Well, Who Woulda Thunk It
It is Friday night and I am on a date with Redbeard. He’s super connected with local environmental non-profits and so received an invitation to this:
The documentary, “Appalachia: A History of Mountains and People,” will air nationwide on PBS in April, but the premier offered a sneak-peak of the four-part series and a reception with filmmakers Jamie Ross and Ross Spears is Friday, January 16th at the Diana Wortham Theatre. “This is the first environmental series of any region ever on film,” Ross said. “It gives a picture of the region as never seen before, in all its beauty and complexity.” Ross said after she and Spears began working on the project, they quickly realized that “the only way this story was going to make sense was to make the mountains the main character.”
At his suggestion, we meet an hour before the movie so we can visit. At my suggestion, we go to The Vault, my friend’s bar and one very happening little spot right downtown. The place is loud, crowded, and active but we hunker down in a little corner and sip glasses of red wine. We talk about his poetry and music, my writing and art essays. We talk about jazz decades, Andrew Bird, and Suzuki training. We talk about Redbeard’s upcoming trip to Oaxaca. Conversation is easy—after all, we’ve known each other for five years, though the pretense of this evening is markedly different.
The movie is fascinating and Redbeard introduced me to several of his friends that we ran into. He held the door and paid for my ticket. He complimented my jacket and told me how much he liked the short story I’d sent him (at his request). With temperatures in the single digits, the idea of going on a walk after the movie was nixed. So I suggested the French Broad Chocolate Lounge, which was the perfect fit because by some lovely miracle, Redbeard seems to love chocolate even more than I do. He’d never been to a chocolate bar so this was some treat.
Inside, there was standing room only. We placed our orders (pistachio encrusted shortbread dipped in dark chocolate and a liquid Buddha truffle hot sipping drink that comes with a spoon). We talked more as the night went on, and Redbeard asked me if I wanted to go to Jack of the Wood (my favorite bar, incidentally) to see a musician who was playing there tonight. With the 1 hour 20 minute drive home and the 1/2 mile hike (due to ice) in –5 degree weather on the mountain, I declined. But he offered to walk to my car, and I wholeheartedly accepted.
“So,” he said.
“So.” I said, fiddling with the lock on the car door.
“I’m used to being your friend, Katey, and I like that. But I’m open to dating you. I think we have good chemistry and I want to spend more time with you.”
“Yeah.” Really? Direct expression of emotions in a succinct, mature, yet flattering way? This is even better than I thought!
“Sorry, I mean…” Oh, words, don’t fail me now. How perfectly ironic! “I think we should give it a try. Dating, that is. I mean, yes. I’d like to.”
I swore I wouldn’t make the first move, but before I knew it my body moved towards his and we were toe-to-toe, jacket-to-jacket, face-to-face. I smiled, and thought about pulling back, but didn’t.
“I want to put time into this,” he said.
“I’m scared,” I said.
“Why are you scared?” His tone was calm. Mature. Totally unafraid and easy.
I mumbled a few things, completely unrelated to him, then cut myself off. “That’s about two paragraphs worth of confession. That’s enough for one night, eh?” I smiled.
“Hah,” Redbeard laughed. “Yeah, I suppose so. So, I’ll see you Sunday?”
And with that, the simplest little direct kiss goodnight.
* * *
There is something inherently different about this new beginning and I think it might be the best thing on the planet for me right now. Slow and steady. Straightforward. Mature. Honest.
As for the blog, I told him it’s off limits. This is my personal sketchpad of drafts and feelings, and while it’s in the public domain, it’s not in the first date’s domain. He gave me his word without a flinch, and I trusted him.