I WAS SHARING a plate of fried green tomatoes with my make-up artist friend at a restaurant in Georgia. This in and of itself is strange because neither of us are from nor live in Georgia. The world just has a way of bringing those dearest to us across our paths when we need it, or at least I’d like to think so.
We were just about split the third tomato and order a second round of sweet tea and vodka when the topic of the men in our lives came up. I am coming up on the one-year mark of my first long-term relationship, and she was just beginning a new and exciting “relationship” with a man she called her Latin Lover.
As she talked I smiled and lapped up her enthusiasm and hopefulness for the future. She was describing what I think of as the “new car smell,” when a relationship is fresh and unmarred, just like climbing into a new car. The “new relationship smell” can be a powerful and intoxicating aphrodisiac. Every feature of the new relationship, just as in a new car, is bright and shiny and carries with it the unquestioned promise of more to come.
I was struck by that comment because it was a completely alien notion to me that someone would not see my friend for the brilliant person that she is. You see, she’s not just smart, but dedicated to using her intelligence to further her craft and create beauty in the world through her art. Why on earth would she have to explain this to anyone, let alone her new beau, when I found this to be self-evident?!
New relationships, in my opinion, are funny that way. They aren't just a “Hi. You’re attractive. Let’s be together!” They are more like an extended introduction, in which you tell the other person truths about yourself and the things you want to be true about yourself … maybe the better person you hope to be as a result of being with them.
So how do you know when to sign on the dotted line and take that shiny new relationship car home? I think it’s fairly simple: If they believe and affirm the truths that you tell them, your own features on display, as it were, without feeling like you have to remind them of, or prove those truths then they’re the one.
But at that moment, my friend was still just taking a leisurely test drive. There was no need to throttle back the passion or anticipation. At this point in the relationship she is just a girl, heels over head for a boy, asking him to be her lover, no credit check necessary. And I couldn't argue with that.