Melinda gets off the phone and comes and sits out on the deck of the apartment where I am soaking in the first cool evening of Memphis' fall. It's October and our AC is off for the first time in weeks. She's been talking to her parents in Illinois and I think that it's hard on her keeping this from them; keeping us from them.

Do you think they will visit? I mean, it's gonna be the holidays soon-do you think they will come down?

I know this is awkward territory, this meeting and getting to know parents. It's a relationship minefield. She grimaces and looks past me as the sunset turns the windows of our complex a soft orange.

"Don't worry, they won't visit. My mom doesn't travel. Ever. "

Silence for a while and then finally I ask, 'cause I gotta ask: How come, I mean is she phobic or something?

"Nope. She just doesn't believe in it. She was raised by farm people in the middle of the state and other than church they rarely traveled. She wanted to go to Chicago and become a nun but when she went on a elementary school trip with her Catholic school some bums on the el scared her so bad she never went back.

She moved to St.Louis to work in a factory when she finished school. That's where she met my Dad and they still live there-in Wood River by the refineries. She hates the South and doesn't trust anyone Southern. She would never have let me move down here if it hadn't been for relatives. She asks me ever week if I have started eating grits and saying Y'all. No. She will not be coming down, I will be going up. So no need to get nervous."

I stare at the side of her face for a while. Trying to decide if this is a test, or if she really thinks I don't want to be involved that much. Which I do.

Maybe I could go up there too, what do you think? Could I drive up there uninvited or maybe semi-invited?

She turns towards me halfway and leans against a chair so the last of the sun surrounds her back. I can't see the expression on her face because of the shadows. I imagine pursed lips.

"I don't know yet if you want to make that leap-if I want to make that leap. They would make assumptions. I don't think I could deal with that yet. Do you?"

My eyes adjust to the light and I can see she is watching me intently, trying to gauge my seriousness and measure the distance. It's so quiet I can hear the chingle of chains on dog walkers down the street.

I know you have already leapt for me. I know that much, so I think I can do some jumping, I think so anyhow.

More silence. But a small grin, as she looks away and watches the street lights buzz to the life.

"It's already fall back home, ya know. People are burning leaves......"

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