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Rise High in Gratitude

There are very few pulls toward the keyboard anymore; feeling less and less interested in sounding off for the sake of sounding off. This...


Day 3: Oldest Piece of Clothing...

...that I still wear.

No matter the day or the occasion, when the shower turned on, I knew sooner rather than later the smell of frangipani would waft under the bathroom door and transport me back to the day I met my girlfriend. I was standing behind her, marveling at the length of her neck and the way it pointed, like an arrow to the most beautifully narrow shoulders I'd ever seen. My eyes traced the hazelnut curve of those shoulders and started to descend down her almost muscular arms. I had been standing in it the whole time but I wasn't immediately aware of it until I was and then I knew I wanted to see those shoulders and smell those (indoor?) flowers all the time. And I hadn't even seen her face.

She'd ordered some fancy iced coffee with too many names that only meant something to baristas. I was only trying to cool off a little before going home to my too small apartment and its useless window box that claimed to be an air conditioner but really just created a small space for spiders and flies to live with me rent free. She got her order and walked away to grab napkins or stirrers or add some special something and I placed my order for a green tea lemonade and prayed to someone's God that the barista would hurry before she went back into the summer sun. Frozen in that moment, I counted the beats of my heart, the number of times I blinked, and the seconds that seemed to morph into hours before being handed my small, simple drink. She was still there and I only knew it for sure because those indoor flowers were still in full bloom.

She'd sat down, with a book, and sipped distractedly. I took a chance at sitting down at her table, praying again that she wouldn't dismiss me with some sideways look or comment that would properly cut me in half and send both pieces of me promptly away from her space. I don't remember my exact words because the moment came and went so fast while also being frozen in time. I know I managed to get out something about her indoor flowers in bloom. I was either interesting or pathetic but she looked up. Her smile was beautiful. It wasn't a full smile, but enough to let me know I wouldn't be immediately given directions to the exit.

That afternoon we talked through 3 of those fancy iced drinks she had and I had one more green tea (since I'd emptied my pockets on her next 2 coffees). In that first conversation I learned that she reads to escape, her roommate was a cat named Paw Paw, she had a weakness for snickerdoodles, her favorite subject as a kid was whatever her favorite teacher of the moment taught, and she despised scented detergents. And I learned that frangipani grows on the island she took her first real vacation on with her own money. The scent, she said, was strong close to dinner every night and it was then that she learned that the flowers bloomed at night. Feeling like she blossomed differently than her friends, she found a kinship in the flower. At the airport before returning home, she noticed a vendor selling fragrances, among them the frangipani, and bought enough to last her at least half the rest of her life.

I didn't feel nearly as interesting and tried to keep as much of the conversation on her as possible. I walked her home, I got her number, and promised to pick her up a few days later. I took the next three days to find socks that matched and figure out my best 'fit and decide where to take her. See, the too small apartment is hint number one that I hadn't hit my stride yet. Since I started this tale off about my girl in the shower, you understand that it all worked out. I got her!! Lets fast forward to the first time she invited me over.

This was five years ago. I was allowed beyond the brick stoop and on the other side of that door. From outside I thought it was an apartment building but I guess I hadn't paid attention to the lack of buzzers or mailboxes. This sista had her own brownstone and I felt like a scrubs extra in a TLC video. All of a sudden I wasn't so sure it was a good idea to spend time liking this woman more and then having to let her go when she saw how I was livin'. I set my mind on getting through that date and coming up with the most respectful exit strategy.

Everything was strategically placed and equally as beautiful as she is. She loved artwork more than furniture and had a thing for the naked form. It was all tasteful, no full on privacy made public but there were bodies everywhere. Later I learned it was all her body and that the photos were an attempt at learning to love herself. I couldn't imagine her or anyone else being challenged by loving her but I won't deny anyone their experience. As I looked around, Paw Paw followed at a respectful distance and made sure I didn't steal anything or anyone. Of course she wasn't finished getting dressed when I arrived and left me up downstairs while she finished. When she walked away those flowers were in bloom again.

We went out. We had a good time. We had a great time actually because the night ended with me back on the other side of her door. Time was on a greased pulley and moved at a clip I was NOT expecting. There were no lulls in our conversation and we talked well past a respectable hour for a man to be still sitting on a woman's couch when he paid rent elsewhere. My mama taught me that. Night flirted dangerously with morning and I insisted I go home. She insisted it was OK, told me about how drafty her living room got and invited me into her room. I made my mind up that I would only look straight ahead, thanked whoever would listen that I had on shorts under my jeans and drew an imaginary line 70/30 down the bed and vowed to stay on my stingy side. She laughed at what she called my weird behavior, promised her will was greater than mine and the only thing I'd smell that night was those night blooming flowers. She was too sweet to understand her own pun so I laughed silently to myself as she went into the bathroom to change.

This woman came back into the room wearing the most adorable t-shirt with kittens on it who looked like miniature versions of Paw Paw. The shirt was endearing but I broke my vow to look straight ahead only when I saw her legs. I wrote a mental note to ask if she was a dancer or runner or a gymnast or something. Just above those legs were black, silky, bikini panties with rhinestone writing that read, "sexy" in cursive. The sound of laughter escaped before I realized I was laughing at her. Those panties were far more obvious than the subtle delights of her conversation and her taste in art. I was caught off guard and she was too, not expecting me to laugh at her with more of her body revealed. I saw her esteem meter drop a bit and tripped all over myself to clean up the moment. I don't remember what I said then either but I narrowly escaped finding myself back on her brick stoop. And yes, I had forgotten my plan to escape falling for this woman, lest she discover just how far under her I stood.

Her frown was replaced by a bashful smile as she told me that she'd had the panties for eight years before and had bought them in an attempt to convince herself that she was indeed sexy. I didn't bother to tell her how ludicrous it was that she didn't see what the whole world was thankful to see daily, but mostly because I wasn't sure how to say it without doing more damage. Instead, I waited for her to nestle into her bed, thank her for a wonderful evening and keeping me safe off the streets at the bewitching hour. She chuckled at the concept of a man possibly facing the same perils as women beyond the glow of midnight and I smiled at the reach of her naïveté. I told her goodnight and commenced to laying still and straight until the sun rose.

It wasn't three months from that night before I had left behind my too small apartment, became Paw Paw's daddy, and have gotten to see those "sexy" panties on real special occasions for the last five years. This morning, with those nighttime flowers blooming from the bathroom, she doesn't know that I have a ring to out-bling those rhinestones on those panties she has miraculously not worn out. I'm too old for girlfriends. It's time to make this woman my wife.

Watch me move

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