very fast and took time helping me into the car, out of the car, and into the office. He waited while I was adjusted and then took me home. He ran to the grocery and bought things to make us dinner. Vipul stayed with me the next 5 days, taking care of me, working from my apartment, tending to my every need, and shuttling me to the chiropractor daily. He even drove me out to San Marcos, an hour and a half away, so that I could attend my master’s program at the university. He waited for me patiently in the parking lot for 3 hours and then took me home. Each night he would massage my back, and sleep next to me in bed, never making a pass romantically at me. I can’t express how touching and selfless his acts were during that week, nor how much I enjoyed his humor, cooking, and overall company. While I felt conflicted about letting him take such care of me, I needed his help and greatly appreciated it.
Some weeks later, for Vipul’s birthday, I took him to lunch at an outdoor French restaurant. We sat outside in the beautiful garden, soaking up the warm sun in the May afternoon. We proceeded to order delicious plates accompanied by champagne and found ourselves savoring every bite, every sip, and every word of the conversation. Time swept itself away and before we knew it, we had already spent 3 hours at lunch. There was really no need to end this perfect day, so we left for another restaurant down the way to order more champagne and continue our conversations. As I watched Vipul while he told me his stories, I remember thinking how attractive I found his face. His dark eyes drew me in, like allowing myself to tumble into warm chocolate. His kind face always put me at easy, while stirring up the need to touch him. A simple resting of my arm on his or a soft slap at his hand when he’d make a joke. I desired to softly pull his face into mine and touch our lips together, so I excused myself to the bathroom to splash cold water on my face and settle my racing thoughts. When I returned, he informed me that we were venturing on to meet up with friends at another location to continue the celebration. We met his friends at a location closer to his home, were we continued to slip deeper into champagne and laughter. It started to become apparent that we need to stop drinking champagne and catch some sleep. I agreed to stay overnight at Vipul’s as a drive home from that distance wasn’t wise.
I remember sitting on the couch chatting, agreeing on a movie, and laying down to watch it. I snuggled in front of him and pushed my body up against his. He casually draped his arm across my body and with a soft caress, I tickled his hand with my fingers. I rolled over to face him and suddenly felt myself very sober. As I searched his face for direction, he gently leaned in to kiss me. It was so soft and sensual, making my temperature rise. I grabbed his face and continued the kiss allowing myself full indulgence in the kiss and embrace. We slowly traced one another’s bodies with our fingertips, oscillating between kissing and touching, eventually curling up together and falling asleep.
In the morning I woke, feeling a pounding headache, but also a huge sense of joy. I wanted to giggle like a small girl that had just been gifted a pony and jump back into those beautiful kisses. Instead, I played it cool and told Vipul that I needed to be getting home shortly.As we pulled into the driveway, I remember feeling a heavy loss, like discovering that my pet had passed away. I turned and planted a long soft kiss on him and climbed out of the car. He asked if he could see me the next day, but my aunt was in town. I wouldn’t be able to see him for 3 days. We agreed to spend some time at his pool and have dinner.
As I walked into my apartment, I was suddenly overcome with guilt and panic. What was I doing? Was this what I wanted? Was I ready for another relationship? Here was the most amazing man I’d ever met but did that mean that I wanted him as my lover or my friend. If I messed this up, I would surely lose him as both.
For 3 days I flipped flopped my decision in my mind until finally I’d decided that I just couldn’t risk losing Vipul as a friend. Hopefully it wouldn’t be too late to re-cross the line back to friendship. I drove over to his and he leaned in for a kiss, which I quickly redirected into a warm hug. We changed into swimsuits and went to go pass time at the pool. The day was breezy and in the shadow across the pool, I found my wet body covered in goosebumps. He invited me to come share his pool recliner, where we lay snuggling together. I told myself that it was ok, that friends help each other warm up. Another voice said, “you’re still leading him on”.
I suggested maybe we go inside to warm up and began cooking dinner for me. I remember us chatting and then eating the meal, but the whole while I was in my head. I voice telling me to fess up and be honest. Finally, I cut him short mid-sentence and blurted out, “I think I’ve made a mistake. I’m not ready to be more than friends. Is there any way that we can take two steps back to where we were?” Vipul looked at me in the eyes, and I searched them for hurt, anger, any sign of what he was feeling. He told me that I was important to him and that he wasn’t willing to risk our friendship, even if that’s all I could ever give him. It took a second to register, but then I felt this huge weight lifted from my shoulders and all doubts and confusion melted away. For the first time, I knew how in love with him I was. My fear had been clouding all of my actions and my words. I now felt no fear, only love and the desire to be in the arms of this man for all my days to come. And so, it was. I allowed myself to fully fall into love, sensation, joy, and fulfillment.
Seven years later I sit writing out our story, ever more in love with the man I’ve since come to marry. We are 7.5 months pregnant and filled with joy and emotion. I’ve no doubts, fear, or confusion about my future. I will spend my days wrapped in love, growing more each day in happiness.
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All Love Letters’ are pristine, posted as they were received. Please forgive any spelling and grammar issues, since the writing was done in the throes of love, and sometimes love doesn’t care about commas or misplaced letters.