The New Normal

by Jane Moneypenny

The toothbrush sat passively in its clear individual packaging. I stared at it as I squeezed the tube of toothpaste in my right hand.

“I’m going to use this toothbrush, okay?”

I say it quickly as I can as my breath hitches. He replies back some form of affirmation from the other room, but I’m too panicked to hear the exact words.

That’s when I notice the little individually packaged earplugs sitting idly near the contact case and small travel contact solution. Panic sets in as I rapidly brush my teeth and scoop the ear plugs into my pocket. He’s left them for me, knowing that I’m a light sleeper and he snores at the decibel of three bears. We rush out of the apartment to meet a friend for lunch and nothing else is mentioned again about the offending bathroom products. He’s a quiet, but a sweetheart during lunch and impresses my disbelieving friend who was set out to hate him by paying for our entire meal.

Exactly a month has gone by since our casual pizza-eating first date, our adventurous second date dinner at at abandoned mall food court and a third and fourth where I dropped all boundaries and we slept at each other’s places.

Maybe it wasn’t for me. Maybe it’s always been there, deposited after his last dentist visit. Maybe he has a closet of ear plugs and toothbrushes for overnight guests. Maybe he’s just a very good Texan host.

“Or maybe, he just likes you, dummy.”

“Or he has three wives!”

My friends laugh at my shocked face. I shake it off. I can’t trust in it. I refuse. For the first three weeks, his phone number wasn’t even saved in my phone. I still can’t say, “I’m seeing someone” out loud or “he likes me” or believe that he won’t disappear tomorrow. The past weighs on me heavily, so I take one day at a time. When all my experiences have been bad, I have nothing but fear. But I’m trying: Cautious, but open-minded. Independent, but letting go very slowly.

We had the DTR (Define the Relationship) before we even kissed. Neither one of us is necessarily looking for something serious or even a significant other, but I was honest that I was staying open to the idea as I was a neophyte to dating. He didn’t want to waste my time and I didn’t want to lose myself. He promised to be honest and not disappear like every guy in my life and I promised to not go crazy like girls in his past.

And then he kissed me and the world suddenly started spinning faster. He’s incredibly attractive, sweet and interested in my life. Each time I think I know what’s going to happen, he surprises me with the opposite. He says, “You look pretty” out of the blue and I’m so surprised that I can only reply back with, “You look pretty, too.”

Last night, we order take-out and buy pints of ice cream while watching  an old movie.  A week later, the toothbrush is still sitting in the toothbrush holder. His name finally goes into my phone.

So what if the new job hunt is really depressing and I’ve gotten rejected a few times? What if he’s not the guy I always thought I would date? He may not be “sparkly” or have that one quality that really defines him yet, but he’s my new normal. And the new normal has made me realize I’m actually pretty damn sparkly and amazing.