Book Two, Chapter One: Roses

Perhaps because I’m a guest in my childhood home, I think back to high school, to a particular Friday night in high school.

A crisp autumn night — wood smoke in the air — and I’m on a date with a college guy who’s asked me to a high-school football game. Jack’s team wins, and he’s whistling, happy, as we walk back to his car.

He reaches for my hand, and I pull it away from him. I act as if nothing has happened.

The next day, a florist’s van pulls into the driveway of my home. The delivery man gets out carrying a long narrow green box. The box is for me. Puzzled, I take the box from him. No one has ever given me flowers before. Who has sent these?

I scatter the green tissue and reach for the card. It’s from Jack. I can’t see you again. You will hurt me.

What? What does he mean? Jesus, it was our first date!

My father sees the roses. “What did you do last night to deserve roses?” he asks.

“I didn’t do anything,” I say.

I think: Do I call Jack to thank him for the roses? Or do I write him a thank-you note? I decide to write him a thank-you note.

Only now do I understand what Jack was telling me.

My writer husband’s favorite nickname for me was Ernestina, so in this 3-book memoir, he is Ernie. This is his story, our story, and my story. I invite you in.