Chapter Four: The Walk
I couldn’t believe how nervous I was waiting for him to arrive. He was in on business and arranged his schedule to drive to my house to see me. This was to be our first real “date” —the first time we had a chance to talk alone face to face. My roommate was out for the day; no one knew he was coming. Somehow this seemed more intimate to me and I savored the feelings that washed over me.
I felt a twinge of angst about Howard, my fiancé. I couldn’t understand how I could have such strong feelings for two men at the same time. I loved my Howard but I was irresistibly drawn to Dave, ever since that first dinner. And then when I received his Christmas card and read it in Howard’s bathroom, the emotions swept over me unchecked.
I brushed my hair for the sixth time that morning. I looked at my reflection in the mirror again, considering my choice of clothing. I thought of looking sexy and alluring, but I decided that I wanted Dave to see me, not some primped and painted lady. I wanted him to notice my curves, my smile, my face. I secretly wished he would run his fingers through my hair and thought, “what a harlot I’m being.” But I didn’t care. I was falling in love with Dave—had fallen in love with Dave— and had to be with this man.
I leaned my head back and felt my long brown hair brush against my lower back. I almost put on a halter top, but it was a little chilly out, so I settled on a long sleeved shirt over blue jeans. I turned and checked the reflection of my buns. Yes, I looked good, I decided. I hoped Dave liked what he saw.
He told me he would probably arrive around 10:00. I was so anxious. I tidied up the house and looked at the meager fare in the refrigerator. I kept glancing at the clock, then busying myself with small errands. Finally, a knock on the door.
I opened it and he stood there with that grin on his face. God, I was so nervous I could hardly talk. “Hello,” I managed to stutter as the smile on my face felt so, so, naughty. He grinned that sheepish grin of his and looked so devilishly handsome my heart started pounding in my chest. I’m sure he could hear it only three feet away. I opened the screen door and let him in. I felt awkward and embarrassed and pleased at the same time.
I can hardly remember the conversation we had. It must have been small talk, because I can remember nary a word. I remember showing him my home, and my favorite pictures, and my music. He seemed so genuinely interested in everything. And when I told him my ideas behind my favorite pictures, it seemed like he was the handsome man in them.
Who was this man? Why was I so drawn to him? I felt like there was a magnet in me pulling me towards him, an irresistible force compelling me to get closer and closer to him. I wanted him to hold my hand in his, to feel his arms around me holding me close, to lay my head against his shoulder.
We listened to music. I kept pulling out my favorite songs and put them on the CD player. I’d play one, but I couldn’t sit back and enjoy the moment. I had to find the next one and play that one for him too. It was as if I was trying to force-feed all my hopes and desires, all my emotions and feelings, into those songs, trying to tell him, what? That I loved him? I couldn’t wait for the song to end and casually play the next one; I had to play the next one NOW, and the one after that, and the one after that, so that my heart was mainlined by sound into his soul.
I kept hoping that he would understand the songs, that he would get the meaning in them. He was older than I, and listened to a different age of music. I could tell that he was really stretching to like my music, yet at times I could see his soul stirring in his eyes. At least I hoped that’s what it was, and not just wishful thinking on my part.
I made lunch. It wasn’t anything to write home about: a couple of fried porch chops and some frozen corn. There was some bread in the frig, and some pop left over. In all my excitement I had forgotten about food. I was so focused on him arriving that I couldn’t think beyond that point. We ate; me sitting on the counter and he was sitting on a barstool a couple of feet away. I watched him eat. He would look up, deep into my eyes and smile. I’ll always remember the way he looked at me, the way he reached in and touched my soul.
He complimented my cooking! I thought it was terrible—my mother taught me better than this. Yet he ate with gusto and smiled and didn’t complain at all. I don’t know if he was telling a white lie or not, but his compliments were kind and made me feel warm and tingly inside.
I couldn’t think of anything really exciting to do, so we went to the park and walked around. The weather was cool, about 55° or so. I put on my hiking shoes and blue jeans and a sweatshirt with a jacket. I brushed my hair again, and looked at myself in the mirror. I certainly didn’t look sexy, but I wanted this guy to love me in all of my moods, not just because I looked sexy.
We walked around the park, talking about ourselves and what we believed in. Somehow we didn’t talk about politics too much, mostly talking about work and people and life. We talked about the spiritual side of life and how funny people can be.
Just talking to Dave was turning me on. Not so much sexually as making my heart flounder. I wanted to grab him and kiss him, but we were just meeting in person for the first time, and it wasn’t really much of a date! Well, we’d met before, but that was before we wrote letters and sent e-mails and talked for hours on the phone. I kept thinking, “I don’t really know this man.” And immediately I would answer myself without knowing why, “Yes, I do.”
We spent so much time on the phone, in some ways I felt I knew what he was like. And yet in person, he was so much more, so much more alive than I expected, so much more vibrant. I was so drawn to him the first time I met him without knowing why.
And here we were walking through the park talking about mundane things, not even hand in hand, and my heart is pounding in my chest. The sound of his voice was like the Pied Piper to me—I was tempted to follow him anywhere. And yet there was a part of me holding back. It was too unbelievable! I was falling in love with this man walking next to me, just by the sound of his voice and depth of his soul.
But I was engaged! I didn’t know how to deal with the conflicting emotions. I’m falling more and more in love with Dave, and yet Howard is on my mind at the same time. Dave wasn’t even putting the “moves” on me—he was just talking to me like a person. Just being with him stirred something deep in my soul. I wasn’t ready to deal with this.
Howard. Dave. Howard. Dave. Howard’s in working. We’re getting married next spring. And yet I’m falling in love with Dave and can’t help myself. What is this strange attraction? What is this magnet that keeps pulling me towards him?
I didn’t trust myself, so I kept pulling myself away. If anyone saw us, they would assume that we were just friends out for a walk. We weren’t holding hands, he didn’t have his arm around me, it looked completely platonic. But underneath the surface I had a maelstrom of emotions, churning and fighting to burst free. I don’t know how I kept them at bay.
We walked down the street looking at houses. Yes, this is a nice, safe subject, I told myself. We can talk about houses and paint colors and goofy lawn ornaments and windows and shutters. But we’re talking about homes. What I want in a home, what he wants in a home. Our tastes were similar. We both liked Tudors and the country English look. Once again, thoughts come unbidden into my head about sharing a home with this gorgeous man. He’s so straight with me, not trying to schmooze me or impress, just talking about what he truly likes and dislikes. It felt like he was sharing his own private world with me, opening his soul and letting me walk in for a visit. I didn’t want to leave.
As we were walking back, he pointed out a house to me that we had commented on before. “That looks like a grandmother’s house,” he said, mirroring my own thoughts exactly. At that moment I wanted to kiss him more than anyone in the entire world. But if I told him that I would be done for. I didn’t say a word.
He had to leave around 3:00 in the afternoon for his next destination. We got back to the house and talked some more. We sat on the couch just looking at each other. I dared not say too much, but I didn’t want him to go! I could sit there with him talking to me all night long. When 3:00 rolled around, I said, “Do you have to go?” He stayed a little bit longer, and a little bit longer.
When he left, he shook my hand. We looked into each other’s eyes, and I swear I willed him to hug me. He did. He could have ravaged me right there on the steps, and I would have taken him gladly.
After he left, I puttered around the house for what seemed like an eternity. I felt so warm all over, having him here was like nothing I’d ever experienced before. I took great interest in little things, like looking at my cat on the bed from six inches away, staring out the window into the yard, humming to myself.
I could still feel him in the room, in my heart. Half a day with him, and it felt like he’d been a part of me forever. Maybe he was.