It was probably two weeks between our amazing pre-date date at Philips and the Cadaver Ball, and while we had chatted a few times, I had not seen Mark since he dropped me off at the dorms after I had said yes to his invitation to the ball. Meanwhile, I had seen his brother, B, every day. We sat next to each other in class, had lunch at the same table, hung out at the same bars, and not once did either of us mention that in just a few days, I'd be going on a very important date with Mark. I assumed he knew because they lived together, but for some reason we never talked about it. And that was fine by me. I think I felt like if I talked about it, somehow the past would undo itself, and Mark would have never asked me in the first place. So we went about our days pretending like nothing new was going on.
Given our little charade, you can imagine my surprise when I stepped off the elevator in my charcoal gown to find Mark waiting there for me - with B. Oh, Mark was a sight for sore eyes. He looked so handsome in his dark grey suit. But I couldn't figure out why they were there together. Mark told me "Gal you look beautiful, and by the way B is going to be our chauffeur for the evening." That cracked me up. Here we had been skirting around this hot topic for weeks, and Mark had planned all along to get B right in the middle of it.
Where we were headed I had no idea, but really we could have gone anywhere that night and I would have been happy. I was just so glad to be with Mark. He made me feel beautiful and smart and funny. I had always wanted to be funny, and he made me feel like I was. When B pulled up to Bacco's in the French Quarter, I almost squealed with glee. I mean I had been to fancy restaurants before, but I hadn't expected that we would go somewhere sooo nice on our first date. He was pulling out all the stops!
We were seated at a lovely table in the back room. I just remember how beautifully lit it was. I felt like I was dreaming. As we began talking, Mark mentioned that he chose Bacco's because this was where he had come to celebrate his acceptance into medical school, and that it was a special place to him. And I melted. He ordered the carpaccio to start and we both laughed because neither of us new it was raw beef. I ordered a steak for dinner cooked medium rare, and he said that I was a girl after his own heart. And we laughed and talked and shared stories and memories and I had had so much fun I couldn't believe it could get any better. We hadn't even gotten to the ball yet.
I was so nervous as we arrived at the aquarium for the ball. Getting along with Mark was one thing, but getting along with his friends, you just never know! What if they dismissed me as being some silly girl? What if I said something stupid? And while I know we must have spent time with them, the funny thing is, I don't really remember anyone else being there. It was like we were all alone there. Just the two of us. We danced under the twinkling lights of the dance floor surrounded by people, but seemingly alone in our own world. Everything else was simply a backdrop to the beginning of our story.
As the band was playing their last song and the party was coming to a close, he took my hand and we walked together up to the levee overlooking the river. We stood there for a while just watching the boats go by. We talked about everything and nothing at all. And it was there overlooking the city I loved so dearly that he kissed me sweetly on the cheek and said how much he really liked me. And I liked him too. Ohhh, I really liked him.
And while the details of that night have begun to fade with time, when I think about it, I still get a wave of anticipation. Of excitement. Of wonder at what will come next. I feel like I am looking down on the two people standing on that levee, and I just want to tell them how special this all is and how amazing the next ten years will be. I want to grab the girl that is standing there and impress upon her that it all goes so fast. Take it all in, every minute of it. Enjoy the big moments like this one, but cherish the small ones too. Cherish the sweet emails, and the take out dinners from Nirvana, and the Saturday afternoons at the racetrack, and the Sunday nights in watching the Sopranos.
Enjoy every moment with him. He is special. He is The One.
And how and when would I know this. I don't think I knew in one magical moment, or that I woke up one day and thought - this is it, he's IT. Over time, I began to see that I was better with him than without him. He made me a better version of myself. Better than I even knew I could be. He didn't do this by completing me. I was complete on my own. He did this by complementing me. He was the ying to my yang. In him I found someone who brought balance to my life. Who brought joy and kindness and laughter and compassion. Most of all, Mark taught me how to love. How to love someone wholly and completely. To love with every fiber of my being.
While saying The End seems fitting to a story such as this, I feel like I did ten years ago. Our story is still just beginning.
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