Valentine Memories

This time of year reminds me of when Barbara and I were dating.  It is also the season of our anniversary.

I remember when we would walk downtown and would always end up at this quaint little café.  Its ambiance was aesthetically warm and intimate.  Honestly, though, aesthetic beauty wasn’t needful when I was with her, her beauty made even me look good.  Nevertheless the ambiance of the café was afforded us each time we strolled, hands together, in the romance of sidewalks and shops.

I would open the door and a bell would ring as she walked through as if I wanted everyone to look at the prize I brought with me.  The cafés allure framed her personality perfectly.  We would always look for an open place near the windows.  I would pull out the chair from the small oval table skirted with earth toned embroidery.  The timing of our arrival was personally intentional, early evening so as to catch the sunset.  The angle of tangerine light would crop her brown/black hair so nicely.

Then Placido Domingo would sing his way down from the ceiling and surround us like an afghan.  Barbara would gently place her forearm on the table as an invitation for me to rest my hand on hers.  I would order a glass of burgundy for her, and a light chardonnay for me.  Her hands would play with the glass, circling its rim with her fingers, gliding its stem with her palm.  We would talk for hours about everything and nothing and the spaces between.

I would stare at her as she talked on and on, although not at her eyes.  I would imagine her eyelashes as a set of brushes that would paint the air between us as on a canvas.  Then she would notice I wasn’t listening and she would stare back at me, our eyes transfixed on each other, gazing, pupil to pupil, as if they were portals to our very souls.

Then Placido hit a high and clear note, beautiful that evolved into irritation.  It was a sound that sliced our moment in two and broke our trance.  As I turned to look, a mother was dragging her child out of the “play land” and out the door.  The child was screaming and pleading like nails on a chalkboard…”I don’t want to go!  I don’t want to go!”  Then our girls, Laura and Lissie, squished up against us.  Laura pointing at my nose, shouted, “Dad…You lost!  Mom won the staring contest!”

Then Barbara peeled Vermont from her “wine glass” and asked me, “Jerry, do we need this?”  And I said so tenderly, “No, honey, we already have 13 of them, but I’ll keep this one just in case.”  And so I plucked Vermont Avenue out of her palm with my forefinger and thumb and slid it into my breast pocket.  She sent a look my way that we should go, so we raised our glasses and took one last sip of diet coke.

A light sadness we shared as the sun was just a dimple on the horizon.  Bitter-sweet it was, for we knew that we would return to this haven of romance once again to sit and drink and hope to peel off Connecticut Avenue.

© Gerald Allen Barrett and parentheticallyspeakingin3d, 2012.