I always get nostalgic and sentimental whenever we pass through places which are a part of the storied history that Lynnette and I share. We drove past Pearl City District Park this afternoon – the place we met – and I let out an “Aww…” Lynnette let out an even louder “Aww,” but hers was sarcastic.
After weeks of a non-courtship, I told Lynnette that I had fallen for her at the Pearl City Zippy’s. We had spent time doing paper work there. I was still driving around my mom’s old Dodge Caravan which should have died years prior, if not for her anal-retentive care of it. Anyway, such thoughts made me realize that 2013 will make it ten years since we became a thing and stopped telling people that we were just friends. Again, I am at a loss for words in trying to describe where that decade could have possibly drifted off to while the two of us were falling in love, getting engaged, getting married, trying not to kill each other, having a child, raising a child, and screaming at a dog not to take a dump on the carpet. Tempus edax rerum and all that.
It was nice to have a meal with my family after a long week of extended family dinners. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the company and adding seven pounds to my frame, but I was glad of the chance to cruise with my girls. Madison shocked me by not opting for the grilled cheese, and I shocked the waitress by asking for two scoops of mac salad and one scoop of rice instead of the customary two scoops of rice and single scoop of mac. “You’re going to have to pay extra,” she said. “That’s fine. How much extra?” I asked. She broke eye contact, looked off into the distance and squinted. “I…don’t know,” she said. Her eyes returned to mine. “We don’t get a lot of people who ask for two mac salads and one rice. You wanna just order a side of mac salad?” Yes. Yes, I would. Now, in the case that you are muttering to yourself “Who does that?” One, the answer is “Phil Higa,” and two, try it. You’ll like it. Or hate yourself. There’s no middle ground.
I ended up on leftovers patrol, so all told, I ate chili, rice, mac salad, a burrito, spaghetti, and chocolate pudding. I never remember to order small portions for myself so that I can finish Mad’s meal. Then, I end up trying to eat for two, and it’s like this horrible marathon of chewing, pride, stomach elasticity, and visual vulgarity. “Let’s walk this off at Costco,” I said.
In a few months, right before the school year ends, Lynnette and I will have been together for a decade. That hardly makes sense. The last ten years of my life is the least defined of the three I have lived through simply because my experiences were too broad to group under some kind of umbrella. I was a kid while legally an adult, then a husband, then a father. And Lynnette has always been there. I think it’s human nature to take that kind of stability for granted. I do quite often.
And then I step into this particular Zippy’s and turn my head to the right. I see an empty booth where two twenty-somethings once sat in a kind of awkward, silent excitement. I told her my heart was hers. She said she felt the same. We didn’t know what would come next, only that we wanted to experience it together. Maybe, sometimes, Lynnette is the woman who is impossible to avoid. And as maddening as that can be, it always helps to remember that she was also the girl I was never supposed to have.
I love you, teammate.