Our love was sweet and sour. we met around a sweet and sour chicken noodles plates. She was sweet. I was sour. By sweet, I mean she had a sweet tooth. For me, like you might have guessed. By sour, I mean I was under the weather. Feeling pulled down slowly by this gray weather. This was our 5th month together. We were not a couple. We were not lovers. We were something. We liked being something. No names. No strings. No baggage. Just something. We liked being this ambiguous indeterminate thing that loosely kept us free and yet connected at the same time. Just this moment. These two warm of sweet and sour chicken noodle plates. Our hands tied together. We just couldn’t take our eyes off each other.
We had finally come close to what you could call relationship. We had our routine well established: Meet after work in the evening, stroll in the park then espresso con panna for both of us. The coffee wasn’t all that exceptional, but we both liked how it slipped so easily on our tongues: espresso con panna. An exotic name for a not so great coffee. Maybe that was the spice that was lacking in this relationship. We will never know. We never got that far to be asking all those hair pulling questions. We both had our burdens that we refused to unload on each other. We never needed it. We seemed to be soulmates also in our suffering. Whatever it is that has happened in our past has come to shape us in our lives since we had both lost contact with our families, were both working in the health care field, and lived alone except for a plant that we each had adopted separately as pets. These similarities were reinforced by the way we were able to finish each other sentences too. If there was a God somewhere, He must have made us next to each other.
Then one day, she told me that she was leaving for Haiti where she will be volunteering as a nurse for six months. I knew and felt what she wanted me to say, but instead I simply said: “Congratulations, those kids really need help and I know they will be in good hands.” “Thanks for saying that” and that was it. Even though I saw a shadow go by her face and I knew that she knew that’s not how I felt. We never had needed words to know how each other felt and we were not about to start now. So she left. I called in sick on that day to simply walk around the park hoping she misses her plan and come join me in this park that has become the closest thing to a home we had shared. But she didn’t. She was gone for six months. She might as well as have been gone forever.
I don’t know what love is. The closest thing to it that I have known is the espresso con panna that I shared with her during those six months. Before she left, she had promised me to call when she returns. She didn’t. and I didn’t. One year later, she called me out of the blue to tell me that she was engaged and she wanted me to meet her fiance, I congratulated her and told her that we could double date because I would like for her to meet my girlfriend too. The next week, we had our dinner at this French restaurant that’s just opened up and above and below the conversations that took place, we resumed our soundless connection, looking into each other’ s eyes and reading in each other what has been going on. Our dates didn’t see and couldn’t see what was going on and it didn’t matter. Nothing else mattered.
I was hers and she was mine.