Somewhere in the fading of hours, lost to the restless tumbling of cool and rain-swept November days, one to the next, we stood - together, outside my parents' home - and watched another grey day begin a grateful, graceful collapse into a long, rain-swept evening. You, standing in the open door of your old white Honda, long and pale and pretending not to shiver, or notice the thin cascade of cool water running along the sides of your cheeks and tracing the arcs of your long fingers and capable hands, swirling cautiously through the intricate axis of skin gracing each fingertip as though navigating a maze and searching for a way home, absorbing the subtler salts of your skin and recalling the taste of the sea. Your eyes huge, luminous, each long blink a revelation of blues blending to greys, flashing brighter with hints and suggestions of azure and lapis, cooling to the patience of slate, steadily blinking away the trembling droplets of water that gathered along the edges of your dark lashes before leaping, not looking, to the freedom and fleeting joys of a moment in flight: unburdened by regret or purpose, still vivid with the memory of your warmth, spinning and twisting in unsteady currents of free air and waiting for the tender embrace of gravity to take hold and deliver, at last, sweet release.
A sky, darkening in quiet increments, framing this little world.
And I, feeling each catch in my breath, savoring this growing suspension of disbelief - unexpected, unanticipated, treasured and fragile, stretching across the steady passage of months in defiance of all sense and logic - and struggling to surpress the instinctive, furious vacillation between caution thrown to the wind and the constant, breathless terror of waiting for the wrong word, the false step, the hidden flaw suddenly brought to light that would bring this intricate construct of hope tumbling into chaos and shattered glass. Mindless of the rain, the cold, the winnowing of moments as you stood there in the open door, poised on the cusp of our time and the infinite stretch of time and space beyond... incapable of holding back and denying myself the joy of you: your ready laugh, your nimble mind, your ambition and curiosity and horrible taste in music and inexplicable willingness to waste your time and energy on such a hopeless cause, such a ridiculous figure, such an unworthy beneficiary. Hanging on the nuance of your words, the wicked glimmer in your eye, the unspoken prayer for this and every moment with you to linger, to last, to lead to another and another and
the rain, falling harder, the sky darkening, the moment drawing to a close and
my eyes, dropping in acquiescence, acknowledging the inevitability of the fading day and the moment passing and struggling to find the words, the excuse, for there to be another - another day, another night, another chance to bask in the glow of distant suns and warm myself in the belief that a life like this might be mine - while you waited patiently for me to fumble my way through the process and grant you leave, offering kind words and knowing glances and gentle suggestions, and I half-listened and half-scrambled to find the phrasing that would strike you right and grant me the gift of one more smile, one more small laugh, and you said something and
and the world exploded into sound and brilliant light, chimes and chorales, a surging within me of entire oceans flooding into brittle chasms and spilling out in furious overflow, overwhelming me with a sense of urgency and relief and joy, joy, joy beyond all reckoning, inchoate and hapless and infused with gratitude and disbelief and wonder (sheer, gorgeous wonder) that such a thing might happen to someone like me, and that all I'd been bottling up inside was not wrong or wrong-headed: it was going to happen and after so, so, so very long it was happening and suddenly I could not contain it and suddenly there was no reason to, and without looking I leapt - smiling in my broken, awkward way as the words came unbidden, unbowed and unabashed - "I love you, too."
And you smiled, and I did not notice because all the light and joy in the world was flooding out of me at impossible volumes and velocities, I did not notice that there was something curious in your smile, something I could not name, and then I started laughing and you laughed, too, a bit more quietly than me, and
we stood there together, in the rain, laughing and then laughing some more and then I leaned across the top of the car door and hugged you, full and firm, my heart bursting through my chest and that cold rain filling my eyes and I held you tight and it felt like holding the sun because, because, because of all that
I'd thought you'd said.