Once, in the beginning, the August Los Angeles sunlight pressing against the windows, Anand announced with delight, “Your eyes look like sunflowers. They’re green and blue, with streaks of yellow in them.” I was crowned his sunflower-eyed queen, and countless cups of sugary chai were brewed in my honor.
Life is in these moments. Just as life is not about death, but about the time before, so love is not about the end, but everything before, the inchoate beginning that runs smoothly like a stream over rocks. Instead of thinking about breakups, I want to focus on beginnings. Not just the beginning of my relationship with Anand, but of so many other relationships that sweetly remain, like the undiluted sugar at the bottom of a tea cup.
as the dhol drums thundered on stage. A half hour of dancing-and-talking later, his hand cautiously touching my waist as he leaned, speaking into my ear, I learned that this Mumbai-raised, Texas-educated architect was also a free solo climber, that he was color blind, and that high cholesterol ran in his family. His tendency for TMI was bewilderingly charming, as was his eagerness to let me apply my mehndi skills to his arm in the shape of a Nike swoosh. His first text message, a photo of his arm, spiraled into many more, both of us making ourselves immediately comfortable with each other. On our first date, he presented me with mangos and lychees in an aqua-blue paper bag; the mango was the most fragrant I have tasted in years, its honey smell filling my car on my drive home. We went on three more dates that first week.
Edgar: Within minutes of our first message on Match.com, we were emailing many times a day. It was our mutual desire to visit Antarctica and his travel photos of southern Thailand and northern India that wooed me. When I first saw him, the cold January air causing our words to become little white clouds, I felt like I had been struck by lightning; immobile and electrified. Conversations floated through the night as we moved from taco stand to empty bar to darkened lounge, culminating in one anticipated, soft, perfect kiss and a request for a second date the next night.
Vikram: Wowed by his bright smile, I sent him flirtatious emails until he relented to a date. We closed both shops we visited, our conversations trailing for hours. And with the taste of frozen yogurt in our smiles and the dim drizzle of February rain, we trespassed on a private beach, walking, smiling, and nearly – but never – kissing.
Luka: In California as a short-term student, Luka wanted to visit the beach – his first time to see the Pacific Ocean – so we drove on a cold, sunny November afternoon, climbing onto on an unwatched lifeguard tower for a picnic of canned sardines and crackers. “Why did you agree to drive me here?” he asked, deliberately looking at me before leaning over, lifting my chin, and kissing me in the sunshine.
Francois: Though our first meeting was unremarkable – we met at a Korean restaurant, we laughed, we left – it was the comfort at which we teased the other, and the wonderment at our mutual lifelust – he lived on a sailboat; I had seen the world – that led us to a series of dates in which we hiked the hills of Los Angeles, climbed trees jutting out sidewalks, and boated through phosphorescent-blue waters in Newport Bay.
So, although none of these relationships became a “Happy Ever After,” there were some beautiful beginnings. And to that, I lift my glass slipper, to love both inchoate and realized.