This photo was taken on CHB's last day in Portland
Shortly after returning to Portland following my whirlwind weekend in Utah, I was offered a summer teaching position in Mexico. A close family friend and University of Arizona Special Education Professor invited me to join a group of UOA students on their yearly trek down to Guanajuato where we would teach art, reading, English, and dance at a community center in the rural outskirts of the city. I have a vagabond spirit and thus an insatiable need to travel--this was an opportunity I couldn't refuse. Moving to Mexico for the summer also meant postponing any kind romantic developments with CHB.
I wanted to see CHB again before I left for Mexico, so I invited him out to Portland to spend a few days with me and my family. He flew out on my birthday weekend which was a total delight. The first night in Portland, CHB joined me and my family for a birthday dinner at a Thai restaurant in Southeast Portland called Pok Pok. We joked and talked and filled our bellies with spicy Thai street food. It was the first time anyone in my family had spent time with CHB, and their excitement in meeting him was unprecedented. Due to his great taste in basically everything that boys like, my younger brothers were just as besotted with CHB as I was. My mom bombarded him with get-to-know-you-questions. My dad told him he looked like John Mayer. Really, what more could you ask?
The next day CHB and I indulged in as much Portland culture as one afternoon would allow. I took him through the literary labyrinth that is Powell's Bookstore. We walked over bridges and beneath Bonsai trees in the Japanese Garden, grabbed dinner at Ken's Artisan Pizza, and went to Nike Town where he bought me a pair of bright orange sneakers. Later that night we strolled through the historic neighborhoods in Northwest Portland and sat in a beautiful old church to hear my friend Jon perform with his choir.
After the concert, neither CHB nor I were ready for the evening to end. We went back to my house and pulled out a 1950s French film from my brother's pretentious and obscure movie collection (he's a filmmaker, so it's ok). We plopped on the couch and both fell asleep within minutes to the movie's soothing, muted rustle. We woke up as the movie was ending, finally ready to call it a night. As CHB was about to stand up and head to the guest room, he paused.
He looked at me for a few seconds.
He leaned over.
And he kissed me.
Oh the fireworks and confetti. Crazy Time's Square fireworks and confetti. It was, hands down, the most perfect first kiss I have ever had--the physical equivalent of seeing CHB at church that afternoon in Korea: giddiness, warmth, and connection. I didn't sleep much at all that night, as I kept running the kiss over and over in my head, not quite sure if it had really happened. At points I was convinced I had imagined it.
Early the next morning, I drove CHB to the airport, my brain still buzzing from our kiss the night before. We said goodbye, unsure of what the future harbored. I was moving to Mexico for the summer. CHB was going back to his home in Utah. Gratefully, we had no way of knowing that it would be another 5 months until we would be together again.
To be continued...