I was a mere girl when we met, 15-turning 16. I first saw him at a stoplight, him with his poofy afro and loud rock music in the car with his best friend first at the light next to me and my friend in her dad's VW Beetle smiling and waving at strangers in the cars around us.
We didn't meet at the mall, where we had all been just moments before. And we didn't meet at the stoplight where we first smiled at one another through the car windows. We did get silly and follow them, then they followed us--all the way to the apartment where my mother and I lived (alone). That's where we first met. We chatted for a bit and talked vaguely about going out for pizza sometime and then said goodbye.
A couple of weeks later the four of us did just that, him paired up with my friend and me with his. By the end of the evening, we knew the pairing was all wrong. He and I had chatted and grinned and made eyes at each other across the table the whole time. We felt it even then, even though we weren't sure what "it" was. A few weeks later as we sat talking in his '65 Mustang about everything and nothing, I whispered, "I could stay here forever." He whispered back, "That's kind of what I have in mind."
Some things change over time, and some things stay the same. His afro is now a short-cut completely gray. His body looks much the same, while mine has changed numerous times. Our conversations about having "maybe a couple of kids" turned into five offspring and two we kissed goodbye too soon. Our humble beginnings turned into more beauty and blessing than we could ever have imagined.
One thing that hasn't changed is the way we looked at each other across the cars, and then that first night out paired with the wrong people gazing across steaming pizza and salad plates. Tonight as our eyes meet across the table on our 31st Valentine's Day together, our hearts will dance like they did back then. We will smile those same giddy, mischievous, adoring smiles that say I could stay with you forever.
And we will.