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the waiting                    the clues[2/5]                    the ring[3/5]

I met him in a bar. Neither of us were there looking for phone numbers. I wasn’t just one young lady with a cocktail, in a bar where he was buying drinks for women until he took one home. That kind of beginning isn’t our kind of beginning. Still, he wasn’t mine for a long time.

I met him in a bar. He was the bartender. I, the waitress. He thought me too loud, dare I say obnoxious. I thought him haughty, conceited even. But then I caught a better glimpse. A striking young man tossing limes in the air, spinning while they slide onto the lip of the glass in his hand. He laughs with his whole body, his smile stays on his face a while after what was funny. When he speaks to customers, he crouches down at the table or leans comfortably over the bar rail; it makes everyone feel like they’ve known him for years. Like he’s charming and he loves them more than as a customer. He says he gets it from his dad.

And not only that from dad.  His middle name, too, which I took to using frequently, months into our slow-paced, casual courtship years ago. His full name is not Bradley, as I once imagined or expected it to be, but just Brad. Brad Alan, like on the disc covers I printed for him once, before studio days, and like he uses on posters for his solo shows in New York City.

When I wasn’t sure how to proceed, I learned most about how he would treat me, the way he was falling in love with me so tenderly. Bursting at every seam, cheeks aching from laughter, we filled sunrise to sunset with adventure and jokes, exploring our Midwestern city creatively. I pretended we were only friends, pretended no one knew I’d fallen for him. He never stepped where I didn’t let him go.

We didn’t make every decision with perfect precision. I could’ve drawn some of our lines with invisible pen, I reckon. But the history of us is something I’ve come to love. For years, I’ve been adventuring and exploring with this cowboy. We’ve dreamed so many dreams together. For years, figuring what makes him tick, dissecting the world together, asking questions, loving the mystery of life.  Only the very beginning of these next forty years