Saturday, February 14, 2009

When I Knew

“When did you know you loved me?” she asks.

Memories leap toward me, like children offered cupcakes. “Me, me, don’t forget me!”

The night we met twenty four years ago, your first few minutes at college, when I was a Dorm Assistant who had nearly memorized the names of the new freshman, and I had just met your roommate, and your first words to me were the challenge, “So what’s MY name?”, and I guessed wrong and you playfully chided me, and I thought to myself, “I’m going to have a lot of fun with this one,” I didn’t know that I knew . . . but I knew.

Early in the morning on a college retreat in a large cabin filled with our dorm mates, as I slept peacefully on the floor in one crowded room, and several of you came in to find us, and you jolted me awake loudly and more roughly than I’d ever been awakened, and I looked up to see your mischievous smile, and a feeling like liquid joy rushed through me, I knew.

As we walked down the bustling late night boulevard in Westwood, with me in a tie and you in the most beautiful creamy white lace dress I’d ever seen, and I held your hand and felt like we were in a world of our own, like invisible angels, I knew.

When much too late one night after finally arriving exhausted at my apartment to find my roommate answering your phone call, I drove all the way back to rescue you and your fellow damsels from the giant cricket, with each of you screaming, and I walked in to your room to find you standing on your bed, cringing and pointing at the terrified creature, I knew.

That afternoon on the altar, looking at all our friends and family gathered in one room for us, and the last bridesmaid smiled at me and took her place, and you came around the corner on your father’s arm, and the room gasped to see you, and I looked at your face, I knew.

In your high-barred bed in the tiny curtained cubicle of the outpatient room when the surgery was finally over, and you’d never looked or been so worn out, with eyes that would only half open, and you gently handed the cup of water back to the busy nurse, and then you smiled at her, I knew.

The night several months after my father died, when you suggested we sell our house and move in with my mother to help pay her bills and to be there for her, I knew.

The first night you sat on the edge of the bed and waited for me to take your socks off (and every night you’ve done it since), I knew.

Last night, when you were happily dividing up our two small pizzas and you licked each of your fingers with all the gusto of a carefree little girl, I knew.

And I’ll always know.

“A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.” ~ Mignon McLaughlin