I couldn’t decide what to wear. I changed three times from sophisticated chic in my cashmere wheat colored wrap top with jeans and a blazer to a scarf top. The scarf didn’t match the shoes I wanted to wear, some funky black boots with an Asian pattern embroidered in birthday colors. So I changed again, and finally settled on a low-cut, let’s get it over with and fcuk, silk number. Perfume. Out the door.
When I arrived at Piadina 15 minutes late, he was standing to greet me at a table near the door. “I didn’t know what to expect while I was sitting here waiting for your cab to pull up. Curly or straight.” He was besotted, and I was home.
After surveying the menu, we decided to share a homemade tagliatelle with a meat ragu, then I stepped out of my skin and ordered pork. Who orders pork? But I did because I was living dangerously. He had the sea bass.
During dinner, we divulged our sad stories, and we stared shaking our heads. There’s something strange about reconnecting, about feeling so at ease so quickly, but knowing you’ve both changed and let so much slip between you. You spend moments listening trying to discover what’s new, and it takes a while, but you know you’ll enjoy the journey.
“If you’re going to hold my hand, hold it.” He quoted me back to me. “That’s what you once told me; and I never forgot it.” Then we held hands like we meant it as we walked in the cold up West 4th Street. “I remember your pesto, too.”
“I can’t believe I made homemade pesto in college. What was I thinking? I mean I still don’t know single women who spend their nights making things in their blenders that don’t include designer vodka.”
“Well, Stephanie, you’ve never been most women.” Then we both smiled, smitten, looking down at our shoes. “Those are very cool shoes.” And that was the official change of subject that just went by, before our very shoes, between the cracks in the sidewalk, in the pause of our breaths. Everything lingered, as thin and strong as smoke.
We arrived at Pastis for an after dinner drink. I watched as my camel v-neck sweater over a conservative checked shirt date braved the crowd, balancing my Sancerre and his dirty martini. “Oh really? So you’re feeling dirty?” And he laughed, keeping his eyes on mine, letting me know, with just his smile how much he adored me. “George, maybe we should wait 3 months to do this.”
“Three months?” He asked as he touched the small of my back.
“You broke off an engagement 3 months ago. And I know you’re not looking backwards, but sometimes it takes time to get all the memories off.”
“Why three months?”
“Well, not three months per se, but some time should go by so you’re ready for this.”
“So there’s going to be a ‘this’ huh?”
I didn’t need to answer. He squeezed my hand and pulled me closer. “I’ve always imagined a future with you Stephanie.” I might have stopped breathing.
When the clock approached midnight we decided to leave. I didn’t want to let go; I hugged him for longer than I should’ve, and then we kissed. It was quiet and subtle, not a building up to this moment kind of kiss. It was very don’t worry; this will happen again.
When I got home, sans makeup and fashion, I crawled into bed with Linus. My phone vibrated on the nightstand. He’d text messaged me; I knew it was him before I flipped the phone open. “I had a great time—next time, I’m cooking for you at my place. We’ll see what kind of chick flicks I can dig up for us.”
I fell asleep listening to Colin Hay singing, “I Just Don’t Think I’ll Ever Get Over You.” I drink good coffee every morning, comes from a place that’s far away. And when I’m done, I feel like talking. Without you here, there is less to say. I don’t want you thinking I’m unhappy. What is closer to the truth, that if I lived ‘til I was a hundred and two, I just don’t think I’ll ever get over you.