I remember the first date I ever went on with Eric; we went bowling. It was particularly nerve-wracking because not only was it my first date ever, but my mother came with us. I was so nervous I would have fallen to pieces without her. She sat with us in the same lane and all three of us took turns bowling, Eric and I barely talking as we did.
We met in high school. He was a beefy ex-wrestler and I was a nerdy girl giggling to my friends about the weird guy that had just strode past our table. He was dressed in a polo shirt that was two sizes too big, khaki dress pants, and had a pissed expression on his face. I later learned he couldn’t take his eyes off me that day. Over the years, he reminded me that at that moment, he realized love, at first sight, wasn’t just a myth. I still have trouble believing I was worth it.
The two of us took some time to realize we had feelings for each other, but once we did, it was magical. It was, as some might know it, head over heels puppy love. The kind that fills your belly with butterflies. It’s new and fantastic, and the only thing that consumes you.
The first day we became official, it was in history class. This particular class was held in one room of a modular home transformed into three classrooms. It had a couch sitting on the back wall and Eric and I would leave lunch early to get our couch seats so no one else could steal them.
PDA was against school policy (oh the joys of private education) so even holding hands was something you could get written up for. Eric didn’t care though. As the class progressed that day, my left hand rested on my thigh; the other flipping through pages of my textbook. Eric’s hand slid across his own leg, reaching for mine. All the while, he looked at the teacher, making sure he chose the times the teacher was looking at the chalkboard to make his moves.
Swiftly but gently he grabbed my hand. All at once my cold hand was warmed by his. His large fingers pushed themselves between my own smaller ones. We couldn’t keep the smiles from our faces. We must have looked so stupid sitting on that couch at the back of the room giddy with excitement as the teacher droned on. No wonder history isn’t my strongest subject.
I came to realize that when my hands were cold, his would always be warm and vice versa. It was like we were so meant to be, even our body chemistry was compatible. Whether we were walking through snowy fields finding our first Christmas tree as a married couple, or sweating in the heat of Disney World, one of us had warm hands and the other cold.
We started dating in tenth grade and continued throughout the next nine years. Nine; such an expectant number. A simple waiting point until you reach 10, a number of completion, whole, a milestone.
I’ve been thinking lately about the whirlwind that was our relationship seeing as our anniversary is right around the corner. I miss Eric, I still wonder how I’m able to manage every day without him. Were it not for him I wouldn’t be writing. I wouldn’t be successful enough to support myself had I not taken the leap of faith he allowed by supporting us on his own for those few, rough years.
Since the morning I found him lying dead by the side of our bed, my hands have been warm. His now grow colder, crossed over a heart that no longer beats. I’ve thrown away my gloves after not needing them for two cold seasons, my drinks now melt just sitting between my palms, and summers are nearly unbearable. It’s been such a strange sensation that I’ve barely noticed the change after so long.
That is, until this morning when my morning coffee brought a warmth to my hands I hadn’t experienced since Eric passed.
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