I was looking for his face in the crowd when I found him already looking at me.
“Hi Gorgeous…”, he said and then he smiled.
The kind of smile that speaks to you.
His eyes caught mine. I’ve always been drawn to the color of his eyes and how they change depending on his mood but tonight they were exceptionally beautiful but sad.
Or maybe I was just nervous…
While we were having dinner on the night of my birthday, I told him about the “36 questions to make you fall in love.” I read an article from New York Times’ called Modern Love by writer Mandy Len Catron. To quote from her article, I told him that “ages ago an experiment was made to prove that it’s possible to fall in love with someone by asking 36 particular questions to each other. It goes like this: A man and a woman enter a lab and they sit face to face. They ask each other series of personal questions then they stare silently into each other’s eyes for four minutes. What’s amazing about it is that six months later the two participants were married and the whole lab was invited.”
We sat across each other and I could feel the weight of his gaze all over me while I took a moment breathing in the perfect view.
Moments later, the asking began.
“Are you falling in love with me after the 2nd question?”, he teased.
The first few questions seemed simple and innocent such as “What would constitute a perfect day for you? Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?” In which I answered, Ryan Gosling. He said I shouldn’t invite him because I’d probably get nervous. He knows I get nervous easily. (Like that one time I talked to him over the phone before a big presentation.)
Then the questions became more complicated as we go along.
Let me say that our set up that night however was not exactly in line with the original experiment done many years ago. For instance, we were in a terrace with a perfect view of the Abu Dhabi skyline and not inside a lab. Also, this was not the first time we met. We were not strangers. We met a couple of months ago and I could say that we’ve shared a fair amount of time getting to know each other as we speak.
But that particular night, we shared stories we haven’t told each other before.
Like his crazy stories in Singapore, or how our childhood was, or even our most terrible memories in life.
Without knowing it, we found ourselves in the middle of this intimate ground where we could trust each other and just be ourselves.
It’s not easy – to just open up to someone and let them see through you. People are too afraid to express themselves and put things out there because they might not get something in return.
I realized how each question led us to getting a broader picture of who we both are – the decisions and some of the experiences that shape our lives.
For a moment, we both felt vulnerable. We were seated in front of each other but I’ve never felt this close to him.
It’s as if we were both put into a dimension where it’s just me and him – opening up.
I realized that we were not just talking, we were sharing. Sometimes, we feel like we already know someone because we know what they were doing or what they have been up to but we only know “how” they are not “who” they are. We set aside the deeper questions and that stops us from truly knowing someone for who he/she really is.
In a short span of time, we both agree that we bring out nice things in each other. We confessed the last time we each cried and shared what we like most about each other.
“I like how you act when you’re nervous. I like your giggle and your smile, I like it when you laugh.” Then he paused…I saw him from the corner of my eyes. He looked at me then look down and said, “I really appreciate what you bring in my life.”
That’s when it hit me. A feeling I’ve been trying to ignore, trying to shut off the whole night.
“You make me feel brave. That’s what I like about you.”, I answered back briefly.
But there are a lot more things I like about him. I like that he likes waking up to the stories I write. I like that he likes reading them. I like it when he touched the small of my back and held my hand when we crossed the street once.
Have you ever felt that feeling with someone? When you feel like you never want to reach the end of the conversation because every time you talked, you just wanted to talk more?
It was past midnight when we finally got to the 36th question.
“So shall we do it?”
We were talking about the “staring into each other’s eyes” part.
I felt we both hesitated in doing it at first but found ourselves seated across each other, closer this time. I set the timer to 4 minutes and inhaled as deeply as I could. I couldn’t help but smile nervously the whole time. I’ve never stared into someone’s eyes this long before. As a matter of fact, I’ve never stared into someone’s eyes like this. Ever. And so was he.
Call me cliché’ but in that particular moment, I found it in my heart the truth in the saying “the eyes are the windows to our soul.”
There I was looking straight into a man’s eyes, trying to get to his inner thoughts and wishing I knew what was in his mind. I felt his happiness and sadness at the same time.
It’s just utterly weird and magical to see someone really “seeing” you – to look at someone and see your own reflection in his eyes.
It’s seeing myself the way he sees me and vice versa. I only hope he starts seeing himself the way I see him.
It was surreal.
Then the timer buzzed. 4 minutes was over. For some reason, I felt relieved and disappointed at the same time. I told him that was a bit fast but truth is, that was the longest 4 minutes of my life.
“I’ve never stared into someone’s eyes that long… without kissing her. That was the whole purpose of it. You would kiss and then you would fall in love,” he told me.
Could it really be possible to fall for someone by spending a couple of hours getting to know each other?
I’d say YES.
It doesn’t have to be right at that moment.
I didn’t know it at the time. But I’ve come to realize that love is a choice.
As Mandy said in her article, we may not have control to who we fall in love with but in order to fall in love you must be open to the possibility of it. It’s a matter of asking yourself what you are going to do about it.
Personally, I’ve stopped looking to fairy tales for advice a long time ago. I used to believe that things simply “just happen” as if by magic. I used to believe that love is something that happens to us but if we look closely and pay attention to the details deeper than just being physically attracted to someone, we will realize that love is an action we take, a choice we make.
That night was no esception.
Admittedly, I wasn’t expecting anything from doing the experiment. Although I know it would make a good story – a story we could all relate to. It’s about how meaningful it is to really take the time to get to know someone and pay attention to the people we love. Even the smallest details count – what makes him smile, what upsets her, what keeps him/her awake in the middle of the night. These things matter because before you know it, the moments are gone and you’ve let the opportunity go.
Did he and I fall in love?
It’s a choice each of us has yet to make.