Under His Umbrella

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.

Happy two years, J. I’m still sorry I picked the banjo player first.


60 responses to “Under His Umbrella

  1. ahhhh young love. . . you remind me of a verse in a poem I wrote years ago about a man and his cello . . . There, neck to neck, consumed with the passion of young lovers and the caring respect of old,
    They flow as one to the rhythm of their own private love song.

    Hang on Jenny . . . believe me, what you just wrote is fruit from the tree of life . .

    • “Neck to neck…” – there’s an image I’ll carry with me for the rest of my life. Beautiful! Thank you for the poetry and for understanding what matters in life (and reassuring me I’m getting at least parts of it right).

  2. What a way to start off my morning reading. This is absolutely beautiful and I just want to *squee* for you and your love that is so evident in your words. -Hugs- to you both.

  3. Awww, that’s precious. 🙂 Now I kind of want to write about how I knew I was going to marry the man I did when I was seventeen… But seriously, that’s the cutest story!

  4. Oh Jennie, I know the love you speak of. I had tears in my eyes by the end because I could feel it in my own heart. The way you told this story is some of the most beautiful writing I’ve read from you. I always love your writing, the poetry to it, but this had love in it.

    • Tears are the ultimate goal for every writer! (Aren’t they? Anybody? Bueller?)

      Thank you for your words, Deanna, and most of all for your feelings. Love!

    • That is exactly what I want to hear! Keep preaching that wonderful message, because Lord knows before getting married we mostly ran across naysayers who tried to bring us down. “You’ll get bored!” “You’ll be constantly irriitated!” …blah blah blah.

      Boo on those sad folks – what the world needs is more people like you – living proof that marriage can be amazing!

  5. *like*

    I pray you never stop feeling as you do right now.

    And I pray that if you do, you’ll write just like this about him anyway, and that he’ll make up a reason to caress your cheek in the kitchen. Because it’s a choice. Every day.

    Beautiful writing, Jennie.

    • If I prayed, that would be my absolute number one prayer, every time. I’m still very new to this enormous thing called marriage, but I know enough to agree with you that it’s part hard work, part luck, and part sheer magic. I want to keep making the choice. Thank you for sharing your experience in such a hopeful way.

      • Choosing pessimism seems insane.

        There’s too much beauty in this life to squander our time expecting the worse.

        Thank you for sharing some of that beauty. Liked this very much.

  6. Ah, Jennie, how delightful that was. Not only in content, but honestly, the pacing of your writing was almost like poetry. Short little phrases that were almost like snapshots, as if this story were told with a series of Polaroids. This is me in the rain (SNAP) this is me making muffins (SNAP) this is me crying at a stolen DVD player (SNAP) this is him touching my cheek for the first time (SNAP)… just lovely.

  7. You had me at “jalapeño corn bread muffins”. Only kidding. Such a sweet tale though! Happy countless-years-to-come to you two!

    • Ha! My baking has won me a few lovers and friends. Handy skill, along with knowing how to make a good cocktail! 🙂 Thank you so much for the good wishes.

  8. Such a poignant tale. Emotions rolled with your words.

    Thank you for sharing this. For those of us that haven’t really had it it’s bit of fresh air 🙂

    • That is wonderful to hear – thank you for taking the time to say it! The funny thing is, the caption on that last photo references how we met online, and I originally chose another guy to date and told J goodbye. It wasn’t until months later that we re-connected, and even then I almost ended it because I couldn’t get over him wearing polo shirts and working a full-time job… I was so sure my only types was dudes with ironic t-shirts who were baristas and musicians.

      Life has a way of pushing us towards the people we’re meant to meet, no matter how long it takes or how much we (foolishly) try and rebel against it.

    • Nadia, that is my fervent hope. My major discovery from marriage so far has been that loving him endlessly and being furious that he doesn’t shut cabinet doors are emotions that can co-exist quite nicely. 😉

  9. Now that’s a wonderful love story, beautifully told. Isn’t it glorious that you found each other. Thanks for the first smile of my day Jennie. 🙂 ~Terri

    • Any time two people find each other in a sea of six billion and together are much, much happier than they were apart, and they can make this feeling last and evolve… I’m pretty sure that’s what miracles look like.

      Have you ever been told that you’re half a miracle? 🙂 And thanks for the smiles in return.

  10. Pingback: Monkeys Off My Back | The Infinite Abyss(es)·

  11. Aw… so romantic!!! It reminds me of that song, don’t know the name but it goes, “Bus stop, bus stop, something something, please share my umbrella.” And to think I met my husband when he waited on me in the shoe department!!!!

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