It’s the wedding day of one of my best college friends, and I am leaving her reception early. The only obstacle between me and this date is the bride’s mother. Leave it to me to overbook myself, and schedule a date the night of a friend’s wedding. I manage to escape receiving every ounce of understanding and well-wishes from the bride and her mother. “You’re going to be in more trouble if this guy doesn’t pan out! I love you, good luck honey.” Mrs. S was one of my Indiana moms; always looking out for me and treating me like one of her own children. As I make my way back to the hotel in downtown Indianapolis, my mind reels as I scroll through mental images of he and I’s past encounters during our college days. Wild and free, we ran in the same social circles but somehow managed to not cross paths; actively avoiding friend’s pitches for blind dates. “You have to meet my friend! You’ll love him!” was a common exclamation heard as a gay male in college with a healthy number of female buddies. I hate blind dates. The gesture of being set up by your friends is nice, but ninety percent of the time, they miss the mark. He and I never saw each other regularly, but there were two drunken hook-ups after a night at the bars, and my pursing him (unsuccessfully) for an actual date.
We had not been in contact for a couple of years now, and ended up reconnecting shortly after I moved back to Indiana just a few weeks prior to the wedding. “Did I choose the right outfit? Did he look at my good Facebook pictures?” These thoughts make me seem like a clammy teenager, but I had lost about forty pounds since the last time we physically saw each other, and I was actually nervous. Nervous was never a present trait when it came to me and dates. What was it about him? “I’m parking” was the text message that came through. I’ve changed from slacks and a tie to dark, slim jeans, a black tank top, and my favorite mustard cardigan. “I’m here.” I grin as I get on the elevator. Not knowing how this night will go, the peaks of excitement are that of which I’ve never experienced entering a date, and the elevator ride feels too long and too fast all at the same time. This level of stage fright was intense, but not unwelcome.
Turning the corner and walking into the lobby, I spot him. Have you ever put together a soundtrack to your own life? Okay, maybe that’s a little cheesy, but I own my cheese… all of it. I’m not sure what song was playing when our eyes met, but I knew it was a song we would both know; whether that be in this moment, or in the future. My nerves vanished, the roller coaster, stomach tumbling sensation remained, and my confident strides turned into weak, timid advances. He wasn’t that string bean of a boy I once rolled around with back in college. In front of me was a man… a comfortably familiar man that I was meeting for the first time it seemed. His fitted jeans paired with a blue button up shirt, his milky skin, and his scruff… man, that scruff, caused my smile to gain at least an inch or more. The hug we shared was both inviting and telling. His body spilled his nerves onto mine, and I could sense it would be a night to remember. Looking into bright brown eyes, I let out a simple “…hello” as shared sparks continued to exert their influence.