I rush through security (well, as fast as one can rush through), hop on the train and get hustle my bustle to the gate. SURPRISE! Delayed almost an hour. Fantastic! I settle into a nice chair and then start chatting with the woman next to me who is crocheting a baby blanket for her daughter. She was adorable and we had the best time talking. The flight continues to change and with it text messages to Steven about my arrival.
E: Flight's delayed. Won't get in until 7p.
E: Oops, I mean 7EST/6CST
S: What's wrong with you? Were you born yesterday?
E: LOL just a long day and I'm tired (I'm not going to mention I had FOUR glasses of wine, the last of which was picked up by the bartender)
S: Just checking! LOL See you soon!!
Finally, I'm on the plane and surprised of how many people don't check a bag. Southwest doesn't charge for bags and yet everyone brought a bag on. There is little room and with some negotiation and the kindness of strangers I get small, bright pink bag into the overhead bin and score a window seat. I was sssooo excited for a nap. And. then.....the guy behind me is talking and the direction and volume of his voice is going directly into my ear. It was so loud I couldn't help but listen to the conversation. Turns out a Mormon was sitting in the middle seat and the two of them had a full on conversation about God and religion, particularly Mormonism as the guy was clearly proselytizing, saying things like "Well, the Bible leaves out so much and the Book of Mormon fills in the blanks." Really? You really believe that the Book of Mormon is better than the Bible. Really? "You know we have temples all over the place and we're just so much more faithful to the word than most Christians." Okay, NOW, I am going to slap the shit out of you. Shut. UP! I'm trying to sleep. And....you're kind of ignorant. Ugh...I mean, I don't mind it but they were both SO LOUD and I just wanted to sleep. Not to mention the fact I could see that the two people next to me who were Jewish, were clearly uncomfortable.
I manage to get a few minutes of shut eye and still wake up completely annoyed. Grouchy even. I text Steven when I land. He BETTER have parked his car, walked his ass in and is waiting to greet me at baggage claim. (See! I'm totally grouchy!) That doesn't turn out to be the case. "I've got to drive around again..." Awesome. Thanks. I'm hoping that now that he knows I'm into him and this relationship that the thoughtful gentleman hasn't ridden off into the sunset without me. "K" was all I could respond.
I walk through the sliding doors and out into the cold. Haul my ass and luggage, in my work outfit and stiletto boots, across the drives to the pick up lane. I'm so annoyed I can't even watch for his car so I get on my phone and start reviewing email. What? I'm tired. I get grouchy when I'm tired and I won't make any excuses for it. It just is. HONK! and he's right in front of me. "Hey, baby, looking for a date?" I look up, see him smile, smile in return, throw my bag in the back seat and climb into the warmth. "Hey..." he says gingerly in the warm, sexy way he has. I giggle, smile and say "Hey" in return. He kisses me and the grouchy starts to melt away. He asks how the trip went and I admit I'm a little grouchy. "Well, I'm taking you for ice cream and that will make it all better."
I flew into Midway airport on the South Side of Chicago. Conveniently, Steven is a man of both sides of town having lived on the South Side with his dad and where he went to technical college. We drive further South. I have never been down here before. It's funny and sad really. Chicago is such a huge place that most of the time you just stick to your side of town. There's really no need to go south if you don't need to. The South Side, however, is more like suburbs than city. There are shopping malls and parking lots everywhere. The North Side is too crowded for much of this.
We pull into a small shopping center and I see the sign, once neon but now doesn't work, "Gerties". "I used to work here in high school and I've been dying to come down here. That's why I offered to pick you up so I could come down here." "Reeaaallly, that's the only reason you offered. Glad I could be of help!" We both laugh.
Gertie's is a blast to the past. Red, worn velvet booths are everywhere with long slim tables in between. Stuffed animals hang from the ceiling and a lllloonnngg counter on one wall sells candy and then ice cream. He decides on a Banana Split. I don't want too much and order a cup of Pistachio Almond. Steven's hands ease across the table to grab mine. When I look up he's looking at me. Smiling. His sweetness is overflowing and I can tell the time away has caused him to miss me...a lot. "Did you miss me?" "Oh, maybe a little. I was just so busy this week I didn't have time to think about you." He laughs at my sarcasm, and we are always sarcastic with one another. "This place has changed," he says. "It's definitely not the same place I worked at or where everyone hung out." Our order arrives and we both dig into his Banana Split. "Even the ice cream doesn't taste the same." I can tell he is really bummed. In his mind, he had probably been so excited to share this with me only to be totally disappointed. Eventually we finish up and start the long drive back to my house.
Once in front, he decides he's gotta do the "man thing" and carve a parking spot out with his all-wheel drive car. Even though there are like two clear one's in front. A boy and his toys. I will never understand. This leaves me, again, to heaving my bags through the snow and ice in stiletto boots up to my apartment. Ugh! Inside, I drop the bag and immediately change my clothes. By the time I'm done, Steven is walking in the door. He removes his coat, comes to me, wraps his arms around me for a kiss that could light a fire of soaked wood on a rainy night in a forest. We hug, talk and then chill on the couch. Things lead to other things, and I'll leave it there. We didn't really close the deal.
The next morning was a different story. Sufficed to say, we actually were able to achieve "sealing the deal", which I was a little concerned about. Maybe he's nervous, E. "Gosh, I'm so nervous with you," he says as if reading my mind. An hour later, both famished we decide on brunch. I hopped in the shower and he left to do the same. Within an hour he was back at my door...smiling. "How about Dim Sum in Chinatown instead?" "Sounds great. I've always wanted to do that and never have." "Girl, you need to get out of your hood an explore this city!" "Yes, I know. Tell me about it. This will be great. I'm very excited."
In the car on the way down we talk. Steven doesn't listen to the radio in the car, at least not when I'm in it, he doesn't own a TV. He reads, writes and apparently is a budding entrepreneur inside. He tells me about his "ideas" and how much he loves his job - the benefits and all - but that he doesn't do anything unless something major happens.
S: "I'd like to have a job like yours. You think and use your mind. I have so many ideas and things I'd like to do but don't know where to start." When he starts talking about this, I sense an childlike shyness; an insecurity. He's so confident in who he is, to see this shift softens my heart more. He's being vulnerable with me.
E:"I can easily help you with that. Tell me your ideas." He does, and indeed he has some solid business ventures budding in his mind.
E: "You can do anything you want to do if you ask for help," I say.
S: "Awesome, my girlfriend is going to help me bring these to life!"
E: "I'm sorry what did you call me?"
S: "My girlfriend."
E: "Okay, just checking that I heard you correctly." He smiles. "So, my girlfriend has invited us to dinner with her husband next Sunday night. Are you available?"
S: "Sure.....gosh it always gets so weird when people start asking what I do because I can't really say. I'm, like, invisible."
E: "Just tell them your a federal officer and leave it at that."
S: "Yeah, I guess I could. Then they think I'm a mall cop or security officer."
E: "Let 'em. You can even tell them that you carry a water pistol and you got your badge on the Internet or out of a Kracker Jax Box." He throws his head back and laughs. I know I've made him feel better about it. "But believe you me....I'm a journalist and sooner or later I'll put all the little tidbits you give me together to come up with the whole story."
S: "I have no doubt you will."
Dim Sum and then some! My word! If you've never had Dim Sum, the best way to describe it is Chinese Tapas, except there is no waiting. You sit down at the table and the carts are there in seconds, perfect for the two of us about to gnaw an arm, or at least a finger. Steven's eyes are clearly bigger than his stomach. He takes six dishes from the carts as they come around. I take one of everything and stuffed. He continues to eat, we talk and finally I persuade him to take it home. There's something nice about finding someone you can just be with. Silence is golden and we just don't have to talk all the time. I mean, we're never short on conversation, but in the car, at the restaurant, we can just....be. Neither one if feels the need to have to keep the conversation going at all times. Most of the time, he just sits and looks at me. WHAT? What is going on in that mind of yours? I can't figure it out! Just tell me already! But I know he won't and I will continue to say "WHAT?" every time he does what he does.
It doesn't bother me, really. Steven's eyes are warm and there's passion there. I have a photo of him that I took off his profile. It is the best representation of him. Head tilted wearing a baseball cap with a half smile and his intense eyes looking directly into the camera. That's him! I saved it to my desktop so I can look at it.
In our phone conversation Wednesday night I noted that I had removed my profile from the dating site but noticed his was still up. He laughed. "It shouldn't come up. I 'hid' it." "Hmmm...well maybe it comes up for me because we had emailed." "Maybe." Today I said, "So you're profile still up online?" He laughs. "I just secured my girlfriend. I'll work on it." By Sunday night he announced that he's finally figured out how to delete his account. Awesome!
After Dim Sum we walk around Chinatown popping a cooking store, where he bought several things cuz, you know, he's going to take a cooking class. LOL I can't believe how cheap everything is down here. Seriously, things sell for at least three times the cost in bigger retailers. He buys me a knife sharpening block for $4, several large knives and an apron I found hilarious "Beware Man Cooking". Then we were off to an herbal store. This place is insane. They have teas and supplements to cure every ill and we're in awe.
With the most confidence I've ever seen, Steven walks up to the guy at the counter and says "Do you have that herbal viagra stuff?"
WHAT? LMAO! Oh. My. Gosh. I have no idea what I've gotten myself into. I'm going to become a sex slave that he's going to keep tied up in his house. Later, when he's through with me, he'll chop me up in little pieces with his new knives and cleavers and then bury my remains in some remote area of the airport. And he'll get away with it because he's a cop with a sweet face and they'll never suspect him!
"Sure, we've got it. How many packages do you want?" "Just one for now. How much?" "$10." "Wow, that's awesome." "We have delivery too. You just call us and we get it to you next day." "Awesome, can I get a card?" I'm am totally dying right now! "Will that be all?" "I don't know, let's ask the Missus. Babe?" WHAT? Missus? My mind is reeling. It's been so long since I've had someone like this. Someone who wants to be in a full fledged relationship with me and apparently is thinking LONG TERM. The man has a plan for me. I know this is what I want, but it's just crazy now that it's staring me in the face. The reality is somewhat frightening and then absolutely hilarious! Not to mention the fact that I never thought I would be the kind of girl who likes to be called "Babe", but it turns out I really am. "Uhm, no, I'm good."
We stop by a few more shops and then head back to his house to watch a movie. The walk through the neighborhood was supposed to wake us from the food coma Dim Sum left behind, but it hadn't worked and I was fading fast. Probably doesn't help that you don't sleep well with the freight train sawing his way through dreamland. Anywhoo...we arrived at his, I snuggled up under the blanket on the couch. "I'm going to make some orange juice." "Okay". An hour later he had two glasses of orange juice. That's a lot of work for two glasses. I had attempted to sleep but his tenant upstairs was blasting her music and the bass shook his apartment. "Doesn't that drive you crazy?" "No, not really." "Wow, I would be banging on her door saying 'Turn that shit DOWN' in two seconds." He just smiles and cuddles on the couch with me. I, to no one's surprise, am still tired. I need to get some sleep!
We enjoy the OJ, which was incredible. I watch him play online Texas Hold 'Em in which he has won over $600,000. No, this isn't real money. One of his friends called and asked what we were doing for Valentine's Day, "We don't need one day. We're going to celebrate everyday." Hmmmm...nice. "We had a huge meal otherwise we'd be happy to meet you and your man for dinner.....okay...well have fun...." Then we watch "The Social Network". The movie has him thinking and he, again, starts talking about his ideas, dreams for his life. I tell him I'm happy to help him get started and point him in the right direction, but I don't want that to become the focus of our relationship, "I don't want to be the girl you pity date because I'm helping you start a business." "Never. You will never be that to me, babe." Okay, we'll see. But I am still going to tread lightly.
We went to bed and he woke me up at 4:30a freshly showered and ready to go to work. It was nice to wake up to him, his hand sweetly caressing my face, "Babe, time to get up." I got dressed and wondered out into the dining room where he was continuing to prepare for work. Mmmmm. I smile. A man in uniform. Yum! He grabbed his huge camo backpack and other bags and we were out the door. When I came in, I fed Meow Mix, washed off in the shower and went back to sleep before church.
Steven came over on Sunday night and...WOW, is all I am going to say. "What are you doing tomorrow night? Want to get together for Valentine's Day?" "Sure." "Great, I know exactly where I want to go." "I like a man with a plan." "Oh, I've got plans, baby!"