Sitting in the car that day I felt happy; my hand resting on her leg, driving down Hwy. 7 toward her house. We would be meeting several of our friends later to partake in an evening of caravanning. Being young and in the suburbs we had little to entertain ourselves, so we gathered together and drove around just enjoying being together. That would all come later, but right then I was happy just being in her presence. In a few short hours our lives would be drastically different but for the moment we reveled in the pure joy of being with someone for whom we cared.
Turning off of the highway onto a local road, I realized neither of us had spoken for some time. I always felt awkward interrupting a silence, as if I was ruining the effect for someone, but I took a deep breath and forced myself to speak. “You know,” I paused, searching for something to say that would be worth the effort it had taken to speak. Finding nothing I merely said, “I enjoy you”. Her reply was a simple smile in my direction, but it was more than enough for me. Over our time together we had grown accustom to the each others mannerisms; one of hers was a lack of ability—or willingness, I never decided which one—to express her feelings verbally. It didn’t really bother me all that much, she expressed herself in other ways; it just took a bit more effort to interpret them. I felt contented with our small, but meaningful exchange and returned to our previous silence.
Soon there after we arrived at her home, a Pepto-Bismol pink house with a little white fence around it, we often referred to it as the “Barbie Dream House” just for its sheer likeness. Contained within was far from the ideal family; an ex-alcoholic mother, a father with chronic back problems, and a sister that did little with her life, excepting for drugs. She tells me it wasn’t a bad life, they were all good people; it just got a bit overwhelming at times. As I exited my car I looked over and noticed that she had forgotten to lock her door. This was an odd occurrence for her; she always remembered. I thought little of it as I crossed to the other side of the car and locked her door for her. It struck me as odd but people occasionally forget things; it’s just a fact of the human memory. As I entered her front door I was swept in by the sea-like motion of an almost ancient Beagle and an aging Labrador. I greeted them as I did every time I entered, by attempting to pet them both at once so that neither would feel left out or neglected. As always though, the Beagle shied away as soon as I reached out to stroke his back. Something had occurred before her family had adopted the Beagle that made it weary of men. I was still a bit hurt by the dog’s distrust of me, but I had grown used to it and no longer was too disappointed. The Lab however, had no trouble trusting me and so, as always, I spent a few minutes stroking his golden back and scratching his head.
From there we retreated to the basement to watch a movie we had both seen several times but still enjoyed. We sat down on her heavily worn, brown couch and starred blankly at the television. The couch wasn’t heavily worn in the sense that it was falling apart, more in the sense that the brown patterns were missing in places from the number of times pant fabric had rubbed against it. We looked the average couple as we sat there viewing the film. My right arm was around her shoulders and my left hand rested on her left thigh; not too high though, just as much as we were both comfortable with. Approximately halfway through the movie we became slightly uninterested and began kissing. Our hands remained where they were originally stationed and we kept our tongues to ourselves. We had never been a very physical couple, but that never occurred to us until years later when we looked back at the time we spent together. As the movie ended so did our pseudo make-out session and we trekked backward through the entrance routine as we returned to my car.
It was now seven thirty and time to meet everyone else at the usual location. We used this particular friend’s house as the meeting place because it was the most centralized for everyone. Our evening of caravanning went as it always did; we drove around plotting destructive behavior that would never be carried out, going to Wendy’s drive-thru requesting only a few glasses of water and a lot of napkins, and discussing the trivial matters that seemed so important at that time in our lives. When this no longer entertained us we would park in a deserted parking lot and play hacky sack in the pitch dark or cruise till we found a couple trying to have some private time in their back seat and do our best to scare them shitless. Eventually we’d end up back at the friend’s place where we’d either part ways to return to our respective homes or spend hours watching our favorite movies and consuming hundreds of Davanni’s deep dish pizzas. This particular night I had noticed that she was rather aloof on the ride back to her place. As we pulled into her driveway I could tell something was wrong but I didn’t know what it could be. We merely sat there in silence for a long while. After what seemed hours she looked up at me, tears filling her eyes and I suddenly knew exactly what she was going to say.