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July 31st Was Our First Date
For our first date, 16 years ago tomorrow, Pat took me to dinner in the Chicago suburb, where she lived, at The Filling Station, and then to a bonfire at the home of one of the Athletics staff of Northern Illinois University, where she worked at the time; Pat was the associate VP of Business and Operations there. I was in awe of her grown-up-ness...and then learned quickly that in all the fun ways, she was less mature than I.
I did not yet own a car and a colleague from work and I spent the day together in the Morton Arboretum and then he dropped me off at the restaurant. He came in to meet Pat. He was lovely, but wanted to see the competition, I think. He needed to see Pat, I suppose, to believe I wasn't kidding about being a lesbian and about not being interested in him beyond friendship. That was the condition of our going to the arboretum together, that he knew it was platonic, and that I would be going on a date with Pat later.
Sure, fine, he said. No problem to drop me off. And then he was sad, saying goodbye, and I felt heelish, but forgot my own insensitivity quickly in the excitement of being on the date I had been waiting for all day.
Pat reminds me that after dinner, I talked about movies she hadn't seen the whole way to her friends' house; "I knew you were nervous," she said.
We were going to "The Short and Tall," an annual field-day event held at people's private homes, where women were paired and did sports activities in teams against each other. Pat said that it would have been the first time she would have had to be a "Short," if we had been there during the day because she's 5'9" and I'm nearly 5'10". I'm practically positive that I've written about this here before, but it feels fun to recall it (again, perhaps) on the night before it happened 16 years ago.
We walked into a house full of Midwestern, collegiate, female athletes, and everyone (it felt like) was checking out Pat's date (me). I was a novelty, not having been to any of the event over the prior two years, and Pat hadn't brought a guest previously, she told me.
Around the bonfire, we were telling a story, and each person needed to keep the story going. When it was my turn, Pat and I saw a woman across the fire, motioning her hand in a forward, circling motion, suggesting with it that I speed up my bit of the narrative. Pat had a fierce expression on her face in response. It felt good.
"I was afraid you wouldn't want to come back," Pat told me just now. It's hard to imagine her, feeling insecure, since later, back at her house, she was bold in her response when I told her that I wasn't yet ready to date her exclusively.
"That's OK," she said, "You'll never find anyone better than me...." She so disarmed me with her apparent confidence, that night, I stopped trying, and Pat was right.