I could not believe the feeling I had in my stomach. My memories of being in school and being in love were back, alive and well, in the pit of my stomach. Through the bright sunlight I fought to make out the time on the digital clock 12:45PM. Good, I was early. I looked down in the seat next to me to find the rose bud I cut earlier. The moistened paper towel was making the aluminum foil wrapping around the stem cool to the touch. I chose a bud off of one of my favorite red rose bushes that was still tightly closed. I imagined it would bloom slowly. I was thinking of the imagery of something blooming with us as well. I guess that was kind of corny but I had to smile at the thought. Maybe she wouldn't think it was corny.
Pulling up to the first bay, a short little greasy fellow limped out of the shadows of the Quik-Lube to complete his fortieth work order of the day. I gave him the details of what I wanted done as my eyes scanned the parking lot for a white Mitsubishi. I knew we weren't supposed to meet here, but the car wash, our agreed upon meeting place, was right next door. I wondered if she was as curious as I was. I wondered if she felt the same attraction to meeting me, as I did of her.
We met through a posting I placed in a Web site for personal ads. I had had several responses to my posting but none of them even remotely attracted me to a face-to-face meeting. Her response was a mirror of my request, an exact form but a reversed image. I was looking for someone who wanted to share what I had to offer. She was looking for someone who wanted to share and care. But there was more. Something I could not explain just like the feeling in the pit of my stomach.
I wasn't looking for sex. I was looking for intimacy, someone with whom I could share myself. I was looking for something that was missing in my life. She was married, and from what I could determine from our emails, was surviving in her own way in her own world. She was comfortable and had a good family but there was something missing in her life too. She was reaching. I was reaching. And at 1:00PM we would meet at the car wash next door.
I was watching the passing traffic with growing interest, as the clock stretched toward 1:00PM. After the oil had been changed in my car I drove next door and chose the car wash bay at the rear of the lot. Already I was thinking of not being seen by a neighbor of mine or one of hers. As I washed my car, again in the same spot, I watched for the white Mitsubishi to arrive. In my mind I tossed about ideas of what I would do or say when we met. Part of me wanted to grab her and kiss her like she was a long lost lover. Then the rational part of me took over and voted not to lust.
She was late. It was 1:15PM and I had almost worn a hole through the paint in the spot I was washing. I decided to dry what was left of the paint, as I waited. I felt slightly sick when thoughts of her not showing up crossed rudely through my mind. Then the rational part of me agreed that those thoughts were probably correct. I stared into the shining fender only to see a disappointed face looking back at me.
A flash of white flickered in my peripheral vision, as did an electric spark in my heart. She was here, parking in the next wash bay. I was trying to swallow my heart as she hopped out of her car, smiling a strangely familiar smile. I guess it was a crooked little grin more than it was a smile. My only response was to grin back, as a flood of choices crossed my mind. There was also an unknown memory that stabbed me in my center. An unknown memory attached to a crooked little grin.
I considered my choices. I could turn and run like I did in the fifth grade. I could let lust take over and kiss her with every ounce of passion I felt just then. Or I could be rational as hell and reach to shake her hand. Not sure what to do, I went into default mode and stood there with my mouth open looking like a trout. I managed to say hello, but was unable to speak much beyond that. She was beautiful. Her crooked little grin tore through me like a knife, straight through my heart. I was smitten with a feeling that was in some way familiar, but I could not recall when or where I had felt it before. There was a connection that went way beyond this car wash. Way beyond our emails. Way beyond what I could describe as way beyond. Who was this beauty that was looking at me?