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Meeting Halfway at Ashlan Park

Oh, how I remember
Sitting in the front seat
Of your car
On the night
We decided to become a couple

Above us stood the towering
Ashlan Park sign
But we were oblivious to that
How many times in our separate lives
Had we passed it by
Never thinking that such an ordinary place
Would one day be so important?

There we were
In the concrete jungle
Or is this a place halfway to suburbia?
Why is it that
In our fast-paced lives
We always seem to be
Halfway “there”
Never quite reaching
The actual place
Where we want to be?

And yet, there we were
Where we wanted to be
For that brief moment
You having “borrowed”
Your father’s cell phone
To text me hello
And say you’d meet me here
Me between gigs
With you on my mind, of course

It had only been twelve days
Since our first date
On the other side of town
At the steakhouse
Holding hands on our way
Out the door
We stopped at the little store
Where I bought you a silk rose
But unlike fake love
Which the plastic-stemmed rose
Might have represented
Our love was real
We just didn’t know it yet
If we ever really knew

I had pocketed the little piece
Of flower paper
That our waitress left
On the tip tray
Under a few pieces
Of cinnamon candy

How could I ever forget
The way you came
Sauntering past the salad bar
That night
Your hair gently bouncing
Your mouth smiling
In more than a half-grin
Call it a pleased look of satisfaction

Like a goddess
Who walked the face of the earth
As an ordinary person
Wearing jeans, and a
Velvety top,
Black boots
Your hair almost feathered
But you probably didn’t know that style
From my generation
Even though we went to the same school
And sat in the same desks
The photos in my yearbook
Had been there a while
While your book was virtually
Hot off the presses

Yet we continued our journey on foot
As equal peers
Still in the midst of our
First few hundred steps
I felt comfortable being myself
But might have had visions of
Will and Anna, or
Kirk and Keeler
Buried in my subconscious brain
(As images of Adam Sandler
And Patricia Arquette flickered
On the big screen
Of the theater we passed by
Unbeknownst to us)
Still floating on the energy created by
Our creative wild juices
We arrived at the last store down the line
Where the Pointer Sisters encouraged us to
Jump into love

My heart leapt
That evening
As I sat alone at the fourth table from the door
On the west wall
Near the window
I stood and beckoned you hither
And we sat and chatted
Sometimes looking out the window
Into the night
As you drank your soda
And I finished my steak and fries

Your soda was compliments of our server
Who left her name with a smiley face
In blue ink that faded
Until it couldn’t be read
After we put it on the low window sill
In the bedroom–
A memento
Of our love

Sparkly rays of light
From the morning sun
Passed through the little glass slipper
That I bought for you
At the Empire State Building
During my trip to New York
The constant rays slowly tilting in the
Space above our heads
As the sun rose slowly and quietly
On those blissful Saturday mornings
With you

We could have stepped
Out of the car
That evening at Ashlan Park
To get a sandwich or pizza
Do some window shopping
Or a thousand other things
But we were lost in our own world
Inside the car
Feeling that mad rush of emotions
That some of us are lucky enough to experience
Once or twice in life
Somehow it ended up all
Slipping through our fingers
In a way that I still don’t understand
And maybe never will
I could try
But I’d only end up
Falling into the
A bottomless pit
Of thought-realms that never quite
Come into sharp focus
Though we can catch
Flashes of clarity
Here and there

And so it was
That we met each other halfway
At Ashlan Park
Having plotted in our minds
The grit and grid of the city
Envisioning the here and there
And everywhere
Of our lives (and our love)
In a quick instant
And made our lives intersect
At that time and that place

What was once so effortless then
Is now impossible to accomplish
–Or nearly so
And how I wish it weren’t that way

But I'll always remember
Our love from
Once upon a time
Where the beautiful ash trees once stood
But became long forgotten
Except in name
Or so they say.





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