I remember very clearly.
It’s a colder spring day in 1996 and I’m shivering in my long wool coat.Â Despite living in the District for three winters, I still haven’t learned to layer.
I look over to my girlfriend, and she’s occupied with driving.Â She shifts matter of factly in the stop and go traffic on Rockville Pike.Â It’s a slightly misty rainy sort of day and the intermittent wipe of the blades punctuates our conversation.Â It’s about everything and nothing at all, the kind of conversation that two lovers have when they’re not entangled in each other.
We should be in class but we’re not.Â We do this more often than we should.Â Even though our grades don’t suffer, I know that every time we skip class, a part of us rips away.Â A little bit more, every time, we step further and further away from being the perfect son or daughter that our parents want us to be.Â But we don’t care.
It’s a long trip in the rush hour traffic, longer still because we ache to get to our destination.Â We know what awaits us there.Â We long to hold it in our hands, to be complete.
We arrive and we get out of the car.Â I wait, in the rain, feeling small droplets through my too short hair.Â She locks up the car, takes my hand and we walk through the doors together.
We walk slowly, window shopping at first, stopping at every counter to look at the tiny, expensive objects under glass.Â Every now and again, I ask a salesperson to bring an item up from behind the counter.Â She nods her approval or disapproval and we move on, taking great care to thank the salesperson each time.
Finally we stop at what feels like the last counter.Â The final one for us.Â The reason we came all the way out here, in the rain and through the traffic, together.
I’m buying a Pilot 5000 from US Robotics.
She looks at me and I smile.
Because she understands.