Christopher called me Thursday night while I was at a gas station filling up my tank. I had a perfect night: dinner at Hooters followed by a screening of The Hangover with a group of friends. The day had been so hot that everyone was tired. I slumped against the hood of my car. It was 9:30 at night and still probably 94° outside.
"What are you up to?" I asked.
"Watching an episode of CSI," he said softly.
I can't explain this to anyone who isn't me and didn't live through my last relationship with Christopher, but he is different these days. The tone of his voice, his demeanor, his spirit- it all seems calmer and gentler than the boy I used to know. My therapist says it's called maturity.
She was thrilled to learn about Christopher. She said he sounds healthy for me and that he will be instrumental in my healing process. As long as spending time with him is a positive thing and I don't rush into anything to dull the pain of my last relationship, she has no problem with me dating him.
So when Christopher invited me around for the following night, I accepted. We basically talked all night with the TV playing in the background. He wanted to know what cities I would move to. I wanted to know more about his unemployment stint.
I also asked if he had ever been hurt. He said no. I promptly retorted that I don't trust a person who has never been hurt and Christopher changed his answer to clarify he's never sat around for a week crying his eyes out. I asked if he has ever been dumped. He gave the same response and I again chirped I don't trust a person who has never been dumped. Christopher again clarifies with some BS that they were "mutual decisions." I like that I stuck up for myself, even if it meant disagreeing and potentially rejecting him, and he was the one to cave. He could have responded, Yup, that's me. Total heartbreaker. But he didn't. It made me feel like we (together, including him) were working on something.
He brought out more bags of pretzles from the newstand downstairs and said if I wanted something different he'd go down and get it. He even offered to order us Chinese, but I was trying to be low maintenance.
And then I dumped my drink in my lap. I spilt it artfully enough so when I stood up, it looked like I peed both down the front and down the back of my jeans. I know when people spill a little on their pants, they say that, but I was soaked. The jeans fabric had already plastered itself against the back of my left leg. Christopher disappeared into his bedroom and returned with a pair of green plaid Calvin Klein men's pajama pants and told me to change. Conditioned to Scott's skinny frame, I gulped. "If these don't fit, I am going to kill myself," I said automatically, not even remembering that Christopher is larger than me. They fit fine, and Christopher said so.
(And when I tipped my drink into myself again a couple of hours later, he laughed and said too bad. He didn't have any more pants for me. Luckily it wasn't as bad that time.)
I stayed the night again. We made out. We were rounding second base, heading into third when he stopped. He sat up on his side of the bed with his back towards me, his white sheets draped around his waist, and said, "I want to take things slow." I didn't respond because a) Our past relationship revolved around sex and for him to not pursue it is peculiar; b) Take what slow? Sex? We've done it all before; c) Does this mean he actually wants a proper relationship with me? d) Or, did he just drink too much and it protecting himself? I don't care that he stopped, I just want to know why.
He came over to my side of the bed and tried to wrap his arms around me. Only Friday had been another smoldering day with the temperature hovering around 100°. The night didn't feel any cooler and Christopher doesn't have central air. "You're too hot," he moaned while he rolled on his back. "Your skin is always so warm." I barely heard him, my eyelids already fluttering with sleep. He announced he was going to buy a fan for the bedroom and I muttered in aggreement and fell asleep. I thoght he meant I'm going to buy a fan... next time I go to the store or I'm going to buy a fan... tomorrow or even I'm going to buy a fan... when I sober up. I had no idea he actually meant I'm going to buy a fan... this instant!
He got up, put some clothes on and walked to the 24-hour CVS and bought a fan. While he was there, he spied the matching pink beer coozy to the blue one of his I liked so much and he bought it for me. (Seriously, go to CVS and get one, it's awesome.)
After CVS, Christopher walked another couple of blocks to Chick-Fil-A, all while I was sleeping in his bed. We were talking earlier about their breakfasts and he bought each of us one and carried it back to the apartment. He put the food in the fridge, hooked up his new fan, took off his clothes and went back to sleep. I had no idea.
I wake up at 11:30 a.m. in a mild panic because I am supposed to meet M-Joy for lunch at noon on the other side of the city. I get dressed—my jeans by now had mostly dried—and crawl on top of the sheets with Christopher, who had also woken up. He fills me in on his 6 a.m. and I laugh. When he told me about my new pink and purple coozy, I simply thank him because I am shocked that someone who used to do so little is now doing so much. He keeps saying something about breakfast and I don't make a big deal out of it because I thought he bought bread and eggs at CVS that won't go bad if I don't eat it. I politely decline because lunch is now in 20 minutes. I say that I'm leaving because I'm meeting someone and he doesn't say anything so I kiss him on the cheek and hop out of bed.
He follows me out and helps me get my things together. He opens the fridge and insists I take my breakfast with me to eat later. He comes in for a kiss, opens the door for me, and I leave.
When I meet up with M-Joy, she instantly knew that I was just as tired as she was, and all of a sudden having lunch at a pub didn't sound as good as it did before going over to Christopher's. I fill her in on my night.
"You need to change your vocabulary," she offered. "Instead of saying, 'Christopher never used to-' say 'I can't believe this wonderful thing he did!'" she pretends the excitement of the latter expression.
Basically I need to be more positive and less focused on who I thought he was. Because Christopher is clearly surprising me at every instance, I don't know him as well as I thought I did. In the best possible way.