Ashfia Alam

Sat Oct 24 2020 04:00:00 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)


“Our first date. My nerves were bubbling up from the tip of my toes to the frizz of my hair. I had arrived early and sat on a gray couch, trying not to look out the tinted glass walls for him. I didn’t want to look too eager.

He had asked me out after one short conversation. A rock-climbing date was daunting and unusual, but I wanted unusual. I was bored and back at home with my parents a year after graduation. Most of that summer was spent sitting out on their front lawn or taking walks beneath looming old trees and sad clouds drudging across an unbearably bright sky.

He was an awkward hello, nervous smile, tousled hair, and nice eyes. I was a jabbering mouth, unfiltered and anxious, but he listened to me closely. We climbed, played ping pong, panicked after someone fell on me, frantically found ice for my head, and traded a barrage of endless thoughts. What began as a simple date ended up an entire day with a man I barely knew.

Our first date is ingrained in my mind and his journal. Memory after memory, page after page, I continue to walk many different paths with the same person. Recently, a close friend reminded me of an untranslatable Arabic phrase about love, a phrase I now deeply understand. ‘Ya’aburnee, you bury me.’ To die before a lover because life is not bearable without them.

I keep holding on to yesterday, today, and him. He and I are bike rides across the city, sweet kisses in a hammock on Governors Island, and first ‘I love you’s’ exchanged on a ferry ride. Treks to museums on snow days and silly interpretations of abstract art. Strolls across a golden Plaza de España and a relentless argument over the pronunciation of ‘boletus’. Swaying to jazz and shouting into parades along New Orleans’ cobblestone streets. We are long letters and tight hugs, maddening fights and forgiving promises.

Our first date. The day had folded into night and we walked across an illuminated Union Square. A light breeze traveled through us. He was quiet for a moment; then, he held my hand. ‘My hands are cold,’ he said sheepishly, and I laughed and laughed and laughed.”