The Imprint He Left

It was a snowy Valentine’s night—the perfect setting for lovers to warm one another indoors. A thin blanket of white hugged tree branches and sidewalks tightly. I started my evening with gal pals drinking champagne and enjoying delicious apps—tasty foreplay for my planned evening rendezvous. Knowing that he was on his way from New England to see me made my heart skip a beat. Who am I kidding? It skipped wildly like a little girl on the school playground. His text said he would arrive at 11 p.m. I couldn’t believe that after a year I would see him and rekindle this romance. In anticipation of our night together I had made a special purchase that now lay in my nightstand drawer—something to heat up our intimate reunion at just the right moment.

When I left my friend’s house at 10:30 p.m. I was giddy. There was no other word to describe my excited anticipation. I returned home and stepped onto fluffy, fresh-fallen snow, making imprints on the sidewalks—shapes that he would later comment about, saying how cute my small footprint was.

If I was transparent, he could have seen the butterflies flitting in my stomach and captured them, along with my heart. He arrived at 11:30 p.m. We both smiled as I opened the door. He took a few steps in and picked me up—a typical greeting from this solid guy who stood well over six feet tall and high above my five feet and two inches. Cupid must have slipped something in his Pepsi because there he stood with a mixed bouquet of flowers in hand. The price tag revealed they were from a Quick-Mart but it’s always the thought and gesture in my book that is most valuable and this was priceless from him, a man who had always said giving someone flowers was trite and hokey. Society was not going to tell him how to be nice, he had once said.

We talked about old times. We spooned on the couch watching a few hours of stupid movies. And at 2:30 a.m., I finally suggested that we go upstairs to my bedroom (if this was an episode of MTV’s “The Real World” or any one of dozens of reality shows where guys and girls hang out together, viewers would expect a trip upstairs, especially since I had no hot tub to get naked in). The words he spoke in response were unexpected. My school-girlish giddiness got old at warp speed

“I can’t go upstairs with you because I’ll want to do stuff with you and I can’t. I’m seeing someone. I’m sure I told you this when we talked on the phone. Remember, you got all mad.”

In my head I was scanning the numerous memories I had of me getting angry with him. But I could not recall this one. This was a beauty. I think what must have been clouding my memory were the other words he spoke. Words like: I still love you. I miss you. I can’t wait to see you. One could see how those might make a certain impression. I was sure that he had made no mention of a girlfriend because I don’t make it a practice to welcome men into my home at midnight on Valentine’s Day who are in a romantic relationship with a woman who is not me. But that’s just me.

This Valentine’s Day tryst was apparently nothing more for him than a time to see a good, old, friend. Ok so he professed his love to me, drove five hours on snowy roads and brought flowers on a night reserved for love and lovers. But he was never one to follow social mores. I made a note to myself to pick up “The Moron’s Guide to Dating” because I was not hip to the new rules I guess.

As I rushed him out the door with hurt and confusion still stinging my face, he reached desperately for a hug. All I could muster was a gesture to him that the three inches of new fallen snow on the road were no match for his SUV’s kick-ass tires. I closed the door and watched as his size 12 hiking boots erased my small footprints in the snow. And as the snow and my hopes of love fell to the Earth (and my PJ bottoms stayed up) I realized yet again, this guy was… not prince charming.

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