When I became aware that I was walking down the street holding his hand with a naked wrist and no concept of time, and I didn’t even care to look for a bank clock, I knew I was changing.
When a white blonde-headed little moppet about the age of 7 stuck her head from the side window of her parents’ minivan to yell “Ew!” with authority as we kissed and embraced on a heavily-trafficked street, and my first thought was not shame or self-consciousness, but laughter, I was certain I was altered.
As we walked into a local haberdashery and I donned a white hat, circa 1930, that might look well at home on the head of Chicago’s seductive murderess Velma Kelly, and I vamped it up for my companion as he complimented me, instead of changing the subject and turning red, it seemed very clear that a metamorphosis had taken place, a silent sea change.
It didn’t occur to me to overthink the reasons I hadn’t been invited to the family Easter dinner, to wonder for the millionth time why I have to be such a damned square peg trying to contort myself into a round hole. I was too busy sitting peacefully on a park bench, watching a waterless fountain and the children climbing in and out of its troughs, my head resting comfortably on his shoulder.
I never believed a dark chocolate bunny in a faux wire cage could break my heart with its message of simple understanding and devotion. I never imagined I could love something edible that much and not for a second wish to consume it.
I couldn’t anticipate that the random non-sequiturs for which I am famous, the kind of clumsiness that would make a circus clown enviousness of technique, the way I open wine bottles with my teeth when the cork gets stuck – instead of demanding forgiveness for these quirks, he would thank me for having them.
I failed to imagine that lying between strength and heat personified, bookended by a tiny gray and white cat with a pink nose, would be the most heavenly, restful sensation imaginable; that I would prefer to lie there wordlessly, sensing for the first time that creating sound to fill the space would only subtract, not add.
The only mystery that needed solving that day is why the old, cavernous bookstore to which he guided me, knowing I would delight in the endless rows of musty volumes, didn’t carry more of Margaret Atwood’s work.
Under no circumstances did I believe I could feel better, stronger, more confident, even sexy and powerful, simply knowing he is out there in the same city loving me.
And it seems utterly impossible that the solicitous guardian of my well-being, the one who tends to me when I am sick, who provides for my stomach, mind and soul while inspiring me everyday with his own work and passions, could be the very same man my heart wants.