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“Someday,” I said dreamily, gazing up at the smoky gray clouds, “I want to spend a day with you just doing nothing.”
“Nothing at all?” you said, sounding the tiniest bit disappointed.
“Nothing at all,” I said confidently.
A few minutes passed, a few seconds, a few years, who could tell.
“Wait, let me rephrase that,” I said. “Nothing of consequence.”
“What does that mean?” you asked.
I squinted at the hazy clouds above us. “I’m not sure. Picking apples in an orchard somewhere, maybe, and just lying on the ground eating the apples and watching the clouds roll by and laughing and talking.”
“We’re doing that now,” you pointed out. “Minus the apples, that is.”
“Exactly.” I sat up. “You see, the apples make it or break it. That’s the most important detail, is the apples. And the fact that we’ll be in a sunny, idyllic, dry orchard instead of lying on our backs on somewhat damp and lonely grass. That’s important too.”
“I see,” you said.
“Besides,” I went on, “after the orchard episode, maybe we’ll get up and take a train into the city – because I suppose we’ll be in Europe where they have orchards and trains – and take a few apples with us in a bag. And we’ll walk around the city and eat apples and squint even behind our sunglasses and we’ll laugh at everyone who istn’ tasting of the delightful nectar-esque apples that we’ve magicked up from some obscure and mysterious orchard they’ve never heard of. They will be jealous of our apples and we will gloat unabashedly.”
You curled an arm around my waist and pulled so I skidded across the grass most unromantically on my butt. “Where do you come up with this stuff?”
“I don’t know,” I said perplexedly. “It sort of comes up by itself, and it pops out of my mouth and goes ‘Boo! I’m here, world!’”
You laughed, half soundlessly. I laughed too.
“I’m a bit of a kook, aren’t I?” I said ruefully.
“Yes,” you agreed happily. “But you’re my kook.”
“And that, of course,” I said, feeling inexplicable delight, “is what matters. Right?”
“Yes,” you said, sitting up, and words became superfluous, as Ingrid Bergman said once. Readers may look up that quote for themselves if they wish, to explain the preceding sentence.
When next I gazed up at the clouds they weren’t gray anymore, but a very unimpressive off-white.
“What makes you happy?” you asked abruptly.
My eyes still on the sky, I thought of something and said it. “Waking up at five on a winter morning and the eastern sky is that funny orange-gray that means it snowed.”
You were silent. “That’s what makes me happy,” I clarified.
“I see,” you said, very quietly.
“What’s got you so pensive?” I asked nonchalantly.
“I was just thinking,” you said, still very softly, “of how uncomplicated you are.”
“Uncomplicated,” I repeated, contemplating the word.
“I didn’t want to say simple,” you went on, “because you are by no means simple, but the eastern sky being a funny orange-gray is a very simple thing to make someone happy. I was thinking of that. And how fascinating it can be, that you are so uncomplicated without being simple.”
“Complex but not complicated?” I said, my eyes on the clouds.
“Perhaps that’s it,” you said.
“I think that about you,” I said.
“Do you?” you asked, startled, I think.
“Yeah. Complex but not complicated. How else do you think I rattled it off so fast?” But when you looked in indignation I was smiling.
“How am I complex but not complicated?” you asked.
“I don’t know,” I said. “Because I watch you and wonder how anyone can be that amazing. That beautiful, if you will. No offense intended. I keep watching and it just sort of overwhelms me, but at the same time I understand it perfectly and it’s completely familiar, how beautiful you are.”
You were silent for a moment. “You really think that?”
“That seems to express perfectly what I think about you.”
I ducked my head modestly. “I try.”
“Let’s talk about something else,” you said. “All this beauty is starting to scare me.
I made an agreeing noise like “mm.” The phrase “beauty is starting to scare me” had caught my fancy. I remembered writing something similar in the ninth grade. I got lost in my thoughts. Beauty was a frightening thing indeed.
“Wonder,” you said, low and insistent.
“Hi,” I said, feeling rather disoriented.
“Let’s talk about something else,” you said again.
“Sorry. Like what?”
“Must we, really? The future scares me too, you know.”
“Beauty is scarier.”
“Granted, I said, bobbing my head. “Anyway, the future.”
We drifted into a discussion about plans and ambitions, but always, in the back of our minds, the undercurrent of fright threaded through our thoughts. Love, beauty, the future, all frightening. We were frightening. We were fearsome forces and we were awfully scared, if just of ourselves. I pictured sitting on a dock in Maine, dabbling our bare feet in the water while we watched the sun go down.
“It’ll be an adventure,” I remarked in response to something you had said. Then I thought of something I had written once. It’s an adventure. Nothing matters.