When I was, it must've been a junior in college, in John Blair's History of the English Drama Class, I sat next to the most beautiful girl I'd ever seen. This is not hyperbole but a statement of verifiable fact.
She was not only beautiful, it transpired, but smart and funny. I was smitten with her at once and did my utmost to impress her; I don't think I ever succeeded in doing this - she had a sardonic sense of humor that failed to be impressed by much of anything and I had a knack for undermining my own best efforts - chatting her up in front of the Georgia College Library for half an hour, for example, with my pants unzipped.
I did get a date with her, during which she did the most astonishing thing: she took my hand in her lap and patted it. The tenderness and honesty and simplicity of this just stunned me. There was no one else like her - we took long walks through the cemetery - who does a thing like that on a date? - studied together on the front lawn of Georgia College (I did rather less studying than she, and got rather higher grades which infuriated her) and hung out with the theater crowd at Georgia College.
That year, the little town of Milledgeville, the college, the air itself seemed to sparkle. Those of you who have fallen in love will know the feeling. She gave me a stuffed puppy after the first date, which we held onto through the birth of our first daughter.
The next sentence is the sort of corny line I would never permit myself to write were it not the stark, bald truth. I love her today more than ever.
Happy birthday, darling.