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Ten Things and You
“I love your smile.”
I smiled at the confident statement. It was scrawled across the pedestrian walkway in thick pink chalk, the handwriting smooth and classic. Skirting around it, to not scuff up the words, I felt as if treading atop of them would damage their meaning as well. The sun was bright this morning, dancing along the sidewalk, as I let my thoughts drift. James had come over the other night, tall and ruggedly sexy in a cardigan sweater and tie. His carefree smile met me as I opened the door. That was one of the things I loved best about him. His smile, coincidentally enough; it was bold but careful, half cracked but beautiful, simple but sure.
I wondered who the words were written for. Whoever she was, she was one lucky woman.
“I love the sound of your voice in the morning.”
The next one was stenciled in careful blue as if to illustrate the carefree nature of the statement. Consistency proved that the same hand had stitched this verse into the concrete. I was immediately brought back to thoughts of James. The smooth timbre to his words when he greeted me with my morning wake up call, I loved his voice at any time of the day. But in the morning it was soft, gentle, but with the ‘just drank coffee’ tone I loved. His voice was one of the first reasons I’d fallen for him, and one of the many things I loved about him.
We’d gotten in a fight four nights ago and hadn’t seen each other since. I couldn’t even recall what it was about. Just that I missed seeing the smile that went with his voice. We were both stubborn people and often got the best of us. It was stupid I was sure; something to do with me going off to New York to look for work in the summer. Summer was three months away. I was at a loss for why I had brought it up so soon. James was a writer, he’d be peddling around in New York soon enough, my acting had just beat him there. Of course after four years of dating none of this would be a problem if there was a ring on my finger. At the same time I vicariously understood his want to wait; I often fear he was getting bored with me in the mean time. And that was the underlying reason to why the fight had me so upset.
His voice had still greeted me over the phone this morning; he seemed more tired than usual. I hoped it wasn’t a metaphor for how he felt with me. Tired.
“I love the smell of your hair”
The crisp white words stretched across the black asphalt to the next piece of sidewalk. I inhaled, desperate to catch Armani, Starbucks coffee, and Salon Blue in the air. My body hoped the words which I was walking around could conjure up the familiar sent I had missed for days. It had washed out of my pillows by Wednesday, leaving me sad and desperate for the smell of him, of his hair. Of course my mind wasn’t surprised that it wasn’t there. Shuddering a little in the breeze, I tried to imagine the feel of his arms, strong and sure around me.
“I love your dresses and high heeled shoes”
Curves freed this thought onto the concrete. It was sketched in a playful pink that caused the letters to pounce around. Though James never wore high heeled shoes or dresses I knew he loved them on me. Something about a woman being a woman. Of looking like a woman.
“Women should have their place in the world,” he’d said proudly, “but they should look like women while doing it.”
It was a debate against feminism in our physiology class and the first time I had ever met him. Strict but subtle in a gray cardigan, sky blue tie, crisp white button up, and starched khaki pants, he commanded the rooms attention and had every college lady in the room on their way to Macy’s for dresses. Including me.
Of course it was nothing next to the first time I’d seen him in ‘casual attire’. His straight led jeans and v-neck t-shirt had me falling a little harder than the first time. It was ten times more potent because it was something I didn’t see everyday. I’m pretty sure that’s why he finds floral dresses so attractive; their rare in a world of tom boys and sluts. Knowing this, I always make sure to slide into a pair of jeans mid week. My way of keeping him guessing I guess.
“I love your laugh.”
Purple chalk had sorted out these words. Coffee covered bells sounding against glass, I loved his laugh. He had several; one when he found something truly hilarious, one when he was chuckling to make someone feel better, one when he was trying not to laugh at me, and one when he was laughing at himself. Each uniquely beautiful, each coffee covered, and each made me smile. It was a laugh I haven’t heard in far too long. I missed it, along with the many other things I missed about him.
His laugh always made me smile and feel…cherished.
“I love your generosity.”
Flowers, the mix of blues made me think of flowers, fresh flowers that had been caught in the rain. James often got me flowers. I found them everywhere; on the counter in my apartment, on the driver’s seat in my car, on my desk at work. Once, id even received them across the counter at the deli I frequented. He was generous with everything…except my time in the summer it seemed.
I was an actress. I’d fought for my time in New York and I deserved it. Wishing he would see that, however, didn’t make it so.
“I’m lucky to have someone as beautiful as you.”
This statement didn’t seem to fit the rest. It was written the same way, in thick yellow chalk across the curb of the walk that was darker than the rest, in the same dark hand, but there was something different about it. As if the statement involved a deeper meaning and deeper relationship than the simplicity of the previous statements.
It was easy to remember the first time James told me I was beautiful. He had been simple and sure. There hadn’t been a strand of hair swept from my face, or a long kiss that previewed the moment. Just a simple car ride out by the lake, we’d parked turned up the music and settled in. He’d turned, quickly paused our conversation about realistic writers, and said it.
Our eyes locked silently. And we’d continued our earlier conversation.
A month later, August to be exact, he had continued the conversation those two words had unknowingly started. We were laying on his couch, I remember the scene distinctly as if the intensity of the upcoming conversation had be focusing on all the details, the lights from the kitchen bouncing against the tall windows imbedded on the back wall. Jean covered legs stretched along my floral skirt covered ones, the gray of his long sleeved shirt clashing gently with my navy one, the soft buzz of late cars on the street drifting up through the window; in the looking glass it was incredibly surreal.
“Why don’t you believe your beautiful darling?” fingers had stroked up my arm with the words.
“You’re my one and only.”
My flats had stumbled on top of the next words before I saw them. The orange chalk blended into the sidewalk. They were only words sure, but to me they seemed like three dimensional phrases that couldn’t be treaded on.
“You’re my one and only” I read the words aloud.
He was my one and only. Suddenly staying home this summer seemed doable. I’d do it for him, I couldn’t live without him. And if New York didn’t seem important to him now, I could wait until we could work it out. I found the girls that said that in high school so silly and simple minded. But now it just made sense.
“I can’t live without you.”
The words were stronger than the next, thick white on the black part of the pavement. It was as if whoever the words author was needed its recipient to notice this one above the rest. My eyes traced the pavement in front of me and I quickly raced to the next message. This one was blue and simple. But it was the ‘darling’ that stopped me in my tracks. No wonder the words related to me; they were written for me.
“I love you darling”
“James?” I questioned.
He was standing behind the words, his jeans getting scratched on the pavement, my favorite pair of jeans. The daisies and roses he held almost shielded his face.
“what-“ I started, but he stopped me with a calloused finger across my lips.
“I would love to join you in New York. If-” He handed me the flowers before pulling my hand to rest against his, “you marry me”
It was that calm confidence he always exuded that had me murmuring…