Jared’s hands are sweating. A lot. And maybe his entire body is, too, because what if this doesn’t work? There’s no way this is going to work.
He continues to button and unbutton the top of his shirt, his fingers fumbling, clammy, and shaking. He exhales deeply, remembering Alana’s words of encouragement from earlier in the day. He can do this. This is fine.
Evan rounds the corner of the street, his backpack still slung around his shoulders as he slowly approaches Jared, his eyebrows furrowed. He looks around, probably wondering why in the world Jared is currently standing outside of his house, dressed in a neat blue suit and carrying a satchel on his shoulder.
Fidgeting with the straps on his bag, Evan walks over. “Jared? What’re you doing here?” Instantly, he freezes, “Not that I, like, don’t want to see you or whatever, I obviously do, just… Why?”
Jared exhales deeply, shakily motioning for Evan to put his things down. Luckily, Evan’s street is pretty much separated from the rest of society, full only with other homes holding very old people or very young people. So, thankfully, there’s no one else out on the street at four o’clock in the afternoon. They’re alone.
“Evan,” he says, and his voice wavers embarrassingly.
He clears his throat and starts over. “Evan.” He swallows. You got this, you got this. “This is the exact place where I first met you. I was like eight, I think, and you had just moved here. And your mom called up my mom and suggested that we all get together, and-and I saw you, for the first time ever, out here. And there was still a moving truck in your driveway and boxes all over your house. But I saw you, then, and I just thought…”
Jared shifts his weight from one foot to another. “Well, and I just thought, like, ‘Damn,’ to be honest. Because-because, well, I mean, because, what else would I have thought, really? You were this kid with these ridiculous green eyes who always wore these little blue sort-of button-down shirts and who just-”
He swallows again, wiping his palms on his pants nervously. “And I remember the first time I ever saw you smile, and I just thought… There’s nothing I wanted to do more, after that moment, than make you smile as much as I could, to see that smile over and over and over again.”
Jared crosses and uncrosses his arms. “I picked you up, right here, before our first date, and I’ll never forget that. You just talked and talked about all these trees and nature and I’d never seen you talk that much before.” The memories flood his mind, almost too much. “I-I could barely respond. Because the only thing that was going through my mind was…was how much I loved you. How much I love you.”
He finally looks up at Evan, having previously been too nervous to see the other boy’s reaction. But, Evan’s looking at him with those same beautiful green eyes, the edges of which are crinkled in the most dazzling smile Jared’s ever seen. It takes his breath away.
“And I, and I-I-” His words are tumbling over each other. He can’t focus, can’t take his eyes off of this beautiful person, this incredibly strong and amazing and absolutely stunning person.
The love of his life.
“Quit smiling at me,” he chuckles, trying to keep his heart from bursting. “I can’t stop messing up my sentences when you look at me like that!”
Evan laughs, tossing his head back, and if that isn’t the most gorgeous sound that’s ever blessed this Earth. “Uh huh,” he replies, the words barely forming through his even wider grin.
Jared looks down, trying to stop the blush spreading hotly over his cheeks. “Well, I was wondering, if–you know how much I love you. So, I was wondering, I was curious, if maybe-if maybe…”
“Yeah?” Evan eggs him on, taking a step forward, gently grabbing one of Jared’s cold, shaky hands within his own, pressing a swift kiss to the back of Jared’s knuckles.
Jared stops breathing for just a moment, before coughing and trying to restart his sentence. “I was wondering if–I know this is probably really lame or whatever, but I was wondering if maybe you wanted to possibly go to prom with me?”
Immediately after the words leave Jared’s mouth, he’s being wrapped up into a gigantic hug. He thinks that Evan is saying something, but honestly his brain is too overwhelmed right now to comprehend any of it.
Then, Evan’s kissing him softly, his hands resting gently on either side of Jared’s face, and the bag Jared was holding falls to the ground.
Slowly, Evan pulls back, resting his forehead against Jared’s, catching his breath, an uncontrollable smile spreading across his face. “Of course I’ll go with you. Of course I will.”
Jared pulls away for a second, kneeling down to grab the bag and handing it over to Evan. “I got-I got you some flowers, too.” He feels a bit like he just won the lottery. He can’t stop smiling.
Evan looks in the bag, and he seems to smile even more, a feat which Jared would’ve otherwise thought was impossible. “Meconopsis betonicifolia…” he whispers, his voice filled with awe.
Jared shrugs, like it was no big deal to find one of the most rare and complicated flowers known to humans: the blue Himalayan poppy. Evan sighs again, like he’s in a dream, “One of the only naturally blue things in the entire world.” He delicately places the flowers back into the bag, once again pressing a kiss to Jared’s lips, their hands intertwined. “Thank you.”
He kisses Jared again, slowly, like honey. “I love you so much.”
Jared’s heart soars, because he’ll never get sick of those three little words, no matter how many times he hears them. “I love you too.”
2016 was a hard year. I lost my best friend, and I’ve had numerous hurdles to surmount. I’m ready for a new year and a new start. I needed to remind myself of the beauty that there is in this world, so enjoy my favorite flower, meconopsis grandis (papaveraceae).
At 6:13 on Sunday night, we were off! A flight from Philadelphia to London, then another flight to Edinburgh would deliver us to the starting point for our trip. The Professional Gardener Class of 2017 is spending 13 days touring the U.K. For our study abroad trip, spending 4 days in Scotland and the remainder in England. The first garden visit of our trip was to RBG Edinburgh where we were fortunate to have David Knott, Curator of Living Collections, as our tour guide. David gave us an extensive tour of the grounds, conservatory, and even a few of the research greenhouses where new and exciting plants are being grown and developed. For me, the highlight of this garden tour was to see all of the unique plants that we cannot grow in our climate, or that do poorly with our climactic conditions. Himalayan Blue Poppies (Meconopsis sp.), The Monkey Puzzle Tree (Araucaria araucana) and The Giant Sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum) are some examples of plants that thrive in this climate, making the first day of garden visits an ultimate success.