Is where it all started.
Between us, I mean.
I parked my little VW diesel Rabbit along Main St. in Yellow Springs- a “village” a several miles from my campus that was home to it’s own college- if you can call it that. The dorms there at Antioch College were rumored to be separated not by class or gender, but were “Substance” and “Substance Free” dorms. Chances were on any given weekday, I might be one of the only straight chicks in the coffee shop. My shoulder length hair was much longer than most of the girls’ but shorter than any of the guys’.
I was on my way home from a day of nursing classes in a private liberal arts college about 10 miles away, where I didn’t really fit in. I had opted to live with my parents, who lived a 35 minute drive through cornfields away, my sophomore year to save money- of which, like almost every other college student in the world- I had only what was earned by my evening and weekend job in retail, being paid barely minimum wage.
Yellow Springs was a respite for me. I could buy my cup of lavender tea for under $2 at Dino’s where I knew the folks running the register by name. They liked me. I could take a breath of fresh air and people watch- which was always strangely entertaining there (unlike the town where I went to school- everyone more or less looked the same). It was a village with character all right, blessedly parked in the middle of cornfields between a heavy class load with overly make-upped classmates, and home, which entailed going to work or doing homework.
I loved Yellow Springs.
Ducking out from my little VW, I walked up Main Street, past the grunge local movie theater, and by a guy sitting outside of a cafe, his Chaco’s propped up on a green metal chair, a Physics book open on the table.
Physics? Didn’t know they had that at Antioch, I mused, and kept walking, hands in the pockets of a red Columbia fleece I had bought the prior spring and was immensely proud of.
Tea warming my hands, I came back up the sidewalk having stopped in Dino’s, and was pleasantly surprised to see the Physics book in front of Doc (he was only just applying to med school then, but… still Doc). He glanced up- I think he saw me coming actually, smiled warmly, and while he didn’t verbally offer for me to sit and join him, and I didn’t say that I would- he moved his Chacos off the other green chair and I sat down. It was understood.
The green metal table wobbled and on a normal day would have made me doubly uncomfortable as my ankles were already sticking out of my pants (they were a little short on me- the story of my life) and my forever tall, awkward legs couldn’t quite find a niche without disrupting the creaking tabletop. But I only noticed right at first. Because he drew me in, as I drew him in. We talked as if we had known each other for years. The moments we were distracted, saying hello to an aquaintance walking by or by a small commotion across the street, we were still communicating. We appreciated the same things and, without speaking it, came to find in the course of the afternoon that we understood each other completely.
We rarely ran into each other on campus after that meeting at the green table, but our individually scheduled Yellow Springs afternoons more than once happily coincided. His big red Xterra with a lift and burly tires parked on the street was easy to spot amongst the fleet of stickered Subarus that called Yellow Springs home.
My dear friend and one time college roomie, Arby (a nickname given on our second trip to Italy together by a raucous group of teenage Italian boys on an underground), took these pictures for us last year on a Thanksgiving visit to my family, and to Yellow Springs of course.
It’s funny- I don’t know that we’ll ever go back to Dino’s or even to the green tables. The last time we came, too much had changed. Dino’s was franchising. Antioch had shut down. We found it impossible to relive the memories we had in that village- not even realizing until after we left that we were trying to.
So now I’m content to have a happy photograph in my mind- more like a slow motion picture, actually. Of the golden tree across Main St. dropping leaves like a snowstorm every time that autumn Ohio wind kicked up. Watching it together from that cold green table, loving the beauty in our own minds, but somehow together. The village has changed- and on the surface, so have we. But where we fell in love, in the unity of our spirits and in the mutual delight in being in one another’s presence, will remain as long as we’re still breathing. It’s a union that God has ordained- begun, oddly and wonderfully, at a wobbly metal table, in a village I hold very dear in my heart.