The birds were twittering and chittering in the elms shading the sidewalk as I hastened down Weber Street. I had walked all the way across town to Memorial Hospital to visit short minutes with my friend, Mary, as she had a ten-minute break at six o'clock. We had not seen each other since I left for college those many months ago. I still had a soft spot for her. Our visit was pleasant but not very informative, for what can one say in ten minutes? So now I am hurrying home because I promised Mom I would go to meeting with her this evening.
Passed by the east side of the old high school and reaching the corner I turned right onto Platte Avenue toward the west. The sun had dropped behind The Peak, light rays streaming upward and outward, a painting almost as a child would represent a sunset, yet so very powerful my heart leaped within me! God's creation is marvelous beyond our abilities to fully appreciate it sometimes. Then there are perfect moments such as this one.
What is that figure that just crossed Nevada Avenue and is heading toward me with a quick and purposeful stride? A young woman. As she passes the front entrance of the high school I am nearing the middle of the block. I recognize her. It is Gwen. Gwen whom I have not seen since the night we crossed the stage to receive our diplomas more than a year ago.
Gwen and I had started our senior year here in this building that stands beside us as newbies, that is we were both transfer students, the only thing we had in common. The half-thousand other seniors all knew each other, more or less, but a small subset of the class were new to the facility. I noticed Gwen. She would have been hard to overlook because she was easy to look at.
Gwen was one of the best-dressed girls in the school, but fashion did not dictate her choice in style. Her skirts, for instance, were hemmed two inches below the knee in a day in which the style required the hem two inches above the bobby sox. She often wore a bolero jacket, style dictating an angora sweater. The jacket was almost always accessorized with a scarf, either around her neck or over her shoulder. Her makeup was modest but exquisite, with one exception. Her carefully-applied lipstick was just a shade too red. Gwen's hair was black and when one looked into her eyes he had to know that the hair color was as honest as the piercing eyes.
Gwen and I were friendly to the extent that we spoke to each other in the hallways, she smiled when she saw me and I thought she was visiting Earth from Olympus. In other words, way out of my league.
The aura of mystery surrounding the young lady never entirely lifted. It was known that she had moved into town from another city. The guys whispered behind their hands, "She lives with her sister, you know. No parents in that house." From which I was to infer-- what, exactly?
And thus we met, mid-block, late afternoon on a lovely summer day. "Hi, David!" Had she not spoken first I would have passed her without a word, for my daddy taught me that a gentleman never addressed a lady before she spoke to him. "Hi, Gwen! How are you? Haven't seen you in, well, in a year." We stopped to visit a bit. I told her of my college choice, my plans for the summer. She told me she worked in the secretarial pool at a large company whose corporate headquarters were on Cascade Avenue.
Breaking eye contact with me, dropping her head just slightly, her right foot caressed the back of her left calf. Gwen said, "You could walk me the rest of the way home, if you like. I live just around the corner on Weber."
Seldom to that point in my life did I fear that my heart would leap completely from my chest. I took two very deep breaths, blushing I know, for I could feel the heat rising from the top of my head.
"Uh. Oh, wow. I'd really like to, but I promised my Mom I would take her to her meeting this evening and I am running late now."
"Oh. Oh, okay. Nice to see you again, and good luck with your life. 'Bye!"