I was the first one to say “love.” It slipped out, unbidden, as we entered a parking garage at the outdoor mall.
“I heard that! You can’t take it back now.” He said.
The thought has never crossed my mind.
I think I knew that we were written in the stars long before we became an official couple. I was driving, him in the passenger side of my first New Car. Someone cut me off, again, in the rush hour of San Diego drivers headed home after work. I sputtered in futile anger. He shrugged. “For all I knew, he just got fired and his gal dumped him.”
I want that, I thought. That peace. That calm. That compassion for someone I’ve never met.
I hadn’t know him very long, only a few months, and only casually, when a violation of my home and body led to a breakdown of my spirit. He saw me at my worst, at my weakest, and it never phased him. He never treated me as fragile, never thought I wouldn’t be OK. He accepted the sadness for what it was and showed me that I was OK. That I’d be OK. He was kind, when others around me were not. He never left my side.
We met at work. It wasn’t a forbidden romance – we weren’t directly connected on the company flow chart, but I still wanted it to be a secret. Too many whispers and hushed stories have a way of ruining something that’s good. I wanted to protect it, to keep it safe, to keep it good.
We met at work, and at first it wasn’t anything. Friendly banter in the office. An extra copy of his course schedule in his inbox, just in case. A well timed lunch break. I couldn’t help but notice that he treated me as the same, as equal. A person, not a secretary (which wasn’t my job, anyway). He was the same with the office secretary. I liked it.
One of our first dates-that-wasn’t-a-date was a hike around a lake. We read the map wrong and ended up nearly ten miles away from the car. Downhill from the car. He gave me the last sip from the water bottle and flagged down a pick up for a ride. We sat in the truck bed with the dog they were training for rescue work. After we got home we went out for Italian food, watching the sun set over the pacific.
We had talked about marriage before, and the future and us and all the things that grown ups talk about when they’re in love. So when he asked me, in Golden Gate Park, if I wanted to marry him, I didn’t think much of it.
Until I saw his eyes and knew he meant it. Meant now.
“Huh? What? Yes!”
Afterwards, we touched the big oak tree that stood in as our witness. Thanks.
I crept back into bed, unable to hide the smile from my voice.
I held out the stick, with one dark line and another fainter one.
“Does that mean…”
Some nine months later, I watched him meet our son for the first time. I saw the feelings I felt, but couldn’t articulate, on his face. Amazement, shock, terror, and pure, unadulterated, love.
It hasn’t been without challenge, but I can say that our relationship has always been easy. It’s so easy to be with him. So easy to love him. I know those around us, at times, had doubts. The age difference, the religion difference. But I’ve never doubted. He’s always been it. All I want. I can’t imagine my life without him. I can’t look at our child without seeing him: his eyes, his hair, his impish grin. It’s the greatest thing in the world, to see the two people I love most reflected in each other.