A Walk

June 3, 2013

It was a black tie wedding and I kept my heels on until the end. You ask the shuttle bus driver to let us out near your parents’ house where we are staying instead of downtown at the hotel with the rest of the guests.

“We’ll have to walk a few minutes,” you say apologetically as we get off the bus.

I walk a few feet and realize I’m not going to make it in these heels so I hold onto your arm for balance while I slip off my shoes one at a time. The road is suburban, sleepy at this late hour and dark. So different from New York. Tiny lights shimmer from the front porches of houses, guiding our way. We walk on the pavement, listening to the crickets. I pretend the white line of the shoulder is a balance beam.

Eventually the gravel hurts too much on my bare feet so you tell me to move to the grass. It rained all day today and the blades are cool and wet squishing between my toes, heavenly relief. Your tuxedo jacket is limp over your arm like a puppet waiting to come to life.

I carry my heels in my hand and we walk on the grass, through the yards of your childhood friends. We talk about the food we ate and the people we saw and how weddings are a great but weird way to catch up with old friends who disappear out of your life for years at a time and resurface again. You want to talk and catch up in a meaningful way but the music is too loud so you drink too much and dance too long and say how great it was to see them again and wave as you get off the bus.

I like when you talk like this. How evident your frustration is at a lack of meaningful connection with people you love. I love how much you care. I like the way you pause between sentences, the way you say ‘um’ and tilt your chin while you gather your thoughts. I think back to the first time we grabbed a drink and you showed up wearing a sweatshirt that looked really soft and you tilted your chin a lot and chose your words carefully and listened intently to everything I had to say.

When we tiptoe into your parents’ house, I realize I’m missing the wrap your mother loaned me. I panic instantly at how careless I can be, scanning my brain for when it might have slipped off my arm in the grass somewhere.

“I’ll find it,” you say, calm as can be. You kiss me on the forehead and tell me to get ready for bed and you walk out again through the front door, into the darkness to retrace our steps.

My feet are wet from the grass and my body aches from dancing. I’m just a few steps away from collapsing into bed but you’re out there in the middle of the night, fixing my mistake.

My sister-in-law once asked me if you were always so mellow. I admitted that you weren’t, not all the time, but most of the time, yes. A feeling I’m drawn to because it makes me feel grounded, my feet firmly planted instead of flying through the air as they usually are. I live in the clouds and I talk fast and I lose things and where are my keys? I don’t know where they are, I don’t know where I am.

You remind me when I forget and you find the things I lose and when I’m anxious, you tell me to breathe and you let me borrow your confidence and try it on for size. I don’t remember a flash of fireworks when I met you or the surging of a Hollywood movie score, blinding white light and the Hallelujah Chorus. Instead, I experienced a warm feeling that slowly and steadily crawled over me over time, as if you were an old blanket, a friend I once knew a lifetime ago, a person who made me feel safe and strong at the same time.

My cell phone rings.

“I found it,” you say. “See you soon.”

I stand in the silent kitchen, eyes closed and wait for you to reappear.

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