The CHB Diaries, Part IV

I stood in front of the mirror of my bathroom at La Quinta Inn near the Salt Lake City airport, where I had flown in from Portland two hours earlier. I fiddled with my hair for the one millionth time as I waited for his call. The butterflies in my stomach were manic. Finally, my phone rang.

"Hello?"

"Hi, it's Jacob. I'm here in the lobby."

"Ok, I'll be right out."

His voice was softer than I remembered it. Somehow that quelled the nervous tension darting through my body. I adjusted my shirt, grabbed my purse, and shut the door. The walk to the lobby was maddening. I couldn't manage thoughts any more complex than, "Ok. Ok. It's ok. Ok. It's ok. Ok. Ok."

I walked into the lobby, and there he was. The first thing I noticed was his height. It was striking. As we hugged, his 6' 3" frame loomed over my nearly 5' 3" self. The second thing I noticed was his energy. There was something so unbelievably gentle about him, something I hadn't noticed in the 5 minutes we had spent together more than a year ago. His was still, peaceful, and devoid of all expectation. To use a Buddhist term, he was Zen. My nerves settled down one more notch.

We left the hotel and drove to a quaint restaurant called Fresco Italian Cafe, housed in one of Salt Lake City's older neighborhoods. I don't remember what we ate but I do remember talking a lot for fear of that dreaded first-date-silence and drinking several rounds of diet coke, what I like to think of as Mormon booze. You know, just a little something to take the edge off. Because of my furious imbibing, I went to the bathroom at least three times during the course of our meal. CHB told me recently that he thought I was having bowel problems at the restaurant. (When I consider it, I am still amazed he asked me out on a second date).

After we finished our meal, we drove to Gilgal Sculpture Garden to gawk at the giant Sphinx rendered as Joseph Smith only to find that the garden had closed for the evening. Seeing as it was only 9 pm on a Saturday night, I just assumed that CHB had a plan B. I felt deflated as it became unmistakably clear that he was driving me back to La Quinta Inn. My heart sank. Unlike Zen Master CHB, I had a list of expectations for how the evening should go and coming home early was not on that list. Standing outside of the hotel, CHB gave me a quick hug, and we parted ways. Even though the dinner had gone swimmingly (despite my frequent trips to the bathroom), I was convinced that he just wasn't that into me. I called my mom in tears.

"He dropped me off at 9 pm! He doesn't like me. He changed his mind." Sob sob sob.

"I'm sure it's fine. He has a long drive back to Provo. He probably just needs to get home," said my mom, ever the optimist.

"If a guy really likes you he does not end a date at 9pm, no matter how far he has to drive home!" Indignant sob sob sob.

"I think you should wait and see how the rest of the weekend goes."

Pause. Sniffle.

"Ok."

My mom was right. In talking to CHB later, I learned that there were several reasons he dropped me off early that evening, none of which had anything to do with how he felt about me. And, gratefully, CHB gifted me with a proper late evening date a couple of days later. Sitting at dinner with a couple of friends on Monday night, I heard the familiar chirp of my phone. It was a text from CHB. "Do you wanna come over and listen to the Beatles on my record player and drink coke from a bottle?" (Can we just pause for a moment and acknowledge how adorable that text message was? Coke from a bottle? Love it.). I scarfed down my last California roll, and with proper and polite goodbyes, I made haste to Provo.

That night CHB and I sat in his room and listened to the Beatles until 2:00 am. We talked about real things, honest things--like some of the difficult experiences we had each gone through with our previous marriages and how we had been changed by those experiences. I could feel our respective boundaries softening as the evening wore on. I felt engaged and comfortable and safe. It was better than I imagined it. It was, like CHB himself, Zen.

The next day I flew home to Portland, our conversation still swirling around in my ears and settling into my heart. I could feel the ground move beneath me as my world began to transform. I felt my body tip forward towards a bright and unexpected future. "This," I thought, "is what it feels like to stand on the precipice of love."

To be continued...