You know how people talk about that “once in a lifetime” kind of love? The kind most of us believe only happens in movies, until it actually happens to us? The kind where the spark is instantaneous, the chemistry is undeniable and, when you’re with that person, everything else fades into the background?
It’s the kind of love that feels like a soul-deep connection; where, after five minutes of meeting, you both feel as though you’ve been life-long friends. It’s indescribable and other-worldly, and although I’ve experienced it three times now, every time truly feels like a once in a lifetime love.
The first time I experienced it was nearly five years ago, in March of 2011. My company sent me to a week-long training program the week of my birthday, and on the very first day, I ended up seated next to a handsome Louisiana boy named James. The class was heavily discussion-based, so within five minutes of sitting down, James and I were asked to partner up to discuss our life milestones, which was a pretty weighty discussion topic for two colleagues who’d just met. But – both authentic, deep thinkers – James and I hit it off instantly.
We discovered that we had the same birthday one year apart, we’d been through similar difficult life experiences and we had a shared faith integral to our identities. James had a zeal for life that I found contagious. As an ENFJ, James had a larger-than-life magnetism about him. He loved to laugh and push boundaries and have adventures. He kept me giggling constantly, and we were inseparable the entire week.
We went out to dinners together after our full day conference sessions, and we played parlor games in the hotel lobby with other colleagues. One evening after a particularly hard-won foosball victory, James picked me up and twirled me around in the air as I threw my head back with laughter. Our coworkers just smiled and shook their heads at us. Our attraction was undeniable.
On Thursday night – the last evening of the conference session – James walked me back to my hotel room. He’d been somewhat reserved during our evening stroll outside, and I soon found out why. Just days before meeting me, James had proposed to his girlfriend, and she’d said yes.
He’d never experienced chemistry like we had; he acknowledged that there was outrageous attraction and compatibility. His soft brown eyes – intelligent and kind -pleaded with me to understand.
Standing outside of my hotel room, James leaned against my doorframe, face inches from mine. “I think we can both acknowledge we’ve had intense chemistry this week,” he said softly.
“And I think we agree that we could be really great together.”
I nodded again, a lump forming in my throat.
“But I think we both also understand the situation.”
Nothing more needed to be said. He was a man of honor, and I was a woman of integrity. Eyes filling with tears, we hugged each other and said goodbye. This week, James and his wife welcomed their second child into the world.
I had a Celtic Woman CD in my car at the time, and as I drove home, I played track number eight on repeat.
When the light begins to fade,
And shadows fall across the sea,
One bright star in the evening sky,
Your love’s light leads me on my way.
There’s a dream that will not sleep,
A burning hope that will not die.
So I must go now with the wind,
And leave you waiting on the tide.
Rain comes over the grey hills,
And on the air, a soft goodbye.
Hear the song that I sing to you,
When the time has come to fly.
When I leave and take the wing,
And find the land that fate will bring,
The brightest star in the evening sky,
Is your love waiting far for me.