We had been on several really great dates before I realized he was keeping a secret. Whenever I complimented him on who he is, who we were together, or what I enjoyed about us, he responded with warning phrases like, "Withhold your judgment for now, sweetheart," or "Be careful around me, darlin'. You don't know all there is to know.” I have the tendencies of an incurable optimist and my love language is affirmation, so I ignored his I glazed over his words and replaced them with my own. Maya Angelou once said, "When a person tells you who they are, believe them. The first time." In her great wisdom, she was just so very, very right.
On the evening when he had met my children and my parents, two of the last laps in the race to my heart, he snuggled with me on the couch while my two boys slept upstairs. He braced me for a ‘very important conversation,’ and he told me he had some pictures he wanted to show me on his phone. I was actually expecting him to show me a child of his he had failed to mention or something else life-altering and foundational to a dating relationship. But clearly, he had something to unveil.
He scrolled through one image after another of lush green plants with five points on their leaves. The pictures weren't his children, but they were undoubtedly his pride and joy. I sat up on the couch to take his phone with both hands and look closely, but actually I just wanted to get myself out of his embrace. He said, "What do you think it is?"
It's a good one.