One February weekend, some friends invited my tween daughter and me on an East Bay hike, and I asked this guy I was dating to come along. He was a scientist who loved the outdoors, so I thought it might be fun. But the forecast was rain.
Chris wondered if I had a raincoat. My daughter had a waterproof coat with a hood and boots, but I didn't.
"Let's go to REI," he said. I resisted.
He pulled out his faded REI card. "C'mon," he said.
I might have muttered under my breath, "I can take care of myself just fine, thank you very much." I'd been a single mom since my daughter was born, and I'd made it this far without a raincoat.
Besides, clothes-shopping is so personal, and if he'd wanted to buy me something so I'd like him more, that wasn't necessary. I already like him a lot. He was a great cook. He loved kids. He built furniture. He made me laugh.
As I browsed the sales rack, he strolled over with a coat. "Try this on." It was Gore-Tex and lightweight. It had pockets. But it was lime green, not my color. I wasn't sure, but I wasn't sure about a lot of things. Like if he was planning to pay for that coat, which would've been generous, but way over-the-top.
I told him I was fine with my fleece pullover. Maybe I was embarrassed, or maybe I felt like I didn't I deserved a fancy raincoat.
"Please," Chris said. "Just try it on." I pushed one arm through the sleeve. The zipper had a storm flap. It fit perfectly.
"You look great," he said. "How do you feel?"
I felt like I was about to cry on the thermal underwear. I couldn't remember the last time a man wanted to take care of me. Or made me feel so loved. But I didn't deserve this. It was too expensive. So I unzipped the coat.
He put his hand on my shoulder. "Let me do this for you."
The tears pricked my eyelids. If I said, "yes," wouldn't I seem too needy?
"It's just a raincoat," Chris said.
But it was so much more.
With a Perspective, I'm Rachel Sarah.
Rachel Sarah married Chris five years ago. He adopted her daughter and they now have a three-year-old together.