By the time our newest alto had claimed her victory in Apples to Apples, the night was growing late, and people soon began to filter out. I moved to the sink to start washing dishes while others collected discarded napkins and bottles to help me clean up.
Two by two, acquaintances-turned-friends departed until only Michael and our newest alto remained. Michael had settled himself at my keyboard, playing the piano softly while I washed dishes and the other girl listened to a voicemail on her phone. My heart skipped a beat, wondering why Michael was lingering, but I pushed down my racing thoughts and focused on being in the moment, enjoying the peaceful harmonies emanating from my keyboard.
The other girl finished with her voice message, looked around as though surprised to see everyone else gone, and bid goodnight to Michael and me, seeming to think nothing of leaving the two of us alone together. I, on the other hand, thought lots of things about leaving the two of us alone together. But I again coached myself to be present, not overthinking or over-analyzing but just enjoying the surprising turn of events. There are three things that soothe me more than anything else in the world: singing worship music, having my mom brush my hair, and listening to a talented pianist at his craft.
I leaned on my kitchen counter, peering over Michael’s shoulder as his fingers played across the black and white keys. “What are you playing?” I asked.
“‘For All We Know,'” he told me, continuing an arpeggiated chord progression. When I shook my head, indicating that I wasn’t familiar with it, he added, “It’s a song by The Carpenters.”
“Oh! I think my mom used to listen to them.” I recognized the name of the group but also knew they were before my time. “Did you listen to a lot of oldies growing up?”
He nodded, and we continued talking about music for a while before moving on to visual art. Michael asked to see some of my paintings, so I got some out of a back closet to show him. When I pulled my rendition of “Red Poppy” from a top shelf where it had been collecting dust, he exclaimed, “Oh! Georgia O’Keeffe!”
I glanced at him in astonishment. “Michael! I am so impressed by you! How did you know that?” He just shrugged, looking pleased.
After reviewing my paintings, I also pulled out a sketchbook and flipped through it with him, pointing out a few of my favorites – a self-portrait I did a few years ago as well as a portrait of my late grandfather I sketched more recently.
“You are so talented,” he breathed quietly, still looking intently at my sketches.
“So are you,” I said, smiling up at him as he bent over my artwork.
“Thanks.” We smiled shyly at each other for a moment before Michael broke the silence, clearing his throat. “Well, I should let you get to bed.”
We moved toward my front door, and I stepped forward to hug him goodnight. Michael had hung his rarely-worn glasses from his top button, and he pulled them from his chest just before our bodies met so that I could rest against him. We didn’t hug for long, having only ever hugged once before, but I was still smiling well after he left.
I am only now looking up the lyrics to “For All We Know.” And they are perfect.
Love, look at the two of us
Strangers in many ways
Let’s take a lifetime to say
“I knew you well”
For only time will tell us so
And love may grow
For all we know.