People talking about the beginning of a romantic relationship often refer to the magic of a first kiss, or the electricity that buzzes through them when their paramour calls or initiates that first hand holding.
That one-sided take has always bothered me a little bit because in my experience, the beginning of a relationship is rife with anxiety. You don't really know the person you're dating, you don't know their body language or their triggers, you don't know what can turn them off or put them in a bad mood. Basically the beginning of a relationship feels like walking towards a little country cottage through a field filled with flowers and land mines.
"This is awesome; I hope I don't blow up on the way there."
Probably one of the most nerve-wracking bits of dating someone new is introducing that person to your most important people. For me it's my friends; the people who feel like family to me, who've known me for years, and have met many of the people I've dated. So it's a mystery to me why going on a three-day camping trip with my old besties and new special manfriend didn't have me worried. I was just excited to go camping, to be in the woods with my dog, my boyfriend, my BB gun and six of my closest buddies.
It wasn't until Josh pointed out that our first trip was a litmus test of sorts that I started to stress. What if he didn't like them? What if they didn't like him? What if my dog barfed in the tent, or Josh snored, or I gassed in the sleeping bag?
Being both anxious and imaginative means I can literally spend days dreaming up different scenarios for anywhere from the end of the world to the end of a relationship. And despite the fact my worries almost never blossom into reality, once the scent of fear is in the air, there's basically nothing anyone can do to slow down the demolition derby that is the inside of my head.
As usual, the big scary moment of the weekend didn't involve barf or fire or snoring, it involved BB Gun Battleship, where a few of the boys shot BBs at targets with battleships on them and then suddenly my friend shot Josh in the ass. I was sitting in a camping chair and happened to look up right at the moment Josh was changing the target out and Parker was lifting the gun. A slow motion, "Nooooooooo, Parrrrkerrrrr" tried to escape my lips as the BB popped against Josh's right ass cheek.
In that split second as Josh reacted and began to turn around, I was convinced our relationship was doomed. I imagined him stomping away, packing up, and leaving without a word — or worse, with lots of words.
But when he turned around, he was smiling wickedly. And then he marched back to the chairs and a few moments later, he was shooting Parker in the ass. Soon we were all laughing and showing each other the tiny red welts forming on our butts, like little seals of approval.