Monday, December 3, 2018

Glad I couldn't dodge the invitation


It was a long day. I woke early thinking about the problems I’m having with the holiday card and decided to go to work early. I beat the snow removal team to the parking lot, and the only person inside was our cleaning person. She was riding the floor polisher up and down the corridors and waved each time she passed my office. Made me smile.

In solving one problem with the card, I created another. When I realized it, I was ready to chuck the mouse into the hallway. Instead I walked across to Eve’s office and asked if she wanted to walk down the block with me. Good sport that she is, she grabbed her coat and followed me out the door.

The air was quite cold and snow flurries fell around us. It felt good to me; Eve’s ankles were cold.

“Do you know what you were doing a year ago today?” I asked, hoping to get her mind off her ankles.

“No. You remember what I was doing a year ago today?”

“I do. You were tricking me into meeting Blaine.”

She clamped her hand over my arm. “Has it been a year? I didn’t trick you!”

“You didn’t tell me he was going to be there, so I didn’t know to dodge the invitation.”

She laughed. “Maybe I did do that.”

Blaine picked me up after work. I had changed from work clothes into date clothes, and since I knew he would still be dressed in a suit, I fancied it up a bit.

The restaurant wasn’t busy. Blaine asked if I wanted the dining room, but I chose the bar. There was a couple seated at the bar and a group of women at a table. I saw that the high top we sat at a year ago was available and thought Why not?

Once our coats were off and we were settled, Blaine slid his hand over mine, curling his fingers to tuck them beneath mine. “I have a question,” he said. “I have a feeling we’re here tonight for a reason.” I laughed. He continued, “Is today the anniversary of when we met?”

I told him it was but that I hadn’t expected him to remember the date. The only reason I did was because I remembered it was the same day as Lainey’s birthday party last year so I was able to look it up. “That was a really good day for me,” I admitted.

“Lainey’s cake was particularly good?”

“Exactly. It changed the course of my entire year.”

“That’s some cake.”

Fortunately the waitress arrived and saved us from ourselves. To mark the occasion as special, Blaine ordered glasses of sparkling wine. We drank them slowly while reminiscing about first impressions and the way all of last December unfolded. We laughed about some of the early days of dating when one or the other was certain they had blown it. We agreed that something shifted while I was on vacation in Chicago and everything felt more secure after. We acknowledged that, for different reasons, we have both benefited from setting a slower pace. And we admitted that slower hasn’t meant less meaningful or intense.

When we finished the wine, we ordered the usual appetizers--beet fries and roasted Brussels sprouts. We talked about a statement the local National Weather Service office issued that said today’s persistent snow flurries were caused by steam from two plants a couple hours north of here. Crazy. I told him I had an idea for a Christmas present for Allison (his daughter). He said she has already told him what she wants but that I should give her what I'm thinking of. I may.

I had to explain to him that when I said, “Can I take you to dinner,” I didn’t also mean “but you can pay.” I finally slipped my credit card to the waitress.

As he put his wallet away, he was reminded of something and reached into the inside pocket of his overcoat. “I’ve been meaning to give this to you.” He slid a shiny new garage door remote toward me. “No reason to get out of the car just to open the door,” he said. “Feel free to come and go as you please.”

“Aww,” I said. “Now we have even more to celebrate next December 3rd.”

He winked.

I’m significantly smitten.


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