"If I knew all the words, I would write myself out of here." MRAZ

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Love on a Shuffle

I asked him to give me music.

Don’t get me wrong. I like flowers as much as the next girl…maybe more; but you can’t take fresh-cut flowers to Africa with you. And music…well, when someone shares their playlist with you, I feel like they share a piece of their soul. There’s nothing like getting to know someone through their taste in music. It is a whole new perspective, an indirect facet to their personality that sparkles with rhythm and melody.

I was headed to Kenya for a 9 day trip and thought it would be nice to “get to know him” through some of his music. Sure, it is more romantic if the guy hands over a CD in the shy “I-made-you-a-mix-tape” kind of way; but I didn’t have the luxury for romance. I was looking at a combination of flights totaling 18 plus hours (and that was just getting there), never mind the associated down-time in the airports.

I flat out asked.

“If I give you my Shuffle, will you please add some music on it so that I can listen to it during my trip.”

“Sure,” he said nonchalantly.

My heart busted out in a break dance.
What he didn’t realize is that I don’t often flat out ask for anything. I tend to wait until it is offered so as not to be an inconvenience. That’s just how I operate. I can usually take care of myself just fine. But I was slowly opening up to this guy; and my heart was trusting him more and more in spite of my typical behavior. I was melting for him, and trying desperately not to let it show.

There were some technical difficulties with the Shuffle I already had. No one could get it to work. Something was amiss with the connection between the Shuffle and the ear buds; I even tried buying new buds, but it still didn’t work. I wasn’t too thrilled about having to buy another, but I wasn’t going to miss out on the opportunity to get my hands on his music.

(Sure, it’s true that I have an iPod touch as well. I could have given him that, but I was planning to download a ton of podcasts onto that space).

It was the day before I was leaving on my trip. I went to Walmart on my way to the office and picked up a 2GB metallic green shuffle, the kind that comes in a small plastic cube-like package. I handed it over to him without bothering to open it.

I asked, “I know that it’s last minute, but can you add the playlist onto this?”

“Yea,” he said, “not a problem.”

I wanted to hug him.

I came in the next morning with my mind in ten thousand places. I hadn’t really packed yet. I mean, I had tried, but things had been so busy with work, with prepping the kid and his dad for my absence, I hadn’t really take care of me yet. There was a pile of stuff in an open suitcase in my living room; and that’s about as far as I had gotten. I was stressed. I hadn’t traveled internationally since 2003; and knew that I would undoubtedly forget something.

I was only in the office for a few hours to wrap up loose ends before being gone for the entire upcoming business week. I powered up my computer and grabbed my coffee mug for a fill up. I met him in the hallway on my way to the break room. He had been walking purposefully towards my office with anticipation written all over his face. I had no idea why. As I said before, I was distracted; and when I saw him coming towards me, all I could think was how sweet his face looked and how much I was going to miss it while I was gone.

With our bodies in front of each other, I met his bright, only slightly mischievous eyes with my own, happy and inquisitive. Before I could blink, he dropped to one knee.

What the heck, I thought; which is all I had time for…

He pulls out the Shuffle case with one hand and lifts open the lid, as if it were a ring box hiding a beautiful diamond, with the other.

“Will you….listen to my music,” he asked a little breathlessly.

My eyes must have been the size of saucer plates.
A giggle erupted playfully from my lips.

“Of course! I would love to!”

I leaned down, pressing my hands against his cheeks and nuzzled my nose against his. It was hard to not full-out kiss him right there.

He popped up quickly, I think to avoid any undue observation from others, with a smug-sweet grin on his face, and handed me the Shuffle case.

“I had to whittle down the playlist quite a bit. Your original Shuffle had a lot more space than this one. You’ll be happy to know that most of the country was nixed; but I left all the Johnny Cash songs.”

“You what?!”

He knows that Johnny Cash is not my favorite. My question came out as an accusatory squeak, and I almost immediately chided myself. The whole point was that I needed to be open-minded and listen to his music, his soul.

“I’m kidding,” he chuckled. “Sorry, I couldn’t help myself,” he explained after evaluating my expression. So, clearly, I wasn’t hiding my distaste as well as I had hoped.

“Yea, I was up half the night. I had to listen to a lot of it to make sure that I wanted it to make the final list. It should be good. There are still plenty of songs on it.”

My heart was a pool on the floor. He would never know how much his time and attention to detail meant to me. I couldn’t wait to get those ear buds in. It wouldn’t be the same as having just one CD, where the focus on the songs is a little more direct. But instead, it would be like looking at a rainbow; enjoying the different shades and perspectives of color. And I was okay with that.

“Thank you,” I said. And I tried to let my heart shine through my eyes.

“Sure. No problem.”


The rest of the morning was a whirlwind of activity. I left the office later than I had wanted, which was typical. I ran home to dash about, doing my best to focus and get ready as quickly as possible.

I met him for lunch, just a little alone-together time before my international adventure, which would take me to the other side of the world. He gave me a big hug afterward at my car and told me to have fun. I loved him. But, instead of saying so, I said, “Thanks. Don’t get into too much trouble while I’m gone.”

We shared a mutually affectionate grin and parted ways.

Everything after that was seriously a blur.

Running home. Last minute packing: stuffing anything I could think of into any crevice I could find. Meeting up with friends. Getting into the car. Riding to the local airport. Checking in. Getting through security (giggling that they stopped my travel partner for an extensive search, the most unassuming and least sinister looking woman in the world). Grabbing a Passion Tea at Starbucks. Plugging my laptop in……and going back to work. The loose ends were a little slippery at the office and I still needed to tie a few of them off.

Before I knew it, I was sitting – as comfortably as possible in a middle seat on an airplane – and getting situated for my overnight flight to London. I grabbed all the necessary items from my carry-on: book, journal, iPod touch and Shuffle. The first hour or two was occupied with settling in, listening to safety information, picking a drink, enjoying an awkward dinner (there’s really no elbow room being in the middle seat) and waiting for things to get quiet in the cabin.

As it was getting dark, I decided to – finally – pop in the ear buds to my Shuffle. The activity of the day and the reality of what lay ahead of me were working together to get me to rest as much as possible; and so I decided to close my eyes and to single-focus my mind on the music.

Ear buds in, I rested my head back and pressed play.
There was nothing else I could do but giggle.

AC/DC’s Let Me Put My Love Into You rocked-out through the buds.
I might have blushed, but it was probably too dark for anyone to notice.

I made a mental note to kiss him extra good when I got home.

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