We sat in a maroon pick-up truck with the heat on. It was nearly one o’clock in the morning and the October night was cold but clear. It had been exactly a week since the first time we did this.
Earlier in the night I showed up for our bowling league a little earlier than needed. I had hoped he would do the same. When I realized he hadn’t, I gave in to the thoughts that had haunted me all week. He’s not thinking about me. It was only my imagination telling me something special had happened. Turns out . . . I thought wrong.
He had night school that evening. He could have blown off the entire night and gone straight home after class, but he arrived at the lanes as the matches concluded and he immediately sought me out. We got comfortable at the bowling alley bar and continued our easy conversation from the week before. So unlike me . . . the easy conversation, I mean. I found no trouble getting comfortable at a bar!
Once closed, we left the bar and took up residence in the old, somewhat messy, maroon pickup truck. Al will be annoyed with me that I can’t remember if the truck was a Chevy, Ford, or some other brand. I can tell you that, years later, the truck protected him from grave injury when he got t-boned by another pickup while on the way to work. The truck did not survive.
Al put a cassette into his player (that’s right, I said cassette) and Alabama harmonized through the speakers. I hadn’t previously listened to much country music, so I didn’t recognize many of the songs, especially the one Al began to sing to me that night. No one had ever sung to me before, unless there were candles burning on top of a cake. I listened to the words as he capably carried the tune. But right or wrong she's there beside me, like only a friend would be, and that's close enough to perfect for me.
I think about that night often, how simple and sweet it was, and I’m reminded that it’s moments like this that really count. These are the things we cherish and hold on to. These are the memories that keep me going, until someday we sit in that somewhat messy, maroon pickup truck together again.
So now you know one of the reason’s I titled my memoir, Close Enough to Perfect. But there is another reason, and it became quite compelling.