Sandra and I were elated for the inevitable beginning of the warm season. As the month of March quickly approached, we planned on welcoming the new season with trips to some of our favorite places: movie complexes and restaurants. We were both itching for the release of a handful of spring and summer movies in our favorite theatre location, the one situated at the center of the Southland Shopping Complex in the southern section of Aurora, Colorado.
I was most eager to see A Quiet Place II on the Saturday after it opened, and I was ready to drag the horror movie shunning Sandra to the theatre. Sandra, a lifelong fan of fantasy and science fiction films, was looking forward to the release of the live action Mulan film. Also, we were both anticipating the release of Black Widow, Wonder Woman II, and In the Heights. After we’d finished watching the movies , we would meander over to Bad Daddy’s Bar and Grill for burgers and conversation.
And then the coronavirus started burning its way through the world, infecting millions and killing thousands more. By the middle of March, Governor Polis had ordered movie theatres, restaurants, museums, and schools to shutter their doors. It wasn’t long before the economy collapsed and the streets were bare. I think I saw a batch of tumbleweed rolling along an abandoned avenue.
During the Shelter in Place order, I’ve replaced watching movies in the theatres on Saturdays with watching movies on Netflix, Disney Plus, Amazon, and Hulu, and I’ve been able to catch up on movies that I wouldn’t normally spend my hard-earned fifteen dollars to see at the multiplex. And I do enjoy watching these movies from home because I am mostly a homebody. Apart from consistent outings to the movies, restaurants, and the gym, I don’t normally travel outside of my comfort zones. Movies and books provide me with the best chance to explore areas of the world that I haven’t seen.
With all of that said, I missed exploring those fascinating new places with my best friend. As I sat on the living room couch, absorbing the world that was being presented to me through my smart television set, I found myself wishing that I could hold Sandra’s hand as we lived through a movie together.
Sandra missed me too. She said it often through a series of text messages, punctuating the end of each text with a heart shaped emoji. I responded to her suddenly effusive texts with similar texts of my own. Curious and swelling with a new hope, I sought out the reason for why a woman would send this kind of text to a close friend of the opposite sex. Did it signify friendship? Did it signify love? Or was it something else altogether? But after reading through a few of the possible ways to interpret the heart emoji, I still could not arrive at a definitive interpretation of what Sandra meant by these texts. Of course I wanted to believe that love is what motivated her. And I wanted to follow my instincts, which suggested that there might be something more than simple friendship that was inspiring her.
Two weeks ago, she texted a new idea, one that I should have thought of.
Do you want to talk on Skype or FaceTime? As much as I love talking to you through text messages and phone conversations, it’s not enough for me. I really miss your seeing your face.
I swallowed hard, for I’d never been one to be at the forefront of the technological trends.
While interpreting the meaning of the text, my mind reached back to grab a memory. In spring of 2011, a former girlfriend (Dorothy) wanted to start exchanging text messages. Of course I’d heard about texting back then, but I’d never felt the urgency to learn how to perform the activity, and I told her so.
“You’re kidding me Eze!” Dorothy said. “You really don’t know how to text?”
“No,” I said. “I’ve never felt the need to. I can do it on a blackberry, right?”
After Dorothy finished expressing her genuine disbelief at my inability to text message, I allowed her to lead me through a lesson. Dorothy and I broke up with each other a few weeks later.
I knew I wanted to be better for Sandra. And in my estimation, becoming better and more compatible meant that I should be more confident and self-sufficient. So, I wasn’t going to rely on Sandra to teach me how to conduct a call over Skype. I placed the memory from 2011 back into the deep recess from where it had been dredged and then texted Sandra my reply. I miss your beautiful face too. Sure, we can share some face time. How about I call you via Skype this weekend?
Okay. I am so excited to see you.
I was scanning google for information on Skype calling when I got Sandra’s text. I read over the instructions for downloading the Skype application and placing a call, and concluded that I could do this. And then I typed in my reply. I’m excited to see you too.
Two days later it was Friday. I drove to work, arriving at about 8:00 am. When I sat down at my desk, I felt an overwhelming need to send Sandra another text. So I pulled my phone from my pants pocket. Dear Sandra! If I don’t tell you often enough, then I’m very sorry. Please know that you mean a great deal to me.
It was near the end of my shift at work when my smart phone buzzed, vibrated, and rang. Again, I felt the urgency well up within me as I reached for the phone. Sandra had replied to my message. I pressed my thumb on her name and began reading. The message was well written and contained multiple paragraphs. My heart pounded as I scrolled down the length of the message before I stopped at a poignant point in a passage.
But with everything going on in the world, I’ve come to realize that life’s too short not to tell people how we feel, even if it feels scary and vulnerable. So my dear Eze, I guess what I want to say, is that my heart has been yours for a long time.
Fearful of my response, Sandra abandoned her phone for a walk around her neighborhood. I didn’t know how long it would take for her to finish her walk, but I knew that I could not waste any time. Dear Sandra! My heart belongs to you too. And I think it has been for some time. You’re the one for me. I love you Sandra!
A few minutes passed before I typed another message. Wow! Now my day has gotten so much better!
A few seconds pass.
Haha! Mine too!
Still knowing that I could not waste a second, I pressed my thumb on the Skype application, and held the phone a foot away from my face. Technically, I was still on the clock. If someone were to suddenly walk into the room while I was expressing my love for Sandra during a Skype call, I may have gotten into trouble. But it was 8:00 o’clock in the evening, quiet, and there seemed to be no one else around for miles.
The phone was ringing, my pulse was pounding.
Moreover, I wouldn’t have cared if the Chief Operating Officer of the hospital had walked in as the phone rang. For there was nothing more important in the world than speaking to Sandra at that moment.
When Sandra’s visage appeared on my phone screen, we smiled at each other at the exact same time. I exhaled from having not seen her for weeks. I’d missed her, but had been truly unaware of how much until I saw her. Her red glasses, which matched her hair color, were perched upon her nose. She was so cute. Finally, I thought. For twelve years, I’d known deep down that Sandra and I could potentially become more than friends. It’s just that the time was never right for some reason. Better late than never, I guess. I told her that I loved her and she replied back with “I love you,” and I was certain that she meant every word of what she said. How amazing. I’d been waiting forty-three years for this moment. Never in my life had I felt more alive.
“You and I are one of the good things to come out of this COVID-19 nonsense Sandra,” I said. “It’s why I’m so hopeful.”
“We’ll get through this,” she said. “I can’t wait to see you in person once we are on the other side.