Wednesday, Apr. 03, 2019 @ 3:37 am
I wake up feeling bright and outgoing. I shower and wash my hair. I turn my hair into two low buns with some pieces trailing out around my face. This is my happy place hairstyle. When I feel cute, sweet, tender. I normally feel too old for this style, but today it feels right.
I walk into the kitchen at work, and I say good morning to a coworker.
“Oh, I like your hair! You’re totally trending. It suits you!”
Mid-day, Peter messages me.
“6:30, JJ Bean?”
“I’m up for a run, if that appeals to you,” I reply.
“Let’s do coffee first.”
I arrive early and read a book. When he arrives, we hug, and then I show him something amusing about the book. I gauge his reaction, and his response is quick witted and he gets it.
We talk for some time. A bee arrives, and I again gauge his reaction. He is calm and watches as it lands on his arm.
We are kicked out of the coffee shop ninety minutes later. Standing on the street corner for a few minutes, he gestures towards the water, and we start walking. We never talk about where we are going or what is happening. We are talking too much to get around to that. He walks beside me.
He nudges me down a path that I’ve not been before. We enter a courtyard with twenty four magnolia trees planted in a grid. My heart leaps into my throat. The trees are in full bloom, petals scattered all over the brick pavers. I walk through the middle of the grove and soak up all of the beauty, spin around, smile.
“Peter, you found us the magical magnolia grove!”
After an hour, we are two blocks from my new apartment. We turn around and head back towards where we started, near his place.
In the midst of saying something, he gestures and in doing so touches my arm with the back of his hand. It happens again. And then his shoulder touches mine when moving around a group of people. I realize that these are little questions.
We walk past the aquatic centre. I tell him that I’ve been swimming a lot lately.
Something on the ground catches my eye. There is hardly any light here, at the back of the pool building. I pause and reach down. He turns to see what I’m doing. I stand up and slowly and dramatically present to him my prize: a crisp and perfect one hundred dollar bill.
“Is this real?” I ask.
He comes over and takes it and feels it. He holds it up to a distant light.
“Here,” he says. He pulls me over and takes my hand and tells me where to look. There it is, a hologram that reads 100. “See that? It’s real.”
“Well. You know what this is? This is the Peter and Shannon fund. Where to first?”
We are a hundred yards from a pub. He holds open the door for me, and I walk to a table. He sits beside me.
He sits beside me, but he’s also facing towards me, and his leg is pressed against mine. I like him. He is kind. Brown eyes. Humble. American.
We are kicked out of the pub. We go to another pub.
“I’m sorry for talking so much. You have to realize that people from New York expect you to ‘interrupt’. I try to pause, to allow for a response the way that is expected here, but I’m.. well… I’m talking a lot… because I like you.”
We pay the bill and sit there for another hour.
He puts his hand on top of mine.
My face flushes, and I can no longer hear what he’s saying. My heart is racing, and I don’t know what to do. I’m not supposed to be dating. I’m not supposed to be doing this. This was just supposed to be coffee. Five hours later, way past my normal weekday bedtime.
I miss my last bus. Rain has started falling outside.
“I should find my way home.”
We leave and stand on the wide sidewalk. Rain falling in great swaths. Neon lights of the Granville strip. He walks with me towards an intersection that will allow for hailing a cab. He holds my hand.
The light is red.
He turns to me.
He kisses me.
Buses are clanking by on the trolley wires. Someone is playing an electric guitar half way down the block. Rain sheeting down. A car horn honks.
If this were a movie, the camera would pan out and circle. Nothing else exists, for me, in this moment. I wondered for so long what it would be like to be kissed honestly, tenderly. One of his hands on the nape of my neck, the other on my lower back, pulling me towards him. How does he know to do this? That these two things are the exact things that I’ve been dreaming of.
All of these things are happening inside of me. A realization of how much I’ve been missing. Feeling the warmth and touch of another person. Feeling cared for and appreciated. He puts his hands on my face and holds it. Tells me that I have beautiful, seductive eyes.
This gritty intersection, all of the trolley wires overhead, a Chinese take-out window. We lean against a wall, and he plays with the zippers on my layers of jackets. He zips up my inner soft layer to keep me warm around my neck. And then he zips up my Gore-tex, and it feels like he’s tucking me in. He takes my hand. We run across the street, and he hails a taxi. A New Yorker just hailed me a taxi.
The taxi pulls up.
I turn to him.
And then I get into the cab. The magic spell broken. I fall back into the seat and close my eyes.
All of this is a gift. I feel like I’m sixteen. I have an entirely new life spread out before me. All of those harrowing moments were worth it, if this is how I can expect to feel moving forward.
What will I remember from this night?
The wonderment of finding a one hundred dollar bill.
Magnolia petals falling into my hair.
My first real kiss in fourteen years.