Monday, 22 October 2012

Starbucks & Sushi: The Story of HB (Part II)

Day 74
291 Days Remaining

November 2009 - February 2010

Once HB and I met in that Starbucks restaurant, things took off quickly.  We sat and talked over coffee for an hour, marveling at how many things we had in common and how we saw the world, and it was instant camaraderie.  As our conversation continued, one of us mentioned sushi, and spontaneously we decided to go to Azuma for some sashimi.  Since he had brought his motorcycle to Starbucks and I had my car, we decided we'd go together in my car and I'd drop him back off at the coffee shop when we were done.

We spent another two hours laughing and talking over the raw fish dishes and green tea, sharing our own thoughts and memories and getting to know each other.  I remember looking at him sitting across from me in his big-shouldered motorcycle jacket and wondering what he looked like underneath, and I was rewarded when he removed it to show that he filled out his T-shirt with a set of very masculine shoulders and the nicely-developed chest of someone who takes good care of himself.  I was very attracted to him.  I loved the way his eyes crinkled when he smiled; the salt-and-pepper in his dark hair, and the attentive way he listened when we were talking together.

There was one thing, however, that I needed to check with him: his profile on PoF had said "Other Religion" in the space where it asked for a description of belief.  For me, I don't like to specify whether I am "Baptist" or "Lutheran" or "Pentecostal" - all of which are churches that I have attended at different times - so I had often considered putting "Other Religion" in order to keep from making too specific a reference to any one denomination.  I was curious as to what "Other Religion" defined for this man.  I had already been through too many relationships where we did not share a faith, and I wanted this one - if it was the right one - to start off on the right foot.  I asked him what, exactly, he meant by "Other Religion".

He frowned and wrinkled his forehead in thought.  "Well, I'm...what do you call it...Protestant?" he said slowly.

All I heard was "Protestant".  All I cared about was that Protestant was a Christian denomination, and I was overjoyed that I could start a relationship with this lovely man, since he believed what I believed.  My subconscious very deliberately chose to ignore the fact of his hesitation and that he didn't seem to know what "Protestant" actually meant.  (I found out much later - when I was in way too deep and had already fallen in love with him - that he thought being a "Protestant" meant that you "protested" the very idea of God.)

When I pulled into the Starbucks parking lot after our sushi date, I turned off the car and we grinned at each other in that self-conscious way people have when they aren't sure if the date is going to end with a kiss or not.  HB smiled at me, his eyes crinkling up in that way that was already so dear to me, and said, "That was the absolute best first date ever."

I had to agree.  There was a moment where we looked at each, smiling dazedly, and then he leaned in.  My heart beat faster - he was going to kiss me!

His lips got closer, I closed my eyes, and - he kissed my cheek.  Then he kissed the other.

It was so dear and respectful that I nearly melted.  I opened my eyes and cleared my throat.  "Well," I said, "How continental of you!"

He laughed and let himself out of my car.  "I`ll see you soon," he promised before closing the door and strapping on his helmet.  With a wave, he mounted his bike and roared off.

I drove home with a stupid smile on my face, and before I had even reached my driveway, my cell phone pinged announcement of a text message.  At the red light, I opened it.  Continental, it said; lol!

I grinned and texted back.  Stupid thing to say, I know!

No, it was great, he replied, and I was happy to see that he texted in complete sentences.  Texting shorthand has always bothered me.  Then he sent: I wanted to kiss you but I wasn't sure if I should.

Next time, I typed, hitting Send before I could change my mind.  And indeed, the next time we saw each other, he kissed me properly.  And it was good.  Better than good: it was perfect.  I was falling fast.

Our instant click of attraction and mutual interest meant that we immediately began spending as much time together as we could, seeing movies, taking walks, just hanging around together. By the end of that first week, I could introduce him to people as "my boyfriend".  When a friend of mine told him that he was making me "one happy girl", he smiled proudly and said that I made him one happy guy.  I was so happy to have found him and couldn't believe how well we fit together.

HB had a dream: to be a police officer.  My dream was to be a nurse, and both of us had been working toward attaining these goals: me for a year or so; him for several more.  He had received his Associate's Degree in Criminology and was working on applying at different police departments.  His time teaching in China had given him a masterful command of Mandarin Chinese - which was thrilling for me to listen to, and fun to learn as he taught me a few words and phrases - which he hoped would make him more in demand with police departments here in Victoria or in Vancouver, which has such a large Asian population that it is often called "Hongcouver".

Trying to get to know each other wasn't difficult, but finding privacy was: HB had temporarily moved in with his family after his roommate suddenly left their shared apartment, and I was living in my grandfather's basement at the time, and he didn`t want me to have male visitors at the house.  HB and I basically had one room to hang out in.  "Just imagine," HB said dreamily to me one day, as we lay on his bed watching Dexter, "how amazing it's going to be when I`m a cop and you`re a nurse.  We can buy a big house and everything will be awesome."

We had been together three months at this time, and everything was - as far as I was concerned - already "awesome", despite the cramped space we had to be together.  We went out to movies and sushi constantly, we never seemed to run out of things to talk about, and everything just seemed to get better.  I was myself with him, completely, and it reminded me of the complete ease of self I had when I was with Black Luke.  I knew HB cared about me just the way I was - in fact, he thought I was pretty amazing.  He often told me that I was the best girlfriend that he had ever had, and he fast became someone that I couldn't imagine not having in my life.  I often dreamed of our wedding day:  He would stand at the front of the church, waiting for me to walk toward him, and his eyes would crinkle in that way I loved so much when he saw me in my bridal finery.  We`d go through the ceremony and say our words of love and commitment to each other, and the minister would pronounce us Husband and Wife.  HB would lift my veil and lean forward...

...and kiss one cheek, and then the other.

"How continental of you," I imagined myself saying up to him, with a smile. be continued...

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