We met just before the Perseid Meteor showers and I fell in love with you when they peaked.
Not long after we met I lost a mother figure. I pulled out my phone when we separated for the night and read the text. All I wanted was you. Somehow you had service even though you were already underground and you came back to meet me. I remember sitting on a ledge at the edge of a building, crying. You beside me, patient and warm.
The prospect of showing my emotions was still new at the time. Blubbering and clumsy but still halfway aware of not letting myself get ugly cry-face, I asked you to come with me to the funeral. We were new but already taken by each other, and so we set off miles into the distance together.
That was the first time we left the city. The first time we could see the stars. Right away we saw one shoot across the sky. “We are destined,” I thought. “You are astronomical to me.”
During the trip she met my made family. The people who had known me for years but didn’t live near me anymore. She saw me sad. Later she would see me try to quietly reconfigure what life means after you lose someone who always seemed like they owned the world.
Feeling loss and found all it once felt simultaneously wrong and right. As a part of my heart chipped away with the death of a loved one, another was expanding like a balloon. I was upset. I wanted to drive with the windows down. I wanted to show her someplace meaningful.
We walked down the dock in the dark. First we sat with our shoulders touching. Again, right away, another shooting star. I said something about the Perseid Meteor Showers. We laid down together, and even though I feel this moment so deep in my heart, I can’t remember for the life of me whose head was resting on whose chest. Whose leg was on top. The details of how we were wrapped up faded with the night.
Something moved through the water and then splashed. You said you saw an alligator. We bounced up and scurried up the dock together, wood planks rattling as we hurried to safety.
We talked about that alligator for almost two years. It was our secret way of saying, “I love you.” For me it also said, “You make my heart pound in a kind of terrified and beautiful fear.” Just as quickly as the alligator showed up, it was gone. Or maybe, like the way I thought we were destined for each other, it was only there in my heart and my imagination.
Now every year I think of you in August. Meteors, shooting stars. Who are we kidding? I think of you always. But I especially thought of you when I saw this. Kids in wonder. Elusive objects in the night. All of space just beyond their grasp.
Before things got rocky I saw a shooting star every time I was with you in the night. In multiple states and towns.