The first time I hung out with boy at his apartment I payed close attention to the way things were set up, what books were on the shelves, the fact that he owned adult furniture and I only boarded in a dorm room. He must have suspected me wide-eyed and curious because right when I glanced up at his AC vent, wondering what that thing was danlging from it and hoping that it wasn’t a cockroach b/c then he’d see me scream like the girl that I am and I’d have to run to a room I had not yet been invited into, he reached up and pulled down a bendy magnet stick figure.
“This is for you.”
I took it from him and uncontorted the stick figure only to discover he pasted a picture of his face on it and also a picture of the back of his head on the opposite side of the black oval head/magnet. I smiled.
When we came out to California, I insisted we get new book cases. In his previous apartment the bedroom was lined with paperbacks while the book cases were his display space for titles arranged by author in chronological order with face-outs of special editions. I had no room for my books. So I designated certain shelves of our new book cases for my books, and my books only in no particular order and no face outs and no specific spacing because they are my books and if I want one I know where to find it even if you don’t.
Browsing through my titles one day, I came across a purple spine. I didn’t own a book with a purple spine. I pulled it out and found a card sticking out from the pages. Boy had been waiting a full month for me to find this book he had hidden somewhere in that horrible mess of titles that he didn’t like to look at. I smiled.
A month or two later, another book.
so on and so on. a book hidden on his shelf, a new ornament on the x-mas tree with a hidden gift inside, a pastry inside the fridge when I came home from work, candy in his bag that he knows I dig through b/c I am curious, a chocolate bunny hidden in the couch one summer that I neglected to find Easter morning after I insisted he hide something so I can hunt it down b/c that’s what Easter’s about – forget the whole Jesus thing.
And birthdays are the same fashion. Started with the cupcake book, then the present on the car seat, then the card that said I can put my new jump rope into my overnight bag for the weekend trip he surprised me with. Come Monday, I joked about still looking for gifts because I didn’t want it to end. And now that it’s his birthday weekend and I’ve started with class and during the next three weeks I’ll be in a different state each week, I thought I was starting the count down to see how long I can last before I start to cry about not allowing myself a chance to breathe. Especially after getting the grumps at handing over $130 for a graphing calculator and being behind 5 sections in calc after only 2 classes and stressing over the giant ice cream cookie sandwich I am trying to make him that’s not setting up right but I insist it be perfect so I can see his expression when he sees a GIANT ice cream cookie sandwich…
and so we got in the car, and I was slouchy and furrow-browed. He said “here, for you.” I looked down and saw the edge of a DVD thinking he was giving me his new 2-disc set of Pan’s Labyrinth he just bought knowing I love the movie for the escape from reality it provides. And then on closer inspection, it was Labyrinth, the David Bowie, Jennifer Connelly, Jim Hensen movie that I quote from and get giddy over Bowie in purple spandex in a way that is just wrong. It’s his birthday weekend and he got me a present. And the graphing calculator solved my quadratic formula issues in a snap. Smiles all around.