A Curious Pull
Across the crevasse
Bridging the divide,
Plank by plank.
I sat there looking out at the dark sky through my windshield. It was almost cinematic in its simplicity. It was the kind of winter day one is tempted to leave without a coat, the thermometer hovering between melting and freezing, but leaning toward the former. The winter warmth refreshed my sensibilities. Reclined and warm in the front seat of my car, I took in every soothing detail: the comforting, cool light of the street lamp, the sounds of cars meandering by, the feathery snow flake by flake beginning to blanket the sky above me. There was new hope on the horizon. Something different and new. An adventure. Possibilities abound. The smell of beginnings filled my lungs.
A set of headlights peered around the corner and Andre emerged a few minutes late and slightly breathless. I would soon learn that this was in his nature. His sense of anxiety manifested itself not only in our conversations, but in his entire demeanor. His unsure eyes, his cautious stride, the way his brow strained as he listened intently to every inflection in my voice.
“This is the place,” I said, my next thought turning to Brigham Young’s announcement as the Mormon pioneers were led into what became Salt Lake City. What a very Utah thing to say to Mr. Nebraska.
Not completely aware of the dialogue in my head, he remarked, “This is the place and you are the man. I’m glad we could do this.”
“I’m glad you made it up safe and sound.”
“Me, too. I’ve been looking forward to this since last night. Well, even before that. I’d say since I first saw you.”
I blushed, offered a smile for the compliment and chuckled a bit at his sweetness. “Are you ready to eat? You must be hungry after that drive. I was wondering if you thought I was racist when my first suggestion was Mexican.”
The conversation that ensued at dinner was somewhat quiet on both ends. Neither of us took a particularly dynamic role in the conversation. Both shy and curious as to what the other was thinking, the conversation focused mostly on family.
“Well,” I started us off as I dipped the first tortilla chip into the salsa. “There’s my mom and dad, my little brother who I’m pretty close to. My older brother is married and finally had a baby after a decade of marriage.”
“Seriously? Why did it take so long.”
“That’s not something that I’d ask,” I said laughing a little.
Andre turned red. He didn’t know what to say. After passing him a reassuring look, he started to shed some light on his life: “For me, there’s really just my mom and my sister. My father and step-father aren’t really part of the picture anymore.”
“That must’ve been hard. I’ll tell you all about it sometime. I’d rather not go into this having you think I’m crazy.”
I looked and him and smiled. “Don’t worry. We all are in some way.”
The conversation was filled with pauses as we tried to figure each other out. We’d come from very different environments yet we were both gay and shared a timidness I’d begun to outgrow in spurts. Neither of us knew how to navigate this conversation, but found a connection in our mutual caution. I focused intently on his eyes which indicated a sense of nervousness. At moments, he would turn them away out of bashfulness, although the desire to connect was ever-present.
The meal of tortillas and black beans was as refreshing as the winter warmth with which the night started. After two hours of punctuated conversation, we said our goodbyes.
“I really liked this. Do you think we could try again next week?” he asked intently.
“How about Monday?” I suggested.
“That works for me.”
The intrigue of difference and lethargic conversation left us wanting more. We were intently trying to figure each other out.
My heart pounding following a hug and an unexpected kiss goodbye, I immediately called my best friend. “Cole, I don’t know what to think at all about this date. It was slow and awkward, but somehow amazing. I kissed him after a very slow first date and I started it! What is wrong with me?!”
“I think you’re confused because you’re falling for him. Love is an amazing process of figuring out another person for the rest of your life. I’m not saying you’re in love, but you’re open to it after a long time. You’ve made a connection you’re not sure what to do with.”
And with that reassurance, I let myself enjoy my curiosity rather than forsake it.
End, Part 2.