Gather ’round, kids, and I’ll tell you a story about one of the things I’ve learned in my “how many?!” years on this earth. Trust me, you’ll want to write this bit of wisdom down. Ready? Here it is: The universe always, always gives you what you ask for. Really. It’s like a fairytale. Wishes are always granted. However, what you ask for isn’t always delivered immediately, nor is it delivered in the package you expect. Also, you may find that what you ask for isn’t necessarily what you really want or need. Why yes, I do have a personal example—thanks for asking. Let’s investigate.
We all have a type right? As a romance writer, I traffic in idealized book boyfriends, the heroes you wish were real. Whether it’s an alphahole or a beta cinnamon roll, a cerebral type or a guy who isn’t big on deep thoughts, a bodybuilder or a teddy bear, an introvert or a social butterfly…the possibilities are endless, and romance writers deliver. Well, when I was in my mid-twenties, I was all about free spirits. That was the kind of guy I dreamed of. I wanted nothing more than a freewheeling hippie to sweep me off my feet and encourage my slightly neurotic self to live life on the edge. A study in opposites, we’d fall for each other anyway, and he’d teach me how to live for the moment. We’d go off on adventures, live life to the fullest, and really appreciate our existence. You know the drill.
Back in the ’90s I wasn’t a regular romance reader (imagine! obviously I corrected my error), so my ideal guy was a character on a TV show, Northern Exposure. Chris in the Morning was the laid-back radio DJ and resident philosopher of the fictional town of Cicely, Alaska, played by pre-Sex and the City and pre-To All The Boys John Corbett. Oh, I loved him, from his floppy hair to his zen attitude to his spiritual quotes to his trailer on the bank of a river. Now that was a guy, I thought. I needed a Chris in my life. Please send me a Chris of my own, I begged the universe, and I will truly be happy.
And the universe obliged.
I was across the country at a teachers’ conference, and a guy approached me in the lobby of the convention center. Now, this in itself is shocking, as I’ve never been the type of woman men approach and strike up a conversation with out of the blue. No man ever spots me in a crowd and thinks he just has to meet me. Instead, I’ve always been the type of person a guy has to know really well before he gets the notion he might like me. But here was this person—pleasant, soft spoken, attractive, polite, also a teacher—talking to me. Me! Out of nowhere.
And his name was Chris.
He looked nothing like my Fictional Boyfriend Chris, but that didn’t matter. What they did have in common besides their name was a calm self-possession and quiet depth. Which I really liked.
He invited me to a party his brother was having that night. I invited him to stop by the restaurant where my sister-in-law and I were having dinner and I figured we’d see what happened after that. He did, my SIL approved of him wholeheartedly, and off we went. We had a nice time, and Chris was a perfect gentleman. I went on another date with him a couple of months later when I visited my family again, but other than that our relationship was a long-distance…conversation. I couldn’t even say we were dating. And that was fine. I thought he was great, our phone convos lasted hours, and I had high hopes for the future.
And then he disappeared.
He didn’t call, didn’t write. I called him only to find his phone was disconnected. As this was in the Before Times, pre-internet, there weren’t many ways I could find out what happened to him. I alternated between worrying about him and being pissed he ghosted me. I wondered if I should try to find his brother or call the police or what. But I didn’t want to come across as a neurotic freak—I was trying very hard to be laid back like him, after all—so I sat on my hands.
Two weeks went by, and he called. He was perfectly fine and very cheerful. He explained he’d had an opportunity to go to Mexico with some surfer friends. As he had very little money, he’d had to decide between going on the trip and paying the phone bill. So he went on the trip. Obviously.
He apologized for making me worry, but he just couldn’t miss out, he said, and the trip was everything he dreamed of—sleeping in a hammock on the beach, eating tropical fruit, partying around the campfire at night. Outwardly I enthused about his Mexican adventures; inwardly I was furious I worried about him for two weeks. We went back to our usual conversations, but when he asked if he could come visit me sometime, I said no. I’d realized that the universe had indeed given me a free spirit named Chris and I did not, in fact, want that free spirit named Chris. I wished I was that laid back, but I wasn’t. Not really. Lesson learned.
Several years later I met another floppy-haired guy named Chris. He looked a bit more like my Fictional Boyfriend Chris, but his personality was completely different. At this point I figured the universe was fucking with me, and yet I married this Chris. Also a bad idea. But that’s another story for another time, when I’m not required by a clause in our divorce agreement to only say nice things about him. Check with me in about five years.
Anyway, my point is that yes, life is a fairytale. Your wishes will be granted. So be careful what you wish for. Be super specific, kids. And I mean super specific. Better yet, just ask the universe for whatever the universe knows would be best for you, and then stay open to the possibilities. That’s the thing I’m working on now. It’s tough, but it’s the only way to go.
Oh—and a few years after my experience with Not My Fictional Boyfriend Chris, I traveled to Mexico myself. Halfway through the trip I arrived in a Mexican beach town where the surfers congregated and you could rent a hammock on the beach for pennies a night. I’d found the place he’d been talking about, and I adored it. However, I slept in a regular hotel room, not in a hammock on the beach.
I understood why Not My Fictional Boyfriend Chris went there instead of paying his phone bill; I just wished he’d thought to call me before his phone was disconnected to let me know what he was up to. If that makes me too uptight for a laid-back boyfriend…well, that’s the difference between real life and fiction. And there’s always a difference between real life and fiction.