I can't remember the first time that I met T, but I know neither of us has forgotten the night we first forged the connection that still links us.
Bored after a few quarters, we left our first Homecoming game and wandered off into the warm night. Humidity always feels like a caress to me, sometimes holding me oppressively close, but that night it was friendly and comfortable as we walked. T led our exploration of our new campus, wanting to share a new discovery with me.
His discovery turned out to be a tree close to the far end of campus. While it was far taller than I am, its branches spread around it to the ground. T held a branch aside for me and I discovered that where I anticipated more branches lay, there was large open space--large enough for a class, more than enough for a young man and the young lady he was impressing.
We stood for hours under that tree just talking. At least once we leaned toward one another and as my heart pounded I wondered if our first kiss was imminent. I didn't know that our first kiss was still months away when I shivered from nerves in the tree-shadowed yellow sodium glow of the streetlight.
Somehow the image of T that I carried with me during college never managed to capture the romantic side he showed me that night. Despite his long memory for me, the CDs he's made me and the guitar solos that he once left on my voicemail, I always forgot that he is a true romantic at heart. I guess that explains why I was surprised when the most special gift he brought when he visited was a pressed leaf from that tree. How appropriate that he shared a momento of our beginning just as our romantic relationship was ending.