My feet closely follow Southern Gal’s across the black and white tiled floor. Hand in hand, we dance toward the counter, sidestepping an older gentleman who motions to a woman waiting and says, “I’m with my bride. Go ahead.”
“Creepy,” I think to myself, but when I look at the beautiful girl holding my hand I think, “I get his point. Tonight reminds me of before we were married.”
We stare through finger-smudged glass, squinting as we read the names of each ice-cream out loud.
“I’m getting mint chocolate,” I say, “But only if it doesn’t taste like Crest toothpaste.”
Always the polite one, Southern Gal whispers for me to hush up and I smile at the lady behind the palette of cold colors and ask sweetly, “May I try your mint chocolate?”
The older gentleman and his wife now sit by the window on high-top chairs, legs intertwined like crazy teenagers in love, and I watch them as they watch each other, lost in each other’s smiles as they dip their spoons in unison, almost touching, but not quite, a banana split between them.
“Too bad I don’t like bananas,” I think, and I wonder if what Southern Gal said before we came in was a hint. “I’m not that hungry,” she had said, “Maybe we should share something.”
“Next time,” I think to myself. “That couple has probably been together for 35 years already, so of course they know all the secrets.”
We drive home then, in silence mostly, except when I joke and say that mint chocolate ice-cream has less calories than rocky road.
“Probably,” she says between licks, “Either way, we’re taking a bike ride when we get home.”
On our bikes, we ride side by side through the small town we live in, touring it as though we’ve never seen our tiny post office or our old brick bank. And once in a while, I dip my bike toward hers and we laugh and complain about each other’s poor driving.
We look at flower gardens and discuss how we want to finish our back yard. One time, Southern Gal climbs off her bike to prove to me the flowers by one of the gravestones are real. We both think it’s kinda neat that someone stops by their beloved’s resting place to water flowers each day.
The sun dips low.
We stand in ankle deep water by the dam, listening to the roar of water and watch as a young man tries in vain to catch a fish.
We ride home then, shower, and set our alarms for the next day.
Lying side by side on cool sheets, I stare into the darkness and think how much my life has changed in the last seven months since that day in a church on the East coast.
The thunder crashes around us.
I glance over at Southern Gal and think how no storm could be large enough to ruin this day.
The lightening illuminates her face and I see her eyes are closed to the world outside, but I know she’s not asleep. Smooth skin meets my fingers. And then I’m lost, drowned in a perfectly chaotic, wonderfully flawed life.
“Each day is a gift,” someone once said.
And as I lie listening to the thunder echoing in the distance, I think how each day may not appear as a gift, but if we carefully unwrap it and notice each detail the Giver has done to make it special, the day becomes just that.