I saw you as a little girl with a smile as bright as Shirley Temple, a chocolate-haired “Annie,” a young Rosie Perez.
Didn’t recognize you standing near the Self-Serve pump next to a car. I had parked, you had stopped behind me and called out, saying something that grabbed my immediate attention and created a desire to take you in my arms and tell you how much I missed you.
Holding gas cap in one hand and car keys in another, I closed the distance between us. Your memory kicked in, and you said my name, “Michael” in a way I haven’t heard it spoken in recent years. You grew more beautiful the closer I got as we embraced as old-time lovers. You spoke my last name ever so softly and accepted my hug with what felt like mutual admiration.
I still had no idea who you were, except someone I really enjoyed seeing at that moment, someone who cared for me and wanted nothing more than the best for me. You had touched something in me that meant more than anything you could have said or done in the past, and it was this “reaching out” that left an imprint in my soul, a reminder of you, your loving compassionate self.
“Denise,” I heard you say, adding your last name. “Remember me?”
It all came rushing back. You were the secretary of whom I worked with for several years. You left the firm more than 10 years ago. It’s been two years that I’ve been gone and had contact with anyone.
You look so much younger now, and I told you so, still holding you in my arms looking closely into your eyes, your face, your curly hair. Ten years! Never saw each other outside of the job but we cheered each other on, lending a comforting ear when needed, a broad genuine smile even when the other didn’t need it but it felt so good to get anyways.
Why is it that certain people can bring out the best in others? As if they know exactly what’s needed to uplift and insure another feels they are truly loved and cherished in this Universe? That’s what you did day in and day out, my beautiful young friend. That’s why I saw you as a former . . . girl friend . . . lover . . . saint. You were none of these, particularly the latter, but you always encouraged the good in me. And that’s what I remember the most about you.
Finally separating and realizing we were never as intimate as we were right then and there, you introduced me to your grandchildren. Grandchildren? You don’t look old enough for them, I said. “And, you don’t know how much you just made my day.” you said, particularly, with the time of day — and week — you were having . . . until then.
We chatted briefly. Both filling up our gas tanks, starting our cars and waving goodbye. Can’t wait the next 10 years to see you again and remember how “pumped up” we made each other feel.
Thanks for serving up your self, girl friend. You are what keeps me on the go!
[Months after writing this, I spoke to a mutual friend at my former office and learned the lady I had called Denise was actually “Lenese.” We called her “Neesey” for short. No matter what her name, the feelings remain the same. — Contoveros]