Cliff and I enjoyed an intimate breakfast in a secluded little spot one day last week.
No loud conversation nearby to spoil the mood.
In fact, we were alone until a county sheriff's officer drove through the dining area to make sure no one was up to any mischief.
He didn't bother Cliff and me, hunched over our egg croissants in the front bucket seats of my Volkswagen, at a standstill in a strip mall parking lot.
This was one of those mornings that Cliff was going one way - east on I-20 - and I, another: west on the same highway. He had to be in Charlotte and I, in Gilbert, and though we left home at the same time in separate cars so we could meet to have order breakfast together, he had much farther to go and wouldn't be in touch all day. (Sales training.)
At our ages and stations in life, we clutch at our intimacy where we can find it.
On this morning, it was in the Hamrick's parking lot off Bush River Road.
Usually, I try to arrive home early on the evenings Cliff doesn't work - no matter that I have papers to grade and tests to write.
And he rolls out of bed at an ungodly hour on weekdays to help me maneuver into the shower - although that will end soon, as I no longer wince at the thought of bending my left ankle. (It still looks as if I'm wearing blue toeless socks on my left foot, though - blue till the toes, which are pink and piggy-like.)
Our courtship was so romantic, with long drives, lovely dinners and trips to exotic places. Cliff proposed in San Gimignano, Tuscany, after all.
Our wedding was romantic, too. (We eloped to Charleston.)
But it seems our marriage is to be plagued by hardship - cancer, broken ankles, kids leaving home - and so, rather than give up on romance, we find curious ways to incorporate it.
And we have found that the best gift to give each other is undivided attention, a rare commodity in our dog-, cat-, bird- and brother-occupied house.
OK, so a breakfast croissant ain't haute cuisine.
Sometimes it's barely HOT cuisine.
But it meets the prerequisites of a workday morning:
It doesn't break the bank.
And it doesn't fall apart into one's dressed-for-business lap as easily as a biscuit.
Throw in a little soft lighting, and it's perfect.