It noticed him sometime after I moved into my apartment last year. We seemed to be on the same schedule most days and finally, after waiting for the building shuttle side-by-side at home or at the Metro in the evenings, I introduced myself. He was friendly, Indian, and gay. I thought.
We became friends and although at some point, he gave me his business card, I lost it and I never called. Our conversations were limited to the 10-15 minutes at our shared Metro stop—me with my blue backpack and jeans, him in his crisp business slacks, with laptop bag in hand.
Two weeks ago, however, I returned from an emotionally hard day at school to find him waiting for the shuttle at the Metro. I playfully smacked his hand with the notes I had been reading, as I approached.
“Well, hey you!,” I greeted him. I hadn’t seen him all summer.
“Hey! Wait…aren’t you married by now? Why are you….”
“Umm…yeah. We called it off, we broke up….”
“So you're still living in your apartment?”
“Thank God I had not given up my apartment! Besides, you know how I love our apartment building.”
“As do I…,” he smiled.
And, in thirty seconds flat, we were back. Him telling me about his exciting new job offer that turned out to be a bust that came with a 22% pay cut and me promising to distract him from his bad day by regaling him with what had to have been my much worse summer. So engrossed were we in conversation that we actually missed the approach and departure of our building's shuttle. It was he who looked up in time to see it pulling away, both of us laughing out loud, as we watched it fade from view.
When we arrived home (on the next shuttle), I mused,
“You know, you once gave me your business card, but I have to admit that I lost it. Do you want to hang out sometime, though?”
“Yeah! I would love that!,” he said, before pulling out his phone in the lobby.
I was planning on calling, but there were medical school events, orientation, and the proposition by a friend of a friend that my "awesome gay neighbor" might not actually be gay. What would happen then?
Tonight, I sent a text asking if he was free for dinner on Sunday. He called back within minutes, but seemed...nervous. He was asking me questions about school that I thought I had already answered. Yet, he was clearly prepared for this moment, offering several date-like options for dinner before asking if there was a specific time on Sunday that I wanted to meet. I wasn't ready for this.
I had envisioned our first non-shuttle related moment as a casual meeting at a time in which we both were mutually hungry. I would offer to drive, or he could too, to the mall two miles away for Cheesecake Factory or Maggiano's. I saw us meeting downstairs, in jeans, after a quick text sent a few minutes before. I was not prepared for what was obviously a very straight man planning a very real date.
Before we hung up, he said, "Wait, I just have to tell you one more thing."
"Umm...yeah, OK," I tried to sound cheerful (to conceal my growing surprise).
"Every time I think about you..."
I zoned out momentarily because...every time he thinks about me? How often is he thinking about me? I was trying to listen, but I was not prepared. NOT PREPARED.
He went on to tell me about a commercial that used to play in Southern California, when he lived there 10 years ago, in which my name (and the exact spelling) were used. He had never met anyone with my name and spelling and was intrigued.
So, on Sunday, I have a date with a straight man who I adore, but who for the past year, I assumed was gay.* On the upside, he's cute and has an impressive mastery of the English language.
*To be fair, I was also dating Rich (who also lived in our building before buying the condo...ha! This story is so twisted...) for the duration of our friendship. Does being off-limits influence how a man interacts with you? I think so.