I sat in the front row and you were way in back.
I showed up late most days just to see your face.
It was the best part of my day; the ten seconds from the door to my seat,
When your eyes met mine and just for a time it was only you and me.
If you didn’t know it then, I’m sure you know it now.
I love you.
Some fifty years later and your eyes sparkle still.
Same as they did on the night of our kiss,
When we bailed on the prom and jumped on ol’ Route 66.
We were somewhere west of Santa Fe,
I’d stopped to pump gas into that rusted Bel Air.
With the grace of a dancer you slid to the back.
You knew I was watching, as I tried not to stare.
My back to the car, I finally couldn’t take it,
So I turned around and tapped on the glass.
You came to the window with a smile.
I was grinnin’ one back so hard it hurt,
Silently mesmerized by those beautiful eyes.
The spell was lifted as the window came down.
I put my hands to your cheeks as I bent to meet your eyes,
Which seemed to be giving light to the moon.
You licked those perfect lips and fluttered those long lashes.
I’m no Einstein, but I ain’t stupid.
One hand on your neck the other upon your chin
I swooped in and met those lips with mine.
For the longest time I wished it would’ve been better.
Not the kiss, the kiss was more than I could have asked for,
But the gas station wasn’t the most romantic setting.
Looking back now, I see there is nothing more real,
And nothing more romantic than that night.
My beat up car, the smell of the gas,
That little station lit by the moon.
Or was it your eyes.
Every time I filled up the car,
Every time you smelled that scent,
We were reminded of that magical night that faded straight into day.
I never wanted that kiss to end,
But we were driving with a purpose.
So I reluctantly pulled away,
A final kiss for both your eyelids.
I paid for the gas and grabbed some cokes,
Only to return to find you sleeping.
I had never seen you look so beautiful.
You mumbled something as I started the car.
I knew it was,
“I love you.”
But you claimed you said,
“Drive slow, you.”
If it was the latter I didn’t listen.
We had to hurry to make it by the morning.
I drank your coke too, but I really didn’t need them.
Just knowing your life was in my hands
Was enough to keep me going.
It was a long race, me against the dark.
I turned off the radio, careful not to wake you.
Left alone in my thoughts.
Left alone in your silence.
I learned a lot from you that night.
You didn’t need to be awake for me to see you could trust me.
The silence said it loud and clear.
You turned and faced me.
Eyes shut, but smiling.
Sweet dreams of me I suppose or maybe I’m just dreaming.
You or the road, my eyes couldn’t decide.
I caught them fixed one too many times on you.
With the gentlest of touch I ran my fingers through your hair,
And spoke softly till your head began to rise.
Sorry I had to wake you,
But I needed to share the thrill and excitement before we came to our senses.
We had left on a whim.
It was stupid and reckless, but we were young and in love,
Which seemed to make it okay.
It didn’t matter then,
‘Cause for all we knew there was only an us,
And a long road ahead.
The air was still, early in the morning.
Our headlights were all that could be seen.
So I turned them off to scare you and instead you looked in awe.
The moonlight was ethereal.
So many shadows, yet so much light.
An oxymoron that is hard to describe.
Mouths open, eyes wide, and I flipped the beams back on.
We turned to each other laughing, oh how ridiculous we must have looked.
Lucky for us we were the only ones for miles.
Maybe I’m just exaggerating, but at the time it seemed the world was ours.
Only you and me.
A bond of hands.
A bond of hearts.
Rubber to asphalt.
The darkness slowly drifting away.
The last few hours were a blur.
We exchanged tales of our past.
You recalled your first kiss in the 5th grade.
I reluctantly confessed my jealousy.
You kissed me quick to let me know I was the only one to feel those lips now.
You wanted more.
I definitely wanted more.
It took all my strength to keep pressing on.
Passing place after place I could’ve pulled over,
But we made do with our fingers intertwined.
We had plenty of time for making love in the years to come.
That night was a bonding of souls.
A meshing of personalities.
A foundation laid for a relationship that would last forever.
Something the night itself couldn’t do
As the glow of morning started shining through.
Right on time we made one last stop.
Gas station again, same old trick and I kissed you through the window of my car.
This time I returned with orange juice and some Little Debbies.
Back in the car and back on the road with Flagstaff to our back we headed north.
What was left of the night started fading fast,
So the first chance I got we pulled off the road.
A scenic overlook where the Bel Air slowed.
You grabbed the drinks and treats.
I grabbed the blanket covering the back seats.
Finally it was time to relax.
We laid on the hood with civilization to our backs.
And we said our goodbyes to the night.
For a fool hearted plan, it was executed with expert precision.
Not a moment too soon that sliver of sun came crawling into view.
We watched as it rose on those big ol’ canyons,
Turning the sky into an array of colors.
Bringing to life the land in a way the moon could never do.
Your eyes opened wide.
Those golden rays of light beaming from you.
I knew it then that you brightened the world.
At least you did mine and you never ceased to bring that light into my life.
The years have passed faster than it seemed.
We lived, we loved, we dreamed.
Our kids have grown.
Our kids have kids.
Life moved on, but we didn’t miss a thing.
I tried so hard to preserve that night.
It was our spark, the match that lit the fire.
The fire that still burns in each of us.
I never could sell that damn car.
So after the kids moved out I spent most of my time
Meticulously restoring that Rusty Bel,
Hoping one day she’d ring like the beauty she never was.
Sure I finally got it looking good
And we spent most of our retirement cruising around,
But it was today that it truly shined
As we relived that adventure through the night.
So here we are.
One last time together, looking over those massive canyons.
One last sunrise.
One last hope that all this can bring back those memories.
It’s been a long night.
Especially for this old man.
Hard on my body.
Hard on my mind.
Watching you as I tell this tale.
Trying to convince myself I saw you smile.
It’s been a tough road to travel.
Not just what was left of ol’ Route 66.
I mean the one that took from you all those moments we had created,
But both roads have lead us to this point.
And now the time has finally come for us to watch the night disappear.
It made me wonder though, what will the sun do when you aren’t here.