Rural Arizona. Dry and dusty, scorpions and spiders. A bunch of early twenty-somethings living ten deep to a double-wide trailor, with only one phone to the outside world between us, few responsibilities, and many sun-drunk afternoons.
Him: an Israeli, lashes thick and brown eyes honest. He had just finished his year with the Israeli army. I didn’t see him as a soldier. He loved poetry.
Me: a Midwestern nobody. I had never left the country and laughed too much too fast.
So then why did he choose me?
We flirted, trading red vines licorice for natty light beer. Coming up with 101 uses for aluminum foil. Running from javelinas. Questioning each other about what makes someone Jewish or Christian.
On Valentine’s Day, he asked me to walk the ridge because he’d like to spend time with me.
I had never been invited like this, so honestly and purely.
He pulled out a cozy blanket, popped our favorite beer. The attention to detail became alive for me.
He turned and handed me a Valentine. It was homemade from scraps of trash and lab and school supplies he had foraged. He had cut cardboard into the shape of a window and painted a half-Picasso half-kindergartener scene onto it. The window opened. I was struck by the artistry and engineering ingenuity. And when it did, out popped a painted version of him, with a moveable thought-bubble. It said, “Day of love, day for you and me.”
I felt like somebody.