On Monday morning, I got up early, put on some coffee, and started working on importing, sorting, and editing my pictures from the day before. Tim joined me about halfway through this process and offered to show me a few tricks of his trade before we left the house to go out for breakfast. Once again, he was very kind and not overbearing in his guidance on how I processed my pictures.
"You could do this to warm up the white balance if you wanted to, but that's just what I like."
It is a cozy thing to wake up and sit at the kitchen table with someone, drinking coffee and talking. I loved this part of our time together, and I still really love my Tim time every morning.
Aixois bistro is one of my favorite Kansas City restaurants, and it's French, so we had to go. We had just enough time to eat a nice meal together before he had to start his drive back to Chicago.
When we got settled at our table, the conversation suddenly became halting and awkward. It was like all the natural ease we'd had flowing suddenly stopped and we could barely come up with a new topic to discuss over breakfast.
As we were finishing our meal, I excused myself to go to the ladies' room, and as I was washing my hands in the sink I remember staring at my reflection in the mirror, inwardly demanding that girl to tell me what was going on.
And then I realized: he still didn't have an answer from me about whether or not I would come to Chicago. He was about to leave and had no idea what I was thinking. I felt horrible and resolved to go right out there and tell him that I did want to put forth the same amount of effort into this that he already had and travel to Chicago to see his life there and meet his friends too.
When I returned to the table, Tim was getting his coat on to leave.
"Want to take a walk before I go?"
Excellent. I would have plenty of opportunity to set this straight.
The weather was bright and cold as we set off through Brookside and Tim and I were able to converse easily again.
Lesson in dating: the forward moving walking process is so much easier on new relationships than staring at each other across a table.
We talked about our families some more and what it was like to grow up in two different cultures. I had a hard time finding a natural segue into telling him I wanted to come visit and after a long loop through the neighborhood--with our endpoint in site--bless his heart, he asked me again.
"So do you think you'd want to come up to visit sometime in the next couple of months?"
"Yeah, I really do."
"Absolutely. Maybe in January if you have a free weekend?"
He was so excited. I was so excited. I think he even did a little skip/jump on the sidewalk like he always does when he's happy. He told me all about what we would do and what he would show me in downtown Chicago and how we would meet his friends and hang out with his brother and his fiancee.
"..and we can go ice skating in Millennium Park and go up in the John Hancock Tower and we'll go to a Blues bar..."
He had all these ideas. It was adorable.
We got back to my house, and in a matter of minutes his car was packed and we were in front of my house saying goodbye. We hugged. The kind of hug that lasts one and a half seconds and you're both wearing thick overcoats and when it's over feels like it was no real hug at all. It was the only time we'd touched since the first awkward hug when he arrived. Closing that space made me jumpy. We said 'see you soon', and he was gone
I went inside, laid on my couch, and tried to lock every memory into my head and analyze all that had happened. I was relieved that it was over so I could rest and think and be alone. I called my mom and told her that I thought he was wonderful and perfect, but I couldn't be sure until I got to Chicago and saw him in his own environment.
And then I went on with my day, and I started to miss him. The next day, he called me as he was boarding his plane to France.
And now, one year later, we are about to board a plane to France together to spend Christmas with his family. It will be the first time I've been back to the country where I grew up since 1998. I'll start this series back up in January on the anniversary of my first visit to Chicago to tell you all the details of that trip, or you can sneak a peak right here. Thank you so much for reading. There's plenty more coming.