Because you asked, and because I never get tired of telling it…
It was misting soft rain as I scanned the blurry crowd, seeking a face only half-known. A wave drew me to him. He was a warm smile under a black umbrella, and I couldn’t help but grin back. When we came face to face by the fountain, he asked, “Would you like to get under here?”
I stepped into his temporary shelter. He stepped into my life.
We had coffee. Shared words. There was laughter! We watched a 3D movie, and now I’m strangely proud of how we shattered first-date formality with those goofy glasses.
After the film, I got brave: “Wanna do something else now?” I liked him. I liked adventures. But he said no, so abruptly I was offended. He drove away. I phoned a friend and told her I’d “never see him again.”
He called the next day. I answered. After all, he’d brought homemade truffles to the movie, and urged me to eat more and more of them.
I needed sweetness in my life.
The next time I saw him, I brought my puppy to his place. As she sniffed around his beagle, I sniffed the fragrant air.
“We’re making homemade pasta!” he announced. I was back in. I really like surprises. I really like Italian food.
I wasn’t going to kiss him, though. I was still tentative. He built the dough, nesting egg yolks inside a bed of powdery flour. Together we fed the sheets through a press, then he sliced them into ribbons with a subtle, sexy flair. When the pasta was doing its happy dance amid the rolling bubbles, he murmured, “You’ve got flour on your cheek.”
His hand. My face. So soft.
Months later, he admitted, “There never was any flour on your face. I just needed a reason to touch you.”
Our dogs were friends. We strolled through spring’s first green with them. They, delightedly, explored a rippling stream while we, oblivious, shared our first kiss. I still think of his lips when I see sun shining through leaves.
I remember when he said “I love you.” I remember when I said it back. Those words didn’t share a birthday – each joyful utterance was born in its own time, and they both grew up strong and brilliant.
I met his aunt, then his mother. He said my friends were just like in the stories I’d spun. I baked him jalapeño cornbread muffins, not knowing that spicy foods cause him extreme pain. How could I know? He ate three of them and only expressed delight.
I lived in the woods, down a one-lane road and across a lake from civilization. There was no internet, so he gave me his DVD player for movie nights. When my house was broken into, that dusty old machine was the only thing the thieves took, and I cried.
I started a search for a new home. It took a while. I moved in with him, but “only for a few weeks.” When I came back from my first interview with a potential roommate, he whispered, “Don’t leave. I want you here.”
I told my best friends I was staying. They told me I was the only one who was surprised.
Four years later, I know him better than I know my own face. Like my face, he changes with the seasons, with the years.
He loves the winter, and I worship the sun.
There is a box in our attic where I tuck worn clothing, infused with memories, to be made into a someday-quilt. Last week I added a faded purple sweater, the one I was wearing the day we met. Fifty years from now, I hope I’m snuggled under that quilt while he sleeps free in the chilly air. I’ll rub my thumb over the purple patch, and smile.