Paige shouted my name from across the street. I almost didn’t hear her; I was so focused on the icy snow and its crunching rhythm beneath my feet. I looked up, smiling, as she waved eagerly with both hands. I shuffled over, hands buried in jean pockets, and said hi. We had met in the fall semester, over an uproarious card game, and had kept in touch over winter break.
“Wanna come on a journey to Wal-Mart?” she asked. Dark hair spilled over her shoulders and eyes brimmed with excitement, like a kitten daring me to play along. “It’s a barbarous place, definitely not for the faint of heart.”
“You found the right guy,” I said, ultra serious. “I’ve been preparing for this moment my whole life.”
“Perfect!” She exclaimed, and it was settled.
Paige was a pioneer, and somehow she discovered the fun in Wal-Mart. She climbed in a cart and shouted “Push me!” while throwing her hands in the air. I hesitated, looking around at the other shoppers, and gave in. We zoomed down the aisles, giggling, until some old lady scowled at us.
That’s when I fell for Paige. In those Wal-Mart moments, when we created fun out of nothing. In those moments with friends, when we found each other’s eyes and knew, secretly, that it was just about us—the whole night, maybe even the whole world. I wanted to sweep her off her feet, rescue her from a fire-breathing dragon, a tower at the edge of the world, or a villain’s evil plan. I wanted to carry her in my arms, biceps bulging and glistening in the setting sun, and lay her down safely on the white sandy beach of some secret isle.
Instead, I planned a date night to Roanoke.
“Mike, where are we going?” She asked from the passenger’s seat.
“Come on, please?” She put her hand against my side, threatening to tickle me. “Pretty please?”
“Tickle me if you want,” I said. “I’ll crash this car before I tell you.” She crossed her arms, pretending to be mad. I just laughed at her. Continue reading