“You have the most distinctive eyes I’ve ever seen.”
The sweet cynic that had been telling those off-color but on-beat stories blushed seemingly down to her toes. She looked down and mumbled a thank you, apparently finding the words in her careful study of the asphalt. When she met my gaze, those eyes registered something new, just as beautiful but now full of pity like she had been charged with informing me of a loved one’s death. I was still puzzling over that blue mercy on the drive home across the mountains. Out of the blue, I asked to hold her hand.
“Holding hands is a really intimate thing!”
Exactly, that’s why I’m asking you. The thing that had clicked inside me had led me to ask for her hand, certainly not in marriage as she was apparently taking it, but in solidarity, a physical sign of you and me together. She stared out the window at the dark valley. The still, silent blackness was rudely interrupted by electric lights. Likewise, my human initiative was imposing its will upon her natural order, so she protested like an environmentalist. You live too far away. You are at a different point in your life. You are still hurt from your last girlfriend. She was thumb-tacking me to the wall, forcing separation, mandating distance.
“Look, don’t make me out to be a tragic hero. Maybe our ending will be awful and sad, but I want it to be for the right reasons. It’s not a tragedy for you to go back to New York. That’s your home, your place of comfort. It would be a tragedy if you left without knowing how I feel.”
I delivered this speech with my eyes straight ahead, glued to the road. I glanced over just in time to see a tear running for freedom down her left cheek. That tear made complete sense. I probably would have cried too, but her cell phone rang, violating the deepness of our moment with the urgency of the superficial. She asked me to wait a sec. I rolled my eyes, but nodded.
“Hey, hey. Listen, I can’t talk to you right now. I’m spending time with my friend in North Carolina. Do you mind if I call you back tomorrow night? Alright, great. Bye.”
“It’s OK. I don’t mind if you talk to your friend.”
“I know, thank you. But, I only want to talk to you.” Smiling, she turned towards me in the front seat, crossing her legs before the gear shift so that she could face me completely. I forgot I was supposed to be in a tragedy.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.