This is the second in a series telling stories around meeting and marrying my wife Sara 26 years ago.
With Scott and Joanie in the apartment, and Sara staying in the study on the folks’ side of the house, I was relegated to the living room couch for my brief stay. After all, I was headed back to Austin on Friday anyway. Besides, I’d slept on that couch many times.
That Thanksgiving morning, it provided a great place to stay just out of the way and watch the beginnings of the bustling holiday kitchen as Mom fussed over feeding breakfast to anyone and everyone while also prepping various items for the Big Meal later. Eventually, I was called in for my one real duty of the day: carving the turkey.
It was early enough and I was sleepy enough and slow enough that morning, I meandered into the kitchen to take care of my task wearing the sweatpants I’d slept in, barefoot and shirtless, as I approached the resting bird on the cutting board on the counter beside the sink.
Eschewing Mom’s favorite electric knife, I set about my work with a long, sharp blade, carefully cutting slabs of white meat from the breast.
That’s when I felt Sara’s hand on my back. I’m sure she said something as well, but the sensation of her hand on my skin overrode that, and I felt myself almost pushing back against her, like a cat arching itself against a stroking hand. Her hand lingered a moment and I paused briefly before continuing to carve the turkey.
Sara would explain later that she’d mistaken me for my brother, which is why she reached out to touch me in the first place. “But I knew you weren’t him as soon as I touched you,” she told me, but she, too, wanted to let her touch linger an extra moment.
Some sort of small talk rolled over us in the kitchen, what with Mom there, as well as Scott, who had drifted in. Sara’s hand slipped off my back, and she stepped away as I finished slicing the turkey.
Here’s where you’d really do best to have both me & Sara telling you the story so she could fill in more for this scene.
“I wanna sit next to Alan!” Sara told Joanie excitedly as she burst into the apartment next door.
This startled Joanie. Joanie was never one to be easily startled, but Sara had just zoomed past distracting Joanie to startling her. Not only had Sara never known that Scott had a brother all those 7 years that she’d known him and Joanie, but, as she would tell me later, she had never once found him remotely attractive. In fact, she’d found him to be occasionally obnoxious while neighbors in Oakland. She and Joanie were friends, so she had tolerated Scott as part of the package., warming to him only much later.
So Sara suddenly wanting to sit beside me at Thanksgiving dinner startled Joanie. But she took it in stride, still not yet seeing what was about to happen at dinner — and beyond.
Mom dearly loved feast days. They let her open her home even more, setting the big table in the front dining room with extra places. Dad went along for the ride, but Mom reveled in it. In addition to the 6 of us already there, Joanie’s good friend and quasi-mentor, the poet Vassar Miller, would be joining us.
And then there was my date. Did I mention I had a date? I had a date that day.
During those frequent trips to Houston, I had starting dating someone there. And though I had come to the conclusion that the relationship would go nowhere (too many miles and too much distance to cover), I had still invited her for Thanksgiving dinner.
Sara did sit next to me at dinner. And while we were both perfectly proper in our behavior and comments, I do believe my date was the only person at the dinner table who did not notice the sparks flying between Sara and me. I know for sure I saw a keen recognition in Vassar’s bright eyes as she watched us.
As I walked my date out to her car after dinner, I knew more than ever that things had started to shift.
There’s still more to come in our Coast-to-Coast-to-Coast Romance.
Next: Thanksgiving, Part 2