Riley and I went on a date last week. A little walk-along-the-street-holding-hands-and-look-at-antiques-we-can’t-afford moment in time. I wore a dress and he looked like something out of a magazine in his tie and vintage glasses. He told me to put on a coat before we left the house. I said I didn’t have one that looked good with my outfit and the sun was out and didn’t he know it is spring now? So we left coatless and explored our little downtown underneath a big blue sky. With my arm slipped through his, he opened doors for me and let me gossip. And as I matched him step for step, this man that loves me, the father of my children, the boy that makes me blush, I could only think of one thing. It was so bleeping cold. Just really freezing. The wind whipped around me and made my already messy hair stand on end. I was pretty sure my nose had fallen off somewhere around center street. Riley must have sensed I was uncomfortable when I started trying to put his sweater on while he was still in it. He smiled at me, only said told you so with his eyes (that is love) and ushered me into the closest restaurant.
It was a pretty place to sit with a southwestern menu full of chile. My dad was raised on the green and red chile of New Mexico and my childhood was rich with the stuff. We ordered half the menu and Riley told me funny stories as the feeling returned to my limbs. The waiter arrived with our food and I took a bite, expecting a taste of home. The food was colored vibrant reds and greens but I had a hard time finding the chile in it. Not exactly what I had hoped.
After his first mouthful Riley looked at me and shrugged his shoulders. Maybe next time.
We went on talking and eating. Listened in on the conversations around us and watched as couples walked by outside. He told me he was proud of me and I asked him if he knew I would follow him anywhere. Somewhere between the ice waters and the check I remembered we have something truly lovely. There are fights and misunderstandings. He hates how I load the dishwasher and I think he should love Johnny Cash. Sometimes I hurt his feelings and don’t say sorry. And once in awhile he tells me how to do things without saying please. But he will call me from the driveway just to tell me he loves me and somehow I make him happy. He laughed and his eyes seemed just a little more blue and I marveled at my joy. Across the table sat a person I hope to have even after the stars lose their shine.
The plates were nearly empty, the check had been paid and he looked at me,
“Ready to go?”
“Almost. Just one more bite.”
And this time, it tasted like home.