He compromises, "Come on then, piggy-back ride", he says, his charming grin as undeniable as it was the first time I laid eyes on him two years ago. I giggle like a schoolgirl...me? Piggy-back? Lord help us, I'm almost 40! But I oblige, and hop on, my legs wrapped firmly around his taut and defined waist.
We laugh as he skips down the street, carrying me like a child.
A police car slows down as it passes us, and stops. "Shhh," I say, trying unsuccessfully to regain my grown-up propriety as J puts me down, still laughing. "Yes, sir?" he asks, in his deep Southern drawl. "Your girl dropped something a few steps back," says the officer. He winks at us, "Carry on, kids." He drives off, and from the sidewalk, J retrieves the flower he'd tucked behind my ear earlier.
Laughter in the lamplight, a kiss under the moon, and memories to keep me warm.
I'm a lucky girl.
He's been gone for months now, taking care of family in the South. Communication is sporadic, at best. Weeks go by without a word, as life gets in the way. Slowly his life has taken root there, and in unspoken agreement, we don't make plans for the future. In my heart there's an emptiness that I ignore, and I carry on.
But he texted me last night:
"When I get back, I want to do some things with you that we haven't had a chance to do. Take you for a motorcycle ride. Fly you to Lake Tahoe and spend the night. Take you out for good sushi. Sleep under the stars with you. Sneak you off to a motel room and talk dirty to you. Help you around the house and play with the kids. Make you mine."
Pipe dreams, I know, spoken out of loneliness and longing. He's thousands of miles away, and I have no idea when (or if) I'll see him again, and yet...
I'm a lucky girl.