A Valentine's Day inspired story about a Winter Embrace
|I had never told my wife Crystal the exact moment that I knew I wanted to marry her until years after I met her. |
Some people instantly know the person they want to spend the rest of their life with. For me that realization didn't dawn on me until I had been dating the woman I would ultimately marry for at least a few months. My last couple of relationships hadn't ended too well and I was content to take things slowly enjoying the company of the woman I was currently dating and resigning myself to the fact that it would probably not last for that long.
It was a cold January evening and I was walking with her in Central park taking in the winter atmosphere. The temperature was starting to drop and most of the park's normal visitors were opting to stay inside today.
I had grown up in New York City and had pretty much seen the sights the park had to offer many times. Crystal however had moved to the city only a few years back and was still awed by the many things to see within there. We walked around the empty park passing through a deserted Holiday market and wandering its pathways. The lakes in the park had frozen over and even some trees were coated in ice giving them a nice glossy appearance. A light flurry of snow had begun to fall and it had started to stick coating areas of the park in white.
We walked around taking in the various locations in the park and conversing along the way. I did my best to share the little bits or trivia I remembered about each locations as we passed them and any memories I had attached to them. Some places I was more familiar than others. We walked past Wollman Skating Rink... an Ice skating rink I had visited a few times as a child during school trips. I proudly pointed out the Chess and Checkers building (one of my favorite places to visit in the park during the summer).
We also walked through the Literary Walk promenade... a corridor of trees with statues and plaques of various literary figures ending The trees in the pathway were devoid of leaves in the winter and the fountain was frozen over but it was still a fun area to visit. The pathway ends at Bethesda fountain a location in the park often showcased in movies. The fountain like most of the water in the park had frozen over for a nice view.
For Crystal she loved everything there was to see often stopping to snap pictures and she listened intently to the stories I was telling. She giggled when I told her about the Alice in Wonderland statue I used to climb as a kid and was fascinated by the small bit of information I could remember regarding Cleopatra's needle.
We must have spent hours just walking around talking with one another and a couple of things dawned on me. The first was that I realized that locations in the park that I had long lost interest in were suddenly fresh and entertaining again. We must have walked at least a few miles but I wasn't tired. Crystal's excitement made it impossible for things to be dull when I was with her and her energy was contagious. I even felt warm despite the icy cold.
I remember looking over at her as we about to leave the park and thinking how gorgeous she looked. Sometimes the right lighting helps to highlight a person's attractive. In Crystal's case the snow brought out her natural beauty. Her eyes seemed to sparkle against the snowflakes trickling past her face. I loved her winter outfit... a black felt winter jacket with a white hat and scarf and black boots. She shivered slightly as the brisk wind attacked us which just made her look all the more cute. I couldn't help thinking that she looked like an angel and in that instant I couldn't picture myself being with anyone else. This was the woman I wanted to marry.
I probably stared at her a little bit too intently because she blushed a little.
"Is there something on my face" She asked.
I just smiled and shook me head. "No you're fine."
She returned my smile and I couldn't resist. I leaned in to kiss her and she let me. It was a great kiss. It probably only lasted about 15 seconds but it seemed to freeze in my memories amidst the winter cold. Even now I remember small details about it. Her lips tasted like cinnamon. I remember her tensing slightly before easing back and going along with it. Her lips felt soft against mine.
We went to a coffee shop nearby afterwards and were warming up sipping hot chocolate. It was a rich drink and additional layers of whipped cream and caramel made it the kind of treat a person shouldn't regularly enjoy but it was the perfect way to end an evening spent wandering in cold.
As we closed out the night I asked her if she had a good time today. She assured me she did. We had several more enjoyable dates after that and I only fell more and more in love with her. We would go on to visit the park several more after that as well.
The two of us went back the same coffee shop a few years later. It was not easy to find an excuse to do that. Crystal was frustrated with our relationship over the past month. I knew that she had been dropping hints that she wanted to take our relationship to a more serious level. It was small things like commenting on the wedding scenes in movies or mentioning friends that were happily married. I would pretend not to notice and ease into a different subject often causing her to sigh in exasperation. What she didn't know was that I had secretly brought an engagement ring awhile back. As we were waiting in line Crystal made a point of directing my attention toward an obviously married couple in one of the booths. I played with the box in my pocket nervously but did my best to maintain a disinterested expression.
"Look how happy they are." She commented.
"They do look nice." I handed her one of the two hot chocolate cup I had gotten. The plan was to take our drinks to go and wander in Central Park a bit. By now Crystal was a pro and knew the park as well as I did if not better. She still loved walking there and never grew tired of the sights though they weren't the first thing on her mind today.
"You can't ignore this forever TJ. We've been dating for 4 years now. Don't you want to settle down?"
I held the door open for her and just sipped the cup doing my best to hide my smile. "Mmm this is tasty. Aren't you glad we stopped here today?"
"It's great." She said drinking a little bit of it as a gesture. "You're not going to distract me this time. You've been dodging this for weeks."
I didn't comment. I just continued to walk towards the park. She followed along
"We're practically living together. We are rarely apart as it is... why not just make it official?" She asked me.
"Crys do you remember the first time we had chocolate like this together?" I tried not to walk too briskly but I had a specific destination I wanted to reach before this conversation changed directions. Luckily Crystal kept up with me.
"Stop changing the subject."
"I guess it was awhile. You'd be forgiven for forgetting things in your old age."
I felt a punch in my arm as she sighed not able to resist the taunt. "It was hard to forget a winter storm." She admitted. "Probably one of the first times we went to Central Park together."
My pacing had worked and we had reached the entrance to the park... the exact location I wanted to be.
"The moment I knew that I wanted to marry you."
"What?" Her jaw dropped and her eyes opened wide as she saw me down on one knee with an open ring box in my hand. This had definitely caught her off guard.
I told the entire story to her recounting everything that I could remember about that cold winter's day. The moment I realized how much I loved her and the instant I knew that she was the one that I wanted to marry.
She had tears running down her face when I finished and was nodding her head vigorously. I was crying and smiling right along with her.
Long story short... she did accept my proposal that day and the two of us have been happily married for a decade now and have 3 children together. In the ten years we've been married I have never regretted my decision even once!
Word Count: 1513 Words