anyone who knows me, biblically or otherwise, can attest that i am not a prude. but i am not as a general rule a touchy-feely kind of person. im even less of a touchy-feely person when i've driven over an hour into a place i've never driven on my own before.
the first few minutes were awkward and strained. he sat and watched while i gulped a cup of coffee. i wondered why he was keeping his sunglasses on. he laughed at me for looking up.
you look like a tourist, he said. i AM a tourist, i answered, stumbling along behind.
but i remember the very moment we found each other. we went to the metropolitan museum of art first, to see a rembrandt exhibit i wanted to see. PARK gamely followed along, navigating the crowded marble corridors with sherpa sureness. we reached the rembrandt exhibit. it was hot and stuffy and crowded.
i stood in the doorway and i looked around the room. the real rembrandts were hung at intervals, interspersed with other paintings, done by rembrandt's students. i gazed around the room, painting by painting. the real rembrandts leaped off the walls, as different from the duds as a publishable manuscript is from all the rest.
a publishable manuscript sings. it grabs you by the throat and makes you not want to put it down. so did the rembrandts.
okay, i said, after five minutes. we can go.
we can? PARK asked. are you sure?
of course, i said. i saw what i came here to see.
then he smiled at me, and took off his sunglasses.
we wandered through the impressionists, murmured over monet, goggled at van gogh. we went to the former speakeasy in the village where writers used to hang and he gave me a soft, quick kiss over our first drink. in the cab on the way to dinner, he kissed me again, a real kiss and he didn't laugh when we had to turn all the way around so i could find the brand-new pair of glasses id managed to lose. what impressed me was how meticulously he'd planned everything, how closely he listened to all i said i liked. i'd never had a mini-tour of manhattan planned just for me.
we walked back toward the hotel after dinner. the streets were cordoned off and full of people. i was amazed at how well i could know this person i'd just met
on a crowded corner, he pulled me close and kissed me again. i looked up to see a policeman grinning down at us from the back of his horse. i grinned back.
this is what it feels like to fall in love, i thought.