Thursday, December 09, 2010

Dreams of the Golden-Eyed Girl: Facets

Before I’ve even stopped the car, she throws open her door and starts running toward the water, the epitome of youthful joy and abandon. She kicks her sandals wildly in the air so that they arch backwards over her head, strips off her t-shirt and shorts to reveal a black swimsuit covered in pink skulls, and dives into the lake. After I park I take my time removing my clothes, basking in her graceful and powerful swimming. She moves like she was born in the water, cutting through it like a knife. After a few moments she surfaces, floating in place, and calls out for me to join her. With a wild whoop I dive in and swim slowly out to meet her with my clumsy and inefficient strokes. When I reach her position she throws her arms around my shoulders and plants a kiss on my lips. I’m tempted to give in to her and dissolve in her embrace but I know her too well, and sure enough she breaks the kiss by shoving my head underwater. We wrestle and laugh and play for a while, but I quickly tire and swim back toward shore to give her time to swim a bit more. I’ll never be as good a swimmer as she, and I don’t care. Her grace is one of the ways in which we differ wildly, and one of the many things which leaves me in a permanent state of awe when we’re together.

After the camping trip at which we met we’ve been mostly inseparable. Every day is a new lesson in the wonder that is her, and I’m an apt pupil. I feared before our first date that the connection we made on the trip was transient, that we would discover in the light of day that it was one of those shooting star moments that comes and goes before you can blink. When I picked her up that first time, I was so nervous I thought I wouldn’t be able to enjoy the dinner we made plans to share. I knocked on her door and stood on the threshold, nervously shifting from foot to foot and picking imaginary lint off my jacket.

After a few moments she opened the door and stood there, smiling shyly at me with a look I imagine matched my own. She greeted me with a quiet “hi” and I answered with an overeager “hey there!” whose dorkiness I immediately regretted. She giggled, clearly aware of my discomfort, and suddenly threw her arms open and launched herself at me. We both stumbled backwards, almost fell, when some hidden reserve of balance opened within me and I steadied us both. Just like our kiss that first night, the hug we shared was open and full, and I found myself relaxed and at ease immediately. I’d never met a woman like her, so willing to open and show herself to me. I swore to myself then that for as long as I was privileged to know her, I would match that openness, would let her see every facet of me no matter how embarrassing or shameful.

As we walked to my car she took a small gift bag from her purse and handed it to me, making me promise not to open it until after I dropped her off that night. I was itching with curiosity but decided to honor her wish. We drove to dinner, and the conversation never stopped. We greedily consumed facts about one another, largely ignoring the meal before us. At some point in the evening I told her a really bad joke I’d heard from a coworker earlier that day, and I saw for the first time that her nose wiggled when she laughed. That little wiggle stole a piece of my heart (not the first or last by any means) and I found myself doing everything I could think of to make her laugh just to see it again.

Before I realized it three hours had passed and it was time for me to take her home. When we turned onto her street I slowed the car to a crawl, telling her it was because I was trying to extend this last part of our evening as much as I could. She laughed and told me in that case I should take a couple of laps through her neighborhood, a suggestion I was more than willing to follow.

Eventually I had to return her to her home, as it was getting late and we both had work the next day. I pulled up to the curb in front of her house and walked her to the door. I knew this was the moment that movies and TV tell you should be awkward and filled with tension, but I felt none of it. Still, I was hoping to see that little wiggle one more time that night, so I started to make a joke about it. As I started to speak, however, she held up a finger to my lips to silence me. Slowly and gently she stroked my cheek once only, then took my hands in hers and simply met my gaze. I can only imagine the awestruck look on my face, but if she noticed it she didn’t comment, and instead simply held my eyes with hers like some sort of vaudevillian hypnotist. No matter how much light was around us I could’ve sworn her eyes glowed, their unique gold coloring as beautiful and marvelous as the first time I’d seen them.

She stood on her tiptoes but didn’t move toward me, so I took that as my cue to move forward into a kiss just as powerful as the first, but somehow more knowing and welcoming. When we parted I must have looked a bit aghast since I got my wish to see the wiggle once more when she laughed at the look at my face. She unlocked the door, paused, then turned and planted a quick peck on each of my eyelids before turning away and entering her house. I stood there until I heard the deadbolt engage, then turned back toward my car. When I sat in the driver’s seat I remembered the gift bag and pulled it from the backseat. She had told me about her love of knitting and similar creative endeavors, so I was delighted when I pulled a small knitted zombie doll from the bag. I had told her about my obsession with zombies, about my fully functional evacuation plan in the event of the zombie apocalypse, and not only did she not think it ridiculous but went so far as to offer suggestions on ways I could improve it. She had not only remembered but had gone so far as to create a unique gift just for me. This woman, without even trying, had completely undone me, and never had I been so glad to be formless.

Now, almost a year later, that zombie doll sits on my desk at work guarding over me. When I look at it during difficult or boring periods of my workday I think of her and am renewed. It’s strange to say that a representation of the undead reminds me of the love of my life, but it’s true. I knew after two months of dating her that I wanted to know her for the rest of my days, but held that knowledge close so as not to scare her off. This fear proved to be unwarranted on the day I discovered a small note in my messenger bag written on a piece of paper torn from a spiral notebook. In her best approximation of a small girl’s handwriting, she had written “Do you want to fall in love with me? (Because I’m falling for you…)” followed by the instructions to “check one” and three boxes with Yes, No and Maybe written beside them. I’m not ashamed to admit I got a little misty at the sweetness of the note, and I added a box with a huge check mark inside and the words “Too late” written beside it. She framed it and now it sits on her dresser. On the days I’ve spent the night at her place, I’ve noticed she touches it each morning like a lucky charm, though I think it’s me that’s the lucky one.

I’m torn from my happy memories of the past when she emerges from the water. The sun is beginning to set behind her, and the sky is on fire with oranges and purple and reds. The water beads on her skin and she ignites with refracted light, blazing in the waning day. It’s as though she’s covered with jewels, almost too brilliant to look at. The sparks of light coming from her wet form remind me of the small box in the bottom of our picnic basket, the small box that contains the only secret I’ve been capable of keeping from her. It’s an almost exact match of one I saw in a picture of her grandmother. She told me the story of how it was lost when her grandmother moved in with her parents shortly before her passing, and it’s one of the few times I’ve seen her cry. I went to several stores that specialized in custom work before I found one that could match the detail and beauty of the heirloom. I think it’s a pretty good match. I know it’s not the real thing, but my hope is it’s close enough that it will remind her both of my love and the love of her grandmother, the woman she once told me was her best friend.

As the sun continues to set I spread out our blanket and the food I prepared that morning, and we settle in to eat and talk. We watch the sun slowly disappear and the moon begin its ascent. After a while we both become quiet. I lean my head back against the bumper of my car, and she moves up close and places her head on my chest. For a while we sit quietly, savoring this moment only we share. After a while I ask if she wants dessert, and instead bring out the box. I ask my question, we both cry and she says yes, and then laughs when I struggle while putting it on her hand. Her nose wiggles, and I find my heart still has room to grow.

3 Comments:

Blogger Rod Cruz said...

I am SUCH a fan! When is the next installment??

11:55 PM  
Blogger Crystal Arcand (3Stairs) said...

*swoon*

3:33 AM  
Blogger Cassie {Hi Sugarplum!} said...

i'm so thrilled to have found your blog!!!! I can't wait to read this!

And thank you for the sweet, sweet comment on my blog!!! {heart}

8:33 AM  

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