September 3, 2022, is our 35th wedding anniversary. The following essay is a draft and was written for English 404, Creative Nonfiction, as my first essay of the semester.
Those dark red lips, cocoa brown skin, high cheekbones, cropped wavy black hair. Your smile, like a lighthouse radiating a beacon, assuring me I was safe in your peace. You extended those long arms, and I held your soft, thin fingers, afraid I would break them. Instead, I felt strength. Not a threatening one that comes from a bad place. No, this strength was chill, cool, and wise.
I was ready for you, and I didn’t even know it.I didn’t even know it.
In those first few seconds of our future life together, I was relaxing in the cavernous lobby of that Baltimore hotel reading the Washington Post, fighting off the anxieties about what I knew was coming in my future in Washington, D.C. The guilt about my recklessness charged at me like a runaway train; the coming crash was sure to extinguish the light.
Then, you came out of nowhere, an apparition, beautiful, peaceful, glowing: those dark red lips, cocoa brown skin, high cheekbones, cropped wavy black hair. You walked right up to this New York transplant who was locked in the fast lane of sex drugs and rock n roll and ached, no better word, wished upon a star for a moment of peace, a tiny moment as a salve to my pain. There you were in that small moment, softly telling me, Hi, my name is Sumi.
I babbled something incoherently lost to time because although I knew of you, I never expected this human being with those lips and smile as vast as the universe and cocoa brown skin, high cheekbones, cropped wavy black hair, and a beaming light showering me with Zen. I could swear that I saw this vision around you of a California sandy beach and the blue water hugging it, caressing it, kissing it with a tall palm tree spreading its fonds over it, providing shade from the Sun’s warming but not burning heat the kind you would expect in L.A. where the beautiful people spread their wings and make love to the California Dream full of movie stars and rock stars and everyone who wants to be a star in the La La Land of their imagination.
You are a California star, the star that bursts bright at that moment into my life out of nowhere, showering me with rays of peace. Then you were gone. I was left standing there, the newspaper hanging from my left hand, the other twitching on my right side, wondering if you had really been there a second before. I finally lowered my head in respect, humbled that you had paused a moment with me on your way to the next moment where you would share with someone else that beaming light of your soul.
Man, they won’t know what hit them, I told myself.
Don’t even think about it. That’s what I said. Forget it. You’re out of her league. Out loud, I muttered That human being is whom you should aspire to be. Cool. Chill. Wise. Unlike me, a bull in the china closet ripping up the fabric of the universe kind of guy chomping up the scenery while I stomp through the house with muddy from stepping in shit boots that don’t care who has to clean up the mess as long as it’s not me. Yeah, not cool or chill.
I couldn’t believe I would see you again in a hundred thousand million trillion years of wishing and dreaming. Still, there you were that evening, as we passed each other for just a moment while I looked for any excuse to leave your side because, well, you were you, and I was me, and never the beast shall meet the beauty because I didn’t think I was cool, chill or wise enough.
Maybe, I was scared that you would sooner or later discover the truth from my friends, the witnesses to the madness of my beast, Grrl, he’s crazy.
Instead, you told me You have a good heart, and I believed you.
Thirty-seven and a half years later, thirty-five of them married; we’ve continued through the joys and chaos of life. I learned to be humble and bow to a wise heart full of cool and chill. I can’t help to this day staring into your face, the portal to your soul, and think damn, no, how fucking damn lucky I am, the luckiest man in the world to be cool and chill living with you and our beautiful son in our own La La Land.