The next time I saw David, we left for the cruise to Alaska. Before meeting each other in person, we had discussed going on a trip together, but we didn’t decide for sure until a few days prior to leaving.
We were glad we went.
We talked all night. We saw many beautiful things. We laughed a lot. And on the third night of the cruise, we said “I love you” for the first time.
It was a perfect, romantic evening when we said it. There was a formal dinner, and we sat next to each other instead of across the table, holding hands during all four courses and staring at each other and talking about how we felt and kissing and embarrassing the waiter and later we even got a professional picture taken in our nice clothes.
The picture was worth the $40 they charged.
After dinner, we went to the bar and danced for hours. It was an eighties theme party and I taught David some Michael Jackson moves and he taught me some salsa moves and we looked ridiculous and very happy. One very drunk off-duty staff member asked us if we were on our honeymoon. We told him we’d just met.
He was surprised.
Later, during one of our salsa dances, David dropped me on a dip. I laughed and we tried it again and when we got it right, the other dancers cheered.
It was a bit of a cliché. The whole night was a cliché, actually, and that’s what made it so great.
After the cruise, David didn’t call me right away. He had gotten sick on the last day we were there and anyway, he said later, he needed some time to think about everything. At the time, I was living with some people I didn’t know very well and trying to find a job in this unfamiliar city and, too, I was lonely. When David didn’t call me right away I was disappointed and I wondered if he had changed his mind. I wondered if I’d scared him away. I cried.
It was hard.
Then, after four days, he called me. I was on a bus and I couldn’t hear him very well, so I told him I’d call back later. By this time I thought he probably didn’t love me after all, but I wasn’t sure. So, the next day I called him back and when we talked on the phone, I told him that I needed a notebook that I left at his house, and that I would come over that night to get it, and would he leave it on the doorstep if he wasn’t going to be home? I decided right then that if he wasn’t there when I came over, he probably didn’t want to see me again.
But he did want to see me again.
He was home.
After he invited me in, the first thing he said was, “Why have you been avoiding me?” And the instant he said that, I knew that everything was going to be okay.
I smiled. I said, “Why have you been avoiding me?” But what I was thinking was, He does love me, then, after all.
I knew he loved me, I thought. I knew it. Now, we’ll probably get married and for the rest of my life, I will remember this moment.
And, though we’re still not actually married, I still believe that I will.
At that time, though, the relationship was still new, and it was still scary at first not knowing if he’d change his mind. That part was wonderful for a while.
But I am glad it is over with now.
For David’s birthday the first year we were together, I surprised him with a candlelit dinner and wine and I made a toast and said, “I don’t need anything else now, because I have you.”
And even though it’s not true, it is.