I looked at her with a fondness that bespoke every vibration that I had, at one time, denied ever existed within my soul. The desire to melt wholly and terminally within her denuded me of all rational thought. While I was adept at creating neologisms for fears, my ability to wax etymologically was stunted by this overwhelming urgency to mate. I could not hope to breathe much more than softly near her presence, which was fortunate because had I so much as uttered one phoneme it would have sounded animalistic and rude. She was far too intelligent to fall in love with a troglodyte, much less anyone resembling such a primitive in speech or mannerism. So I hoped against all rational thought that such a thing as telepathy existed in this one moment as I tried to visualize a kiss from this sweet, voluptuous being of light.
The one word that could accurately describe her soul was luminescent. Not only was it lunar in terms of softness and vibration, but it almost quivered with the gentle reflective quality that could never blind the eye after prolonged appreciation. I had over fifty words for fear, but this unfamiliar experience nearly paralyzed my rational thoughts. I could only think of her in terms best expressed by poetry, and at this I felt unmoored. Such utterances were at odds with my modus operandi—I was, by trade and training, a mathematical prodigy. In fact, my scientific mind had so overtaken the ability for right-brain functioning that I sheepishly hired someone else to write my English composition papers during Grad school. Hence I could not adequately converse with this being of softness and, yes, luminescence.
Although I towered over her by nearly a foot, I felt dwarfed by her presence. She had a strength and resiliency that confounded me. While my mind was contemplating the variances of flight, my body rebelled against this and refused to move even one inch away from her side. Hers was a gravitational quality, and with each sweet fragrance of speech that wafted from her mouth and into my ears she became more lunar in terms of her effect on my mind. She could pull me in any direction she chose. I hoped with all fervor that this one direction would be closer.
Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.
I do not think that they will sing to me.
She was reading from her favorite poem—did I tell you she was a Lit major? Her preferred subject was poetry, and one of her favorite Modern poets was T. S. Eliot. She explained to me that the “T.S.” stood for Thomas Stearns and that he died three years after she was born. Therefore, she mused, “if there were such a thing as reincarnation, I would most certainly not be him.” That caused me to smile, then I checked that smile in fear that it would come across as creepy if I held it for more than a moment.
“Of course, I’m not too enamored of the Moderns. Too brash…too elemental as far as poetry goes. I’m not averse to their prose, of course, as even the most scientific terminology could be infused with feelings that go beyond the literal sense of such words. Call me a softie, but when it comes to poetry I prefer the Brownings—that would be Robert and Elizabeth Barrett, of course. Theirs was a love for the ages, and they expressed it so eloquently in verse.”
My eyes expressed what I hoped was tell me more rather than I think I lost track of my contact lens. I wanted so to tell her to continue, to saunter over to the appropriate section where she could pick up a copy of one of those romantic volumes. Panic entrapped my mind when she appeared to reverse her stream of thought.
“You’re not interested in hearing me read poetry, are you?”
I was incapable of uttering one word to dissuade such a thought. Instead, my head hung shamefully at the thought of losing her completely.
“Oh, wait…you’re shy, aren’t you?”
My head lifted in assent.
She smiled just enough for slight dimples to form around her bow-shaped mouth. I knew I could never be brave enough to ask for a kiss, and my ability to read the body language of women was stunted by years of mathematical excellence. I tried instead to think of her in terms that I could parse—quadrants, shapes, theorems and proofs. How could I possibly solve for XX, that most unknown quantity of all?
Wonder of wonders, she took my hand!
I knew in my rational brain that levitation was impossible, but it felt very much real to me then. I had no ability to express this in words, as none existed to describe this overwhelming denunciation of fear. I knew enough not to mimic those asinine romantic comedies from the 1950s that my Mom had been so fond of watching at the revival theater. It was one of the ‘irreconcilable differences’ she cited in her divorce papers, and since this was California it was not so far-fetched a reason to grant said divorce from my recently inchoate father. I had not reached the point in therapy to realize that this was the root of my anxiety regarding women and romance, but I reached an epiphany over it now. I began to exhibit a twitch in my left eye and felt like Quasimodo. The game was over, and I was going to walk home alone.
Then, she gently squeezed my hand.
“Dad was like this when he started dating Mom. She said it was so wonderful the way he’d sweat nervously and how she would pull out her handkerchief and dab his forehead ever so lightly.” She sighed effortlessly. “So romantic.”
I’m not sure how I ended up crumpled in a heap of limbs on the floor of that bookstore, but when I woke up she hovered over me while doing her best to revive me via CPR. I felt her massage my heart and awoke to her lips blowing sweet air into my lungs. This wasn’t how I imagined my first kiss would happen, but when she noticed my eyes flutter open her kiss of life became more of a passionate display of happiness.
“I’m so glad you’re okay! I was so worried when you stopped breathing and collapsed.”
Normally, I would curse my anxiety attacks. This time, I felt relieved that I was in the presence of an actual saint versed in the art of emergency resuscitation. The last thing I needed was another trip to the hospital, followed by yet another romantic rejection. Here I was, a verifiable Jungian INTJ being swept away by an ENFP. Or was she an INFP? She could be an ambivert, for all I knew. What’s most incredible, she felt the polar opposite of revulsion.
“You’re in love, aren’t you?”
All I could manage was a weak smile.
“I knew it. Just like Dad.”
Some people say that they knew exactly the time and date when they met the love of their lives. Usually, such stories involve clichés of moonlit strolls on the beach or heated discussions over what Proust really meant by de la peine à avancer. While I blanched at the thought of telling yet-unborn offspring how I first kissed their mother by way of resuscitation, it seemed a bit charming to me in that weird way that previously became the bane of my existence. Years later, she would coin a phrase to express what she saw in my eyes as an anxiety that was replaced by the glow of serene affection: “the ensreal doves.”