He was sixteen when I met him. He was broad shouldered and long-limbed, sitting at my friend’s kitchen table at her sixteenth birthday party. His dark brown hair swooped away from his temples like the wings of a dark, glossy bird, and though he wasn’t talking, his chocolate brown eyes took in everything around him.
I remember his white T-shirt, and his surprisingly strong looking forearms, and how uncomfortable he looked. When I was introduced to him, he barely even looked at me. Despite his less than encouraging reaction to me, my heart beat jarringly within my chest, and I spent the rest of the party pretending to follow conversations—all the while sneaking looks and wondering if he noticed me too.
By the end of the night, my trademark lack of patience got the best of me, and I followed him to his car. The chill of that September night blanketed every surface in dewy splendor, and I remember the millions of tiny droplets on his car, reflecting the rising moon like so many fallen stars.
I wanted him to ask me for my number. Instead, he gave me his. I didn’t know then how shy he really was. With a groan of frustration, I ripped the paper in half and gave him my number anyway.
And then I waited.
I don’t remember when he called, but I do recall meeting at our friend’s house once again, sitting on the carpeted basement steps and wanting him to kiss me so bad, I thought I might burst. Each breath was ripe with possibilities, each shared glance bringing us closer to that inevitable moment. But it wouldn’t happen there. That was for a different night.
A night that will always be a favorite memory. The inky black sky, the quiet of his neighborhood near midnight. Sitting on the trunk of my maroon’86 Oldsmobile. My rapid breath betrayed by the cold night air as it crystallized between us and floated to the heavens. Anticipation coursing through me like a torturous, delicious drug. At long last he leaned toward me, and I toward him. His first kiss.
My last first kiss.
Months later, I remember sitting in his little white car in my parents’ driveway, the drenching summer rain holding us hostage as we were serenaded by the thwap of windshield wipers and the tinny strains of Sweet Home Alabama floating though the humid air. His dark velvet gaze was leveled evenly on me—no more shyness between us. And then those three words spoken, not even fully formed before they were reciprocated. There was no doubt in my mind, in my soul, or in my heart. I loved him. He was meant for me, and I for him.
Everything about him was the perfect foil to me. Patience to my impatience, calmness to my restlessness, introverted to my extroverted. The classic yin and yang. He was good, and sweet, and infinitely kind.
Four and half years after we met, when we were oh-so-mature juniors in college together, a letter arrived at my work. Leave now, it said, and put on your best dress. Be ready by 6. Dinner, a show, a walk at midnight. At last his knee touched the pavement, on a winter’s night in South Carolina, and before the dormant fountain and sleepy, bare trees, he said those magic words. The moon itself nestled in a little black box, anchored by white gold and soft velvet, and with a single, whispered yes, he placed it on my finger. I cried and clung to him, loving this perfect man who loved me back.
A scant two weeks after graduating college, exactly ten years ago today, in fact, I awoke in my childhood bedroom in the gloomy light of dawn, giddy, electric nerves dancing through my every cell. The day somehow rushed by with exquisite slowness, snippets and moments preserved in memory among the whirlwind that was to be my wedding day. The artful working of my hair, the soft tickle of makeup brushes across my cheeks and nose, the jarring smell of nail polish. A blue garter, a white dress, a sparkling tiara, and yards and yards of the precious veil I had spent months making by hand. Stepping from the blinding sunlight into the cool, dark church, and then . . . there he was.
A hundred pairs of eyes watched us, but we only saw each other. His smile . . . I’ll remember it forever. His words of promise, his warm fingers sliding cold metal onto my finger, and then his lips on mine. Joined together as one, at long last. My husband. Are there any sweeter words in the English language?
I remember thinking things could never be better than they were that moment, when we ran from the church and laughed as we embraced, a symphony of tolling bells ringing in our ears and making the very air we breathed dance with excitement.
But I was wrong.
It did get better. It does get better. Every morning I wake with him by my side, every shared kiss, every time his fingers touch mine or I hear his voice on the phone, my life gets that much richer. His quiet words of support, his endless championing and his faith in me even when I had none in myself; all of it is precious to me.
I know, dear Cake Reader, that I am blessed. I am a writer because of some small seed of talent God planted in me. I am a writer of romance because I know love so completely. I am a writer of romance pursuing my dreams because of the man who makes it all possible.
To Kirk ~ My Love, My Life, My Very Best Friend ~ Happy Tenth Anniversary.
At the tender age of seventeen :)
June 2, 2001
On our fifth anniversary
A candid shot on our 8th anniversary