by Lisa

Once, I stared so long at a total stranger that I felt creepy.  He was a Daddy, capital D, and off-limits.  He only had eyes for his sweet little brown bird of a daughter, quiet, intent on her party craft.  My role was to dole out blobs of icing for heart-shaped cookies, and pink M&Ms, and those chalky hearts with words stamped on them.  My role was not to ogle other children’s handsome fathers.

Like that, my self whispered.  Find a man like that, just like him, that man who loves quietly out loud and smiles those beaming smiles at his small person.  That man I would love forever.  Who could tire of those green eyes–no, hazel–yes, green, such a contrast to black black hair?  He pushed his hair absentmindedly behind his ears while he watched the cookie being dabbed with frosting.  He was tall, too, taller than I was–am, with long legs that folded underneath him easily when he bent down to be eye-level with his tiny girl.  My nose might not even reach his chin, if we were face to face, but my arms would surely wrap all the way around him twice…the whispers went on, and he stayed somewhere with me.  He was the one I could never have.  He surely held a beloved place, a permanent place, in someone else’s lucky heart.  A man like that happens once in a lifetime, not a blessing to be wasted.

To my delight and dismay, he attended every single party that year, my year of room-mothering with a different title.  I had to duck and dodge to avoid staring all year long.  The offering of extra cupcakes to  parents became an endurance trial.  I loved being the cajoler–have a cupcake!  We’re just going to throw them out, DON’T WANT TO WASTE THEM, please take two, they’re delicious!…until I made my way to his corner.  His smile almost hurt, and I blushed painfully every time he accepted or declined.

I was wrong about only one thing.

A decade later, I know exactly where my nose reaches.  He kisses my forehead if I don’t turn my face up.  My lips land in exactly the perfect spot, the place where collarbone frames a dip in the shoulder, at the curve of his neck.  I twirl his hair in my fingers, always between haircuts, always a little in his way, and so soft.  I know the taste of his skin, and the smell of  fresh laundry warming on his body.  His eyes are every color, and in a beam of sunlight, they glow pale icy blue, like a Siamese cat’s in the dark.

He does hold a beloved, permanent place in someone’s lucky heart, and it is mine.