Remember that feeling when, on a seemingly unimpressive day at no specific point in time, you happen to meet someone and suddenly everything just....clicks? There's that butterflies in the stomach, smiling all the time, how did this happen (in the best possible way) feeling. After a sea of almost connections, he (or she) is really nice but, and meeting all the not quite right, the something's not there, the just plain wrong people.
Having just come out of the other side of a rather nasty breakup that happened at the beginning of the year, I haven't quite gotten there yet. Like Billy Joel's famous song, "I haven't been there for the longest time." I've been on a couple of dates and met a lot of almosts but I haven't had that feeling in quite some time. There was a friend of a friend's who seemed really cool while I chatted him up on a train ride home one day, so I took the initiative and asked him out. We had a nice time- he took me to a wine bar and we had continuous, interesting conversation but there's wasn't any real heat. After that, he didn't call and I didn't call. I did attend his birthday party however and was highly unimpressed with the evening's events. I knew after that that it couldn't work out. Then there was another friend of a friend's who, after hanging out a couple of times in group formation, asked if I wanted to hang out just us two. He seemed legit and nice so I said yes. Another perfectly wonderful date for gelato and a walk around the neighborhood. There really wasn't a problem- he was polite, entertaining and amiable. It just didn't work. And there's really nothing worse than wanting things to work out and just feeling nothing. When he's such a nice guy and if only you wanted him....but you don't. C'est la vie, as they say. The closest I've come to that omg, this is seriously for real this time, so excited you could pee your pants feeling is vicariously through a novel a read recently. (Is that sad? Maybe a little...oy.)
In Cathy Kelly's novel Past Secrets Maggie is living in Galway with her boyfriend of five years, Grey. It all seems to be working- they moved in together. He was charming and handsome and he was crazy about her. So she thought until she comes home early one day to (stereotypically) find him sleeping with another women, a student of his, in their bed. With all fantasies shattered, Maggie ups and moves back home to help her dad taking care of her ailing mom in Dublin. On a designated errand trip one day, Maggie stops to get gas. Not having driven in some time, she proceeds to fill up the tank with the wrong gas, causing her car to freeze. Looking for help, Maggie enters the garage and, clearly displaying her lack of car knowledge, is laughed right back out by Mr. Mechanic, Ivan Gregory.
Of course, it plays out as the typical boy-meets-girl. Boy teases girl so girl doesn't like him. Boy turns up the charm and girl starts to swoon. Boy wins girl over. But it's so much more than that. Through Kelly's descriptive and emotion-seeking writing, you can literally feel the relationship blossoming between these two. After the initial bad first impression, Ivan becomes what any (or at least almost any) woman is looking for- a champion who can protect you from the the world but who will also stand back and let you live your life that way you need to. And it's just so easy between Ivan and Maggie. I found myself cheering them on, getting excited for the way things were working out and hoping Maggie had found something I real. I even felt that "click," the same click Maggie was feeling, during their scenes. The writing is so quietly powerful that you can't not get sucked in and become personally involved and invested in these characters. It was so refreshing and fun, I didn't want to put to book down, but I also didn't want it to end.
The rest of Past Secrets is a joy as well. The characters are fully fleshed out and developed so that the reader can form personal connections and opinions to and about each. All of the story lines flow together fairly seamlessly and, while it's an easy read, it's one that will pull you right in so for a short period of time, you're moved onto Summer Street in Dublin, living right alongside these characters. And once you finish, it's a little like saying goodbye to some newly acquainted dear friends.