Friday, December 17, 2004

The long and winding post...

Tomorrow marks the six month anniversary of the first movie that Heather and I went to together. Actually, we saw two movies that night. And a third the following day.

The first movie was 'Dodgeball'. Not exactly a normal date movie, but it wasn't a normal date.

Heather is the sister of Derek, my friend and long time coworker. She and I had only been around each other a few times prior to that night, always in group settings (Derek's wedding, Andy's wedding, a couple of game nights at their parents' house, karaoke once). When we were around each other we didn't interact beyond the most basic of social niceties, due at least in my part to shyness.

What finally brought us to each other's attention was blogs. Seriously. In mid-February Derek had announced to me that he was setting up a blog, and if he was then I was too*. He's always been pretty good at talking me into doing something that I don't particularly want to to do, with the notable exception of playing hockey. So two days after his first post, I posted mine. A couple of weeks later he was talking about how amused his sister was with our sites and I said something along the lines of, "Didn't you say that Heather liked to write? You should talk her into starting her own blog." So he did, and she started "Matted Spam."

For the next few months the three of us were our most regular readers and comment providers. During this time I found myself looking forward to Heather's comments the most. She and I were also chatting in AIM and we were both finding that we had many things in common. One of those things was a love of movies**.

We had been chatting about movies that were coming out and one of us mentioned 'Dodgeball'. We both agreed that it looked like a very funny movie and I found myself asking her if she would like to see it with me that Friday night, with perhaps dinner beforehand. She said she would love to go to the movies and dinner. We worked out the details and then all that was left was the waiting.

Okay, while writing this I've been trying to avoid mentioning one very important detail. Longtime readers, family, or people who have dug through our archives already know this, but in case you didn't: Heather is married. Many years ago I had sworn to myself that I wouldn't get involved with a woman who was in any kind of relationship. Someone had done that to me and my long time girlfriend (and mother of my two children) and I fully intended to never be like that guy. I knew how painful it was, and how hard it was to get through. Yet...

I told myself, and anyone else who inquired, that this movie night was just two friends getting together and nothing more. I like movies; she likes movies. Sure, we flirted a bit back and forth on AIM and in comments, but I was certain it was harmless. At least on her part. I knew that deep down I was falling for her and that I shouldn't be. But I wasn't going to let her know, for several reasons.

The main reason was because I didn't want to lose the friendship that we had started. I tend to overanalyze things and run through as many possible scenarios as I can for a given situation and I then latch on to the worst possible one as most likely. Using that same process I figured that I was reading everything that had gone on between us totally wrong and that I was alone in my feelings. If I told her how I was feeling I would be totally rebuffed and that would also lead into my other fear. What would her family, and especially Derek (since I work with him) think after they heard about the feelings that I had for their married daughter/sister? I couldn't see it turning out good any way I looked at it.

So it was just going to be a dinner/movie date and that was it.

I picked Heather up at her parents' house, said "Hi" to her mom awkwardly (fortunately her dad was working), certain that my face was betraying how I felt, especially when I saw how lovely Heather looked. It's not that I drooled or anything that obvious. But all the same.

Our first stop was Gunther Toody's where we had dinner and chatted for awhile. Mostly about movies, blogs, and stuff like that. I can't recall everything because my mind was going in so many circles it's amazing that it didn't drill itself out my skull.

After dinner we made it to the movie, got popcorn and drinks, found our seats and watched the film. I was very conscious of how close she was, sitting next to me. She felt so comfortable that I didn't want the movie to end. But it did of course.

During the ride back to her parents' house we were talking about how much we liked the movie, and the conversation turned to "Starsky & Hutch" which also starred Ben Stiller and how I needed to see it. We both decided that we weren't ready for the evening to end and that we should see another movie.

When we got back to the house Heather told her mom our revised plans, and although "Starsky & Hutch" was playing at the dollar theater, it had already started so we were going to have to choose a different movie. After a bit of discussion we agreed upon "The Terminal" which was playing at the theater we had just left. So off we went again. Lord knows what her mom thought of it all.

While we were waiting for the movie to start we were chatting. You could have cut the tension with a knife, and I couldn't tell if it was all on my part. But I wasn't certain, and I wasn't about to say anything unless I was positive that she felt as I did. At some point during our conversation we started talking a bit about how we felt about one another and it turned out that we were both afraid of the same things. Heather confessed that she cared more for me than she probably should, considering she was married. She was afraid that I didn't feel the same way about her, and that I only saw her as Derek's sister. I quickly assured her that I cared far more for her than just as my friend's sister. All the while my mind had resumed its spin as I wondered what would happen next, now that the first step had been taken and was met with acceptance rather than rejection.

Then the movie started, and we held hands through the entire thing.

We both agreed afterward that we were going to take it slow and see where things went.

I won't go into any more detail other than to say that Derek figured out something was up between us first and he didn't kick my ass like I was expecting; Heather's husband left her within a couple weeks of our first date; and her family and I helped get the house they had been renting cleaned up and helped her move her stuff into her own apartment. There's a lot more to all of that, but I'm content to leave it in the past.

Things have finally calmed down and we are getting along quite well. I'm happier with Heather than I've been in years. I originally thought that if we could make it past three months that we would have a chance. Now that we are a day away from six months I'm hoping for a lifetime. I feel that she both compliments me and completes me in so many unexpected and necessary ways, and I intend to do everything I can to keep things fresh and interesting between us. It's not going to be easy (I didn't have the best "relationship" role models when growing up), but she's worth it.

I love her with all my heart.

---
* I had already been considering it for some time, I just hadn't committed to it. By that point I had already been a daily reader of several blogs, of which only Mark Maynard and boing boing have remained in my "must visit" list.

Quite a few months prior to his decision to start blogging I had sent Derek a link to JSP's '665' site, and something about it must have clicked with him. And here we are, ten months later.

** I have not finished my post that I started about my "obsessions" but movies are one of them. I have close to 700 DVDs and DVD sets. I'm not kidding. It's nuts and I don't know how it happened. One at a time I guess.

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