So last week, when I talked about the Definite Chief Aim, I mentioned that while it could certainly be true, I wasn't completely certain that simply writing a strong desire down on paper was enough to make it happen in real life. Still, I asked someone to remind me to tell you the story about the list of the characteristics of my perfect man I made about a year before I met Marcus. Well, someone did, and so now, this is that story.
It was late 2000, and I was a couple of months away from moving to London, to be the attorney for the Europe/Africa/Middle East region of my company. I was very excited to go: I had been living in Houston for 10 years since university (7 years since law school), and I felt like I knew the town like the back of my hand. I wasn't currently seeing anyone, so I had very little holding me back. I was ready for an adventure, and London seemed the perfect place to do it.
During that time, I had a friend -- let's call her "Jane" -- who had recently moved to Los Angeles. We hadn't seen each other in a while, and on the spur of the moment, she invited me to come stay with her one weekend. Since I knew the chances of me getting to see her after I moved were slim to nil (because, honestly? I was already trying to figure out a scheme to convince my company to let me stay in London forever), I decided to take her up on her offer. I'd not been to Los Angeles since I was a child, and I thought the change would do me good.
The weekend was very low-key -- she showed me the sights, we went to Venice Beach, and pretty much spent the weekend like any local would. We drank rum punch (of course), and lamented our history of dating incredibly inappropriate men. It was a good time.
Finally, toward the end of the weekend, we wandered into a bookstore, and I picked up a small, blue book. I think it was called something like "The Book of Spells."
"Jane," I said laughing. "Check this out. There's a spell for attracting the perfect man."
"Dude, we should get this," she immediately said. "Let's do it."
"You're kidding, right?" I was incredulous.
"No!" she said. "I mean, what could it hurt?"
I started to protest, but she was insistent: we were not leaving without that book. We split the cost (there was only one left), and left the store.
Once in the car, I started to read it. "According to this book, the spell is supposed to be performed during the new moon," I said.
"When's the new moon?"
"Hell if I know."
It turned out that the new moon was in two weeks' time. I have to admit, I was relieved: I really had no interest in practicing witchcraft, seriously or not. Thanks to the moon, it looked like I was getting out of it; I was leaving the next day.
"Fine, we'll do it in two weeks," Jane said, decisively. My heart sank. "I'm not kidding, Karen. You're doing it too. I'm going to call to make sure you do."
She copied down the spell, and gave me the book. I flew back to Houston and didn't think much more about it until to weeks later, when I got an email.
"TONIGHT'S THE NIGHT!"
After work, I went home, poured myself a glass of wine, and pulled out the book. The spell in question said something like I should write every attribute I wanted in my dream man on a piece of parchment, and then roll it up and stick it in a silken bag. Then, I was required to sprinkle lavender water on it, take it outside, and say something like higgledy-biggledy-boo. After that, I was supposed to sleep with the bag under my pillow for a fortnight.
I didn't have any parchment paper lying around my apartment, but I did have printer paper. And I didn't have a silken bag, but I did have a tiny little jewelry bag that came with a silver ring I'd bought myself. And I didn't have any lavender water, but I had a spray bottle of some cheap perfume that someone had given me. And there was no way I was going outside to say those words: I was the only black woman in my neighbourhood -- and from the West Indies, no less -- so it seemed like going outside in the dark of night to say some freaky incantation was just inviting my neighbours to call the cops.
Anyway, I did promise Jane I'd try, and I figured, what the heck, the least I could do is make the list in earnest. So I did. I spent about an hour writing down every ridiculous, nitpicky thing I could possibly want in a man: I mean, after all, this was just a joke, right? Might as well ask for the world! So I put everything on that piece of paper -- ridiculous things, like he needed to be tall, even possibly freakishly tall. He needed to be both analytical and artistic -- equally. Also? He needed to be a good cook. Like chef-quality. He needed to be athletic, but not make me be athletic. He needed to wear funky glasses. Seriously, I wrote everything down.
What was interesting about that exercise, though, was that after about 20 minutes, I really started thinking about what I wanted to write down on this list. And in so doing, it also made me realize what wasn't important to me. Like, for example, while I wanted him to have a job, he didn't need to be wealthy: just be able to take care of himself (I figured I had a good job, so I didn't need him to take care of me financially). I surely didn't care about what kind of car he drove, or if he knew how to order wine, or things like that. However, it was of utmost importance that he be a kind man -- not just to me, but to everyone around him.
So I wrote this list. By the time I was done, I had, no lie, about 200 items on it -- it was as selfish a list as anyone could've ever written. And then I rolled it up and wrapped it in the stupid bag, and I even put it under my pillow, so at the very least I could report to Jane that I did the thing ... more or less. (I didn't spray the perfume -- it really was a horrible scent.) But even then, in the middle of the night, I woke up noticing my discomfort was due to the bag under my head, and rather annoyedly threw it into the drawer of my bedside table. And then, I promptly forgot about it.
Two months later, I moved to London.
Six months later, I met Marcus.
Four more months after that, we went on our first date.
Eighteen days after that, we got engaged.
Six months after that, we were married.
Immediately after we were married, my company transferred me back to Houston -- and I was required to take over my new position immediately, so I had to be packed and back in the States in 2 weeks. I quickly booked the packers came to pack up all my stuff, and as they were in the kitchen boxing the dishes, I sat in my bedroom, going through my dressers and my bedside tables, cleaning them out. And as I reached toward the back of one of the drawers, my hand touched something.
The little bag.
I smiled when I remembered the spell, pulled out the piece of paper. It had been 18 months, and out of curiosity, I wanted to see how close I'd come to my list, now that I was married.
And damned if Marcus wasn't every last thing on that list.
Image: Photographed with my Nikon D300, 60mm. aperture 3.2, shutter speed 1/1000, ISO 320
Song: Son of a preacher man, as performed by Joss Stone. Lawdy me, but this girl can sing.