Coffee (Part 8)

Dad! I passed. I’m a licensed driver. Can I get a car? Can we go looking today? Can I borrow your car to go out with my friends tonight?

Young man, slow down there is a difference between passing a drivers test and really knowing how to drive. Baby steps. And as previously agreed upon, I will help you pay for your car. You have to get a job and work for it. You are not required to work until 18 but if you want a job before then…

Dad, you’re killin’ my buzz.

You better not have a buzz.

***

Harper was enjoying her time in Louisville with her family. She always enjoyed seeing her niece and nephew but this time her sister was different. Normally Robin was a bit overbearing. Every day well planned and it was expected that they stick to the schedule. This weekend had more of a “we’ll see what the day brings” type of feel, Harper wasn’t sure of what to make of it.

I’m glad you came down this weekend. I wanted to talk to you…in person.

About?

Robin let out a big sigh. We’re thinking of selling the house and moving to the New England area. I’ll enjoy the cooler temperatures, the kids will get a better public-school education and Randy will be closer to his parents, they are getting older you know. I wanted to talk to you about it because this is our parents house, I thought you should have some input.

Selling their parents’ house was a big thing. Robin was determined to keep it after their parents’ death, she was only 19 at the time but found the money to hire an estate lawyer to make sure the house became her property.

Is this what you really want or is this just what makes sense?

Honestly, I don’t know. It does make sense, all our reasons for moving are the “right” reasons but I don’t know if I can just walk away.

Its been 23 years, are you really just walking away? You’ve done a great job taking care of me and your family. The house is well cared for, you will get the highest market value for it. Why continue to hold on to that small piece of the past. I know you loved our parents, I did too but at some point you have to move on from Louisville and accept that honoring their memory is displayed just as much in taking care of your family as it is in maintaining their home and working in the local community.

I know. I guess for me letting go of the house feels like I am letting go of them.

Yeah. But they are deep in our hearts, its impossible for either of us to let go.

***

Dad, I think mom would have bought me a car.

I think your beautiful mother, God rest her soul, would have made you pay half. Still she would be very proud of you. On the phone telling everybody and probably planning a party.

She did like parties.

She did, and she loved you.

It was moments like these that Michael really missed his wife. She was such a loving person, a great mother and she helped him become the man he is now. They met when he was 16, she was 15. Only a few months younger than him but still younger, her dad didn’t like that. She was so smart, he’d needed help with chemistry. Their school had this program for student tutors and she was assigned to help him pass the one class he was failing. Truth is he was just getting by in many of his classes but after a few sessions with her he looked at school completely different. He wanted to be more than Mr. Popular, he wanted to be good enough to hang with her. Eventually they started going to school activities together and then she was pregnant. It didn’t stop her though, she finished college with an engineering degree and was working her way up the engineering ladder at Duke Energy. She encouraged him to go to college, it wasn’t really something he had thought about before. She was with him when he bought and sold his first piece, he absolutely loves what he does and hates that he can’t share it with her. He’ll never not love her; the question is can he love someone else in addition to his wife. Ready or not he was about to find out.

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Coffee (Part 7)

Coffee beans

7am comes fast when you’re up until after 3 but Harper still had to get up. She promised her sister she would spend the weekend in Louisville with her and the kids. Robin was Harpers older sister, she was married, her husband was overseas right now, they had two kids, Zora and Langston. It was hard going home to Louisville; the whole city was full of painful memories. When Harper graduated high school, she couldn’t get out of the city fast enough. She found a paralegal program in a city four hours away and didn’t go back, not even to visit until the twins were born. She couldn’t pass up the opportunity to be an aunt. Harper loved kids, she wasn’t sure she would ever have any of her own, so she spoiled her niece and nephew as much and as often as possible.

It was just about 10:00 am when Harper arrived in Louisville, she’d make a quick stop by Sweet Peaches for breakfast and then off to her sisters. One just did not deal with Robin on an empty stomach.

Oh, its my sweet little sister, I feel like I haven’t seen you in forever. You look terrible, whats going on here?

I was out until 3am and still got up at 7 to drive three hours to see you. Where are the kids?

School. I had them go today so we could have a “sisters date day”. Umm, out until 3am? Doing what and with whom. And why are you driving with only four hours of sleep, you are going through mountains at 70 miles an hour, that’s just not safe.

I know. Harper smiled at the memory of the night before.

Okay. I’ll assume by your smile that a man had you out until 3am so…?

I need a nap.

Nope, we have facials at one, followed by a mani-pedi, a stop by the smoothie bar and then off to pick up the kids.

It’s 11:15.

Forty-five minutes, then we out and you can tell me about this man.
* * *
Michael lay in bed staring at the ceiling. He’d barley slept because he could not stop thinking about last night. He was truly smitten with Harper, he wasn’t quite sure what it was but she captivated him. He hadn’t felt this way about a woman since his wife died five years ago. He never seriously thought he would love anyone as much as he’d loved his wife, yet here he was mesmerized by Harper.
Dad! You up?
Awww man, today is test day. Michael had completely forgotten Charles was scheduled to take his driving test today. Teenage boys and their need to drive. Michael wasn’t ready.
We’re out the door in 20 minutes. Make the coffee.
* **
So about this man?
Harper and Ryan were at The Juice Bar enjoying a “healthy” smoothie. Chocolate raspberry that tasted more like chalk to Harper but whatever, Robin was paying.
His name is Michael, he’s 33, has a 16 year old son and his wife died five years ago.
33? Oh, a young man. Nice. And where did you meet him?
On the bus. Harper paused for dramatic effect. His car was in the shop, he is a buyer for J. Evans.
Seriously?
Yes. Last night he took me to the unveiling of the new collection at DAI then we had dinner at The Pine Club and then went salsa dancing after which we walked around downtown and talked. It was so nice.
I like that he has a nice job, but he is seven years younger than you and has a teenage son. Are you ready for that?
We are not getting married, we’ve only known one another for a month.
I know but sometimes these things move fast. You have to be prepared.
Harper sighed, she absolutely hated the way people tried to turn everything into a dramatic affair. People didn’t just let life happen anymore, everyone was over prepared for everything and still messing things up.
I am prepared to spend the next few months getting to know a nice young man I met. I think that’s enough.
I just don’t want you to get your heart broken.
Why is everyone so afraid of heart break. All relationships don’t work, that’s ok. There’s no harm and no shame if it doesn’t work out with the first person you date. Sometimes relationships are meant to help you grow as a person. Nothing more, nothing less. Its been 10 years since I even thought I may want to talk to a man, I am just happy to feel the way I do about another person. But, I mean, I could continue to close myself off from the world, keep myself from heartbreak. I suppose that would be better?
Okay, okay. I get what you are saying. You’re an adult, do your thing. Have fun with it, but stay safe, people are crazy.
Girl, don’t I know it.

Coffee (Part 6)

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I hope you enjoyed yourself tonight.

I did. I always enjoy the art museum.

Good. I wasn’t sure how you would react.

hmm. Was this your way of seeing how “cultured” I was. Kind of like weeding out the riff raff?

Maybe.

Silly boy.

Dinner had been wonderful. Harper had never been to the Pine Club, it reminded her of the restaurants in old gangster movies. The food was great, the company was better, this was a great first date. Too bad it was ending. She wished it didn’t have to end.

We should go dancing.

Michael was stunned by the suggestion but interested.

Dancing? People our age do that?

Yes. I didn’t mean a “night club”. Its salsa night at a club on Riverview Ave. I’ve always meant to go but never have.

I don’t know how to Salsa.

We’ll learn together.

The dance floor was huge, the club was in a old church. First Baptist of Riverview, it was different, maybe a little wrong. There was a electricity in the air that made Harper feel 20 again

Maybe.

Silly boy.

Dinner had been wonderful. Harper had never been to the Pine Club, it reminded her of the restaurants in old gangster movies. The food was great, the company was better, this was a great first date. Too bad it was ending. She wished it didn’t have to end.

We should go dancing.

Michael was stunned by the suggestion but interested.

Dancing? People our age do that?

Yes. I didn’t mean a “night club”. Its salsa night at a club on Riverview Ave. I’ve always meant to go but never have.

I don’t know how to Salsa.

We’ll learn together.

The dance floor was huge, the club was in an old church. First Baptist of Riverview, it was different, maybe a little wrong. There was an electricity in the air that made Harper feel 20 again. The last time she went Salsa dancing she almost got married. She looked at Michael to gauge his reaction. He looked interested, she thought she saw a little movement in his hips. What happened the last time he went Salsa dancing?

Michael was both overwhelmed and intrigued. He was a pretty good dancer, but he had never been Salsa dancing. The music, the clothes, the movements, they were everything.  Harper grabbed his hand and lead him out to the dance floor. She began leading him in the moves. Michael was overpowered by Harpers energy, she was beautiful, elegant and great at this. They were definitely not learning together.

 

Coffee (Part 5)

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Michael arrived at Harpers home at exactly 6pm. She. Looked. Beautiful. The dress, the shoes, the makeup, the hair, everything about her was absolutely stunning. Michael gave Harper the bouquet of Tulips he’d bought for her. They both were pretty nervous and it showed.

These are beautiful, let me get them in some water and we can go.

Sure.

Where are we going by the way?

Ummm. Funny you should ask. I have a work thing tonight so, we are going to drop by there for about an hour and a half, then at 8 we have reservations at the Pine Club. 

A work thing? I don’t think we have ever talked about where you work. Am I going to like this work thing?

I think so. 

So…what do you do?

I am a buyer for J. Evans Galleries. DAI is unveiling new pieces for their permanent collection tonight, I am the head buyer for all things DAI so, yeah, a working thing. 

humph. Nice.

Really?

Yes. Before I settled on becoming a paralegal I studied art history. I love art. 

Wow, just wow. Michael wasn’t sure how to react. He was hoping for an appreciation of art, he never thought he would actually be able to discuss art with Harper. This was already the perfect first date.

 

Harper always enjoyed visiting DAI. There was something intriguing about another person’s creation, it was like looking at the world through someone else’s eyes. She couldn’t help but wonder what the artists were thinking as they were creating their masterpiece. Was this something created out of love, hate, sorrow or joy. She had watched a program on PBS about VanGogh a few weeks ago, since then she viewed his art differently. Art looks so simple but is so very complicated.

So would you like to be introduced to my colleagues or left to explore on your on?

Harper was impressed.

I appreciate you asking, I am happy to meet the people you work with, I want to get to know you, that means everything about you.

Harper and Michael made the rounds, meeting other buyers from J. Evans and even Jeanne herself. Harper had met Jeanne at another event, she was an older lady, maybe mid sixties very posh, but nice enough.

Introductions complete Harper mingled with the other guests admiring the beautiful pieces that were being added to DAI’s collection. She watched Michael as he worked the room. He was so graceful with everyone, he charmed the ladies and boosted the egos of the men.  Harper was amazed by what she saw but a small bit of doubt crept in, could she trust him? Was he genuine in his intentions or was he just here to “charm” her? It had been a while since Harpers last relationship, she always allowed her “logic” to get in the way of her enjoying the company of a man. Was Michael worth the risk?

 

Coffee (Part 4)

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Harper was extremely nervous, after three successful coffee dates she and Michael had decided to have a night out. Harper didn’t know where Michael was taking her, she had told him to surprise her. It seemed like a good idea at the time but right now it seemed like the craziest thing to ever come out of her mouth. How could she mentally prepare when she didn’t know where she was going. Will she need to navigate 3 steps or a flight of 15 stairs, these are the things she needed to know. Harpers best friend, Adrianna had come to help her get ready. They had been best friends since 5th grade, and Adrianna was always the best at keeping Harper calm and focused.
I can’t decide what to wear. I kind of want to wear a bright color, yellow? However, maybe a darker color for a first date?
Pre-planned morning coffee that makes you late for work two days in a row are dates. This is your third date, but you don’t know where you are going so you should wear a black dress. Wear the one with the ruffled sleeve and your silver shoes with the fancy ankle straps.
Harper nodded. It sounded like a good idea. Wherever they ended up she would look ok. Hopefully not overdressed.
What if we end up at an arcade?
You won’t, he would have told you to dress casually. He’s old enough to know a woman is going to be extra fly on a “first date”. He’ll expect this.
Oh gosh, I’m so nervous. Let’s do my makeup.
Michael wasn’t sure how tonight would go. He always planned first dates around work events, it was his way of weeding out the ones that probably weren’t “keepers”. He really liked Harper and didn’t want tonight to be a turnoff for her but was he really prepared to spend his life with someone that had no interest in his work? Why was he even thinking about the rest of his life? He just needed to get through tonight. The DAI was having an opening to unveil its new permanent collection pieces to members. Michaels employer, J. Evans Galleries, purchased a great deal of the museums more contemporary pieces with Michael being their head buyer.
You look nice dad.
Thanks.
Do you think this one will survive a night in the museum? I mean last time…
I don’t know. She seems like she’d appreciate a night of good art and live Jazz but…I don’t know.
You should wear the cuff links I gave you when I was five.
The ones your mother picked out?
(laughing) Yeah, those.
I miss her too, son. I really do miss her.
Michael was picking Harper up at 6:00, they should be at the museum by 6:15, the event started at 6:30, his part should be done around 7:40ish, by 7:45 they could be out the door headed to dinner at The Pine Club. Fingers crossed she likes art, jazz and a good steak.

Coffee (Part 3)

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The trouble with having a sixteen-year-old son is that they want to drive at twelve. Somehow Michael had promised Charles a driving lesson for tonight, he wasn’t sure he was ready to have a teenage driver in the house. He knew what he was like at sixteen without a car. He had no means of transportation, no backseats to mess around in, but still managed to get Nina pregnant on his 17th birthday, now he’s 33 with a 16-year-old. He wondered if that would be a problem for Harper, she was almost 40 after all. Michael reflected on his hour with Harper, she was such an interesting lady. She was a paralegal for one of the most prestigious law firms in the city, two weekends a month she ran a legal clinic to assist low income individuals/families with their legal problems. She didn’t, have kids, that was different, but she was well traveled, well read and very unconcerned about how anyone else felt about it. In other words, she was Sexy.
Pops!? Hello. Old man what is going on?
Little man who you talking to?
Just trying to get your attention. When we going driving?
I guess we can go now. Get a jacket and your wallet. I’ll meet you in the car.
Todays lesson was really more like bonding time. Charles was a good driver, Michael had been letting him drive since he was 14. Whenever they would visit home Michael would allow Charles to drive around town. Traffic was slow in small towns and Charles was 6 foot tall by then, no one knew he was too young to drive. Occasionally Charles would look over at his dad, Michael looked like he was deep in thought. Charles wondered what happened that day, Michael had come home with a smile on his face, usually he was tired, he was lost in thought when Charles was ready to go driving, usually this ride was full of hip hop circa 2001-2005 and stories of “when I was in high school”. Not this time, this time there were 90’s love ballads and silence, except for the occasional chuckle. This was suspect behavior.
Harper worked through lunch and went home an hour early, she needed time to think about what happened this morning. It started out like any other Monday, all her meetings were on site, she didn’t have to meet with any clients today, she liked to do her part for the environment so anytime there was no clear reason to drive to work, she took the bus. If anything came up she’d expense an uber. Usually her bus rides were routine and quiet. Just other professionals trying to get to work on time. Today was special, Michael was… she didn’t know what Michael was but she knew she wanted to see him again. He made her feel calm, when he sat down beside her it felt like everything in her relaxed. Like he was who she had been waiting on for the past 39 years. He was from Mullins, SC, had six brothers and sisters, eighteen nieces and nephews, his parents were still alive and happy. His siblings lived all over the country but managed to get home at least once a year for Christmas, it was his mothers favorite holiday. She loved the recipes, the decorations, having all her children and grandchildren home and overall, the peaceful feeling that time of year brought with it. Harpers family wasn’t like that at all. She could definitely see herself finding a new home with Michaels family. Maybe this was more than just coffee.

The Journey

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Monday was one of those days for me. I don’t want to talk about it but I’ll write my feelings down. Monday night I attended my first class at the Adoption Academy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. It was bittersweet. There were mostly couples, gay and straight, with a few single women in the crowd. Looking around the room I began to wonder what everyone else’s story was, why were they there. I began to wish I was there with someone, adoption seems like a journey that should not be taken alone, that’s true of life really, no one should have to go through life on their own. I also thought about how I wished I wasn’t there, I wondered if I was ready for this journey, if I was strong enough to finish it. I don’t know. Its one of those things in life that seems unfair. Most people start families on accident, then there are those that have to put in the extra work to enjoy this simple pleasure of life. I also thought about every time I hear someone say how much of a blessing it is for a woman to have a child, how there’s a certain beauty in the fact that a woman’s body brings forth life. I know how those statements make me feel, like I’m only about 90% the woman I should be, but what do other women feel, do men have similar feelings on the subject. I’ve stopped looking for the fairness of life, its not there. Life just is. I’ve got a lot of good things going on right now. I am up for a promotion, I am having some serious heart stopping feelings about a very handsome guy I know, I haven’t felt this way about a man since the summer of 2006, and then there’s the Adoption Academy. I don’t know how I feel about these classes or if I will even use the information for myself. I may just tuck this knowledge away to share with someone/a couple stronger than me. Maybe mother is not a title I was ever meant to have. It doesn’t feel fair, but its life.

Psalm 113: 9 He gives the barren woman a home, making her the joyous mother of children. Praise the Lord!