“You know you don’t have to do this. You know you can go. I’ll understand if you can’t be here. We haven’t been together that long.”
Scott and I had been dating for about six weeks when he got a phone call that he tripped down the stairs for in a hurry to get to the phone. He picked it up just in time to hear a stranger’s voice asking him if he knew a Heidi Kroeker, his stomach sinking, his life turning over.
Scott and I met at a church, one we had been attending for less than a year. I had never really spoken to him even though we distantly traveled in the same circle. I knew him as quiet. He kept to himself. One evening we were at an event held at the church. There was an empty chair beside me and part way through the evening he filled it. As soon as he sat down I never wanted him to leave. I didn’t know this guy. I had said hello. We had exchanged pleasantries. We had friends in common, but I didn’t know him. Yet, if I had the strength or the stupidity I would have asked him to stay.
I found out through a mutual friend that he was interested in me after I had sworn off men at 23 when it is the job of twenty-somethings to make grand sweeping statements every other week. I had sworn off men and he was sneakily going through my friend’s address book to find my phone number.
Our friend, Natalie, told me he thought I was smart; he liked the way my mind worked. I don’t know if I ever told Scott that’s when he got me. That when he said I was smart it forced me to take a deep breath. My phone rang a week after Natalie played Cupid. It was Scott asking me to go for a walk.
He showed up at my front door wearing a sweater that I knew he especially put on for me. I hardly knew him, but I knew he wasn’t a sweater wearing sort of guy. It happened to be a warm spring evening, unusual for the lower mainland where April is marked with rain. We walked for a few blocks into town and decided to have a drink at a nearby restaurant. There we talked for a while and he told me he would like to be my friend. I don’t know where I got the nerve, but my mouth opened before I could think and quietly said I knew better. I knew he wanted more. I hadn’t dated a lot, but past hurts taught me I liked feelings where I could see them, all cards on the table. No pretenses.
We walked back to my parents’ house where I was living at the time, having moved back after living with a good friend of mine. He walked me back and I felt light with something new, with the hope of what could be.
We spent a lot of time together after that walk, our first date. We drove everywhere. We went to Whistler for the day, a gorgeous ski resort that every good BCer has been to many times. We drove to a town tucked into the mountains called Hope where Scott and I hiked through the rocks making our way to the river to soak in the beauty of what lay in front of us. Our futures were wide open and stretched out with no end in sight. In a tiny town called Hope we began to fall in love.
We didn’t spend every day together. We had money to earn and friends we didn’t want to ditch, but we spent hours talking getting to know each other at the lake, at parks, all over the lower mainland of BC. I learned I was dating someone that didn’t open doors for me. I was incredulous, “You don’t open doors for girls?” I had great male friends in my life that always opened the door for me. Even a couple of the schmucks I dated were nice enough to do that for me. His response was a sigh and a smirk, “Well, I’m open to training.” I hadn’t met someone like him before. His honesty and stillness intrigued me. At the age of 22 he was remarkably self aware. I was animated and opinionated and I quickly discovered we were opposites. I had dated someone that told me often I was too loud, too opinionated, too much. It took me a long time to recover from that, believing his words making myself smaller over what I knew to be true. Scott never shut me down, never made me feel less than and that was something I wanted to get closer to. We wanted the same things out of life even if we did come at them in different ways. Love was between us, but we were becoming fast friends too.
The first time we kissed we were on another one of our many walks. The sun was setting and we were about to head home when Scott stopped to turn towards me. He held my face gently as he pressed his lips to mine. We kissed and I was giddy with firsts. Our first kiss, my first love, the first time I felt like I was coming home.
“…you can go.”
He sat in the chair next to my bed among the tubes and whirring machines keeping me alive and held my hand.
*This post is out of order. I’ll continue where I left off the next time, but this was on my mind and I had to get it out of my head. 🙂 Also, I have changed the name of our mutual friend Cupid here.