Thursday, March 03, 2005

Chapter Four

"So what did you write for your essay?" asked Nathalie when I initially broke the news to her that we were semi-finalists in this contest.

"I don't remember. I just wrote something from my heart off the top of my head."

"You don't remember any of it?"

Unfortunately, I didn't. All I remembered was trying to cram my passion for Nathalie into an impossible essay of 25 words. "Try to remember!" she begged.

I couldn't.

But then I had an idea. I grabbed the notepad upon which I wrote that 25 word poem before tearing it out and sending it in. I looked at the pad carefully. The indentions from my pen were ever so slightly visible on the blank sheet. Using a combination of lights, shadows, and pencil shading, I recreated the poem for her:

   In her I've discovered my soul.
   She has captured my heart,
   instilled in me boundless joy,
   and nurtured our love.
   It's as simple as that.

She melted when I read the poem to her. So did my heart.
And at that moment, I knew I was ready. I had spent a lifetime waiting for this moment.

What I couldn't believe was that my moment would take place at halftime on a football field.

The ten couples on the football field strained to hear the announcer. The Superdome must have been designed so that any noise coming from outside the field became incorporated into a dull background roar, including that of the announcer. I could hear the shuffling of people's feet on the astroturf, the chatter of the cheerleaders, the guy next to me nervously playing with his keys, Nathalie's heart pounding away, but I could barely hear the announcer.

I recited the poem I wrote in my head repeatedly, hoping that my heartfelt poem would surely win. I looked over at Nathalie and smiled. I then started to recite in my head the proposal I had planned to say if my poem was read aloud. I tightened my grip on Nathalie's hand and felt her squeeze back. "Win or lose, I still love you," I whispered.

A nerve-wracked Nathalie could only manage a nod.

"And we won't be sore losers."

Nod. Nod.

"I never thought I might propose at a football game."

"Me neither," whispered back Nathalie.

As he started to read the winning poem, I slowly realized that he wasn't reading mine.