One thing they don’t tell you when you get admitted to Columbia College is that the campus is only a few blocks from Central Park. And one thing you don’t know if you come, as I do, from Florida is how significant this oasis is.
I was a freshman and it was the first weekend I had to decompress from the day-after-day grind of college. So I went for a walk at about ten on Saturday, entering the Park at its northwest corner. Heading south, I discovered some ball fields around which a bridle path meandered. The trees created a magnificent canopy like nothing I’d seen before.
I heard the shouts of kids chasing kids and dogs chasing dogs. Soccer balls being kicked and the ebb and flow of sideline cheering. As I passed the field, I had warmed up and stopped to take my sweater off. Maybe ten yards from a row of benches. After pulling it over my head. I resumed my walk and found my eyes enraptured by her. She was gazing out at the field and I hoped it was not to watch a boyfriend playing soccer. She called “Billy, Billy.” Billy came running. A smallish black lab, who proceeded to slobber over her.
I’ve seen plenty of gorgeous women on South Beach. Nothing prepared me for her.
Billy noticed me first. Suddenly he was rushing towards me, and I braced myself for impact. It was surprisingly mild. As was she when she apologized.
“He’s never done that before. You must be special.”
I began to mumble. You can get admitted to Columbia College and be incapable of articulating a word to a woman who captures your heart. She’d taken my heart and gone on a round-the-world cruise with it while I silently stood there.
She got a hold on Billy and he sat to her right. She leaned to me and gave me a kiss on the cheek.
“Let’s go for a walk.” She draped her left arm though my right, Billy’s leash in her right hand, and we went for a walk.