Friday, July 19, 2013

Our Love Story (Part 2)

When last we parted, I was dating the Other Guy. You know, the one who wasn’t Keith. Obviously that relationship didn’t work out. We got along well but it was pretty clear we weren’t going to fall in love with each other, so I broke it off. (Incidentally, the Other Guy is now quite happily married to a friend of mine.)

I remember a day or two later the thought crossed my mind: “Hmmm … now Keith could ask me out.” And then I felt really guilty--that was certainly not the reason I had broken up with the Other Guy. I looked at my picture of the Sacred Heart and said, You know my heart, and You know your plans. I placed that thought in His hands and left it there. 

But that doesn’t mean I didn’t log into Gchat every day in the hopes that Keith’s screenname would show up. At first it didn’t. And then one day, it did. We struck up a renewed online correspondence, and his screenname began to pop up more often again. 

Keith had just moved into an awesome loft apartment with some other guys. Awesome as in they had a tire swing hanging from their ceiling and a garden on the roof. They threw a housewarming party and set up a huge canvas with big buckets of paint and everyone collaborated in making a piece of group artwork. 

There are absolutely no pictures of us together from this time ... but here's a friend working on the awesome painting.
I don’t think I was able to hang out with Keith as much as I wanted at that party because he was busy being a good host. I hadn’t explicitly told him I had broken up with the Other Guy. I mean, we were kind of flirting (at least, we had been pretty chatty online), so I hoped he was getting the picture … and I think I would have found a way to bring it up if we hadn’t been at a huge party surrounded by mutual friends the whole time. But how do you do that kind of thing without seeming … pushy?

A few nights later we were practicing Spanish online together. By which I mean Keith was forcing me to type only en espanol to prove I remembered more than I thought. (He still does this in conversation sometimes, hehe.) At this point we were pretty clearly flirting, and Keith not-so-subtly asked if there was anyone I could practice Spanish with in person—the Other Guy, maybe? (To my knowledge Other Guy has never spoken Spanish.)

Me inside: head exploding, heart pounding, all that jazz!!

Me outside: Oh, you know, I actually hardly ever see or talk to Other Guy. I have this friend from Peru though who I talk to on Facebook in Spanish …. Etc.

Keith: Wait a minute. Are you and the Other Guy not dating? (As if he didn’t already know.)

Me: Nope! (Why did I not just say this in the first place? I guess I was being “smooth”?)

Promising, right? We continued to talk about other things, and then there was a 17 minute pause. (Thank you, Gchat, for keeping such an accurately timed record of our romance!) Then things got a bit confusing. Keith told me he held me in very high regard … and he couldn’t wait to meet the guy I ended up with, because I deserved someone amazing.

Wait ... what?? Was he implying that he wasn't the guy for me? I went from being sure that Keith was expressing an interest in me to … well, a lot of uncertainty. 

Not long afterwards Keith and his roomies hosted a brunch on their awesome rooftop garden. I went with a few friends, but had to leave early to go to work. I had Christine’s popcorn maker in the car, so she had to come down with me to get it. We started down the stairs with our arms full of dirty dishes. 

What happened next couldn’t have been more dramatic if I’d made it up.

I was wearing heels. Not ridiculous heels, mind you. Very sensible ones. But their sensibility did not prevent one of them getting caught on the railing of the sliding glass door. I fell. I cussed. Loudly. I slammed into Christine, and we both tumbled halfway down the stairs together, along with bowls and plates and half-eaten food and all manner of silverware. One of the bowls shattered on the steps and somehow the shrapnel sliced Christine’s leg open. So there we were, sprawled on the steps staring at each other, Christine bleeding profusely. The conversation on the roof above us had gone dead silent. Meanwhile, my shoes were still sitting at the top of the stairs. 

Finally Keith and another guy appeared in the doorway. The other guy saw Christine was bleeding and said—I am not kidding—“It’s okay, I’m a doctor.” As I recall these guys had no disinfectant of any sort in the whole house, so he didn’t really get much opportunity to practice his first aid skillz.

I left that morning a very embarrassed Rosemary.

And yet, even after seeing what an utter klutz I could be, Keith invited me to a short story reading group he and his roomies were hosting. We read Kafka's "The Hunger Artist." Afterwards, he asked if I’d like to go to adoration with him.

YES I would!! Talk about the right moves! ;) 

As we knelt side by side before the monstrance, I told Jesus exactly how I felt. I really, really liked Keith. A lot. I was going to be moving within walking distance of his apartment. And I told Him, I know Keith will make an amazing friend. But I want more.

Several days later, Keith gave me his number again … and this time I also gave him mine. 

When he called, we were on instant messenger together, but my phone was downstairs so I didn’t hear it in time. When I ran downstairs to get it, I came back up and typed, “Did you just call?” He told me not to listen to his message because it was dorky. (Four years later … I still have it saved on my phone. :) ) He called again and asked if I wanted to meet him for dinner someplace. "Not as a date," he said, "or at least, it doesn’t have to be." (Hmmm.) Maybe we could meet halfway somewhere? (I still lived with my parents, a little less than an hour away.)

Meanwhile, my parents were literally yelling up the stairs at me because we were going to see a movie and were running late. So I said a hurried yes, and thus ended our very awkward First Ever Phone Conversation. (However, we had a much less awkward Second Ever Phone Conversation later that night, and it lasted much longer.)

The very next day, Christine (who had picked up that we were interested in each other) sent Keith an instant message saying, “Soooo, when are you going to ask Rosemary out?” It totally shocked him—he thought I must have told her. (I hadn't.) And he let her know that he already had asked me out.

So really, it was pretty clear that this thing was a date from the beginning. But it got clearer. Things changed from meeting halfway to Keith picking me up; he researched and found a restaurant and a bluegrass concert in the area without even having to ask me what was available, which really impressed me. He showed up dressed quite handsomely, and instead of flowers he brought me a bottle of rosewater. :)

The bluegrass concert actually ended up being a bunch of elderly gentlemen playing old-timey songs on banjos. Aside from a few little kids (grandchildren I assume) we were the youngest in the audience. There was a lady a few seats down from us who spent the whole concert knitting. (Of course, that’s the kind of thing I might do myself now. ;) But I wasn’t a knitter yet.) It was a little awkward, but also funny, and we had a great time.

Afterwards we shared cups of tea on my parents’ couch and talked, and when he left he kissed me on the cheek.

We never had a “DTR” conversation. But it was never really necessary. We count that first date as the beginning of our relationship. 

(This post is getting really long … so I think that’s as good a place as any to leave you. :) Next time: our engagement! (And maybe a few things in between?))

Thanks again to Grace, who has provided the impetus for me to type this up, even though it's something I've been wanting to do for a while!

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