It was cool for an evening in late July. I didn’t wear my jean jacket, or anything for once, preferring to feel the cool air on my shoulders. The break in humidity was welcome, a reminder that even weather gives up sometimes.
My coat of choice was whiskey, no need to mix it with ginger. You were in conversation with someone when I ordered, but I could feel your eyes on me instead of her. A laser beam on the side of my face, I did my best not to look over. I noticed you before when I walked in, before the lazy path toward the bar. I ordered and heard a voice say, “oh wow, make that two.” I laughed. I laughed because I never know what else to do in those situations as you argued with me about paying for it.
You asked me a question I was prepared to answer, a question we’ve heard all too often. Maybe it was the spring night in late summer or maybe it was the whiskey warming my courage and releasing the ability to care. But I answered differently, honestly. I said, “I love to run when its hot out, with humidity you can almost see it.” You continued to stare at me, with a look on your face I didn’t know how to read. After all, you were a stranger, I couldn’t know all your cues. Then you said it. Something I have never heard anyone else say, everything I had been waiting for.
I read an article once with words that I could never shake. “I don’t believe in love at first sight but I do believe in seeing someone from across the room and knowing instantly that they’re going to matter to you.”
You said, “There is something about when it’s hard to breathe. You’re running and almost have to remind yourself to do it. Every breath is an effort when we always take it for granted.”
I had to remind myself to inhale.
We were both surprised when the lights came on, it only felt like we were there a moment. Our phones lit up from messages we hadn’t seen, messages from friends who left us there. Outside on the sidewalk you asked me for my number, but I said no.
You laughed asking if it was because a boy recently broke my heart. I said no, how does time work anyway? That happened minutes, months, a lifetime ago. A lifetime far away when I was a different person, when my path was lit differently. Long ago when I briefly lost faith in reasons. After your eyes, everything was different.
You wanted to ask me why and I wanted to kiss you. We could’ve stood there for hours, watching the stars fade. I broke the standoff first, I confessed you had no idea how glad I was to have met you. I walked down the street to hail the first cab I could. As I opened the door I looked back down the street. I don’t know why, perhaps for some sort of closure, any sign that I had made the right decision.
You were still standing there too. In the same spot, looking at me. Maybe you wanted me to change my mind too. A movie moment in the middle of life. But life isn’t like the movies and the girl from earlier was walking out the door towards you. I got in the cab and didn’t look back.
I’m glad you didn’t ask why.
Because I would’ve said meeting someone whose soul aligns with yours is rare. Because I could’ve talked to you forever. I could’ve run down the streets holding your hand without worrying if you could keep up. Because we could’ve found somewhere to watch the sunrise and pick our favorite colors from what we saw. Because time with you would haunt my words for years, never being able to extract you if things were to go terribly wrong. Because your willingness to take chances on someone new, someone strange, is terrifying for me. Because I don’t know if a soul mate is real, but we are both summer souls and a summer soul is always accidentally looking for trouble. Because your eyes were blue and looked at me like you already knew me. Because your touch conveyed more in our conversation than strangers who apologize for all the unintentional contact. Because I believed in you and that moment.
Because my teeth are soft and so is my heart.