08 July 2016

The Night I Met You

When you asked me to the holiday party at the Arts Club, I sheepishly said yes. I didn't know why you were inviting me or what your intentions were. I said yes because I was in a moment in my life where I wanted to say yes to the unknown. I remember running our brief texts over to my friends asking simply, "Date or business thing??" and one person responded, "If he touches your back it's a date."

You reached out your hand to greet me that night, introducing me to your friends. I didn't know at the time that it was the only time I would meet any of those nice interesting people. Your eyes were piercing, I found myself looking away because I couldn't look directly into them. Date or business I repeatedly asked myself. You wanted to sit next to me on the couch at the back of the room during the strange performance - an authentic "Victorian Picture Show" - but due to low attendance, we were politely asked to sit toward the front. As we made our way to the chairs, I felt you place your hand on the small of my back. The entire experience was strange. I sipped my wine, thinking about how badly I had to go to the restroom, how I didn't know where it was located, how I was sitting next to a stranger in a room, while everyone around me sang Christmas Carols. We made a number of jokes under our breath, I noticed you weren't drinking, I clutched my wine for comfort. Date or business?

At dinner, you pulled out my chair for me. I talked to you about my studies. It was the first of many conversations we would have about disability, about art, about museums, about the things that interested us. I couldn't look into your eyes as we spoke, and I barely touched my food. I was so nervous and I couldn't tell why. I didn't ask you many questions about yourself, something I regretted when we hung out again later. When I didn't eat much of my food, you asked if I was done, then switched your empty plate for mine. You ate all of the meat, leaving the potatoes on the side. I thought, how odd. Why is this person eating my dinner? Definitely not a business move. When the server came around to refill our glasses, you made a joke about them cutting you off after this glass of water. I retorted, "Oh, is that your token joke about not drinking?" Everyone at the table laughed. I didn't know at the time what your reasons for not drinking were, and I am sorry if I made you uncomfortable. But you weren't uncomfortable. You said afterwards that you liked how ballsy I was that night. How I made a joke at your expense. Your friends (the ones I never met again) liked me enough to make a toast to me.

After desserts and coffee, we moved the party over to your friends' apartment on Michigan Avenue. You carried my umbrella for me. I liked how you looked in your maroon suit, carrying my clear plastic umbrella. You looked dignified, and I was touched at you wanting to do something for me. Maybe chivalry wasn't dead? Or maybe you were just being polite. On the 54th floor of this high rise, we saw a breathtaking view of the city. I felt we were inches away from the John Hancock, glowing red and green for holidays. Fog was rolling in over the lakefront, and though we didn't have coats on I didn't mind the breeze. I took a photo of the view while no one was looking, to remember that the night was real, that this was all happening. 

The stunning view from the hosts' balcony
We drank expensive whiskey, I was too shy to turn it down, even though I hate the stuff. Pot appeared in the form of a vaporizer with personalized mouth pieces. I turned to you and said, "Is this really happening?" You encouraged me to be comfortable. I smoked and drank, I warmed up a little. The host wanted to walk us through the apartment, showing us his favorite works of art. Your friend, the architect, put on The Weeknd. There were a few beautiful prints made by the host's mother, I believe while she was at Ox Bow. He told us that one of the works was made while he was in utero, I loved that fact. I remember the host's collection of R. Crumb illustrations, and how excited I was by the erotic Mapplethorpes hanging in the hall. The hosts were excited about the new Italian marble in the living room and an ancient Roman mosaic they had recently hung. I thought to myself, where am I and how did I get here? I didn't want the night to end. There were a few moments when I thought about how I wanted to brush my hand on yours, or how I hoped our thighs would touch. Was this a date or business? Who were you and why did you invite me? 

We shared an Uber home. In the car you peppered me with questions. About school, about if I was single, about if I had time to date. I answered honestly, these weren't business questions. I wished we were in the back seat instead of the front two middle seats, the space between our chairs felt like a gulf. I wanted more. I wanted answers. When we arrived at your corner, you leaned over and kissed my cheek. This was not a business meeting, right? I watched you walk toward your building, not knowing which one it was. And as soon as we drove off, I asked our driver what he thought. He listened sweetly and told me it was most definitely a date.

The photo I sent you letting you know I got home okay.
Thanks for the Uber.

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