About seven months ago…
Chi-guy picked me and the team up at the airport. After the requisite greetings, hand shakes (I got a hug) and luggage stowage, we headed into town. I rode shotgun and Chi-guy offered to share his coffee with me while he told me about the nonprofit for which he volunteers.
As we drove into the city, he pointed out landmarks. In between, we made small talk. I knew he’d been a journalist and asked if he had gone to Northwestern, which is known for its journalism program.
“I didn’t study journalism; I studied poetry at the University of Chicago,” he answered.
“Oh,” I replied, swooning. A feeling inside me was vibrating so strongly, I literally didn’t know how to respond! Later, in re-telling this nugget to my girlfriends, each cooed, “Oh my God, how perfect is that for you!” If there is one sure-fire way to my heart, it’s a man who reads or recites poetry to me. Anyway…
We turned from Lakeshore onto Jackson and Chi-guy pointed out the Hilton, where Obama stays while in town (it has a helipad). As if on cue, I touched his arm, he touched my leg just above the knee, we turned toward each other and said, in unison, “that’s where we met!”
I’m sure my colleagues in the back seat wondered how they had ended up on our first date. It felt like a promising start and, as we dropped the others at the hotel, I was eager to begin my day with Chi-guy.
His manners were beautiful. He called me out on my bad behavior, pointing out that I’d been a bit hard on a colleague (which, I have to admit, I was). As we drove through town and checked things off the “to do” list, he effortlessly took charge. I felt completely at ease, safe and — I don’t know how else to say it — utterly cared for in a way that I hadn’t felt in a long time.
We stopped for lunch, I got chilly, he brought my scarf from the car. He insisted I try his gumbo. We talked about our families. We are both the middle of three. About my Cancer son I said, “he’s going to grow into the kind of man who always takes care of his Momma.”
“Do women really think like that?” he asked.
“I think Jewish mothers do,” I answered, laughing. And then I confessed that I probably would not have ever had a thought about who will take care of me – after all, I’m too young to think about that sort of thing yet — but my son is that type of child. He is sensitive and empathetic to the feelings and needs of others, particularly me. He will get teary-eyed if I’m crying; he will try to comfort me; he offers to rub my back.
Chi-guy wondered aloud whether his mother had ever thought about such a thing.
And I proffered that I think most families have a caregiver. In mine, it’s not me – it’s my sister, the youngest.
Chi-guy said, “I think my brothers and I would all be tied for last place.”
We spent the day getting to know each other. I learned that he doesn’t drink at all any more. I told him about Max, and how he had helped me to move on. I learned about product ideas he created as projects in grad school. I watched him think on his feet. As I later told my girlfriends, “He has such a sexy brain, I want to lick it!”
We were relaxed and at ease together. We touched, but not too much. We were friendly, not too flirtatious. Soon, though, we’d be off the clock. When everything on our list was finally complete, Chi-guy dropped me at my hotel and promised to call later to make arrangements for dinner.