THE TASTE OF A POMEGRANATE

Of all the young women in my generation, she was easily among the most beautiful, if not the fairest of them all. I fell in love with her the moment I heard her speak for the first time: her words were woven in an intricate and comely prayer, simple in articulation yet entirely powerful in its depth. Each time I saw those twin doe eyes, the color of mud, my heart would begin skipping beats. When I finally mustered enough courage to come close enough to smell her hair, my blood turned to napalm within my veins; her fragrance was comparable to the sweetness of fruit and the scent of a vast field of lilies.

I came to know her through my mother - she described her as a sleepy eyed beauty, with hair as dark as oil and skin as milky as the moon - but when I finally met her myself, her visage was entirely much more breath taking. Her appearance was disheveled and carefree: she was clad in ripped jeans, a t-shirt much too large to fit her scrawny frame, and barefoot, with electric blue toenails decorated with many rings. Her hair was wild and wavy, mirroring her free spirited energy while she conversed with the guests at her house. While she spoke to them, it was clear that they loved her; her smile was endearing, as well as the terms she addressed them with.

I would soon find out that this was a tactic she cleverly used to conceal her forgetfulness with names - or just about anything, really - but she would later tell me that this was a result of her years of experimenting with and addiction to various drugs.

I can easily consider her the sweetheart of my summer: the object of my affection I tried so hard to hide away from her. Not that she took notice anyway; she was much too blinded by her infatuation with a church usher; rugged and tall, with curly brown locks and swampy green eyes that turned blue, her favorite color. June came and went, bringing July and its numerous wonderful surprises, along with its equal counterpart cousin, tragedy.

She still didn't notice me by this time, but I was somewhat grateful for this. The whole time the fireworks went off in the night, making the beauty of her features more vivid as their bright colors reflected from her face, I stared at her. I could feel my heart palpitating desperately inside my ribs as I did: she was standing at least fifty feet away from me, dressed in a blue jean vest and cowboy boots, recording the light show in awe.

Days passed and I returned to her house for the weekly Bible study her parents held. This was the day I learned her grandmother passed away, and the first time I learned that I never wanted to see her cry again. My heart ached for her as she wept in her father's arms, unable to pray for her grandparents through her misery, and instead the whole group said a prayer on her behalf. The weekend came and she disappeared, but my longing to make her happy only continued to grow.

When I saw her that Sunday, dressed like a gorgeous Stepford wife with one of her trademark church hats (all natural materials and free of animal skins, mind you), I pursued her. When service ended, she oddly parted ways from her parents, and I took that as my opportunity to talk with her. I followed her out into the narthex, my eyes never falling away from her bright yellow sundress, and called out her name. She didn't hear me at first, so I pushed through the throng of congregants and called out to her once again. The moment she turned around and looked at me, the world around me became unbelievably slow paced.

I fumbled with my words for what seemed like an eternity, but the look on her face was so genuinely sweet that I couldn't help but feel peaceful in her presence. When I finally was able to speak, I asked for her phone number - my hands were trembling uncontrollably as I handed her my Blackberry - and, much to my surprise, she obliged happily. Then she left me to watch as she disappeared into the overflow of what was previously the sanctuary audience, with my heart swollen with joy. I sent her a text immediately, and again to my surprise, she actually responded.

The first time I called her, I pretended it was an accident. Fortunately for me, I had another friend with the same name, and used this to my advantage - not to lie to her, but to make myself seem like less of an idiot - but she was busy working out. I called her again, and to my dismay, she didn't answer. It took me at least a week to regain enough confidence to try again. Then one Wednesday night, she and a bunch of her friends went out skating; although one of them had invited me along, I showed up half an hour after closing and could only join them for a late dinner.

That night we had our first of what was to be a million other conversations. The way she looked at me, with naturally wide brown eyes and a full lipped half smile, made my words topple all over each other again. She didn't seem interested, though; she kept looking away, and even started a whole other conversation with one of my sisters in the middle of our discussion. I left the restaurant feeling pretty dejected: this girl was sending me the weirdest vibes I had ever felt. For once in my life, I couldn't read this girl like I had with all the others. She simply wasn't an open book for me to do so. After that night, though, we began talking on the phone regularly.

Then she invited me to a football game one Saturday. Of course, I happily accepted her offer - this was the day that changed my life, as well as my heart - unknowing of the events that would unfold that marvelous day. The game was horribly boring (I'm really not much of a football guy), and we went out for pizza afterward, only for me to find that she was a strict vegetarian, confirming my suspicions that she was also a total tree hugging hippie. When we finally made it to her house, it was close to six o' clock, and the sun was getting ready to set - but I wasn't willing to part with her just yet - so I invited her swimming.

Throughout junior and high school, I was a very passionate swimmer and star member of the swim team, so I took this as an opportunity to impress her. I made her a deal: she had told me that she loved to sing, so I asked her to do so for me if I could make it across the pool in one breath. She agreed. When I took off, I was confident, but toward the middle my lungs started protesting quite heavily and I started to panic a little. Needless to say, I made it successfully across, but she failed to express her enthusiasm.

"So? Sing for me," I said, my ego a little bruised.

"No," she told me, a smirk curling her Cupid's bow lips.

"But we made a deal!"

"I know. But I never specified, and neither did you, as to when exactly I would fulfill our agreement."

I had to admit, I was extremely disappointed and even a little agitated, but the way the moon reflected in her eyes and cast its glow on her cheeks easily erased those feelings from within me. Instead, my heart continued to throb with adoration for this girl. To express this, I playfully tackled her into the water, dragging her to its depths. She clung to me tightly, making my heart race and the breath in my lungs more shallow than usual; but this makeshift embrace was beautiful in its innocence and simplicity, so much so that I refused to let her go, even to the point where I almost drowned us.

After that, we stayed up all night on the phone for weeks straight, and by the time school came around I knew that I was serious about this girl. Despite the fear that tugged on my heartstrings, I knew that I wanted to marry her, even if I still wasn't able to love her to my fullest potential. This girl deserved the best in a man - someone who would spoil her richly with love and anything else that she wanted - but I knew that I wasn't even qualified to be that man for her. Even still, she didn't seem to mind waiting around for me; she was the first to admit that she loved me, doing so in perfect Spanish; as well as the first to initiate a kiss on the mouth, even if it was an accident.

But I was the first to prove just how much I loved her.

I would ask of her past and how she came to know Jesus, but each time she would shy away from telling me her story; and each time I would assure her that nothing could ever make me love her less. When she finally told me of her previous dealings as an addict, even to my own surprise I found that I loved her even more. She admitted to me that she was terribly scared of me and of loving me to her maximum, but she didn't let that stop her from going through with it anyway. It was the silent slap in the face that I needed to assure me just how passionately in love with her I was and how badly I wanted to make her my own.

The first time I made love to her was the first time it was genuine for the both of us.

I was gentle with her, and each kiss was strategically and carefully placed on each and every inch of her body. My lips traced the outline of her collarbone, following a trail to the subtle swell of her breasts. I ran my tongue along her flesh, tracing the scorpion tattoo on her hip and indulging in the bittersweet flavor like the taste of a pomegranate; it was impossible for me to love her any less. Her pearl skin was thick from years of fighting and simultaneously soft to the touch, like a blanket of silk fabric on my fingertips. Even her sweat smelled and tasted saccharine, in contrast to the smokey sweetness of her mouth.

Her love was fiery and passionate; a contradiction to the tenderness that I had showed her. Each and every kiss sent electric shocks throughout my whole body; every lick was a static jolt, and each bite was a hot spark on my skin. It was a sensation that I was entirely overtaken by, something that made me fall even harder and deeper in love with this girl. She loved me with seasoned precision and with her whole heart - I could feel her love just oozing from her very pores - and that moment is when I knew I was no longer afraid. When I looked into those brown doe eyes, when I listened to the sweet sound of her breathing, her heartbeat; I was no longer afraid to love her. It was in that moment that I decided I was going to spend the rest of my life working to give her everything that she wanted; working to be the man that she deserved, no matter how impossibly unattainable that standard seemed.

I wanted to make her mine, and only mine, forever. Many others had had the opportunity of a lifetime when they were with her, but I was going to be the one who would seize it. I was going to be the only one to appreciate and return the love that she had for me with a love of my own. I was going to spoil and lavish her with my adoration, with everything that I was and everything that I had in me, because I was the only one who realized that she was more than deserving of all of it.

So I dropped to one knee and asked her to marry me.

She said yes.