Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Jazz Interrupted, Meeting B, and Dancing at the Hill

The way I am writing this seems like all I do is date, and that is not true. I had been going to the temple a lot the last few weeks, because that Saturday I was teaching a class on "Getting more out of your temple experience." I was also seeing other friends, getting my car worked on, planning events for work--it wasn't all going on in vacuum.

To my complete annoyance, my check-engine light had gone on that morning on the way to Women's day. I was extra annoyed because a little over a week before, I had shelled out too much money for repairs on my lovely Mint Julep. And it had been making this really loud noise from the front passenger side when you went faster than 50 mph, and now the light was on.

Frustrated and annoyed (because I was supposed to be having fun, happy times later that afternoon), and probably hangry because I hadn't grabbed anything to eat before rushing off to teach/help Vanna B's presentation on Design Within Reach, I made my way to the dealer.

We were supposed to meet at 2 for the Apex Jazz Festival. I had tickets and everything. It was 1:30, and I was still at the dealer after getting there at 12. I text N, apologizing profusely and asking if he's okay just coming to the house.

Of course he is because he's awesome. I, on the other hand, am a panicked freak, as my car breaking down is one of my pressure cooker buttons. The $1000 price tag also makes a girl indentured to four hospitals take a deep breath and want to cry. A lot.

We decide to wait and see what my warranty covers, and I head home, trying not to cry too much before N shows up at my door. A long hug on my doorstep actually reduces my need for tears immensely, and I can breathe a little more.

We decide to skip the Jazz Festival this year, but as we had made plans for him to meet my sis, we headed toward Raleigh. It felt weird that I knew all of his family but his sister (and in-laws)--and I felt a little like I did know his sister because my seminary kids the last year were Science and Mathers and she, too was a SMather--but he knew none of mine.

Plus, Ice cream would make me feel better--and Goodberry's is next to B's place. It's amazing what a shared concrete in a booth snuggling and laughing together will do for a bad day. Almost completely erase it. As I write this, I could feel all the same anxiety I felt building and building and building, and then the minute N arrived, deflating and disappearing on the wind. It's amazing to me that he can do that--it has to be some kind of superpower.

Anyway, a few blocks away, a kiss for luck, and we make our way toward's B's stoop, just as she comes around the corner. He squeezes my hand, as I think he can tell I'm a little nervous.

B's S is an introvert (yeah, yeah, dude, get in line), and less talkative than B, normally. N is very quiet, too, though if he needs to he can pull it out. I don't love being "on" all the time, and B is usually the outgoing charismatic one.

B was completely silenced by the sight of me holding hands with someone. She couldn't stop staring. S and I made conversation. N joined in, but stayed pretty quiet. And I watched my sister stare and stare and stare.

Now I will fully admit that at the height of my dating days, I was in Utah, and she was in IL, so she hasn't really seen this, but still. She could. not. stop. staring.

"Am I making you uncomfortable?" I asked, pulling my hand away for a second.

Her eyes finally actually look at me, confused, "No? What? No."

S was a dream (proving his #dreamboat nickname apt), and kept the conversation going. N was taking in B's Architectural Digest-worthy home, and eating up all the color and patterns (it's one of those things he does every where we go--it reminds me of B, actually).

All-in-all, it was a nice visit, and I think was enjoyed by all parties.

Next we were off to dinner and dancing.

Cuddling together on the same side of the booth has become our thing. And it as it was us and another couple, I'm sure the wait staff were thrilled.

I introduced him to Crab Rangoon, and we got the second of our odd fortunes. Again, I'm the one on the bottom.

And finally off to a Dance in Durham. We when arrived, they were teaching some dance, and I was not about to go for that. I've learned to dance thanks, we're all over 30, you do not have to teach us how to dance.

We snuck into the primary room and danced to songs from my phone for a little bit. Then we made it to the game room for dominoes until he finally played actual music. The dance was supposed to start at 8. We did not hear music until 9:30.

It was kind of awful--the DJ kept wanting to teach line dances (it is especially annoying when the 10 minute song has what you are supposed to do in it--no one should ever teach the cupid shuffle or the cha-cha slide--dumber than a box of rocks).

But it was fun to introduce N to Al and NC.

It was especially funny when my lovely friend NC stepped up and grabbed me for the first slow song. I flashed an apologetic smile, and danced away.

"Wait," NC said, "Is that your boyfriend?"

"Yes," I laughed.

"I can give you back," he replied.

"No. He's gotta speak up faster. Plus, it's good for him to have a little competition," I grinned.

As I had watched him dance with girl after girl at the last dance, I was pretty sure it was okay to let him watch me dance with someone else. Though it was also fun later when the ladies in my stake started complimenting our dancing together.

Despite the questionable DJ, we danced the night away, because we can almost always dance together. And we then made it back to our little lakeside for a slow dance or two. . . and then home again, home again, jiggety jig. Yeah, I was (and am) pretty sure I could get used to dancing with him a lot more.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Telling the kiddos

I was all good after Thursday, and it was time to bring my kiddos into it. I have a family of seven that I'm an Auntie for (well, the oldest just puts up with me, but the rest--5 girls and a boy--we're pretty close). I take them on dates, and they let me crash at their place after church, get them addicted to TV shows, show them old movie musicals, make smoked gouda mac & cheese, have dance parties, and sit with them at church so I'm not all by my lonesome. I adore them, and I am pretty sure the feeling is mutual.

Any way, I had told them a little bit on the previous Sunday (little T was the gasping eight-year-old), and now I figured I should tell a little more. So I crashed after work. And then I blushed a lot. I told them all the little stories that preceded this post. And they ate it up. 

"Do you love him?!?" Over-eager, incorrigible M gushed, clasping her fingers sweetly under her chin and batting her eyelashes. 

"No," I said, very honestly at the time. "I love you, and H, and P," I continued, as people's heads started popping up all over the room and from around doorways, "and T, and R, and L, and your Mom, but I don't know him well enough yet. It's too early. It's barely been. . . okay, so today it's been a month--exactly."

"Well, I think he loves you!" She declared with the confidence of eleven, "I think he knew right away. You're just going to have to figure it out. You have a boyfriend!"

Side note: Yes, it is our birthday today. So, Happy Birthday to someone who has brought me a lot of happiness, and yes, love, this year--and, hopefully, for this next one, too. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Just because I can.

We had plans for the Apex Jazz Festival and a singles dance in Durham that Saturday, but no plans during the week. By Thursday, I was anxious--really anxious. So after I finished all the things I had on my to-do list errand-wise (and I was in Morrisville), I made a decision.

"If I decided I just wanted a hug and showed up at your front door, would you have time to do something?"


"I'm not kidding."

"I believe you."

So at 8ish, I made it to Kinston. We met yet again, at the Walmart. As he pulled up, and I got a hug, everything just calmed down for me. I could breathe. That anxious feeling all went away. Oddly enough

I knew I could only stay until 10/10:30 at the latest.

We thought about hitting the county fair, but as I have been to the McLean County 4-H fair so very often, we opted for stargazing in the park.

The next day, all the anxiety that had been building in my chest stayed away. My sister laughs at me; but he calms me down, and I really like that.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Going Public

The week before our adventure in Carrboro, we had talked about going public on Facebook--but he put the actual timing in my hands. Which was good for control-freak me, but also a little anxiety inducing.

As he left that Saturday night (well, Sunday morning), I asked myself a question, "What are you waiting for?"

My crazy brain replied, "I'm not sure."

So, I changed my status on Facebook.

And Facebook exploded. 139 likes? People I hadn't heard from in years commented or liked my post.

Near the end of Sacrament meeting the next day, I got a text from my 18-year-old (boy) former seminary student, "I hear you got a new man!"

Awkward, hysterical laughter escaped from me in the middle of the last speaker's talk.

Another text came from a different friend, "U got a boyfriend." I could hear her singsongy tone.

As I read it, an eight-year-old next to me gasped. And I realized that my secret may have to come out to the lovely family that has adopted me as an Auntie. 11-year-old M was going to be ecstatic. And H was going to believe that he truly had a link to Santa.

It was funny to watch how people reacted online and in real life.

I had dinner at my visiting teacher's house that night, and as I was leaving she was like, "So anything new I should know about?"

And my visiting teaching companion was like, "Have you seen Facebook today?"

"What? You can't leave after saying that!"

We did a quick little update, with a promise from me for more info later.

All-in-all, N and I agreed, our favorite comment was the Countess DeWinters' "What in the world are you thinking, getting yourself into relationships with boys at 4am???" Both of us giggled for a while after reading that one.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Passing a test...

So, I really had a hard time that week. I had decided not to freak out too much, but that wasn't super easy for me.

One of my music friends was having a CD release party in Carrboro that Saturday, and I decided to see how it went bringing N. There were supposed to be fire-breathers, belly dancers, and a bunch of bands--so a fun time, right?

When we got to the Station (a little after 8), the teacups had yet to go on, and were only setting up.

"So, we should go to dinner?" I asked.

"Oh yeah, go to dinner," John said.

I then dragged him to the Spotted Dog, telling him stories about my time living in Carrboro--eating at the bar after the temple (they still served food after 10), and the spinnin' dip which they have discontinued (a crime). I also pointed out it has the best calamari in the triangle. The best. He'd never had calamari.

"You guys are so cute," the hostess remarked after apologizing for our wait.

"What?" I asked, startled.

"It's just fun to see people in love. You're just so into each other; you don't care as long as you're together."

We both just smiled at each other. And I'm pretty sure I blushed a little. . . or a lot.

After making him try some calamari, we headed back over to the bar. The guys still had time to go, but we ended up talking to John's wife, Beth, and a bunch of the other members of the band--or friends of the band.

N did a good job mingling with these odd ducks in a place that some Mormon boys would maybe struggle with. It actually was really nice to introduce him to this area of my life that I've rarely shared with many others. It was important that he appreciate it, too.

He did great. The only time I was a little worried came about 1/2 an hour before the band went on. They were setting up, and the hippy drum circle in the parking lot next to the stage was going to town. . . And then the poll dancers started. In the Weaver Street Market parking lot, there were scantily clad, teeny-tiny ladies, doing gymnastic feats. . . in front of the family-friendly crowd.

"Do they know there are four six-year-olds sitting five feet away?" He asked.

"I'm not sure. I kind of want to know where their parent's are."

We both spent a lot of time not-looking, and I was blushing profusely. "Please don't tell your Mom I took you to see poll-dancing," I begged. And he grinned like a toddler caught in the cookie jar and just started laughing.

"You're a bad influence, huh?"

I pretty much wanted to melt through the floor. But as the music started, I knew that we were going to be okay. We danced in our seats, cheered for the band, and made little comments about the show and the crazy people around us.

He even made it to the encore band. . . where shortly after he fell asleep on my shoulder while I talked to Beth. He still had to drive the two hours home, so I woke him up and steered him out.

As we said goodbye he said, "You freaked out this week, huh?"

"Yeah," I sheepishly answered, but then became extremely serious, "If you're not feeling this, I need you to just tell me--rip the bandaid off."

"I will," he said, taking some stuff to his car. He then came back to kiss me, "I'm still here."

Friday, October 10, 2014

Freaking out

So my really big freak out came the Monday after a weekend in Kinston. Everything went well. His ward loved me, and I had fun, but for some reason I couldn't put my finger on, I was done.

I talked myself out of the whole relationship by noon on Monday with my Cousin A. And then later that night with B. But some reason I decided I needed to talk with K about it.

"You're being super nitpicky, T," She said.

I was affronted--no I wasn't!

"I love my husband, deeply, truly love him, and after a weekend alone with him, I'm ready for us both to go to work. It's the reality of relationships. You can't write him off that quickly."

Yeah, she had a point. I met with my therapist shortly after.

"I think it says a lot when you start to over-think. I think that is a pretty big clue."

Part of me wanted to ask, "What's the clue?" But I realized that was also slightly self-delusional.

So, turns out when I get a little too into it and emotionally invested, I run. I strap on my running shoes and get ready to scram.

We weren't doing a date night that week (which also lead to part of my freak out--"what do you mean you don't want to see me more than once this week?!?"), but we had set up to meet on Saturday for a friend's CD release party. I decided to see what happened. And to give it a little bit more time.

Looking back on it now--I'm really glad I did.

Dancing in Kinston. . .

The Thursday before I thought, "this is weird, my relationship status [on Facebook] may change after this weekend." But I didn't realize how well the weekend would go, and how much I would freak out the day after.

I made it by 1pm on Saturday, and we hung out at his house--talked to his Stepdad a little and just wandered around the house talking. Then we left a little early to go to dinner before a Kinston Stake Singles Dance (in New Bern). I struggled a little because I didn't feel like we were connecting over dinner, but after during a trip to the New Bern Waterfront, I was back to being comfortable. In fact, I was a little sorry to be headed to the dance (mostly because we were not going to act like we weren't there together, but we were going to keep it on the down low). 

Actually, the dance was a delight. He has a ton of single friends in the area, and they all were lovely to me. And I made him dance with all the other girls. The last three dances (before I met N), I had not been asked once to dance during a slow song. I was more than happy to point out the girls to him who had yet to dance. 

"You dance beautifully together," one of the little older ladies decided to tell us. Which kept me smiling the rest of the dance. And though there were definitely more girls than guys--the ladies and I had a wonderful time dancing with the gentlemen who were there.

Our friend Eddie showed up partway through the dance.

"Have you kissed him?" I thought he asked.

I'm pretty sure I went many parts pale and red at the same time, "What?"

"Have you kissed him?" Now I was getting really annoyed--what business is it of his if I'm kissing people?

"I'm sorry?"

"Are you staying in Kinston?" he asked one more time.

The relief I felt was palpable, "Yes! Yes, I'm staying in Kinston," I assured, kind of dying that I reacted so oddly.

Later Eddie was even more amusing, "Are you coming to church tomorrow?"


"Are you singing for us?"

"If you sit next to me at church during the hymns, yes."

"No, you should sing--we need to work that out."

"Um, because they really want a perfect stranger showing up to sing during your church service?"

"Oh, no. They would love it--we need to work that out."

"I think I'm okay, thanks."

N and I drove the 45 minutes back to Kinston--me singing along to music while he slept in the passenger seat. And I could tell I was slightly annoyed he didn't stay awake to keep me awake (I have a Prius and I like to drive--so I drove), but it was around midnight so he had a good excuse.

As he said goodnight to me at the door to the guestroom, he joked, "I could come tuck you in."

I laughed, "I'm pretty sure that could get dicey."

The next day I awoke to find that his mom (who is a nurse and had worked all day the day before and was back at work by the time I got up) had made us bacon and made sure breakfast was all set to go (and had made everything for lunch/dinner later) because she is amazing. As I heated up our breakfast, I streamed some music. September in the Rain came up on the playlist, and as it is one of my favorites; and it was drizzling outside, and September had just started--it felt perfect.

I didn't realize it at the moment but I was a little nervous to go to his ward. It is funny how it came across--I clung to his hand and didn't say a word as we were walking in. Just smiled at people. Though it was nice to sit with someone's arm around you at church.

I loved watching the organist at their ward watch everything going on in the room while modulating by heart from hymn to hymn--sometimes with very interesting meters happening as she did it. She has to be the most informed person in their congregation.

It was fast and testimony meeting--I had totally forgotten. But it also meant that I got to hear Nate's testimony--and the testimonies of his Young Men. It was moving and reassuring; and I really was grateful for his love of his Heavenly Father and his faith in Christ.

After the women behind us was like, "N, who is your lovely friend?"

I laughed. Sadly, he was pulled out of Sunday School for a YMs meeting, and I was left alone to participate in front of his ward. Sadly, I didn't find him until after the rest of the meetings, but by then I had made a good impression on his RS President and a bunch of other people in the ward. Although I could still tell I was nervous. We did happen to snap a picture at the end of the meetings.

We headed back to his house, to heat up the dinner his mother cooked the night before while we were at the dance. I enjoyed sneaking kisses behind his dad's back and dancing in the kitchen while I sang September in the Rain to him. But pretty soon it was time for me to go, and I couldn't read him. It had been a great weekend, and I wasn't sure if we could get better. Something seemed a little final about it, and I couldn't decide what that meant--or what I thought it meant.

So the next day, I freaked out, but turns out that dancing in Kinston itself was a delight. 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Getting Caught in the rain and a new tradition

Smithfield again.

Though it had only been since Monday since we saw each other, I was really happy to meet him again in Smithfield. We had decided to just do something easy--Mexican and sitting on the same side of the booth.

It was raining when I got there, and we ended up having to run for the restaurant. And then sat and teased each other about being good while sneaking kisses and playing footsie and eating yummy food.

I think the picture says it all.

My favorite moment though was right before I left, he asked, "How soon can you come on Saturday? Is noon too early?"

And I laughed and said, "Sure--noon could work."

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Labor Day Adventures

So, I had finally told a couple people about it the week previous. The Monday when I was wayyyy over thinking things. Though that was always going to be a problem of mine. But knowing his mom knew, made me feel a little bad that mine didn't.

On Sunday, I realized that I had a window on Monday (Labor Day) in which I could slip a trip to Smithfield into my schedule. B and I had brunch plans. Beth and I had dinner plans. Both were farther side of Raleigh adjacent. Yes, I could justify a trip to Smithfield.

We had talked about tracking down the Neuse Riverwalk, but Labor Day loomed extremely warm. 99 degrees is not my friend, but I was going to give it a try--until, somehow, my flip-flop broke--completely. And not just any pair, the perfect semi-nice pair that you can use to dress down a maxi dress but also works with jeans and a t-shirt.

I usually keep an extra pair in the car--or at least my gym shoes. But I had unpacked my gym bag to use for Saturday's Super Saturday activity, and had not gotten my work-out shoes back into the bag. I do keep a roll of packing tape in my car, and I tried to tape the shoes. We were going to still have to run to the Walmart and look for a quick replacement (as most places don't carry a women's 12).

He was very calm and sweet, and I, as per usual, was freaking out. Yes, I could just take off the shoes and go, but I couldn't do it. You don't know what is on the floor?!? It was awful. I was Quasimodo, dragging my left foot along the ground to keep my taped-with-packing-tape-but-totally-coming-apart flip-flops, and a cute guy holding my hand. I kept muttering, "Sorry, babe, a little slower," under my breath, and dying of humiliation.

Of course the shoe department was completely across the store in the very far back left. It takes forever to get back there, and I really am just internally cringing the whole time. There are three pairs of flip-flops left that will even work. One looks like the worst male sandals ever made. One, I'm pretty sure is made of melted plastic toys, and it would have cut into my feet. The last one is the color of Pepto Bismol, and an inch thick of foam on the bottom.

I rip off the tag, pull off the plastic thing holding it all together; throw the broken shoes into my purse, and slide the shoes on. As slow as I was going before, I power-walk to the front, dragging poor N in my wake.

I flash the tag, show my shoes, pay the $4.58 for the truly appalling shoes, and march for the front door, when N stops me.

"Hey," he says--waiting for me to look at him. When I finally make eye contact because I'm so embarrassed, he continues, "Hey, it's okay. I'm not embarrassed--you shouldn't be. We're great."

And I sigh and take a deep breath, and I feel less like someone dying internally. Hey, it is only date five--I'm not ready to give a bad impression yet. Anyway, with it being ridiculously hot outside and new not super-comfy shoes, we decide to drive the Riverwalk.

We make the first stop, and as we finally could just relax, N leans in for some dessert--but breaks it off, when we realize from about 20 feet away there is a little girl staring intently into the car. Both of us start laughing uproariously, and I am a little annoyed that I show off how embarrassed I am much easier than he does--stupid pale genetics. Read: I am bright red.

The next stop seems like it would be better, so we drive a little more until we're ensconced on the banks of the river, chatting, holding hands, scrolling through our various playlists, and watching the river. Oddly enough, as he leans in for some more dessert, the little girl and her family ride by on their bikes, and we start laughing again.

We saw each other from 2 until 5:30ish, and then I run to Beth's for some more girl time. Hours later (9pm), Beth goes to give me a hug--then she comes back at me again, and I pull back with a "Huh?" look.

"Oh, oh, oh, some snuggling has been going on here!" she accuses with a grin.

"Wha--?" I respond.

"Because you smell like you--but you also smell like cologne."

Again, I'm bright red--like you-can-see-it-from-space red.

"Mmm-hmm," she laughs at me and heads into her house.

To be continued. . . 

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