Last night I was lying in bed, staring at the inside of my eyelids, as I am often wont to do these days. Honestly, I don't know what happened to my ability to fall asleep, but it seems to be AWOL. It's a good thing I'm not frequently woken up in the middle of the night by a toddler, or busy running four different directions at once during the day and need my sleep or anything, hahahahahahaHA. HA.
Anyhow. As I waited in the dark for sleep to come, trying to calculate how many times I could roll from one side to the other without waking Clay (answer: one million. And seven. The man is a gifted sleeper), I got to thinking about a story I never told y'all. Specifically, this was a story about Clay and me, when we were first dating. I don't know why I've got it stuck in my head that I want to tell you about this, but I guess you can thank insomnia for this particular post.
So Clay and I met at church, and he was immediately smitten. What? It's true. I, on the other hand, was immediately struck dumb with terror by the man who was getting all talky with me at church. He told me later that he couldn't figure out what I found so fascinating about his shoes. GAH. He was TALKING TO ME and it FREAKED ME OUT.
He kept asking me out, and I kept turning him down, and he kept not giving up. I TOLD you he was smitten. Eventually he asked if it would be okay if he emailed me, and I allowed as how that would be acceptable. After a few weeks of email, he cautiously moved to calling me. I permitted him to call after 9 at night, when all the boys were asleep. And that's when things really got out of hand. We spent HOURS on the phone in the middle of the night. I remember sitting there, pressing the phone to my ear so hard it hurt, laughing and talking and talking and talking. The next morning I would be exhausted, but I floated out of bed and down the stairs, humming to myself as little birdies twittered around me and tied the sash on my dress. It was simply PITIFUL. The smittenness was mutual by this point, although I was loath to admit it.
My dad, however, figured out what was going on. It may have been the way my pupils formed little hearts when I said Clay's name, I don't know. He decided he wanted to get to know this guy a little better, so he invited him on a fishing trip with the boys. I was somewhat flummoxed by this, as we weren't even technically dating yet, and WHOA, buddy, do we need to get the kids involved in this yet? But Dad said the boys didn't need to know that Clay was anything other than a friend from church, and it was just one fishing trip, and besides, I wasn't invited. Okay, then.
As it worked out, the night before the fishing trip, Clay and I were both invited to a mutual friend's house for dinner and dominos. OH wait! I blogged it! Heh. How adorable were we? I'll tell you a secret here: he KISSED me that night. Oh yes, he did. *smirk* Talk about smitten.
So the next morning he arrived to go fishing, and we were playing it VERY COOL in front of the boys, whilst shooting each other DEEPLY MEANINGFUL looks above their heads and meeting in dark corners for quick whispers and smoochings. And then they were off, on their fishing adventure, and I was left home alone to relive every word he'd ever said to me and doodle our initials together in little hearts.
Eventually they returned, and as I remember, they'd even caught a few fish. Trout, which if you ask me, is the only drawback to fishing. It would be a much better pastime if one caught, say, prime rib. But whatever. Clay and Dad and Max went to the back yard to clean the things, and I paused in the hallway to help Raphael take off his coat. He was just three years old then, all cherubic cheeks and dark eyes and wicked plans. His zipper was stuck, and I knelt down next to him to wrestle with it.
"Mama?" he said soberly, "Mama? Mama? Yoo are a girl." I'll spare you repeated phonetic spelling of "girl," but suffice to say it sounded like "gyuurrrulll." He did have a way of emphasizing certain words.
"Actually, honey, I'm a woman. I'm a girl who is all grown up."
"No, Mama. You're a girl."
"No really, I'm a woman."
"You're a girl."
"I have a driver's licence and everything, hon. I'm a woman."
"You're a girl."
"Fine, whatever." I finally freed his zipper and slid the coat off his shoulders. At that age, their coats come off sort of like exoskeletons flaking free, keeping the rounded shape of their torsos, with arms splayed out to the sides. I turned to hang the Raphi-shaped coat on a hook, but he put one hand on my cheek and looked me in the eye.
"And dat Clay?" He raised his eyebrows to emphasize his words. "He's a MAN."
I'm not sure exactly what Raphael was getting at, that day. But now, having been married to Clay for nearly five years, sharing this life and these kids and a dog that randomly throws up, I can say this with some authority:
Raphael was absolutely right. Dat Clay is a MAN. And a fine one at that.