Embrace the beautiful, lovely, and rich.
| They sit together on a rock, the Latina young woman and the Caucasian young man, watching the Jack Russel Terrier Raven romp around the dog park. It has been quite a busy weekend. He flew into town early afternoon on Friday after a busy week at work preparing to take the day off to come visit for the first time. They’d been talking for about two months via Snapchat and had finally found a weekend to meet each other in person. Since flights were inexpensive and since she had space in her apartment, he decided to come and spend the weekend with her and her roommates. As he’d planned for all this, he was a little uncomfortable with the idea of spending a weekend living in the same apartment as four other girls; but he tried to put this worry to one side and focus on the excitement of visiting.
Once he’d put his things down in the apartment, the two drove to a local Mexican restaurant for lunch. While they ate, they discussed college experiences and plans for the weekend. After finishing the delicious food, they returned to the apartment, where she finished some homework before sundown’s bringing the Sabbath, and he did some reading and writing. The next morning after breakfast, they went to church and then explored a nature park after lunch. Evening included more talking, reading, and music, followed by bed. Since Sunday was the last day they had together before he flew out early Monday morning, they decided to make it extra special. They spent the morning exploring more of town, followed by another delicious lunch at an excellent local restaurant. After finishing, they took Raven to the dog park. As they sat there, the man’s hand slowly migrated down between them, just resting there.
Turning to her, he began a conversation that he’d been anticipating for a long time: “Amber, I've enjoyed this weekend a lot. What’s been your perspective?”
“Same. I couldn’t have asked for much better and am quite happy we’ve finally met after all these weeks of talking online.”
“Then I have a request for you: In light of our shared enjoyment, I’d like to ask you if you’d be my girlfriend.”
She caught her breath, spun around to face him, and clasped her hands to her mouth. “Yes!” she whispered.
“Then close your eyes for a moment.” Reaching into his pocket, he took out a small box and opened it. The gold caught the sun's rays, gleaming brightly and looking even more beautiful nestled in its white padding and contrasting with the rugged surroundings here in the dog park than under the jewelry counter's glass.
“Hold out your right hand, please.” She complied. He took her delicate, soft, darker hand in his calloused, dry, white left hand and gently slid something cool and smooth around her ring finger with his right hand. As his hand touched hers, a thrill rushed through both of them.
“You may now open your eyes and admire the beautiful new addition to your beautiful hand.” Looking down at her finger, she saw something bright and shiny—a ring! He continued, “For you and me, our friendship—not a proposal yet,” he smiled. “I want to leave you with this to remind you of the good and beautiful left in the world. Take this other one, and put it on my finger.”
His hand migrated to her thigh and rested there, waiting for her to reciprocate. Shocked, she couldn’t think a thing. Then, turning to him again, she slipped the ring onto his finger and wrapped her arms around him in a giant hug that threatened to flatten him into a pancake. He slid his arms around her back and squeezed in return, both young adults resting their heads against each other’s necks and enjoying the softness, firmness, and warmth of each other’s bodies and the coolness of the surrounding air. How long this lasted, neither knew. However long it was, it was far too short; for the dog soon bounded over to them and jumped up on the rock, interrupting their embrace.
Upon returning to the apartment, she excitedly showed her housemates the ring and told of their day. He blushed slightly and smiled as he stood to one side, enjoying the moment’s beauty and fingering the ring she’d put on his own hand. The girls eventually finished their animated, emotional conversation; and Amber went to her room to change her clothes for a rehearsal of the play she was directing. This was the second highlight which he’d been anticipating all weekend—seeing the fascinating play about racial tension and sex trafficking. Riding beside her in the car’s subdued light, he glanced over and saw her eyes glisten in a new way. He smiled gently and wondered what was she was thinking.
The rehearsal was beautiful. Monday morning soon came, bringing with it a final breakfast together followed by some last-minute packing before she drove him to the airport for his return flight home. Getting out of the car and placing his suitcase on the pavement, he turned to her and said, “Amber, you’re a beautiful girl; and I’d love to continue getting to know you better, my girlfriend.” She blushed, her eyes filled with tears, and all she could do was to throw her arms around him again and shake with emotion. He held her close again, breathing deeply and enjoying the contact.
Slowly letting go, she wiped her eyes and choked out, “Me too!”
“Peace, my girl. Have fun, and I’ll call when I get home.”
They hugged once more, waved, and he turned to go into the airport. As the doors closed behind him, she ran to her car as her eyes welled with tears again. Just a few months ago, she couldn’t have imagined what this would be like, to find a man who loved beauty and richness and touch while still caring for the girl and taking care of her. Just a few months ago, she’d been in a toxic relationship with poor communication and respect. Now, as she sat still in the car and stared at the 2mm 10K gold ring gently encircling her right ring finger, all she could do was to quiver with emotion and wonder how she could survive the next few weeks until they could visit again.
Meanwhile, he made his way through the security checkpoint, also still in awe that his dream of a Hispanic girlfriend had come true. As he did almost anything, he couldn’t help seeing the ring identical to hers on his right ring finger, reminding him of their choice to move into a serious relationship. He soon settled into a seat at the gate and began reading a book as he waited for boarding to begin.
Just after he’d made himself comfortable, his phone vibrated twice—once for a Snapchat notification and the other for American Airlines. Deciding to check the flight update first in case something important had happened, he discovered that he’d been upgraded to first class again. Last summer on a flight to Colorado, he’d been in first class for the first time ever and had felt that the treatment was too luxurious for him—to much attention and care for him to accept. He was accustomed to giving of himself to others but was uncomfortable accepting it in return for free. This, combined with the weekend’s richness, was almost too much to bear. Standing up and walking to the plate glass windows overlooking the ramp, his eyes misted over and his breathing became uneven as he held in the emotion.
From behind, an older woman’s voice gently said, “It’s OK to cry, honey, even in public. Come, give me a hug!”
Turning to see who spoke, he found a grandma-aged black lady standing there with her arms open, inviting him to come. He accepted, letting himself cry quietly on her shoulder for a little while before wiping his eyes and thanking her.
“Beauty or sadness?” she inquired.
“Beauty, richness, and longing.”
“Mmm, good for you for being present during. Go in peace and comfort, for you are loved.”
Just as they finished talking, boarding began. Making his way down the jet bridge to his quite comfortable seat in the first-class cabin, his mind whirled with the weekend’s events. All this was more than he could have ever imagined. Soon he’d stowed his suitcase and buckled his seatbelt. While he waited for the other passengers to finish boarding, he unlocked his phone to read the Snapchat message. It was simple: A picture of Amber’s lightly tan right hand resting on a fluffy, white blanket, sunlight beaming through a window and glinting on the ring. The caption’s red script spelled three simple words: “I love you.” Positioning himself better to catch the sunlight shining through the window to his left, he rested his right hand on his thigh with the sunlight spilling onto his hand and khaki dress pants. With the press of a button, he captured the moment and replied, “I love you, too.”