This is a personal project of mine, one that will likely stretch for the next year. I want to write our love story, in detail, so many years from now I can remember what drew us to one another. The introduction of Forge can be found here and Part One can be found here. Part Two can be found here. Part Three can be found here. Part Four can be found here. Part Five can be found here. This is Part Six.
More than a couple of weeks had passed since our Seattle adventure and Randy’s casual request to meet for coffee. My parents were taking their annual Spring trip down to our vacation home in Arizona and single and free as I was, I opted to come along. I spent a glorious six days in the hot desert sun, enjoying the heat, the blue of the two community pools, my pile of books and litres of lemon water. It was wonderful. At the end of my week, I waited in the Mesa airport at my gate with a Panera salad in hand. Pulling up free wi-fi on my phone, I saw Randy’s name. “Hey, do you have a ride home from the airport?”
What? Do I have a ride? Do people actually arrive at the airport and not have a ride on the other end? I texted back, “Yeah, I think a friend of my mom’s is picking me up…” (I know she’s picking me up, but I don’t want to shut him down. I want to see him! Why would he offer if he didn’t want to?) I added, “… unless you feel like driving down to Bellingham to get me?”
I waited for him to finish typing. “Oh, glad you have a ride. I better stay home today and get some cleaning done around my place.”
Excuse me! What! Why offer? I’m a capable woman. If I didn’t have a ride arranged, I would find one…. not wait for a text as I board the plane? And I give you the perfect opportunity to say “Sure! I’ll pick you up!” and you’re staying HOME TO CLEAN.
Well, I do love a tidy man.
The first half of March brought more opportunities to hang out with this mysterious Randy man. He was oh-so-eager to pick me up with friends to hang out and when we weren’t hanging out, he was texting to ask what my plans were so we could hang out. I was stuck in between “He likes me!” and “He doesn’t, he is only friendly” and my opinion changed with every passing hour.
One Sunday, I noticed Randy’s mom beside him in church. We had never met before – but hello! facebook – and I knew she lived a few hours away on Vancouver Island. When the service ended, I caught up with friends all the while watching the Watsons in my peripheral vision. He was lingering, no question about it. His hands were in the side pockets of his jeans and he seemed to be scanning the room casually. I excused myself from my conversation and took a deep breath as I walked towards them. “Hi,” I said, giving Randy an awkward wave.
“Hey! How’s it going?” He smiled, taking one hand out of his pocket to touch my shoulder. (And I was suddenly made very aware of the exact place his hand touched.) Randy’s mom stood beside him smiling ear to ear, practically bouncing back and forth on her toes. “Jamie, this is my mom.”
“Nice to meet you!” I stuck out my hand and she grabbed it firmly.
“Lovely to meet you! I heard you’re a shoe girl.”
“From your video. Randy was showing me your little video the other day. All of your shoes – you’re a shoe girl. I love that. Me too.”
“Oh!” I giggled. “Thank you! Yes I love shoes.”
After only a minute of conversation, Randy looked at his phone. “We should head out, Mom. You’re going to miss the ferry unless we get going.” We said goodbye and before he walked up the aisle and out the sanctuary doors, he turned back to me. “Let’s hang out later today?” I nodded. “I’ll text you,” he sealed the deal with another soft touch on my right shoulder.
He likes me. He must like me! I thought on my twenty minute drive home. I couldn’t wait to see him later that day and anxiously awaited his text with the plan. There it was: dinner at Boston Pizza and a friend’s hockey game afterwards. Was I in? Of course.
When I arrived at the restaurant the only seat available at the already-full table was right beside Randy. Perfect. I settled into my seat and timidly sipped the ice water with lemon in front of me. Beside Randy, was his best friend Mark, also visiting from Vancouver Island. I enjoyed myself that night as I always did when I was around Randy but I still couldn’t determine if we had “it,” if we had “chemistry.” At the hockey game, I tried to casually end up sitting next to Randy. He didn’t seem to notice, or was avoiding my move, sitting one row down from my spot on the bleachers. Most of the evening was spent talking to Randy’s friend Mark about our individual businesses and his upcoming wedding – Randy seemed to only turn around when prompted.
I was confused. Confused about the man I had liked on and off again for four months already. Confused about the man who texted asking if I needed a ride home from my vacation. Confused about the man who lingered around the church just to introduce me to his mom and then a minute later, suddenly they were “late for the ferry.” Confused about his texts, confused about his kind words but mostly, confused about how he never seemed to single me out in a group. Confused about his “let’s meet for coffee!” three weeks ago, a coffee that still had yet to happen.
I could not figure him out.
A couple of days later, I found myself walking into Starbucks at mid-afternoon to meet Randy for coffee. A coffee meeting to “talk about business and non-profit ideas.” I had no idea what to expect. Was this a date? No. This was a coffee meeting. To pick my brain. What is there to pick in my brain? This is silly. I don’t know why I said yes.
Randy was at a table by the window and when I walked towards him, he closed the lid on his laptop and stood up. “How’s it going?” He asked, his habitual greeting. “Good,” I replied, my default response.
He bought me a green tea and I sat cross-legged in my metal chair, nervously fidgeting with my nail beds while hugging my knee to my chest. I let him lead our conversation – this was initiated by him, after all. He talked about his vision for business someday. Dreams of creating an organization focused on generating finances for development projects in Haiti – while still running a profit back home in Canada. We found common passions quite quickly and soon, business conversation turned into personal life. We shared about each other’s families, places we had traveled and my personal favourite at the time, Myers-Briggs personality test theory. (I really know how to charm a man, right?)
He was attentive when I spoke, engaged and interested in every word. He made me feel important and by the end of the hour and a half, I forgot we were at a “meeting.” It felt like a first date. Randy and I walked out together when it was time to get back to work. Our vehicles parked right next to each other and as we said goodbye, he handed me a folded piece of paper.
“This is for you.” He said.