I have a rule that I live by every day of my life, no matter the circumstances, because I believe it has been the only thing that has given me the life I want. Some actually think I'm crazy...and for what? Because I found something that works for me? If it works, why not do it? I'm not bound to what others think of my methods. My methods work. I will abide by them as long as I continue seeing success.
I'm a stubborn woman, they say. I refuse to see other ways. I won't change with the times.
I say I know better than all of them.
"Just one." That's the rule. It's not difficult, and there are no exceptions. Whenever anything is presented to me, I cannot have more than one. I will never have more than one of anything. It is entirely unnecessary but I won't get into every single detail of my rule and how it works in various situations. This isn't about how my rule works like that. This is about how my rule means my life stays on track, and it's about how my rule actually gave me my happily ever after.
I might be crazy, but my rule gave me what the others don't have.
I need to make more sense. Let me go back and tell you what got me here today.
I was in the airport bathroom, freshening up after a flight into Denver, preparing to meet my friend at a bar in the city. After I felt like I'd put myself together well enough, I gathered my carry-on and purse and exited right into a man standing near the door.
Stumbling backward in shock, he turned and grinned at me, which annoyed me slightly. "Whoa, who put a whole bathroom right where I'm standing? That's so rude of them."
I raised an eyebrow, and he quickly changed tunes. "My apologies, I should have been more aware of where I was standing. You're okay?"
"I am." My response was probably more curt than I intended it to be, but I was in a rush to meet my shuttle.
He tilted his head with a cocky grin and pointed toward a nearby door labeled 315. "Shuttles show up there. Enjoy Denver, little miss."
I wanted to reply, but I didn't want to spend too much time getting friendly with locals. I needed to get out of the airport, but I wasn't entirely sure how he knew I needed a shuttle anyway, which slowed me down as I had started to walk away. I turned to look him in the eye. "How did you know I needed a shuttle?"
"You're not a local. Sorry, no offense meant, but I can tell. And most people need a shuttle to get to hotels or other places. I concluded logically that you would be in need of the same thing, since you appear unaccompanied."
"Oh." I paused, then added, "Thank you for your help."
One conversation. One show of gratitude. One and done. I needed to go. I bolted for the door and followed signs to where I needed to wait for my shuttle.
A few hours later, I was sitting at the bar with my friend Sara. She was updating me on her life while I sipped my one soda I was allowed to have. The music was loud, so we had to shout to each other, but it was great to see her again after so many years apart. She knew about my rule and she enjoyed that about me when we were kids. She never judged. I was always at my most comfortable state with her.
And, wouldn't you know it, in comes Mr. Magician, the one who read my mind at the airport. I shook my head and smirked at the same time, which inevitably sparked Sara's interest. "What's that all about? See someone you like?" She looked around immediately to see if she could see what I saw.
"Not something I like."
Naturally, he noticed me.
"Can I buy you a drink?"
I shrugged and held my soda up for him to see. "I've already had one."
"As you wish." He smiled, and I felt the guard I usually hold up diminishing the longer I looked at his wide grin. I felt more at ease.
He took a seat elsewhere, respecting my boundaries. Sara eventually asked if I wanted to go walking around for some late night window shopping, and I agreed. We walked out and headed west, enjoying the lights and foot traffic with people dressed so boldly that no one actually stood out more than the other. It was a tremendous feeling to blend in for a change...I always tend to stand out.
We stopped in front of a small, yet brilliantly lit wine store, and Sara insisted we go in. I hesitated because wine has never been a favorite drink for me but I wanted her to have fun, so I followed her inside. The clerk greeted us cheerily and offered assistance at any point we might need it, and Sara began to lead me around like a lost puppy.
Sara asked question after question, trying to help me find something she had tried that I might also enjoy. The whole thing was frustrating because I wasn't feeling up to having any wine at all...
"Sounds like you need a little help making a decision."
I turned to see Mr. Magician appearing from nowhere, and I started to worry he was stalking us. "Is there a reason you followed us here?" I was in no mood to be nice, so this question definitely came out in a rude tone.
He, once again, smiled. "I own this store, actually. I was wondering if I might be of more assistance since I have tried every wine I sell here."
"I'm sorry. I..."
"...didn't realize, and it's fine, let's just talk about what you know you like. What are some favorite flavors of yours?"
I hesitated, because I didn't want to accept kindness when I'd been so unnecessarily rude, but then again the coincidences were a bit much for me to feel entirely comfortable.
Just one chance. He can have just one chance. No more than that, and this is it. I will give it one try.
"I've never really liked anything besides red wine, and even that can be really hit or miss. I'm not sure if I can answer this very well."
He grinned even bigger. It seemed like he was endlessly happy.
"I have just the thing." He vanished, and after a few short minutes, returned with a bottle.
"This one seems very you. Just trust me on this. I've been doing this for a few weeks or so. I'm practically an expert."
I smiled and accepted the bottle. "Just because you insist, I will try one wine alone, so I hope this one is a winner."
He nodded. "Let me cover that one just in case you don't like it. If you do, you can come back and pay for it. If you do like it, and don't want to admit it, that's also fine. But I'd really love to know if you do. It would let me know if I'm doing well helping my loyal customers."
I held the bottle up. "Am I a customer if I didn't pay for it?"
He chuckled. "I think so." We locked eyes for a moment before I turned away at once.
I'd have just one glass. Just one.
I went home with Sara to her apartment and sat on her insanely fluffy couch, feeling cushioned by clouds as her little dog was curling up with me. I examined the bottle of wine I'd gotten for free as I waited for Sara to bring us glasses and couldn't help but smile a little bit.
"You like him." It was almost a sing-song tone Sara had as she had quietly crept into her living room with two glasses in hand.
She poured one glass for each of us, sat down, and we toasted to our friendship and reunion. I sipped the wine, and it was...perfect. I hadn't ever tasted a wine I liked that much. Raspberry isn't usually a favorite of mine, but this worked somehow. I couldn't deny being impressed.
I fell asleep after my one promised glass, exhausted from the time difference between Denver and my home in Indiana, and I dreamed about Mr. Magician.
In the dream, he was performing tricks to impress me, and I was enjoying it so much. His magic was incredible. It made me feel like I'd never lived before experiencing what he could do with just the right slip of the hand. I watched in amazement, and when he finished his show, he approached me with a tenderness in his expression that I hadn't seen before.
He took my hand, looked me in the eyes, and said, "I'll always respect your rule, you know. I can be your "just one" if you let me." He held his palm in the air and in the blink of an eye, a levitating glass of Acquaforte appeared. "Show me what just one did for you, and I'll have one, too. Just one. For you."
I awoke with my heart racing and yet I felt so calm, everything in me knew what to do next.
Just one chance, I'd said. He got that, and I was definitely interested. Now, I wanted just one date, so I could find out if two of us could become one unit.
I visited his wine store and asked for the owner. When he arrived, I held out my hand. "I'm Lindi. I'm here to pay for the wine that I absolutely loved, Mr...?"
"My name is Ashten, but you can call me Ash."
"Ash," I breathed out as if the very name itself meant the world to me. "Would you like to go out with me?"
He smiled, and just like the magician I kept suspecting he was, he replied, "Sure, maybe one time."
My rule of one never failed.