I’m flooded with memories when I think about how we got to that moment on the beach.
I’m thinking of our first date. Indian food, small smiles, and lots of nervous laughter. How I wasn’t sure I’d actually see you again until you emailed me your schedule a few hours after we parted ways to show me when you would be in town during the upcoming month.
I’m remembering how you brought me a squash on our second date. The way you nonchalantly reached into your bike paneer and the excitement in your voice as you remembered the offering. I didn’t think it was strange or even an usual gift to bring on a second date. Instead I thought how lovely that I’m not a girl who carries around a tote purse because only knapsacks can adequately transport gifted squash. How I took the squash and mixed it with coconut and spices to make muffins to give back to you. Our own vegetable flirtation.
The way I interrupted our first kiss to ask if you actually liked me. The confusion on your face when you muttered “why else would I be hanging out with you all the time?” It took months before you got accustomed to this type of awkwardness from me.
I’m still feeling slightly broken hearted when I picture myself standing frozen on the street corner hearing only fragments of your sentences but comprehending enough to know that you were done before you ever started. Words like “committment. responsibility. moving. unfair. bad timing”. all still rustling in my head. The aching in my gut and the emptiness of my voice when I tried to utter any words. Instead I just wept. Mourning something I thought I’d never get the chance to even know. Feeling compelled to shake the apologies out of you and scream “This is NOT how it ends” but realizing I could never explain how my mind, let alone my heart, knew that to be true.
How the very next day you texted me still apologizing. How suddenly we were talking more than ever. How you were the least successful break up partner in the history of breakups. How we just never went away and instead we kept growing stronger. We never went away.
I’m still laughing about your first time meeting the girls. Lulu telling you she hoped she didn’t pee on you. How we cooked you dinner and you thought you could trick them into eating all their food by telling them they couldn’t come to your birthday party if they didn’t eat. Not just any birthday party, but a birthday party with a jump house. My eyes silently shooting you signals of distress as I tried to warn you about the monumental mistake you were making. How those girls suddenly found their appetite and feasted on thoughts of giant inflatables for dessert. Your shock when they still remembered two months later. Your commitment when we spent your birthday at JUMP with multiple bounce houses for just the four of us. Your joy when we all collapsed into a heap of carefree laughter.
I remember my birthday. How sad I was to be leaving town and not able to spend it with you. You slipping a card into my purse during dinner and telling me to save it for the plane ride. The mischievousness twinkle in your eye the entire drive to the airport. The most memorable goodbye of my life. Your hand tugging me back. Your voice slightly shaking. I love you. I love you too. Words that finally found their true meaning. Words said over, and over, and over again during the next months. Words that also kept growing stronger. Words that could never be said enough.
I’m struggling to decipher individual nights, and instead they are just blurring together. Nights where we stayed up for hours doing nothing but laughing. Hysterically, spontaneously, uncontrollably. Playing cards till midnight. Reading books outloud. Making food. Riding bikes. And when I was really lucky, floor volleyball.
Most of all I’m recalling how I watched you morph into a parent. How you were the first person to ever initiate conversations about the girls and their growth with me. How you genuinely wanted to understand and help them. The way you would get frustrated but then only get even more determined. I think I fell in love with you outside that airport, in addition to compounding over months, but I couldn’t have loved you more than when you told the girls you love them. You were mine before that, but now we all belonged to each other.
I’m also remembering my dad. How three years ago he tried to hug together the pieces of my broken heart and his words. “If you can just hold on a little bit longer, I know someone really great is coming your way.” Fast forwarding through time. Through some that weren’t that great. Through awkward first dates. Through airport admissions. Through road trips and soccer games and grad school and new jobs. Growing squash together. Years whizzing by me. To the moment where you were kneeling before me on the beach at sunset and I could see my entire past behind you, and our entire future in front. When I knew that my dad was right. Someone great was coming and here you were.
Yes. My answer is yes. Today, tomorrow, and years from now. A yes that just like us, will never go away.Yes.