I was even more nervous now than I was on that first sweaty date. Summer was finally over (thank God!) and I was on my way back to Lukus and another year of school. I have never been so impatient for that fat Indian dude to get his bag out of the overhead compartment so I could get off that stupid, stupid plane! I wanted to scream, “Get out of my way! I have a really hot guy waiting for me that I haven’t seen in three months! Three months people! MOVE!”
My parents had come to pick me up and they’d unselfishly invited Brenden and Lukus to come and greet me at the airport with them. Finally, Fat Smelly Guy got out of my way and I tried to quickly, but casually, make my way up the concourse from the plane. I saw my parents first, then Brenden sitting off to the side, then a tuft of blonde hair above Brenden, but nothing else. I gave my parents the obligatory first hug-offering, really just waiting to get to the important people (or person). Then of course, I hugged Brenden. Then, there he was. Tall, tan from a summer working outdoors, and with something new: a beard. How very manly! We hugged, and while I tried to make it quick, and no more special than the other hugs I’d just doled out, the fact was, those arms around me just set the whole world right, redeeming an arduous, miserable summer.
My parents took us all out for coffee and we caught up. Then my parents headed back to their place and Brenden had things to do, and we were alone. Alone! And yet, we had no idea what to do with ourselves. We just walked and talked, unsure of when we’d get around to holding hands, or sitting with an arm around the other. Our relationship had developed very strongly, but without us being around each other. We were kindred spirits, of like mind, but where did physical affection fit in?
In fact, we weren’t even “officially” boyfriend/girlfriend yet, and those terms that we had mocked from our pedestals began to mock us with a “So what’s it gonna be? Are you his girlfriend, or aren’t you?” It took a couple of weeks of us interacting in person again before Lukus finally asked me to be his girlfriend. It seems silly now to think of needing something so official when our relationship was already plainly defined by our actions. But it was partly his upbringing regarding relationships, and the seriousness involved that made things more complicated sometimes. Things were a little awkward at first, tinkering around our relationship boundaries.
Dating has got to be one of the most difficult processes of life. I don’t think anyone gets it right, and the few who do, end up paying for it later in their marriage, because at some point, someone wasn’t completely honest about something. Within a couple of months, we had our first fight. I have no idea what it was about, but I do remember that I was carrying my laundry basket of dirty clothes in the school parking lot on the way to my parent’s house. Suddenly, in the middle of our argument, Lukus yelled, “Well, I love you!” I dropped my laundry basket, pajamas and underwear spilling onto the pavement, and I yelled back, “Well, I love you too!” And it was all out in the open, dirty laundry and all.
What I would come to realize many years later, was that that moment would be a snapshot of the rest of our lives together: fiery, tumultuous and full of passion. There’s a clip in the movie Ratatouille of two French lovers on the television. They are yelling at each other, and the woman pulls a gun and shoots at the man. Then, they instantly grab each other in a passionate kiss. Our friends told us that they were watching that movie for the first time, and when it came to that clip, they immediately looked at each other, burst out laughing and said, “That’s Lukus and Elle!” Yep, vinegar and baking soda, dynamite and matches, Bonnie and Clyde; that’s often us alright. But I can think of much worse things to be, like bored, or distant, or dishonest. At least I’ve never tried shooting Lukus before, but then again, we have our whole lives ahead of us…