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Begin Again

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Took a deep breath in the mirror
He didn't like it when I wore high heels, but I do

It had been 8 months since she broke up with him. 8 months since she lost herself and was now slowly putting herself back together. 8 months since she figured out her worth and decided to leave.

She put her favorite shoes on, the ones that had been hiding in the back of her closet since the time he threw them against the wall and broke the buckle.

It felt like coming home after a long trip. So familiar but so new all at the same time. The shoes were her late mother’s, something she cherished. Her dad fixed the buckle the night after she broke it off with him, the same night he also helped fix her broken heart.

This would be her first date in a while. She tried a few months after the breakup, but nothing ever stuck. She had been worried he would somehow walk in and see her with someone else, see her with a woman.

She had never come out to him, in fear he would be disgusted and do something to her. She knew it should have been a red flag going in, feeling like she couldn’t be open about her sexuality. She was so brainwashed by him that after a while it didn’t even cross her mind.

That’s how a lot of things with him went.

Turned the lock and put my headphones on
He always said he didn't get this song but I do, I do

She shoved her headphones in and walked out of her apartment. She moved the month after she left him, wanting a fresh start in a new city. Portland was a lot different than LA, but she loved it. She could see herself settling down here, building a home.

She went into her music app and played her favorite James Taylor album. The one he always told her to turn off. He said he didn’t “get it,” but Christen knew that wasn’t the real reason. It never was with him.

She had always loved James Taylor songs. She was slowly trying to teach herself to love them again, to stop thinking of him when she heard the lyrics.

She was getting better everyday. She was trying to pick back up her old habits she had lost in the relationship, to revert back into the person she used to be. It was difficult, but she was trying.

Walked in expecting you'd be late
But you got here early and you stand and wait
I walk to you

She walked the short distance to her car. The drive to the new restaurant by her home was fairly short. It was a small French café owned by the most adorable elderly couple. She had been once before with her roommate, Ali, and fell in love with it. She decided it would be a good spot for a first date.

She never liked dating apps. She thought they were cliche and wouldn’t lead to anything long term. Ali convinced her after a night out and far too many shots to download the app she used to have. She thought it wouldn’t hurt. If this date didn’t work out, she didn’t have to use the app again.

-

She was looking on the couch with Ali, giggling and swiping left on all of the middle aged men.

When she came across Tobin, Ali practically launched off the couch.

“No way! That’s Tobin!” She had said.

“Who?” Christen gave her roommate a puzzled look.

“I played soccer with her years ago in a little pick up league. She was a beast. All of the girls had a crush on her. You NEED to swipe right!” Ali insisted.

“I don’t know Al.”

“Come on Chris. Look at her. You can’t even deny how hot she is.” Christen blushed.

“She is beautiful.” She admitted.

“That’s it! You’re doing it. You’re swiping right!” Ali grabbed her phone and swiftly swiped her finger across the screen, creating a match.

“Chris, she already swiped for you! You have to message her.”

“I’m starting to think you want to go on a date with her too?” Christen laughed

“I am happily with Ashlyn, Pressi, but don’t get me wrong, Tobin is so sexy.”

“Fine. I’ll message her.” Christen sighed, grabbing her phone from Ali and opening a chat with Tobin.

“What should I say?” She asked, nervously chewing on her lip. This was her first time trying to meet with someone she matched with online. The other dates she went on were setups by friends. What if Tobin was just a 60 year old man posing as a 25 year old woman? She would never know until she met up with them. The entire aspect was absolutely terrifying to her.

“Just be cool.” Ali told her. “Tell her your name, maybe do a pick up line. Wait until she responds and then initiate a convo. After a few minutes, if you like her, ask her out. Easy as that.”

And Ali was right, talking to Tobin was easy. Even over text she was so wonderful. She found herself smiling every time she read Tobin’s new message.

-

So now here she was, walking into the café 30 minutes early, giving herself time to calm her nerves and practice what she was going to order on the menu.

But she didn’t even get a chance. There Tobin was, sitting in the table near the entrance, nervously tapping her foot and looking down at her phone.

“Are you meeting someone?” The hostess asked her.

“I’m with the woman by the window.” Christen blushed.

The hostess grabbed a menu and led Christen to the table. She didn’t think she had ever been so nervous. Tobin was stunning. Her hair was down and wavy, filled with so much shine and volume. She was wearing a white t-shirt that perfectly hugged her toned body. Christen started to feel awkward in her sun dress and her mother’s heels. She hoped Tobin didn’t think she looked silly.

When Tobin finally noticed the two women walking up to the table, she jumped a little. She quickly stood up and straightened out her jeans, swiftly grabbing the bouquet of flowers from the seat next to her.

“Christen!” Tobin smiled, full of shiny teeth and sincerity.

“Enjoy your meal.” The waitress smirked, leaving the two woman alone to meet for the first time.

“I got you these.” Tobin finished, handing Christen the orange and pink arrangement.

“You got these for me?” Christen questioned.

“Yeah! You mentioned pink was your favorite color. Mine’s orange so I thought it would be cool to get a little bouquet. I guess it’s kind of stupid.” Tobin ran her hand through her hair.

“No I love them! They’re perfect.” She smiled, causing Tobin’s nerves to settle. “It’s just that no ones ever bought me flowers before.” She admitted.

“No ones ever gotten you flowers?” Tobin asked, genuinely surprised. “You’re so beautiful! Why wouldn’t anyone want to buy you flowers!”

“Tobin.” Christen blushed. “Thank you.” She pulled the other woman into a small hug. “You look beautiful too.”

You pull my chair out and help me in
And you don't know how nice that is, but I do

When the women released from the hug, Tobin quickly pulled Christen’s chair out for her and motioned for her to sit.

“First flowers and now my chair, what am I? Royalty?” Christen laughed.

“Have you never been on a date before. This is how you treat a woman when she’s so beautiful.”

“I guess I haven’t been on a date then. At least not like this.” Christen admitted.

“Have you ever been in a relationship?” Tobin asked. Christen shifted in her seat, pulling her lip between her teeth and nervously chewing on it.

“It‘s a long story.” Christen decided she didn’t want to get into it. She really liked Tobin so far. She didn’t want to scare her off.

“You don’t have to tell me anything you don’t want to, Christen.” Tobin told her respectfully.

“I know.” Christen sighed. “It’s just a lot, y’know. He was really controlling.” She decided to open up a little. She could tell she could trust Tobin.

“I’m so sorry. I had no idea. You didn’t deserve that.” Tobin looked at her empathetically. She reached her hand across the table and grabbed Christen’s. “I promise I will make you feel safe.”

Christen had only known Tobin for a few days, only had met her in person for the first time a few minutes ago, but she could already tell she was special. She felt like she didn’t have to keep looking for someone anymore. Tobin just felt right.

The waitress came to grab them drinks. Tobin changed the topic to something a little more light. She told Christen all about her soccer days, about how she played in college and ended up getting a coaching job in Portland. Christen told her about her job at the yoga studio. She told her about her family and her dogs back in LA.

The date was going better than she had ever hoped.

And you throw your head back laughing like a little kid
I think it's strange that you think I'm funny 'cause he never did

“And then Ali realized it was a real person and not a mannequin. It was probably the funniest thing I have ever seen.” Christen was animatedly telling Tobin. The girl across from her threw her head back laughing.

“Chris! Stop! I can’t.” Tobin barely made out through fits of giggles.

Christen was surprised Tobin had found all of her jokes so funny. She never really thought of herself as a super funny person, but would admit she had some good jokes.

But he never laughed at her, not since the start. After a while she stopped telling her jokes. She would just laugh to herself as she spoke them in her head.

But Tobin, Tobin held onto every word she said. Her eyes crinkled as she smiled to Christen telling a story, listening closely and never interrupting her. It was so refreshing, being with someone who truly wanted to be in her presence, who wanted to listen to what she had to say.

She felt like she could laugh with Tobin for hours. She didn’t want to date to end.

I've been spending the last eight months thinking all love ever does
Is break and burn and end

Before the food come she excused herself to the restroom. She looked into the mirror and ran her hands through her hair. Her face psychically ached from smiling and laughing so much.

As she stared at her reflection, she realized how much the last 8 months really took a toll on her. She was so broken for so long.

With Tobin she felt okay again. She felt the innocence and pure joy she used to feel.

But on a Wednesday in a café I watched it begin again

She left the bathroom and immediately locked eyes with Tobin, who was watching the door to make sure Christen was alright.

Christen smiled at her. Without hesitation, Tobin smiled right back, a smile Christen decided right then and there that she never wanted to live without.

And as Christen walked back to the table, Tobin was thinking the exact same thing.

You said you never met one girl who
Had as many James Taylor records as you, but I do

“Wait you listen to James Taylor?” Tobin asked her.

“Listen? Are you kidding? I love him! He was my moms favorite artist growing up. She introduced him to my sisters and I when we were young. I went to one of his concerts in the 8th grade!”

“No way! I love James Taylor so much. I have never met anyone who listened to him.”

“I own all of his records. They’re back at home with my moms old record player.” Christen smiled, remembering her late mother.

“I think your mom and I need to meet.” Tobin laughed.

“Oh she passed away a few years ago.” Christen sadly corrected her. “Cancer.”

“Chris, I’m so sorry. I had no idea.”

“It’s okay. You didn’t know. In a lot of aspects it’s like she is still here with me. I see her in everything I do. Just because she’s gone doesn’t mean she’s really gone. I’ll always remember her in a joyful way. It’s what she would have wanted.”

“I love that, Chris.” Tobin smiled. “My grandpa died when I was young. He was the happiest guy you’ll ever meet. I found a lot of joy knowing he would be in heaven looking over me. It made me feel better.”

“You’re religious?” Christen asked.

“Yeah, my family is Christian. Born and raised. Faith is a big part of my life. I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for my trust in God.”

Christen nodded. She never really thought people could be religious and LGBTQ+ at the same time. She had never met anyone who was.

She had never met anyone like Tobin.

“What about you? Are you religious?” She asked Christen.

“Spiritual. I find a lot of my guidance through yoga and mediation. I think the universe leads me in the direction I’m meant to go. But I have no problem with people who are religious. I think it’s important that everyone has something to believe it, no mater what it is.”

“I like that.” Tobin smiled.

We tell stories and you don't know why
I'm coming off a little shy, but I do

They finished their meal slowly, wanting to savor their time together. The conversation bounced all around. There was no topic they didn’t discuss, excluding one, which Christen was thankful for.

“When I used to play soccer we got to travel the world. I think my favorite was place was France.”

“I’m no expert, but you said you played soccer in college. I didn’t know they travelled to France for the NCAA.” Christen laughed.

“I left out the part where I played for the Youth National Team.” Tobin admitted.

“No way! That’s so cool! Why didn’t you tell me?” Christen playfully slapped Tobin’s hand, causing her to laugh.

“I didn’t think it was important! It was so long ago! That time in my life has passed.” Tobin protested.

“Everything you tell me is important!” The younger woman told her, causing a blush to rise into her cheeks. “I love hearing your stories.”

“I love hearing your stories, too” Tobin smiled.

The two sat there for a second, shyly smiling and soaking in the moment.

Tobin broke the silence first.

“So what was college like for you? Where did you go?” She asked her.

“Oh.” Christen became uncomfortable again. “Stanford.”

“Beautiful and smart. Is there anything you can’t do.” She laughed.

Christen blushed but stayed silent. Tobin could sense something was wrong, but Christen had made it evident before that she didn’t want to talk about whatever was bothering her, so Tobin didn’t push.

But you throw your head back laughing like a little kid
I think it's strange that you think I'm funny 'cause he never did

“Can I get you guys any dessert or would we like the check?” The waitress came to the rescue.

Tobin looked at Christen and gestured that it was her call.

“We will look at a dessert menu.” She smiled. The waitress set a menu down for them and took away their empty plates.

“You chose, Chris. I’ll eat anything.”

“Is it bad I want the macaron sampler?” She laughed.

“I’ve never had one.” Tobin admitted.

“You’ve never had a macaron and you went to France?” Christen giggled.

“I don’t like coconut!” Tobin protested.

“You’re joking right?” Christen continued to laugh.

“No!”

“Tobin that’s a macaroon! These are macaron’s!”

“What’s the difference? You just said the same word twice.”

“A macaROON is coconut. A macaRON is made from almond meal.” Christen tried her best to emphasize the endings for a very confused Tobin.

“You’re kidding.” Tobin threw her head back as she laughed again. How did I never know that?”

“I have so much to teach you Tobin Heath.”

I've been spending the last eight months thinking all love ever does
Is break and burn and end

They finished their dessert with further discussion on the French pastry. Usually Christen wanted intimate, one on one moments like this to end even before they started. But she could probably spend the rest of the night talking to Tobin.

This feeling of excitement and budding romance was something she didn’t know existed for her anymore.

But on a wednesday in a café I watched it begin again

Tobin got up from her spot at the table and grabbed Christen’s hand to help her out of her seat. The older woman put her hand on the small of Christen’s back and led her to the exit.

She had heard people say they felt sparks when they touched someone for the first time.

Christen always thought it was made up.

Tobin helped her see it was real.

And we walk down the block to my car
And I almost brought him up

“Where did you park?” Tobin asked her.

“Down the street. It was really busy when I got here.” The younger woman pointed to her car about a block away.

“I’ll walk you.” Tobin grabbed her hand and held the flowers she had given Christen earlier.

“Thank you for everything tonight, Tobin. It was incredible.”

“Of course, Chris. You deserve it. I’d love to do this again sometime.”

“There’s this really great Mediterranean restaurant down the street from my condo. We should go next weekend.”

“It’s a date.” Tobin smiled. “A second date.”

“A second date.” Christen repeated.

A comfortable silence fell over them, not like the awkward ones in the restaurant.

She wanted to tell her why she had been so reluctant a few times that night. She wished it was easier to talk about. She knew Tobin would be so kind and understanding.

But you start to talk about the movies
That your family watches
Every single Christmas and I want to
Talk about that

“My family used to go to that theatre every Christmas Eve.” Tobin broke the silence.

Christen decided that was the universes way of telling her hold off. She would see Tobin again. She would tell her when the time felt right.

“My favorite was always “A Christmas Story”. It used to make me giggle until my stomach hurt.” Tobin told her. “I asked for a BB gun every Christmas because of that movie. I never got one.”

Christen laughed and squeezed the other woman’s hand.

“Maybe I’ll get you a BB gun for Christmas this year.” Christen told her.

“You’d do that for me.” Tobin said dramatically.

“Anything for you!” Christen professed and then twirled around their clasped hands, causing both of them to break out into laughter.

She loved the feeling of innocence she got when she was with Tobin. It was such a new feeling for her.

And for the first time
What's past is past

She almost compared Tobin to him. The thought was forming in her brain.

He didn’t deserve to be compared to her. He never came close to the kindness and sincerity she portrayed in just one night.

He didn’t deserve to take up space in her brain anymore.

In that moment she felt herself fully heal. She felt herself breakaway from his invisible grasp he had on her for so long.

It felt like the weight had lifted off her shoulders.

She felt free.

'Cause you throw your head back laughing like a little kid
I think it's strange that you think I'm funny 'cause he never did

“This is my car.” Christen pointed to the black BMW parallel parked along the street.

“I’m glad we walked to your car.” Tobin laughed.

“It was a present to myself when I moved to the city.”

“Maybe I will keep you around for Christmas then.” Tobin laughed.

“Ah yes, a BB gun and new car. What more could you want.”

Tobin laughed that infectious laugh once more, causing Christen to smile in response.

“I know I already said it, but I had a great time tonight.” Tobin told her, taking her free hand and pushing a lock of Christen’s hair behind her ear.

“Me too.” She whispered. Tobin slowly inched closer to her face and closed her eyes. She kissed her gently and broke away, looking Christen in her beautiful green eyes.

“I want to kiss you again.” The younger woman admitted.

“I want to kiss you again, too.”

I've been spending the last eight months thinking all love ever does
Is break and burn and end

She decided the perception she had before about love was wrong.

Love isn’t always set up to fail.

When you find the right person, the love never seems to run out.

She knows it’s only been a few hours.

She knows there is still so much to learn about Tobin.

But as she stood in the street, kissing Tobin under the light of the street lamp, she could feel her herself start to fall again. She could feel the butterflies come out from their hibernation.

Then on a wednesday in a café I watched it begin again

Tobin went home with her that night.

Then on a wednesday in a café I watched it begin again

They decided their second date couldn’t wait until the following weekend. They went to the Mediterranean restaurant the next evening.