Today was good. An actual good day. In unexpected ways.
My task this morning was making a pecan pie and ubiquitous green bean casserole for post-Thanksgiving lunch at Rockford’s. While those were baking, I was able to do a little work for my co-edited book and return some emails. Then, off I went, with some serious (and totally justified, I would say) nerves.
On the way, Rockford texted to see if I’d left home yet: his daughter wanted to make cookies and he was out of flour. Not to worry, say I; I’ll stop at the store and get some. Because: brownie points. Then, just as I got to the house, his oldest arrived from picking up his grandmother, so I was able to jump out with my umbrella and walk in rather casually with them. A brief smile of welcome from Rockford and then I settled into helping his youngest in the kitchen.
So, was it what I expected? In many ways, yes. The high school son was reserved but quite pleasant when I spoke to him; the high school daughter was quiet and somewhat wary for the first few hours but warmed up well enough after that; the elementary school son was like a little puppy with a new toy. I genuinely like children but I also know how to interact with them: leave the older ones alone and pay attention to the younger ones. So, I sat down beside the youngest, asked him about the video game he was playing and the next thing I know, he’s talking a mile a minute and we’re playing chess. I don’t know what Rockford was thinking but I saw how he looked at me over the little guy’s head; it was a nice look.
Lunch was good, a little quiet at times, but we managed to keep some conversation going. Admittedly, I was happily drinking the wine Rockford opened and perfectly fine with him opening a second one. By the end of the evening, I probably drank an entire bottle on my own but, in my defense, it was over many hours – and I was really nervous.
I was there all day – twelve hours, as I look at the clock. After lunch, I washed dishes while Rockford put things away (I got a quiet hand on my waist as I stood at the sink). I played a game of chess with Rockford and lost; then we all played a board game, which I promptly lost (the wine probably didn’t help there). I had to laugh when Rockford asked if I wanted to go with him to feed the neighbor’s horses and the youngest popped up with a, “Oh, I want to go and see the cats!” – there went a few moments of privacy! I rode with him when he took his mother back to the nursing home – and that was an adventure, since we were quite close to a bad accident (is there a good one?). One benefit of dating a cop: he got the police and ambulance there in a heartbeat.
I thought briefly about leaving once we got back from all that but we ended up playing another game with the two younger kids. Then, since the oldest was playing video games in the living room, Rockford and I went to watch TV in his room, with the youngest right behind us. Now, I can assure you, nothing was going to happen, but it was still hilarious to have the little guy plop right down and make himself comfortable. So, we three arranged ourselves on the bed and watched a movie, Rockford in the middle with his son up against one shoulder and me (slightly) on the other, his hand on my knee.
I didn’t want to leave. Rockford didn’t want me to leave. When I finally said I should go, he gave me that slow smile and remarked that we don’t usually end our nights together apart (no little ears were nearby). I did leave, though, and now I’m home.
What is it about this man? There are so many reasons we don’t work. He even said recently that he didn’t know if we had a future, given our diametrically opposed political leanings. He’s everything I left behind when I happily left Home State. When we’re apart, I can’t see how this would ever work or if I even want it to, considering I simply wanted a social life, not a life life, when I started my dating experiment. But when we’re together, things just seem easy and comfortable and nice.
I was nervous, meeting his family, and the nerves didn’t exactly go away. At the same time, it wasn’t scary; it felt right. I walked into the kitchen, teased the youngest and started chopping potatoes, and it was normal, not weird. I won’t say I’m friends with the two older kids but we managed friendly; the daughter definitely relaxed throughout the day, and she was the one I was most worried about, being an adolescent girl and a daughter. Explaining words to the youngest, asking the oldest a tech question, getting the daughter to laugh while we played games: it was nice.
The things that I could say about all this, the things that slowly creep into my mind: I’m pushing them out. I don’t want to deal with those things just yet, if I ever do. I’m not good at relationships; there’s a good chance this will die a natural death in a few months, whatever I might think now. So, for now, I don’t want to think about what I think about when I’m trying not to think. I just want to appreciate that I had a very good day.