(If you missed the first installment, here’s A Love Story: in the beginning)
He nonchalantly invited me to his work “art exhibition”. “As friends,” he insisted. “Because that’s what we are right now.” He was treading carefully, slowly; I’d been single only a matter of days.
He picked me up, ushered me into the exhibition, nervously introduced me to his flatmates and friends, some of whom I’d met before. His best mate grinned cheekily at me, and gave me a “I’ve heard all about you” kind of look.
Wandering around the art, I asked if he’d submitted anything. He pointed out a great photo of the sun setting on Stewart Island, and said there was another piece around somewhere, but I’d have to find it. When I did, I couldn’t stop laughing, and he was relieved.
“I was waiting to see if you’d find it funny or not before admitting it was mine,” he confessed. It seemed I’d passed the first test.
After the exhibition, we went for a coffee at a local cafe. We talked, almost non-stop, about ourselves, our families, our lives. When he told me that his parents were “pretty awesome” and that he was “lucky”, my heart danced just a little.
We ordered second coffees, at 10.30pm. We were both stalling, not wanting the evening to end. He protested when I paid for them but I insisted. “This is what friends do.” And when he dropped me home, we hugged, like friends do, but there was a pause, as though we were both wondering where we were headed next.
At 3am, I was lying in bed, wide awake, buzzing from too much caffeine, and thoughts of the night. My mobile phone beeped. “I had a really great time tonight,” he’d messaged. I grinned. “Me too!” I replied.
And so we were dating.
We went to movies and out for dinner. He paid for everything, insisted on it. Having spent the past three-and-a-half years with someone who refused to spend their own money but didn’t hesitate to spend mine, this was a refreshing change. We would talk for hours, about what we wanted our futures to hold. We promised to travel together, and we discussed children.
One night he suddenly told me that his mother wouldn’t like me. I was shocked. “Um…why?” I asked, not sure I wanted to hear the answer. “Because she’ll have to give you the watch chain,” he replied. “Huh?” I was confused. “Nevermind,” he said dismissively. “More wine?”
One night, as he dropped me home, he asked if something was wrong. I’d been quiet all evening. “I’m just sad about how angry and upset she is about us seeing each other,” I said sadly. “I never meant to hurt her, and now she won’t even speak to me.”
“Do you want us to stop seeing each other then?” he asked in an incredibly neutral voice. I couldn’t look at him while I tried to form my thoughts into words. “It isn’t fair that she’s not happy,” I began carefully. “But it wouldn’t be fair to me to stop doing something that makes me happy…so I’m going to be selfish for once, and maybe I’ll be sorry forever, but that’s okay, because right now, I’m choosing to be happy.”
He took my hand and smiled, relieved. “But promise me that if you’re ever not happy, you’ll tell me.”
I promised, even though I knew there was no need. I knew that a moment like that would never come.
(Read part three here)