The Search for the Lost Love Spring

Afterwards, he’d ask me if I had tried to kidnap him.

At the time, it seemed like the perfect spontaneous activity: two young people, drunk in love and unable to stay apart for longer than five minutes, embarking on a road trip to wherever the road may lead. I smiled at him, gave him my cheekiest side glance and asked him if he’d like to see a beautiful hidden gem near our little town. He said yes. I told him to start the car.

I had gone to the springs with my family several years ago, and my only regret had been the lack of romantic prospects at the time. The water was a shimmering aquamarine and so clear you could see the bottom. Trees of all shapes and sizes provided ample shade—I remember the palm trees most clearly, but there were bushes too, and colorful flowers, and plants with gigantic leaves so green they contrasted with the cloudless sky. There were children jumping off the rocks and into the water; laughter surrounded us, carried by the breeze. For a moment, I forgot where I was.

And this is what I wanted to show my date: this untouched beauty; this oasis I had found and only I could show him. I pictured us both sitting on the grass, our bare feet touching the water, talking about anything and everything as the afternoon sun tanned our shoulders. I pictured, as every teenage girl who’s ever had a slight crush on someone has, our future together, the way he’d retell the story of how he fell in love with me at the springs.

Instead, this is what happened:

His car, an ancient thing propelled forward by our willpower alone, had no AC, which forced us to open the windows in 90-degree heat. The waves of hot wind hit us square in the face, and soon our clothes were soaked in sweat.

I could not remember which street the entrance to the springs was on, and since my mom had no idea I was on a date, I did not dare ask her. I urged us forward on the long stretch of empty road that kind of looked familiar to me, but I could not be sure.

His GPS, back when phones with GPS were a rarity, was malfunctioning and kept giving us contradicting directions.

“No, it’s somewhere in here, I know it!” I kept telling him, praying it was, in fact, somewhere in there.

Eventually, when I wasn’t even sure we were in the same county anymore, I made him pull over outside a Cold Stone.

I gave him my cheekiest smile. “Still an adventure, right?”

He rolled his eyes, peeled the back of his shirt off his sweaty skin, and went inside without saying a word.