Quite possibly one of the most unsuspecting love stories I have from my 33 years began at a small, independent movie store off Charlotte Street. It was a cozy place lined with shelves stacked four to five high with DVD cases divided into Horror, Comedy, Romance, TV Shows, and so on. This rare and nearly extinct breed of retail was titled Rosebud by its owners and was smushed up next to a beloved local ice cream shop, as all movie rental spaces should be.
I was in search of ‘Run Lola Run,’ a film I’d yet to see, despite my coworkers’ disbelief, and after performing my twice/year ritual of dying my hair a wild orangish-red, was told I HAD to go and rent this movie, like today, like NOW. Since I was already considering donning a wife beater and becoming this memorable bombshell main character for Halloween, I stopped by Rosebud that afternoon. I pulled into one of four spaces lining the front of the store, left the windows down for my Carolina dingo girl to catch a breeze and ran in with my favorite little grey house shorts on, beloved cowgirl boots and a mop top of stringy red hair. I asked the woman at the counter, who always made plates of chocolate chip cookies for customers, which section ‘Run Lola Run’ would fall under. She pointed to action and I made my way in the direction of her finger back and through the middle of the store. As I did, I caught the eyes of a tall, slightly ginger man, and we quickly exchanged smirky eye signaled hellos. I picked up the box for this femme-fatale German action flick and made my way to the checkout. As I did, I felt his eyes on me eeevvverrry step of the way. All of a sudden, my body felt alive, electric, seen. I paid, signed, grabbed a cookie and as I was walking out the door, turned to meet his gaze again. Our eyes flickered and our lips pursed into similar smiles. I hopped in the car, happy with my movie and flirty exchange, and drove home to my sweet riverside single-wide
A few days later, I made my way into the crowded downtown intersection under the bridge in downtown Asheville for a night of dancing in the streets. I shuffled along in my usual oversized cowgirl boots between 20 and 30 feet from the stage– catching up with friends, dancing around in circles and an equal parts job of sipping and spilling my beer. As the band announced a short break, I made my way out of the crowd and toward the intersection back to where I’d left my car earlier that afternoon. As I did, I felt someone running up to catch me. I turned to find the ginger boy from the movie store and kicked a boot in the air almost instinctively, half-flirting and half-warning to keep him at bay.
He said he’d been watching me spin around all night and asked if I’d have a drink with him before I took off. My face was flush red from the heat and the beer and my instant high kick in his direction. Sure, I told him, and we made our way back toward the twirling ladies and happy beer spillers in the streets, to his favorite bar. We reached the cavernous inside of Broadways and ordered our preferred drinks– he a whiskey ginger and myself a gin and tonic. Our eyes met and danced, searching one another for stories, for clues that led us deeper inside this chance second encounter within one week’s time. Who was this mysterious man and what magic was this conspiring to draw us together? “So what did you end up renting?” I asked. I can’t remember now what he said. He could have told me that he rented old He-Man episodes and I wouldn’t have heard because I was so enamored in this fiery gravitational pull my entire body felt caught within. The feeling was mutual.
He walked me back to my car, past the woohooers and now-louder music, under the bridge and into a gravel parking lot. We walked, intrigued yet trying to remain aloof, with hands swinging next to one another, pinkies touching in every other backward’s stroke. The energy radiating from our bodies mixed with the scorch of the summer sun, holding us hot and wanting. I spun around, cheeks flushed, to thank him for the afternoon drink, and as I did he pulled me in and pushed his lips hard into mine. Our hands almost instinctively locked, as if we’d never clung for something that way in our entire lives, as if we both needed this feeling more than water, more than food, more than anything else that could come close to filling us, as nothing else could.
The next night I invited him over to my little riverside single-wide. It was another humid summer night and the moon hung in a sliver….