He slid down the wall and sat on the hallway floor of my dorm. I remember thinking he had impossibly long legs and there was no way he was comfortable sitting like that. He looked down the hall, first to his left, then his right before pulling a can of beer out of his sweatshirt pocket. He looked at me for a moment as he took his first swig, then turned to talk to his friend, clearly bored of the situation and ready to go.

At the time, it didn’t matter to me. After all, it wasn’t him I was interested in. It was his friend. I sat at my computer and flirted, laughing and touching the arm of the boy while Long Legs quietly drank his beer, probably wishing he was anywhere else but dragged along to a freshman’s dorm.

Later that night I sat cross-legged on my friend’s bed and said that Long Legs was pretty cute. I would try and set them up.

***

Four months later the boy was history and I found myself at a long and boring concert on a cold and rainy day in the company of Long Legs – or Mike. (And later, Michael.) Later that night he IMd me, we pulled our first all-night conversation and things were never the same.

***

We said “I love you” in June. Or July. I can’t remember the date, but I remember the moment like it was yesterday. I stared into his eyes and knew if I didn’t say something soon it would burst out of me and spatter against the walls of my bedroom. I inhaled, ready to speak the words when he stopped me.

“Don’t say it…”

Crestfallen, I turned away, too hurt to look at him but too proud to let him see me cry.

“Don’t say it,” he said turning my face back towards him, “because I want to say it first.”

***

The end of the year was hard. Two parents — his father, my mother — were diagnosed with cancer. I helped him pick up the pieces of himself after he learned the news. He put me back together after learning mine.

***

It rained on our first anniversary. The fickle weather in New England taunted our love with wind and water. We huddled in his truck parked in front of the ocean. I gave him a scrap book I had made.

Sitting in the dark, overlooking a spot that would one day change our lives forever, a whisper of a future was spoken over the roar of the ocean.

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