In his defense: he had been invited to a black and white Christmas party and thought it would be original to go wearing all white. He borrowed some articles of clothing from his roommate and flipped a belt inside out to make it work. Funny, once you know the context, which I didn't.
It was high time we gained a mutual understanding of each other's lives, or this was going to fizzle out over something menial.
Around midday Saturday, when he was supposed to be driving from Chicago to Kansas City, I sent him a text message asking how his trip was going and didn't hear back from him for several hours. He finally called halfway through the afternoon and told me he had been dealing with snow storms throughout much of his trip, but he should be in around 8pm. I felt bad about all he was enduring to get to me. Would he think it was worth it by the end of the weekend?
As the afternoon dragged into early evening, I got more nervous, which made me short tempered and hyper focused on the house being clean and the refrigerator stocked. I think I ran out for milk at 7:30pm, only to have Tim call soon after to tell me he was only minutes away. I made it home in time to pace the living room and do some breathing exercises with Anna before I heard a very regular knock on the door. Shoot. I had meant to keep an eye out and light on and greet him like I'd been expecting him, not make him stand there knocking, hoping he was at the right house.
Our front step from the porch (where he was) to the inside doorway (where I stood) was unfortunately high, meaning that when I opened the door and greeted him with a welcoming slash friendly hug, I was a few inches taller than him.
"Whoop, oh, hey, hi!"
"Come on in! Are you tired? How was your trip? Did you find the house okay? Are you hungry? This is my roommate Anna!"
Nervous chatter had to be better than awkward silence, right?
"Hey! Oh yeah, not too bad. It was fine. Yeah, google maps. Um...can I use your bathroom?"
"Sure, right this way! This house is so old the light switch is on the outside of the bathroom door, but don't worry, we won't prank ya!"
It was all I could come up with. I was moving so fast through these motions I didn't even take a good look at him. I couldn't think clearly and suddenly Anna and I were standing stiffly in the living room waiting for him to come out of the bathroom.
"What do you think?", she whispered.
"Not my type.", I whispered back.
I think I said this because he had dark hair, which I knew full well beforehand from pictures, but maybe I was hoping it would be lighter in real life? Or maybe it was that he smiled a lot and seemed genuine and friendly, and I tended to go for the moody, burdened intellectual over-thinkers. I don't know.
Tim came out of the bathroom and Anna and I tried to pretend we hadn't been anticipating his exit from the can as much as we were. What would happen next??
Luckily, he was hungry, and I had man food. I sat him down at the table and fed him some chili. Ten minutes later, the three of us were out the door, in my car, on the way to a Christmas concert at a church across town. Some of Tim's photographer friends attended there and wanted to see him. I wanted to get to a place where the main focus wasn't us and our awkward social predicament that sociologists haven't named yet.
I was steel that first night. I made stiff, cool jokes and snorted instead of laughed, prepared for him to send signals that he wasn't interested in me. I handed him my iPod as I drove, and he chose upbeat lighthearted Christmas music for us to listen to in the car. I had my hands on 10 and 2, and when he asked inquisitive things about Kansas City, I answered factually. We were three friends going to a Christmas concert, no one better dare think anything different.
We arrived late and climbed to the upstairs balcony. The band was singing their own version of "Last Christmas I gave you my heart." Tim leaned forward and rested his arms on the pew in front of him to take in the music.
He's been humming that song all year long.