This same weekend, my best friend is moving into Astoria, just a few blocks away from where Michael lives. My plan is to drive in, spend the day with him, then help her pack / move / clean / unpack on Sunday. I can stay at her new place or if things go really well, I would consider staying at his. *Note: this does not indicate that I'm jumping out of my skin to sleep with him. Much as that's on my mind right now, we both agreed to just let it happen in its own time. Which may or may not be tonight. Most likely not. But still, a girl can dream.*
I clear out my car, pack my overnight bag and drive to Astoria. Suffice it to say that there is no easy way to get there from the South Shore of Nassau County. It's one parkway, then another, then Queens Blvd all the way down. Such a pain in the ass. Always up for an adventure, I jump in and drive anyway. Figured two whole days is worth an hour's commute. I find a place to park and Michael crosses the street to help me with my (one, not actually heavy) bag. We walk into his apartment which is A) huge B) gorgeous and C) spotless. This is not at all the scary bachelor pad I was expecting. Truth be told, I haven't spent much time in city dwellings so I wasn't really sure what I'd be walking into. But every single thing in his apartment was neat, organized, clean...a drastic contrast to my own living situation which is scattered at best. I'm trying really hard to make sure that everything has a place (and is IN that place) but you could say it feels "lived in" and "homey" which are far nicer words than "messy." I look around for clues about his personality and find his high school, middle school and grade school yearbooks. I kept all of mine too, but they're certainly not out on my bookshelves for all the world to make fun of. (Triangle bangs went out of fashion a solid 10 years before I got rid of mine. Now they're back. Crap.)
After showing me around, we end up in the kitchen which is the coolest part of the place by far. He's made racks for his spices, hanging hooks for his copper pots & pans, and has boxes of tea lined up on wooden shelves. He's even got a baker's rack for his Pyrex dishes, cookie sheets and Corningware (the same pattern my mom has!) What's really impressive are the light fixtures made from mason jars, wire cages and wine bottles. He made all of them himself and they're super cool. The kind you'd see in a boutique electronics store for hundreds of dollars but they only cost him a few bucks in supplies, some time and some creativity. I'm falling for this guy by the minute. Intelligent, funny, good looking and handy around the house. A girl could get used to this!
As it's now later in the afternoon than we originally planned, he suggests helping my girlfriend move today and going to the jazz festival tomorrow. I don't want to make him work on what's supposed to be our date night but he insists on helping someone who's about to be his neighbor. Besides, he says, we can always come back and cook dinner together tonight and this way, he'll get to meet some more of my friends. Swoon.
Astoria is a great place to walk around if you are a food lover like Michael and I are. He grabbed his reusable Sesame Street shopping bags (a gift from his mother and might I add, awesome) and we hit individual stores for different grocery needs. There isn't one big supermarket around here. It's a very European feel with a fruit & vegetable stand, the butcher, the cheese shop, the bakery...Astoria has it all. We walk (holding hands, of course) up and down the streets and markets, stopping to pick up fresh peaches, plums, and grapes for breakfast tomorrow, fragrant herbs for salad, cheese and olives for our picnic in the park, freshly baked Italian bread for dinner, chicken, mushrooms and marsala wine for later tonight, and a box of pastries to enjoy for dessert. He insists on not only paying for all of it but carrying every single purchase. He manages to juggle two full bags of groceries and hold my hand. I feel like there is no more romantic thing I could possibly be doing on a Saturday afternoon then walking, shopping, talking and laughing with Michael, planning our meals and time together. He makes me smile every moment I'm with him. This life, right here, is exactly what I want. It's what I've been looking for all these years. This feeling of knowing that I indisputably belong to something greater than myself, watching it unfold, not fighting the feelings of falling for someone but letting myself emotionally invest in another person...I could not wish for anything more.
We duck into our third bakery of the day (he insists that I see all three to decide which is my favorite) and asks if we should pick up a bag of cookies for my friends as a little moving day treat. I quietly kiss him to stop myself from saying I Love You. I'm not ready for that yet. But he's just so damn thoughtful. Serious swoon.
We head back to the house, put away the groceries, empty the 3 things taking up space in my car and drive out to Washington Heights where my girlfriend lives. He navigates the whole way and while I've never driven with him before, I can see many road trips in our future. Michael is so easy to be around, so comfortable to talk to, that I envision lots of weekend getaways and vacations with him. He's above and beyond excellent company. We arrive in the Heights and begin the many trips up to her third story walk up apartment. Another two of my friends are there helping so the five of us take turns carrying boxes up and down the stairs, packing the two cars and standing outside to make sure no one walks off with anything. Well, four of us take turns. Michael never takes a break. He just goes up the three flights, comes down with more stuff, hands it over to be packed and makes another trip. He's relentless. I love that about him.
When everything is finally in the vans, we drive back to Astoria. Parking in my friend's new driveway seemed like a perfectly safe and sane thing to do as I knew we'd only be unpacking for five minutes and then I'd move the cars. Yet her new and apparently very possessive, angry, meathead neighbor came out to pick a fight with me that it was his driveway and I couldn't park there. Not even for five minutes. Michael talked to the guy, tried to calm him down, stood up for me cause he knew I was so flustered and eventually settled the dispute. I was incredibly grateful seeing as getting into an argument with a body builder in Queens is hardly my idea of a good time. He's protective of me. Add that to the list of qualities I never knew I needed.
It takes us a while to get everything settled upstairs (in yet another three story walk up) before the boys go grab pizza and beer, leaving us girls to chit chat. My friends can see how happy he makes me, what a good guy Michael is, and that while our relationship is relatively new, it is going exceptionally well. Everyone pounces on the pizza pie when the guys get back and we just sit around on the living room floor (there's no furniture in here yet) eating and talking and laughing. By midnight, we're pretty much all exhausted and start saying our goodbyes.
Michael pulls me out onto the terrace with a stunning view of the Empire State and Chrysler buildings, sparking against the night sky. He draws me in close and asks if I'll please stay with him tonight. He's so tired but all he wants to do is wrap his arms around me and fall asleep, waking up to my eyes and face and hair first thing in the morning. Knowing that I'll be with him all the next day. Feeling like we have all the time in the world. He tells me that this is what he's been looking forward to since the beginning. That Sunday morning feeling with me.
How can I say no???
Copyright Kimberly Spice 2010