On Independence Day of 2011, work was dead. By mid-morning, I clocked out, and as it neared midday, I reminded myself that I was just trying to be friendly to the new kid, and made a gutsy move.
"Soooooooo...um. I have a thought," I texted Chris.
"What's that?" The response came within a minute or two, which made me smile.
"I actually DON'T work today, and I would rather not sit around the apartment all afternoon by myself. My follow-up thought to that was that you might be bored at home too. Catching my drift...?"
"I think I am," he responded. The smiley face he included was beautifully reassuring.
...And at this point, I think it's only fair to include a little of Chris' side of the story.
Chris thought he was going to do an internship in the summer of 2011, but no dice. As much as he tried, all of his attempts were foiled and foiled again. Chris was bemoaning this to his sister Ruth (they're close, both in age and friendship) and she promptly replied, "Come visit me in North Carolina instead!"
Suddenly, and although he thought an internship was a much better idea, he somehow knew it was exactly what he was going to do.
When he arrived at the townhouse, Ruth (and Jeff, her husband) promptly began haranguing Chris about dating while he was there. Apparently, Ruth even went all missionary-commitment-pattern on him by his second week there. "Chris. Will you ask out a girl in your ward by this time next week? I promise you will have fun and be really glad you got out of the house in order to make new friends."
"Okay," Chris replied. "I have someone in mind." ME!!!!
So basically, if I would have gone for a walk with him the night before, he totally would have asked me on a date.
However, being easygoing and resourceful person that he is, Chris instead took my "drift" and ran with it. Did I want to go swimming? Had I eaten lunch? Did I want to do that, and then come back and play board games with his sister and brother-in-law? I planned on going to the ward activity that evening, right?
"And what's your address, anyway?" he finally asked.
"Well, I still need to finish getting ready, so I'm not telling yet!"
"Tease." He's called me a few times in the last year and a half. Every time, I'd say it's been warranted.
Anyway. He picked me up at Dani's apartment, where I'd been staying that week, and we proceeded to explore Franklin Street in Chapel Hill, in quest of a place to eat. Over lunch, I learned that Chris was born rather deaf but as a little kid, had this miraculous healing after a priesthood blessing. I thought that was pretty dang cool.
And as for Chris, I thought he was pretty dang cool too. He held doors, paid for things like it was the obvious thing to do on a date, and was easy to talk to. Like, really easy to talk to. The day before had not been a fluke. He was just so...nonthreatening. I liked that, but the absence of obvious threat put me on the alert for less obvious red flags.
After lunch, we went to his sister's. She was normal, and nice, and seemed fond of her brother. No red flag.
We played board games. It was competitive, in a funny way, and they were very patient about teaching me a new game or two. No red flag.
We briefly discussed, and decided we ought to hit the grocery store before going to ward FHE, so that we had a contribution to make to the pot luck. No red flag.
In fact, the scariest thing about the day was at the store, I had to remind myself that I really didn't know him that well, and therefore, probably shouldn't stand that close to him. Just out of politeness, or at very least, social norms. People have a bubble.
But with him, I just felt so comfortable.
We spent most of the day getting to know each other and bantering argumentatively, so it wasn't surprising that I was worn out by the time the ward pot luck rolled around. I admit, once we got food and chatted with the crowd a little bit, I hid! It of course meant my friends found me, though. "Did you come with Chris? Are you guys on a date? Do you totally like him? Where is he, anyway?"
"Yes, yes, and I don't know yet! Cut me some slack, geez. And he was wearing me out, so I ran away!"
Chris patiently accepted my introversion line, again, when he found me later. We sat with Dani and her roommate Laurelin, and when the leadership broke it to us that fireworks were cancelled on account of rain, we all opted to go back to the apartment and watch a movie.
When Chris tried to take the chair instead of sitting with us on the couch, I knew it was time for another strategic risk.
"You're really going to sit all the way over there?" I demanded.
"Dude, come sit on the couch!" As far as I was concerned, we were still on a date, and it was just dumb for me to sit with Laurelin and Dani when my cute, charming date was in the room. Duh.
I don't even remember what movie it was now, probably because the end of it marked tactical move number two. I'd been on dates before with guys who were mostly just friends. On one in particular, I seriously considered putting my head on my date's shoulder, just to see what would happen to the dynamic. It's a nice little way of saying, "hey, I kinda like this. What do you think?"
Besides, Chris and I had just spent about 12 hours together. It didn't seem like that big of a deal.
So I did it. I put my head on his shoulder on our very first date. After a few minutes, his arm went around my shoulders and I smothered a smile.
Well, okay then, I thought.