I brunched with a Phoenix.
She arrived in her stunning human form — alabaster skin with a crown of milk chocolate tresses the envy of any chocolatier. She was armed with a smile that could envelop you while radiating warmth and kindness. Her sepia-colored eyes fluttered about, surveying her environment, and would focus on you as if you were the only being that ever existed or would exist. I felt like she was a visitor to a menagerie where she was trying to burn every aspect of my being in her memory in order that she could relay her encounter with me to someone else. Perhaps, so she could remember me in another life.
When she glided into the bustling downtown eatery, the room fell silent. The clanging of pans and banging of pots ceased. People stopped giving their orders to the wait staff. A sudden silence crashed into the restaurant and caused me to lift my head and locate this Phoenix in human form.
She was the reincarnation of Helen of Troy. She possesses a beauty that defies logic and a level of humility that absolves her of the sin of being this beautiful.
It was my first time seeing her in 10 years, and the last time I saw her before that was twenty years ago, when we graduated high school. Fundamentally I know I was in the presence of a rare beauty, but I was immune. During the three and one-half hours we spent together that Sunday afternoon, I realized that she was self-aware of how gorgeous she was and simultaneously uncomfortable with being so attractive. One could even say she took steps to dim her own brightness.
My immunity was not obtained through the talisman I dutifully wear on my ring finger on my left hand. It has imbued me with a sense of purpose and a vigilant reminder of the oath I took in front of my friends, family, and before my God to remain faithful to my bride.
I was not indemnified against her allure by my sexuality. I am a cis-gendered heterosexual man who finds a wide swath of women beautiful. Women of varying body shapes, skin hues, accents, and other variables. I love women, but she was not a woman; she was Phoenix, a mythical creature I have only heard tales of but never…