There I was, volunteering for the Salvation Army by wrapping people’s Christmas gifts for “a gold coin donation”. I LOVE WRAPPING GIFTS so OMG I was in my element! I had unlimited paper, silk ribbon and huge rolls of sticky tape. THIS WAS SO AWESOME!!! Letting me gift wrap is like giving me a $1000 to go and watch my favourite film on Netflix…it made me SO HAPPY and was so fulfilling that I just couldn’t help but smile as I wrapped each and every gift.
Not gonna lie, I’m AWESOME at gift wrapping. I cut carefully, make the paper size exactly accurate for the gift and if it’s a weirdly shaped present, then I know how to make a paper bag out of gift wrap so that a basketball can fit neatly in there and your little one won’t be able to guess.
I’m that good.
I was wrapping a gift for an elderly woman and finished it off with my patented flourished bow. I tucked a candy cane neatly behind it.
“There you go, young lady” I winked and gently pushed her wrapped parcel towards her (it was socks. I put them in a box and the parcel now looked AWESOME, thank you very much).
“Well dear, these are socks for my nephew…” she began.
When you engage with the elderly enough, you learn to recognise the beginning of a long story. I recognised this one immediately. This was going to be about 20 minutes. She already had a long line of shoppers behind her.
After 10 minutes of nodding and line of shoppers getting ever longer, I glanced behind the elderly lady to the man behind her. He was about 30-ish with a red/brown beard and kind blue/green eyes.
“Sorry” I mouthed and pulled a grimace.
“It’s okay” he mouthed back, giving me two thumbs up.
I tried to hurry the elderly lady along but she wasn’t going to be rushed.
Finally, she left and the young man stepped forward.
“Thank you for waiting” I greeted him with a friendly smile
“No worries, you were so nice to her” and he glanced at the elderly lady moving away slowly. This guy turned back around to face me and pushed two electric toothbrushes towards me on my wrapping bench.
“Oh…wow” I said, surprised. “These are…um…different?”
He laughed “I know, not the usual gift but my girlfriend has a son and wants to encourage him to brush his teeth, I thought if they had matching brushes, it would help him to want to brush his teeth more, you know?” He shrugged and smiled.
I was so touched by the thoughtfulness. When this guy smiled, I felt like it was something he did a lot. Friendliness and kindness radiated from him in waves. I was really blessed by that.
As I wrapped, he and I just had some “friendly bants” – UK speech for “Banter” which is basically a friendly/clever back-and-forth vocal exchange between people with great chemistry. If you do it right, IT’S AMAZING. We had similar senses of humour and both laughed at the same things. I liked his laugh very much.
Before I go on with this next part, I want you to know I wasn’t sexually attracted to this guy. I just found him sweet. I don’t think he was attracted to me and there was NO FLIRTING, we just got along really, really well. It was FUN talking to him and I wrapped slowly to purposefully draw out time so I could talk with him more.
I need you to know – I love my husband with my whole heart. I don’t even LOOK at any other guy, Alun is my unhealthy obsession, hahahaha. Bless him.
But when I looked up as I was about to finish wrapping the 2nd toothbrush, I felt time stand still.
In mere seconds, my imagination took me away with it. I felt I had met my friend version of a soul mate. I know there is falling in love in a romantic way, but I also believe there is a falling in love someone can do with their friends. For instance, I’m a little bit in love with each of my friends (less so with you, Cam! Hahahahahah! Cheeky monkey!). I’m in love with Kristy when she smiles. I’m in love with Sam when she mouths off at someone she thinks is trying to hurt me. I fall for Gracie’s throaty laugh every single time I hear it. I love Caris’s sparkling blue eyes and long lashes. I love Gary’s smile – straight, even white teeth. I love Alison’s fringe and the way it sweeps so perfectly across her forehead. So pretty. Each of my friends has a peice of my heart and that day in the middle of a shopping mall – toothbrush dude got a peice of my heart, too.
I fell in love in that moment. (NOT ROMANTICALLY!)
I could suddenly see our futures mapped out, you know. I could see us playing mini golf and smack-talking as we went from hole to hole. I could see us sharing a toasted sandwich after work because we’d of course like the same sandwich fillings. I could see us laughing as we hiked, him pushing me on “come on, JD” (he would call me by my nickname of course) and I’d grumble “okay okay. Shut up”. I would love his wife, and he and Alun would naturally get along. We’d live on the same street and sit out on evenings with our other halves as his kids and mine and Alun’s rode their bicycles together in the street. He and I would have ‘in-jokes’ and favourite movies. I would quote a line from “Stepbrothers” and he’d jump right in. We’d both find it hilarious while Alun and this guy’s wife would be sick of our bollocks. We’d go out for tacos every Tuesday. He’d ask me for advice on what to get his wife on anniversaries and I’d ask how to make it up to Alun when I’d had another of my meltdowns.
I literally saw our lives unfold like a flower’s petals…opening slowly and with so much beauty it took my breath away.
“So” his voice brought me out of my trance.
(I hope I hadn’t been staring).
“I guess this is it, huh?” his kind eyes looked into mine and I wanted to blurt out:”Wanna go to Gelare afterwards and have icecream?” but I held it in.
I began to suspect this guy probably would have loved an icecream. I’m not sure why I felt that so strongly, but I did.
“I guess so” I smiled and pushed his parcels towards him.
He took a $5 note from his wallet and put it into the tip jar, gently tapping the lid.
I felt as if I’d seen him do that natural action a thousand times. I felt like in a past life, we’d been best friends and my heart was recognising his heart and saying “Hello old friend” even though we didn’t even know each other’s names…and he was about to leave.
“Thanks for these” he held the parcels up (I’d put them in boxes, too – I love a good box, bless me) and jiggled them.
We both laughed.
“My pleasure. See you!” I waved and he laughed again and waved back.
“Toothbrush dude” walked away and I thought about his friendly smile all that day.
As I packed away the gift wrapping station at the end of my ‘shift’ hours later, I was still thinking about him. I updated my Facebook about “meeting my friend-soul mate – not the romantic one – but if you see a guy with a friendly face and bushy beard around the Galleria, can you PLEASE get his name for me?” and my friends all ribbed me for it. Alun did a laughing emoji and wrote in response to my post: “you are such a weirdo, wife” and it made me giggle.
I guess I am.
Toothbrush guy, wherever you are – if we ever meet again, let’s go bowling.
I will definitely kick your ass at it. Just saying.