I didn’t know where he worked when I stood him up. Or even when I reached out two months later, asking him to give me another chance.

Not wanting to be bulldozed, I met him at his office. Three blocks from mine.

We dated casually for a while. Well, he was casual. I tore my hair and swore I was going to stop seeing him if the next date didn’t go anywhere. Or the next. Okay, definitely the next. One last chance, and I was through. I meant it that time. Really. Really really.

I’ve always sucked at boundaries.

A couple of days after things FINALLY got more *ahem* serious, he invited me for a workday coffee break. Charleston’s first Starbucks sprawled halfway between my office and his, a mere block-and-a-half walk for each of us.

I didn’t drink coffee back then, but I would’ve gulped hot tar to spend a few stolen minutes. On a Tuesday. With him.

We fell in love at that Starbucks.

I’m convinced it happened the Sunday we stopped by for a quick espresso and a NY Times. We sat down to read the paper and half-heartedly started a game of checkers. (Remember those checkerboard tables?)

We sat right there!

Three hours later, we were the only people in the Starbucks. Late afternoon rays slanted through those windows. Our coffees were long finished. The barista clocked out, saw us still hunched over the table, and yelled, “WHAT ARE YOU STILL DOING HERE?”

“Playing checkers,” we both said without looking up. Two checkers, one red and one black, still remained on the board.

“The same game?!?”

“Yes. Go away,” we muttered.

He kept the store open while we volleyed back and forth, a stalemate on the board. One of us had to be willing to throw a play and let the other person win.

For more than two hours, neither of us was game.

Finally, he made the fatal move. The beleaguered barista got to lock up. I won.


And even though someone bulldozed that building for a crappy timeshare community Charleston calls progress, I’ll always go past that spot and see the sunlight on my now-husband’s face, revel in his concentration, and know that I won. That day. And every day.

Because he is mine.


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