Without a hitch, the performances went on as planned. A couple of months of singing and dancing rehearsals with the conventional stresses finally paid off as they should. Variant threads of talent came together for three consecutive nights of an unfamiliar excitement. Quite unexpectedly, things went much better than I’d expected. The dances and the musical numbers, though far from perfect, became that adrenaline rush that left me on a high unique, but not superior to the one’s I had experienced in my life.
Following the opening night performance, I received a surprise—one that in retrospect seems more like a link in a chain of surprises.
Recently, I’d received an unexpected message on Connexion (my preferred gay dating site):
I’m pretty sure I saw you at a few weeks ago at church. Just wanted to say hi and let you know you weren’t the only one there. ;)
My initial reaction was a complex sense of disbelief. First, because I had felt completely alone in that meeting; and second, because Anson happened to be the most gorgeous man to pay me attention since the breakup with Mark nearly a year ago.
I thought nothing of it, especially after the conversations started to wane and performances began to pick up. For sentimental reasons associated with Mark, I reserved the phrase “on the same page” for very special occasions and Cole knew when I used that very phrase to describe Anson that I was smitten the week of the big show. Refreshingly, we shared the same doubts, the same insecurities, and both remained positive about life.
Having played it low-key as I attempted to manage school along with the show, and as I sorted out how I felt about dating Chandler (who, despite his sincerity, inspired relationship doubts every time he lit a cigarette), I decided to mention the performance to Anson only in passing. For that reason, it was nearly a shock when—having never seen him in person or heard his voice—he tracked me down in the lobby.
Cautious about the surprise he pulled on me, he hovered for a few moments. He smiled at me from afar as a throng of elderly strangers complimented the performance and offered their granddaughters’ phone numbers. Each time I glanced over and caught his brilliant blue eyes, the post-performance excitement teemed over a bit.
When we finally had a chance to speak, he immediately offered a hug and a simple, “You were great.” He took delight in my ear-to-ear smile and the giddy nervousness of my posture.
“Thanks,” was all I could muster in that moment.
In a way, I felt the universe was messing with me in the worst of too-good-to-be-true senses. I was completely unprepared and unsure of what to make of him. How serious could he be? Would he do this for just anyone? Is he the nice guy? He admitted he dated as much as I did, leaving me even more astounded that he had put together delightful surprise , let alone that he had paid me any attention at all.
We visited for a moment before another crowd of elderly audience members offered up their supportive words. He smiled and offered a hug enigmatic in length and pressure. My mind whirred about as I tried unsuccessfully to precipitously understand a man I’d barely met.
The string of surprises continued that week—an excellent grade on a paper that week, a call from a friend I hadn’t seen in months, and an impromptu date with Chandler following the final performance. Though it felt great to see a familiar face and subtly tie romance to art as he waited outside the dressing rooms, I couldn’t escape the feeling that we were at an impasse. I hadn’t ruled out dating him because he smoked, but rather I had made the decision not to decide.
Reservations like that never lead anywhere, and this was no exception for us. We enjoyed ourselves, but my attempts to be open-minded and try something new remained pretext for things not working out with anyone in the past year. At this crossroads it seemed like there was the possibility of the opposite with Anson. He held the same beliefs and feelings and showed concern for his own life.
I knew what I wanted, but I didn’t know if Anson had come to a similar conclusion since he had so many romantic options available to him. It was a matter, at that point, of keeping that option available without making it the only option—a dating suspended animation if you will.
Life rushed on and on the eve of our first date, I received another surprise via email—an opportunity that left me wondering if my life would take a new turn and romance would be placed on the backburner for a while:
“GMB—We are pleased to announce that you have been selected to volunteer in the Ministry of Education (MINEDUC)’s Teach English Program….”
End of Series.