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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Falling In Love - I Love You

     Valentines Day 1998 was my first date with the counselor.  I remember sitting on the bathroom counter staring into the mirror while applying mascara when he walked in the front door of my apartment (I’d left it open because the weather was nice).
     “Hello, Laura,” he said and I liked the sound of his voice.
     I grabbed my purse and a bottle of silver nail polish and out the door we went.  On the car ride to the restaurant, I painted my nails.
     After dinner, we walked to the movie theater in the rain and I convinced him to jump through puddles with me along the way. 
     You see, the counselor and I were friends first.  I think that’s why I felt so comfortable around him.  I never felt the need to impress or make a fuss.  He was such a nice person.
     Well, if you’ve read a bit about my love story, (click here) you’ll remember love didn’t come easy to me.  I fought it every chance I had.  I was so certain the counselor and I were “just friends” that a second date didn’t seem necessary.
     Thanks to the counselor’s poetry and my big sister’s advice of finding Mr. Right, in April 1998 a second date came to pass.  There in his car where I had left it in the cup holder two months earlier was my silver nail polish.  On the seat was a note for me.  I opened up the piece of paper and written in silver nail polish it said “Do you want to go puddle jumping with me again?”
     That's when I started looking at him a bit differently.
     The counselor was a quite sort of man.  He was a listener; an observer.  He remembered details; specifically details about me.  I was more like a bull in a china shop where the counselor reflected and made decisions off calculated observations.  I, on the other hand, lost my car keys several times a day every day.  We were polar opposites!
     I noticed these differences right away, so when we started dating, I liked that I made him smile.  He found me amusing.  We both pulled each other out of our comfort zone. 
     Both the counselor and I loved hiking Arizona, so in May 1998 he invited me to hike with him just outside the mountains of Carefree.  The drive was off the beaten path on a dirt road.  I was talking about this and that with great bouts of passion and sarcasm, using lots of hand expressions I’m sure when he almost drove off the road.  He pulled the steering wheel back and swerved, just missing a wayward tree.  It was a bit out of character for Mr. Calculated.  Before we arrived at the trail head, he did it again.  It appeared he kept his eyes too much on me and not enough on the road ahead.
     Although I didn't understand why, his attention gave me a quiet sort of confidence.  I wasn't used to being the center of attention, but for him, I could be.      
     Finally, he parked the car and we both started our hike up the mountain trail.  We walked several miles to a small lake.  It was a warm summer day and I couldn’t help but take my shoes off and walk knee-deep into the water.  I encouraged him in, but he declined.  I walked around a bit, splashed my face and found a few crawdads in the mud.  When I looked up, I realized the counselor was watching me.  He had this simple smile on his face, like he was happy.  I was happy too.  For a man who didn't say much, I seemed to understand how he felt.
     I walked out of the lake and he put his arms around me.  He held me for a few minutes and it felt like heaven.  I could stay a million years in his arms.
     “I love you,” he said and he kissed me.
     I literally felt like I was floating.  Not just because he picked me up off the ground and twirled me around, but because his words felt like magic.  His passion surprised me, but when he put me down, I didn’t say those three words back to him.  I'd said those words another time to another man when I knew it wasn't right.  Later, I regretted it.  With the counselor, everything was happening so fast.  He was so absolute, but I needed more time to understand how I felt.  It’s not that I felt pressure; I just didn’t want to say anything that would later hurt him.  I found him too precious.  Now it was I who had to be calculated in how I felt
     On the walk back to the car, I was deep in thought.  Was this love?  Was this how it happened; so unexpectedly with some you never thought was the one until one moment it became crystal clear?  The counselor pulled a black plastic bag out of his back pack and picked up trash along the trail, something he’d been doing for years on mountain hikes.  His character continued to pull me out of my thoughts and into what an amazing person he was. 
     That night after we got cleaned up, the counselor took me to dinner at Gainey Ranch, a resort in Scottsdale.  The hotel had live Spanish guitar music and a gondola ride in a canal near the restaurant.  After we ate, we sat in a huge lounge chair by the fire pit.  I leaned into his chest and heard the beating of his strong heart and that’s when I knew.  Of course I loved him.  How did this catch me by surprise?  He was my best friend and I trusted him with my feelings more then anyone.  
I turned my head slightly to say something and he bent down to kiss my check.
    “I” I whispered.
     “Hi,” he said, thinking I said "hi" instead of "I".
     I laughed a little, when I thought I’d try again.
     “I love you too,” I said back to him and he held me closer.  


  1. A lovely story. Thank you for sharing.

  2. That is such a sweet love story. Your stories always make me smile. Thanks for sharing.