I had a deal set in stone years and years ago. “If you’re ever in Alabama…”. I needed to go see my daughter and the timing aligned perfectly for once in my life. So I found myself nervously fidgeting at a high top table across from my former boyfriend. He placed his hand on the small of my back and pulled out the chair. When the waiter took our drink order he said “a single crown and coke oh excuse me, diet coke for the lady.” He teased me about my pink keychain, nails, and heels. He was very much the boy I fell in love with 25 years ago. We traveled down memory lane and back out again. I knew why I was attracted to him in high school. He was talented and intelligent.He was well mannered and charming. He had a joy and excitement surrounding him. He would have given me everything my 16 year old self could have ever hoped for. He loved me and I loved him as much as two innocent kids can.
But there were things about him that I couldn’t have realized. I’m so glad I sat watching him clink his ice around his drink as he talked of his children and his wife. I wasn’t aware of what an amazing, genuine man he is. He talked so openly about how proud and scared he was about his children, how he was raising a 6 year old boy whose mother abandoned him. He asked after my children and expressed parental concern when I began to tell him of my girls. He talked passionately of his father and sister. The conversation rambled around as one drink slid into the next. We settled on books and he promised a list of recommended reading while playfully teasing me of my current Harry Potter phase. He worried over his wife and her recent surgery. His life tumbled out and hours flew by. This was no young innocent boy full of enthusiasm. His talented fingers and velvet voice gave way to calloused hands and a smokey gravel. His youthful blush had been replaced by a scruffy beard and tired eyes. His shoulders were large and he frequently rolled them, shaking out the soreness. A grown man sat in front of me with the weight of the world on top of him.
He put all of that aside. He grabbed my hand and laced his fingers with mine. He waited patiently for me to look him in the eye. “If you need anything, or you get in a bind or for goodness sake, Darling, if you get sick again, you call me”. It was said with such heartfelt concern, and I was embarrassed by the attention.
I’m so grateful that I got to meet what became of the boy I fell in love with.