On the plane I daydreamed that we won the lottery. Remember when we played? We got our tickets at that little market on Hillhurst? I of course forgot about it right away, but you checked the numbers three days later. When you found out we won you called me. I didn’t pick up so you excitedly dialed again, and again. The fourth time I picked up, and in a jokingly harsh tone asked “What is it? I’m writing.”
“Where are you?” Your voice is booming on the other end.
“I’m at the Oaks Tyler, what’s up?”
“I’ll be right there.”
Twenty minutes later you show up at the cafe carrying a dozen red roses. I smiled sheepishly when I saw you, quite embarrassed at the spectacle. You came up to me and kissed me on the cheek and put your arms around me. Surprised at your display of affection I muttered “Well hi.”
You whispered in my ear “We won.”
I pried your hands off my shoulders. I looked into your sparkling blue-grey eyes and protested in disbelief, “What are you talking about? Is this some kind of horrible prank? What do you mean we won?”
You started laughing like a mad man and I knew from your smile you were telling me the truth.
“What? We won? Are you kidding me? You’re kidding me right???”
You shook your head over and over and I could feel the tears welling up and start flowing down my cheeks. I didn’t care that we were in public, that the whole damned Oaks was staring, I cried out and put my hands over my mouth and could barely see you through the salty river taking over my face.
“Let’s go.” you said, grabbing my flowers with one hand and my jacket with the other. I threw my laptop in my computer bag, not even bothering to make sure I saved the article I was writing. The only thing I could think of was I can buy my mom a house. She doesn’t have to worry about money anymore. I can buy my mom a house. 57 million? I can buy a house with that.
We talked logistics.
“What do we do?”
“Go down to the station.”
“But it’s already confirmed? Over the phone?”
“What is happening right now? Oh God. Oh my God.”
“God loves us.”
Fits of giggles.
When we got to my car I asked you to drive.
“Jess”, you whispered, looking intensely at me for what I felt like was the first time.
“Don’t leave me.”
“Tyler, I’m not going to leave you.”
“You can’t ever leave me.”
“Tyler, I’m not going to leave you. I promise.”
I’m sobbing at this point and my heart is racing so fast I feel like I’m going to faint. We settled into the car and as I look down I suddenly realize I’m wearing clothes. I’m hyper-aware of the tear in the thigh of my jeans, the fact that I had thighs…that I was wearing my favorite grey t-shirt that I loved to wear without a bra. I was only able to focus on my clothes, I felt if I thought of anything else my head would explode. I tried wiping off my face with my hand but it was no use; my tears were relentless.
You grabbed my hand over the console and kissed it-long, hard, deliberate. You said anything I ever wanted you to say in that one moment. It was only a few seconds but time stopped and it felt like forever. I could have died right then, right there in my stuffy Prius, right there with you.
“Do you want to call anyone?”
I pulled my hair back and for a moment I almost looked in the passenger side mirror. I laughed. “Oh, I can’t. Not now. Let’s just drive.”
You leaned over and touched the side of my face, gently moving me closer to you. You kissed my lips softly and I felt myself falling. Yes, it was the dying thing again. I kissed you back, over and over and I think “Aren’t we supposed to be yelling or something? This is too serene. Fuck, I love him so much. He’s so sweet. I just want him to keep touching me.”
You started the car and pulled out onto the street. Everything was as it always had been as I looked out the window. The trees were still green and blowing pleasantly in the wind. The sky was still blue. People still had dogs and drank coffee and wore athletic gear to lunch. Yet I was vibrating on a different frequency and it turned everything into a phantasm. Nothing was real but us. I loved you and you loved me but why? Why in this moment? Because we were going to claim all this money? Were we scared to get it without each other? Did it take 57 million dollars to get us to decide we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together? I think I was ok with the thought of dying because I was fully present.
It wasn’t the money.
It wasn’t the money at all.
It was the banishment of fear. I let go of all my doubts and insecurities and superficial thinking and I was blissfully in the moment. I was just a girl sitting next to a boy in a moving vehicle letting him love her and giving my love-romantically and unconditionally-to him.
I managed to dry my face with some napkins I found in the glovebox. I looked over at you and smiled.
“You should probably take the 101.”