It was the last weekend in June.
Sunday, to be exact.
Early Sunday evening, to be exacter.
Early Sunday evening, to be exacter.
Ty and I had spent the majority of the day slouched on my floral-patterned couch, watching The Simpsons. We'd removed ourselves only to swap disc two for disc three and had barely, just barely, gotten out of our pajamas by 3:00. After donning clothing that would publicly render us as members of square society, we promptly sat back down and watched two more episodes.
Eventually, we declared ourselves hungry.
And also lethargic.
But mostly hungry.
We found ourselves at Traders Point Creamery, an organic dairy farm on the northwest side of Indianapolis. Ty had never been to the farm before, and I—after having attended an Instameet held there in May—wished to visit again.
The Brown Swiss cows had already been rounded up by the time we got there, so we stood above them, on a metal catwalk, and watched as they, one by one, entered the milking parlor. We stood in relative silence at first, arms crossed and resting on the railing. Every few minutes, we’d point out some small detail, some observance.
“There’s the cow with the curly horn.”
“That one’s my favorite. The brown one with the white spot on her back.”
“Did you see how skinny that cow’s horns are?”
We watched as the cows swatted away flies, stamped their feet, mooed, pooped, peed, rushed forward, turned around, stared, mooed, and fought each other for who got to be milked first.
“Cows are goofy,” Ty concluded. “Do you want to walk down to the garden?”
“Absolutely,” I said.
We’d been outside for only fifteen minutes or so, but our skin was already damp, our breath a bit short. It was, as John Green says in The Fault in Our Stars, “finally real summer in Indianapolis, warm and humid—the kind of weather that reminds you after a long winter that while the world wasn’t built for humans, we were built for the world.”
At the time, it was a little difficult to believe we were made to survive the heat, the humidity, and the haze that hovered above the pastures. We could feel the sweat on our brows and behind our knees. All the same, there was much to see. The grass was a vivid green, lush with clover, and the garden was spotted with crimson raspberries. There were yellow lilies and white blossoms and—in the air and in response to Ty’s cursing—my laughter.
“Get off me, you wicked cricket!”
“You, uh, you okay there?”
“Yeah. Just, uh, you know. A cricket crawling up my leg.”
I smiled. “Well, how’s about we head up to the restaurant? You hungry?”
“Like the vodka?”
Ty rolled his eyes.
“Just a little word play,” I teased.
“Mmhmm.” I placed myself in front of Ty and looked up. He put his hands on my hips and pulled me closer. But instead of kissing, and instead of laughing, we narrowed our eyes, each of us challenging the other to out-sassify the other.
I broke first. “Food?”
“Yes.” Ty nodded. “Food.”
Once inside the Loft Restaurant, we were seated beneath a small window and at a table with fresh flowers, a flickering candle, and a pristine tablecloth. We each ordered a beer. We each drank water out of Mason jars. And we poured over the menu for at least fifteen minutes, before deciding to split two appetizers and one entrée. Our eyes traced the rustic interior of the restaurant, its high ceilings and wooden beams. Sunlight shone through the windows, and it was both romantic and comfortable.
And then I shivered.
I, being reptilian, had predicted that I would be cold. To combat my anticipated shivers, I had brought with me a cardigan, which, at that moment, was still tossed in the back seat of my car. Because of course it was.
Ty, however, swiftly asked for my keys, swept himself down the stairs and, within two minutes, returned.
"Here you go, miss,” he said, handing me my cardigan.
"You need to stop doing gentlemanly things,” I said, shoving my arms through the sleeves.
“And why is that?”
I leaned across the table. “Because I can’t stand it,” I hissed. “Stop being irresistible.”
Ty chuckled. “I am no such thing.”
It was my turn to roll my eyes. “Well, while you’re in the mood to deny anything I say, I just want you to know that you’re also pretty. Stop being pretty.”
“Again,” Ty said, “I am no such thing.” He took a drink.
I sighed. True, Ty’s appearance had changed in the four years since we had first met. He was a different shirt size, his hair was below his shoulders, and—for the last couple of years, anyway—he was more apt to sport a full beard and mustache than any other form of facial hair. But his voice hadn’t changed, and his hands were still the same, and his laugh had never faltered. And his eyes were still that same steel blue that I’d always lost myself in.
“Not true,” I said, taking a swig of my own drink. “Not true at all. Your face hasn’t changed. It’s still you.”
Ty looked at me, and I stared right back. He may not have believed me, but he also knew that I was telling him my version of the truth.
“I love you.”
“I love you, too.”
Our first appetizer arrived then, in what felt like a scripted segue. We shrugged. We were hungry, anyway, and so we moved past our conversation and toward the cheese plate. On it were four cheeses—three of which were made at Trader’s Point—and a fig chutney. The board came with bread from Amelia’s, a production bakery located just one block from my apartment.
“My, God, this is good,” Ty said after trying the spiciest of the cheeses. “This reminds me of that sriracha hummus you make.”
“Personally, I’m a fan of the chutney, but that’s just because I love anything sweet.” I reached for another piece of bread. “That said, I have a feeling that this meal is going to be like the one we had at Syndicate.”
“Was that the place in Niagara Falls?”
“Yep! The one where we each ordered a three-course meal and a drink, and I made you finish my dessert because it was so rich? Yeah, that one. I just remember sitting between you and Zoë, with the Olympics on in the background, and the chatter of the bartenders before us, and thinking, This is it. This is the life.”
Ty laughed. “That’s a tough meal to top.”
“I still say this one will make the top five.”
Ty raised an eyebrow.
“It will,” I promised.
Sure enough, we were smitten with our second appetizer—country smoked salmon topped with radishes and greens. It was fresh. It was simple. And it was perfect for summer. We could’ve been satisfied then, with our bread and our cheese and our salmon and our beers. We could’ve been satisfied.
But then, the lamb arrived.
It was tender, so wonderfully tender, and we both savored, savored, savored. It was the perfect portion size … but it wasn’t enough. It was too good to eat … but it couldn’t be wasted. It was the best lamb I’d ever had. It was the best lamb Ty had ever had. And when we were finished, but not quite full, we ordered a trifle and ate that, too, at our table with the fresh flowers and the flickering candle and the Mason jar drinking glasses. When our bill arrived, it was more than either one of us could afford, but we didn’t care. Not at that moment, anyway. Because we were full of lamb and salmon and bread and dessert and beverages and So what? because this, this meal, was in the top five.
Ty sighed and leaned back. “That, m’lady, was glorious.”
“Oh yeah.” I nodded in agreement.
“We-ll, I say we head back to your apartment and continue watching The Simpsons. What say ye?”
I continued to nod, eyes closed, belly full, brain comatose.
Ty chuckled. “All good? Ready to watch The Simpsons?”
“Do I have to wear pants?”
“No. You do not have to wear pants.”
I went back to nodding. “Okay.”