Life was good. Correction… life was GREAT with Pan! He’d realized that if didn’t make a change, that he would lose me, and that thought was enough to make Pan kinder and more loving. He never missed an opportunity to tell, or show me how much he cared, and for the first time since we started our relationship, I felt confident in my decision to stay with him. He fed my mind, body, and soul with an ambrosia that made me feel like I could conquer the world. There were no more reasons for goodbye. We would live in hello and possibly spend the rest of our lives in happily ever after.
I saw Pan every single day. It didn’t matter what he was doing, where he was, or how long he had worked, he always showed up to my house in his black Mercedes; like a dark knight to pick me up and take me on some spontaneous adventure. Most of the time those adventures found us driving for hours around Chicago before settling on a parking spot private enough to enjoy the silence together. Being in his arms was home. Kissing his lips was heaven. Touching his skin felt out of this world. I thought of nothing else but him when we were together. Yet even when we were together all I could wonder is, “When will I see him again.” Pan had sprinkled pixie dust on me and I was his completely.
But on this particular Saturday in July, I didn’t await Pan’s spontaneous message, but instead awaited his arrival, since we’d planned to grab dinner that evening. I was in full slay! I had paired black stilettos with a black dress with a side slit that showed my knee- which at that time was very daring for me. My hair was straightened and parted perfectly like Kim K. I texted Pan to ask for his eta, only to receive a quick response, “Here.” The amount of excitement that would fill my soul when I would open that door and see him standing there, lifted my spirits in such a way that I can’t really explain. The world would just became silent. It was only us. Not another soul.
Pan’s expression when I opened the door, was one that could have been in any 80’s romantic film. You know where the guy is just floored before placing his hand over his heart. I fucken loved that.
“You look so sexy,” he said.
“Why thank you, sir,” I said with a smile. My confidence was at an all time high and I loved it. It seem he did as-well.
He took my hand and led me into the car before getting in himself. As he took his seat, he turned to just look at me for a few seconds.
“Baby you look so sexy,” he said leaning forward wanting to kiss me.
“Babe, my familys home,” I said. Pan quickly leaned back.
“Yalla, let’s go,” he said as we began driving down the block. Pan unexpectly pulled the car over and unbuckled his seat belt.
“Babe, what are you doing?” I asked before he leaned in for a kiss.
Sparkle… lots and lots of sparkle.
He leaned back before I pulled him back in for a kiss of my own and then we were back on the road and headed to dinner. We had decided on Italian food since we both had a craving for calamari.
After placing our order, Pan reached both his hands across the table to hold mine.
“You know every guy in this room wants to be me,” he said with a smile. “Because I get to tap that,” he added with a laugh. One I couldn’t help but share. “No, but seriously, mashallah babe, you look beautiful.”
“So do you,” I said.
“I look beautiful?” he laughed.
“Very handsome,” I corrected, before he lifted my hands to his lips and kissed them. I loved that Pan would never shy away from showing me any sort of tasteful public display of affection. I had never seen it in any other place besides movies- but I knew I always wanted it- and now I had it.
“I think we should take a trip,” Pan said.
“A trip? Where?” I asked knowing very well that it would be extremely difficult for me to get my family to approve of this. I mean it was taboo enough that I was dating Pan, but traveling anywhere with a man who wasn’t my husband, that I knew I couldn’t do.
“LA?” I repeated with bright eyes. I had only ever experienced Los Angeles during work trips, but never for leisure.
“Yeah, I’m thinking we can leave on a Thursday and stay until Tuesday or something like that. That way we can celebrate our six month anniversary there.”
I hadn’t realized we had been together for six months. To me it seemed like we’d been together forever.
“I can’t believe it’s been six months already,” I said.
“We have a whole lifetime together baby. So buckle up,” he said kissing my hands again. “What do you think?”
“That’s a long time.”
“Five days,” he said just as our dinner arrived to the table.
We readied ourselves to eat, while continuing the conversation about LA.
“I mean that sounds amazing, but I don’t know how I would explain that to my family,” I said.
“Just tell them you’re goin’ on a work trip,” he said. “That’s what I’m gonna tell my family.”
“And then we just happen to meet each other out there? Nobody would believe that!”
“Why not? It’s not like we’re posting pictures or anything,” he said.
“Think about it. It would be a great way to start fresh and get away for a little bit. We could hit the beach, you can wear a sexy little bikini,” he said adding what I would usually call his perv smile. “It’s exactly what we need.”
I knew Pan was right. We both deserved to get away. Escape. Just let loose and enjoy ourselves.
“Just think about it,” he said. “But don’t take too long,” he added with a laugh. “Like a brother gotta put his schedule in order and shit.”
But apparently I didn’t need anymore time to think about it, because I replied with, “Let’s do it!”
“For real?” He said.
“Yeah. I mean we do owe it to ourselves.”
“Let’s look at tickets,” he said reaching for his phone.
“Babe, eat first. We’ll look later,” I said.
“Okay fine,” he said excitedly as he put his phone back on the table.
We enjoyed dinner and rushed to the car after where we began looking at flights and overall costs. We found an amazing deal that would find us leaving in two weeks. We thought about it for a second before agreeing to lock it in. I bought the tickets and Pan took care of the hotel and rental car.
The moment we finalized our trip we looked at each other with wide smiles.
“Baby, we’re going to LA,” Pan said.
“I’m so excited,” I said cheerfully bouncing up and down in my chair.
“This is gonna be amazing,” he said.
“Countdown begins,” I said.
“It needs to come quick,” he said.
His wish came true. Two weeks had never flown by quicker. We both had fed our families an alibi, and took Ubers to the airport where we met. We checked in, made our way to our terminal, and stood in line awaiting to board our flight. We were beyond excited the entire flight. Neither of us slept, we just shot pictures together, planned our days, and snuggled. Of course snuggling for me, was putting Pan’s armrest up and wrapping myself like a burrito around him.
“I love when you do that,” he said.
“You’re my penguin.” I said snuggling my head into his chest.
“Habibti,” he said kissing my forehead. “We’re gonna have an amazing time. I promise you.”
“I know,” I said.
“First we have to get the rental, so we need to find the shuttle bus when we get our luggage,” he said, which is exactly what we did after baggage claim; hopped on the shuttle bus that took us to get our rental: a silver Dodge Charger.
“This car is sexy as fuck,” said Pan.
“You’re sexy,” I said. At this time, I wasn’t a girl who used profanity as it wasn’t something that was ever allowed in my home. Even if my parents used profanity, we were definitely not allowed to. Pan appreciated this as he believed a woman who used profanity to be “trashy.”
“You’re sexy,” he said leaning over to kiss me. “Let’s do this,” he added before rolling down the windows and driving out of the rental lot.
Before we knew it, we were surrounded by palm trees, beach, and plenty of road. We drove down the coast free as birds, my hands out the window taking in the view, and the moment there with him. I was serenely happy.
“I heard the sushi here is really good, so you wanna do that tonight?” he asked.
“Of course,” I said. “You want me to look for something?”
“No! We’ll start off with the In-N-Out Burger,” he said.
“Oh my God YES!!!” I said excitedly.
“Come on baby, we’ve gotta do Cali the right way,” he said. Pan’s nature had become more carefree, and happy, and I loved every minute of it. It was as if I was looking at a whole new man. It made me realize just how much we both really needed this trip. After eating our burgers, we both realized how hungry we’d been. I had never eaten a burger faster in my life, and Pan had two of them.
“I’m such a fat ass,” he said rubbing his food belly.
“Look at that beautiful Buddha belly,” I said rubbing his belly.
“Stop it,” he said laughing. “Listen, let’s check into the hotel and maybe rest for a little bit.”
“Babe, I don’t wanna rest. We’re in LA!”
“Oh we’re not gonna rest,” he said lifting his brows.
“You’re so weird,” I laughed.
“We’re just gonna rest for a bit so we can be ready for tonight.”
“Okay, fine,” I said before we made our way back to the car and then to the hotel.
We checked in and got settled into our room. I went into the bathroom to change into a pair of sweat pants and a tank to be more comfortable. When I came out Pan was standing by the bed facing me holding something behind his back.
“What are you doing?” I asked with a smile.
“I have something for you,” he said before pulling out a box of Michael Kors perfume.
“Babe,” I said taking the box from him with a huge smile. “Thank you so much.”
“You like it?”
“Yes,” I replied sincerely.
“Wallah,” I replied before hugging him.
“Okay good,” he said embracing me tightly. “Let’s try to sleep for a bit.”
I lifted the white sheets and crawled into the bed, snuggling closely, my head on his chest.
“I love hearing your heart beat,” I said my eyes closed, listening to every beat.
“One day it’s gonna stop,” he said.
“How depressing,” I said before breaking out in a huge laugh that Pan joined in.
“I can never hear you laugh and not laugh,” he said squeezing me tighter.
“My laugh is really loud.”
“I know. I love it.”
We lay there for a minute, before Pan jumped up, tossing me back on the bed.
“I’m so sorry,” he said laughing. I couldn’t help but laugh as-well.
“I have to show you something,” he said, jumping out of bed and grabbing his laptop.
“Babe, what’s more important than snuggling with me right now?”
“Trust me, this is very important,” he said sifting through files. “Got it,” he added. “Come here baby.”
I dragged myself out of bed and over to sit on his lap.
“So you remember that I went sky diving last week with my family right?”
Pan had invited me to go along, but jumping out of a plane isn’t the type of adrenalin rush I’m looking for, so I’d opted out.
“Well, I want you to see how it all went down,” he said before pressing play.
The video started with Pan and the instructor waiting to jump out of the plane. Before they’re about to jump out, Pan yells out, “Baby, I love you. P & F Forever baby.” The two jump out and as they’re freefalling, Pan continues to look straight at the camera and repeat, “I love you baby.”
The parachute deployed and then it faded to black. I was swept off my feet when I turned to face Pan.
“It’s true baby. I love you. I love you so much.”
I wanted to say it back, but the words wouldn’t come out.
“You don’t have to say it back. I know you still need time,” he said.
“I love you, too,” I blurted out. I had wanted to say it for the longest time, but I was too afraid because I don’t believe a woman should ever be the first to say it.
“You mean that?” he asked hopeful.
I nodded my head as I embraced him tightly. Pan lifted me up and just held me for what seemed like forever. Or maybe that’s simply what I was wishing.
“Let’s make this a great trip, babe,” he said still holding me tight as ever.
“It already is,” I replied.
Day 1 of our LA trip was already every bit of perfection after so much imperfection.
We had gone from like to love, and everything about that… felt right.