Ten years ago today...
I was looking forward to going on a date with this guy. I knew him because we were in the same circle of friends, and the week before we'd ended up spending a while talking at a friend's birthday party, and we'd kind of hit it off. I came home and IMed a friend, asking if he was still dating this scary chick I'd heard about, she said: No, he's not. Hmmm, I thought. Then the guy and I saw each other online and had our own IM conversation, which led to a phone coversation, which led to him asking me out on a date. He was cute, and smart, and funny. He was also 8 years younger than me: I was 35, he was 27.
My two cats and I lived in a one bedroom apartment on the third floor. Running slightly late, I got out of the shower and, still naked, started to comb out and blow dry my hair in the steamy bathroom.
I thought I heard a noise. I turned off the hair dryer and listened: silence. I looked at the clock, it wasn't even 6:30, and he was supposed to pick me up at 7. I turned the hair dryer back on and bent over at the waist, blow-drying my long hair upside down to maximize volume.
I thought I heard a noise again. I turned the hair dryer back off, and listened. This time I clearly heard a knock on my door.
Oh my god, don't tell me this guy is more than a half hour early! Who does that? I already don't like him. I ran out of the steamy bathroom and frantically tried to pull on jeans and a shirt. My jeans didn't want to go on, because my skin was all steamy from the shower. Ugh, ugh.
I ran to the door, and there's no one there. Good grief, I thought, it must not have been him after all. I slammed the door, went back to the bathroom and turned my hairdryer back on.
Again, I thought I heard a noise. I stomped to the front door and flung it open. There he stood, looking at me with my hair all wild from being upside down, and my shirt on askew.
"You're early!" I barked at him.
"Oh, sorry," he said, smiling at me. "I'll go wait in my car."
I rolled my eyes. "No, you can sit here on the couch and make friends with my cats. But I'm not going to be ready until 7!"
"Okay." He sat. The cats eyed him warily.
Twenty-five minutes later I emerged from the bedroom, this time with actual underwear on beneath my clothes, and found him with one cat on his lap and the other lying next to him on the couch. Who can stay mad at a guy who makes friends with your cats?
We went to the Orlando Museum of Art for their Third Thursday event and had a great time walking around talking about art. Then we went downtown and had pizza at a little cafe, and walked around Lake Eola. I was surprised by how comfortable I felt with him; I am uncomfortable around everybody, so this was unprecedented. We walked and talked, and I forgot that he was 8 years younger than I. He made me laugh, and better still he laughed at all my weird sarcastic jokes. I noticed how blue his eyes were.
Then he drove me back to my apartment, and still enjoying the warm Florida December evening, we decided to walk around my giant apartment complex. We walked around the three big ponds and the two pools, under the sidewalk lights, and talked more, and held hands.
It was one of those nights described in romantic books that you think are not real until you have one of those nights yourself. We wanted to find out everything about each other, and we couldn't listen fast enough. I told him about my childhood in Virginia and being shy and making art, he told me about his childhood in Florida and his time in the military and making music. We sat on my couch and drank Coke and petted cats and told each other about all our previous relationships and jobs and hopes and fears.
And then we noticed the sun was coming up. Even after being together for more than 10 hours, I hated to see him go. He gave me a little kiss at the door and left.
In retrospect, I think we both fell in love at least a little that night, even though it was nearly three weeks before we'd actually say the words to each other. Today, 10 years later, I love him so much.
Even though, as it turns out, he is ALWAYS early.