…Half an hour later, I stopped for gas in a small town I’d once known. As I began to fill my car, I realized that several years before I had been to the park across the street. The woman who was not yet then my wife had driven me there one evening while we were in college. We sat there in the car talking as dusk fell, under the strange shadows made by sunset and streetlights through tree branches. I don’t remember what we talked about, only that we spoke with the unembarrassed, giddy excitement of children, honestly and openly and freely. Looking back now, we did not realize we were still children.
I remember that my head was against the passenger window when the police officer tapped on it. I remember squinting at the flashlight he shone in our faces, the hot brightness like an interrogation room’s naked bulb. I remember the officer asking to see our identification, looking past me to ask her if she was OK. If she was OK, sitting in the driver’s seat of her car underneath the street lights of a public park in a residential neighborhood at 9 p.m. If there was anything wrong, because she was sitting there, blond haired and blue-eyed, with a black man in her passenger seat. I remember sitting in an angry and humiliated silence after the officer had left us alone again. I remember wondering if the officer would have shown such heartfelt concern for her safety if she had been a black woman and I a white man.
Later that evening, I kissed her for the first time, tenderly and urgently, cupping her face in my hand, feeling not quite in control. Much later, I told her that I had felt as if I were drowning.
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