A Love Letter

The following is the final version of essay #1, submitted to my English 404 Creative Nonfiction class as part of my three-essay series.

Those Lips
Photo courtesy of Sumire Gant

Once upon a time, in the cavernous lobby of a Baltimore hotel, I sat nervously scanning the Washington Post headlines for my name, fighting off the guilt about my recklessness back home in Sodom and Gomorrah, also known as Washington, D.C., the coming crash careening at me like a runaway train.

Then, there you were. You seem to come out of nowhere with those dark red lips, cocoa brown skin, high cheekbones, short wavy black ‘fro, an apparition, beautiful, peaceful, glowing. You were like a lighthouse radiating a beacon, your smile assuring me that I was safe and everything would be all right. You extended those long arms, and I held your soft, thin brown fingers, afraid I would break them. Instead, I felt your chill, cool, and wise strength. 

I was ready for you, and I didn’t even know it.

I was frozen in the fast lane of sex, drugs, and rock n roll. My body was in that hotel lobby, but my mind and soul were in a prison of my own making, panicking at the prospect that I would never be released.

And then it all seemed to disappear. There you were at that moment, telling me softly, Hi, my name is Sumi. You gave me the power to admit that I ached, no better word, wished upon a star for a tiny moment of peace as a salve for my pain.

I babbled something incoherently (it was probably the hangover), lost to time because I never expected a smile as vast as the universe and a beaming light showering me with Zen.

Our wedding day in Kauai, Hawaii, September 3, 1987 (Photograph by the late Marcus Ortega)

You are my California star.

You burst bright at that moment into my life out of nowhere. I could swear I saw a vision around you… a California sandy beach and the blue water hugging it, caressing it, kissing it with a tall palm tree spreading its fronds over it, providing shade from the Sun’s warming heat one might find 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. 

Then you were gone. I was left standing there, the newspaper hanging from my left hand, the other twitching at my right side, wondering if you had really been there a second before. I finally lowered my head, humbled that you had paused a moment with me on your way to the next moment where you would share the beaming light of your soul with someone else.

Don’t even think about it. That’s what I said.

Forget it, I mumbled out loud.

I’m out of your league. You are too cool, chill, and wise.

Unlike me, a bull in a China closet ripping up the fabric of the universe kind of guy chomping up the scenery while I stomp through the lives of others with muddy from stepping in shit boots, and I don’t care who cleans up the mess, so long as it’s not me.

I couldn’t believe I would see you again

in a hundred thousand million trillion years

of wishing and dreaming

and then you were there again.

35 years

I looked for any excuse not to call you (you told me you did the same) 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 sooner or later you would discover the truth from my friends, witnesses to my recklessness,

Grrrl, he’s crazy.

Instead, you told me You have a good heart,

and I believed you.

Once upon a time, there was a beginning to this love story that continues into today, where we’ve learned to embrace each other in our best and worst moments and to touch each other’s lives.

In those first few minutes,

those first few days, thirty-nine years ago,

we learned that something we can’t see or hear passes between us and binds us even more today. We speak without speaking. We hug and feel our two hearts together. We stare into each other, and we see our souls.

35 years
Our wedding day in Kauai, Hawaii, September 3, 1987 (Photograph by the late Marcus Ortega)

And I think, damn, no, fucking damn,

I am the luckiest person in the world,

cool and chill, together with you

in our own La La Land.

Author: Antonio Pedro Ruiz

Antonio Ruiz is an ex-junkie-alcoholic, former seminarian, one-time radio host-producer, past community organizer, continuing to be a media advocate, retired television reporter, ex-commission executive director, once a street vendor of jewelry and gloves, waitron (waiter to you), a former bartender who drank too much on the job, an ex-motorcycle courier who learned to ride a bike just for the job, ex-airport shuttle driver, former Entertainment news director-producer, the best time of my life, one-time live TV events red carpet producer-executive producer, ex-small business consultant, ex-youth media and journalism mentor, and now a college student who also has been married three times (thirds the charm), and just couldn't help living with two other women because well, that's part of my story.

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