Pine Street Episode 335: Christmas Eve

When Leo had stepped out of the airport, the warm, dry air felt like a blast strong enough to knock him off his feet. He had asked Franny not to meet him there; he took the bus to her neighborhood, to give himself time to acclimate to the weather and to resolve the dislocation of mind and body air travel always created.

Watching the scene pass by the window of the air-conditioned bus, Leo wondered what inspired early humans to pause their nomadic wanderings here, to settle into a village together. It must have been hard going, making food and shelter in what appeared to him to be an inhospitable landscape.

But maybe, he pondered, just as Jeeves said, all humans are lovable; and all landscapes are, too. We humans are born to be loved and to offer love. It’s hardwired in us. 

Reuniting with Franny, meeting her aunt, had been a delightful blur. Leo and Helen had hit it off immediately, and he set about making himself a good guest: offering to clean, repair, move, anything she needed. They had done a few touristy things together, all enjoyable; but soon they all admitted to appreciating the more mundane pleasures of sharing meals, neighborhood walks, late-night talks about life. Leo cooked a few big breakfasts, his specialty. Franny and Helen traded off making dinners. 

Watching her in her aunt’s kitchen, Leo recalled the first dinner party Franny had held on Pine Street. Her uncertainty then had transformed into the confidence of a good cook. So much about her has transformed in the years since he met Franny; Leo choked up at the memories, and the anticipation of changes to come. 

His visit coincided with Christmas. And so it came about, late on Christmas Eve, surrounded by the twinkling white lights the three of them had strung around the living room earlier that day, laughing and listening to Vince Guaraldi’s score for a Charlie Brown Christmas, after Helen had gone to bed, when Leo and Franny were alone and quiet, together, it came about that Leo found himself on one knee. 

“Will you, Franny, finally? Will you marry me?” 

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