I won’t soon forget the way you first kissed me behind your boxy black Jeep Cherokee, our friends only a couple of paces away, wielding red solo cups and candy-colored polo shirts and the headiness of school’s-out-for-summer frivolity.
Or the way you sometimes furtively traced the letters ILY on the palm of my hand while we were driving down to Charlottesville, safe from the gaze of your buddies in the backseat.
Or the steel set of your jaw when you picked me up from that ill-advised fraternity formal when I was in the midst of breaking up with a college boyfriend, or the red dirt on your sweats from sliding into third base while playing softball with your buddies just prior, or the trace of sweat on the brim of your UVA baseball hat — reminders, all, that I had interrupted your evening with a Hail Mary and that you hadn’t minded a bit.
Or the way the sun played on the forearm you’d so casually lean out the window of your car as we whizzed around the shade-dappled coil of Rock Creek Parkway in the parochial wild of N.W. D.C. so many afternoons that first summer we were dating.
Or the way you’d sheepishly stand behind my parents’ kitchen island when you’d trek over to their home after getting off of a long shift waiting tables at Faccia Luna in Clarendon, as you were wearing all black server’s clothes, and they embarrassed you, but you preferred to hastily come to see me rather than stop quickly at home to change.
Or the way you’d drive all the way across town at 11 P.M. for just thirty minutes of time with me, even if you’d nearly fall asleep on the drive home.
Or the way you added “mtb” in small blue letters to your AIM profile, an acronym for “meant to be,” something we told each other optimistically about our relationship with one another at its very naissance and that has proved, as a matter of fact, to be incontrovertibly true.
Or the way you introduced me to country music with a mix CD — “JMN’s First Sticks Mix,” you wrote in thick black sharpie on its front —
And I was just walking home from Magnolia Bakery the other day when Tim McGraw’s “Watch the Wind Blow By” — the second track on that CD you burned — came on through my AirPods, and I walked around with my heart in my throat for three city blocks and then replayed the song, even though I am not a repeater —
Because that song is all bare feet and nowhere-to-be and too-deep-tans and your young, bright-eyed, handsome, twenty-year-old-face and let-time-stand-still and sweet nothings whispered into the cicada-song of a mid Atlantic summer night and I LOVE YOU traced into the palm of my hand and the honey and breeze of youth —
And we have come so far from that time together, from the bucolia of sticky-still summers in Charlottesville to the moving-too-fast, don’t-blink-or-you’ll-miss-it thrum of urban life with two young children —
And though I wouldn’t trade where we are for anything and especially not a revisiting of the past ten years of hard work and heartbreak and often feeling as though I am not enough —
I won’t soon forget the way you were back then.
And I carry that you with me always, but occasionally and most tenderly in my Airpods, while walking briskly down Columbus Avenue, thinking — and I don’t give a damn how saccharine it is —
And all I want to do is let it be
And be with you and watch the wind blow by
And all I want to see is you and me
Go on forever like the clear blue sky
+In case your man is a good man like my man and deserves a special something: here’s a good starting point.
+Also, heads up: lots of GG sneaks on sale.
+This pleated midi skirt is so chic!
+This toile jersey bodysuit! So chic with a high-waisted white skirt.
+A great baby gift (on super sale).