“You think I don’t trust you? Unbelievable. I can’t believe you sometimes, Laura,” Liza says, dropping to her knees. She opens her fanny pack and fishes for something from its dark nylon depths.
She stands up, holding the scarf.
Oh no. Not this again.
“Liza, the race is about to start. Can we put a pin in this until we get home?” I say.
Too late. Liza is winding the scarf around her head like a blindfold. People are starting to look.
“No, I need to do this. I thought we were past this point, but apparently, we are not.”
Why hadn’t I said yes?
She ties the scarf tightly behind her head.
We’ve done this before-I remember.
That was different, a voice in my head says.
At that time, the blindfold was on for only a hundred yards.
On a cinder track. A straight track for a hundred yards, along one side of a football field at our old high school.
Also, I was the one wearing the blindfold.
She’d accused me of having control issues, and I needed to show her that I trusted her and could relinquish my need to always be in the driver’s seat.
I remember how scared I was. My bravado dissipated once that blindfold was tied around my head, blocking all light from my eyes.
My hearing was amplified. The pounding of my heart, the rhythmic pounding of our feet on the cinder flakes, the crunch beneath our running shoes, my breathing, the insanely comforting in-and-out breathing of my lover.
This was a few months after we began dating. We were still three months away from living together.
In retrospect, there wasn’t a great deal of danger in that feat. I trusted Liza not to hurt me.
The wind on my face, that crisp fall day, the audible cues from Liza, and my skin was a symphony of sensations. My fear never went away, not once during the blindfolded hundred-yard dash.
“Easy there, a little to your left.”
Her words were a beacon to me, keeping me on that track, guiding me forward, by my side.
“You got this, girl. You got this. Damn.”
I bumped lightly into her several times, but I took such comfort in her presence that I felt I could run like that for miles.
My fear never went away, but something much bigger eclipsed my hesitancy. What had started as a bit of fun was suddenly very serious.
The thought came to me like a looping mantra while I ran blindly along that crunchy track.
I trust Liza.
We’d been dating for three months, but this was huge. I’d had trust issues with women in the past. This was different.
“You did it, Laura. Oh my God, you did it!”
Liza’s words were a gust of exhilarating fresh air.
She took me by the arm, we slowed to a walk, then stopped altogether. She pulled the blindfold from my face. Hers was a quivering mask of tears.
I was a newborn, seeing the world for the first time.
“You did it, you crazy lady, you did it.”
Then she hugged me and said the words that I usually say first.
The three words that signify so much in any relationship.
The three words that mark the turning point.
But was that a turning towards something deeper or toward a fizzling out?
This was not a trivial thing between us.
One little blindfold, a hundred-yard dash, and Liza, my lover, was in love. With me.
“Liza, this isn’t the same thing, and you know it. Stop this, please.”
She begins her pre-race stretching.
“Seriously, you could get hurt.”
“That’s not my problem, Laura. My safety for the next thirty minutes or so is your problem. I trust you. I trust you implicitly.”
“I trust you implicitly,” she says again.
She can be such a child.
“I don’t know about any of this.”
And let’s not forget about the crowds out here today.
I wish I could relive the last few minutes; if only I had said yes. I wanted to say yes, but I hesitated, and now I must guide my temporarily sightless girlfriend through three miles of Plano streets.
I bend to retie my shoes. When I stand, Liza is facing a bit to my left.
God, she’s so beautiful.
“I trust you, Laura.”
“I’m over here, Mr. Magoo.”
She turns a few degrees towards me. I grab her hands.
“You know you’re crazy, right?”
“Crazy like a fox.”
“No, just crazy. You’re a family-sized serving of crazy.”
It looks like this is happening.
I feel nauseous.
“Okay, here are some ground rules. If you agree to these, we will do this. Otherwise, I’m putting my foot down and dropping out of the race.”
“Lay them on me.”
Now she’s facing a bit to my right. My stomach does a little maneuver I had no idea it was capable of.
I take her by the hands and guide her to face me.
“First, I’m going to be on your right side the whole time.”
“Yep. What else?”
“Second, I’m going to touch your arm frequently, so you’ll know where I am.”
“Third, please, please, please remind me to describe the landscape. ‘There’s a turn coming up, we’re turning hard right,’ etc. Okay?”
“Yeah, I am crazy for doing this as much as your mind wanders.”
I should’ve just said yes. Live and learn, I guess.
“Fourth, if I say stop, we stop, you understand?”
“But we always run these the…, “
“If I say stop, we stop and walk. You leave your blindfold on, but there are a lot of kids here today; I saw a few dogs. It might get congested in a few places, if we have to walk a few minutes here and there, but that does nothing to diminish what you’ve done here.”
This was huge. This is the sort of thing that people create viral videos about.
This is the sort of thing that makes a person say yes.
“You’re the boss. You’re my guide, my eyes, and the boss,” Liza says.
“And the love of my life,” I say, leaning in and kissing her.
“You’re wishing you’d said yes, aren’t you?”
How does she do that? Even blindfolded, she sees right through me. Why hadn’t I said yes? Was there some truth in her accusation? Did I not trust her?
“You have no idea.”
Then I’m laughing.
The officiant calling the start is a little too into his bullhorn if you ask me, and we both startle at the loud announcement.
“Just another hundred yards,” I say
Her face is flushed. I remember how my fear never went away. And that was a fraction of what she is doing today.
“I’m seriously impressed.”
“Show me, don’t tell me.”
I’d fallen in love with an author. I was used to regular such instructions from her.
I would show her-I’m betting she thinks the moment has passed. I’ll show her.
“Will do, Liza.”
The wind cuts my face. If I’ve ever felt more alive, I’ve forgotten that time. Now there is only this. This day. This race. This woman.
I take her by the arm, and we stop.
I pull the blindfold from her face and smother her with kisses.
“I do trust you. “
“And I trust you. Or do we need to do this again, say a marathon next time?”
The crazy thing is I know she’s serious.
“That won’t be necessary.”
“Should we go home?”
“In a minute,” I say. “You still have it in your fanny pack?”
Liza is crying but somehow manages to pull out the ring box.
“My answer is yes.”