Chapter 2- Paul: Halo

Andrew suggested we had coffee at Anticipation.

I specifically arranged our first meet up to be a coffee date on a late afternoon; if the date goes awry, I can always say I have a dinner meeting after, if the date goes well, we can go straight to a dinner date and have more time to get to know each other.

Andrew and I have been chatting online and exchanging phone calls for quite some time, and I find him really smart and witty, and of course cute, in a geeky kind of way. He’s the type of guy you would not be bored talking to; he can go from one topic to another and then back seamlessly. We can talk about films, literature, and anything mainstream, currents news, health, and even religion and politics. Most especially, I like that he listens to me talk about myself, the way I listen to him talk about himself, interestedly. Our first date will then be a test if the online chemistry we have, would translate to actual live conversation chemistry.

Andrew took the initiative to find the perfect place for our coffee first meeting. We agreed that it definitely won’t be at Starbucks; it’s way too crowded and would be such a cliche for a coffee date. Andrew suggested, Anticipation, a new coffee and pastry shop, a friend of his recommended. It’s just a few blocks away from his work place and Andrew said, that his friend, Robbie described it as “One of those hipster coffee shops, which is owned and being managed by a cool, filthy rich and fresh-out-of-college kid who loves food, coffee and arts way too much that he decided to open up an artsy cafe.” It was an interesting description, so we both decided to try it out.

True to the description given, Anticipation Cafe looks every bit like an artist’s haven with its cool and artsy interior that’s just perfect for anything laid back, like reading a book or writing a poem while having your latte. The walls of the cafe are painted with different hues of brown, on the left side of the room stands a large wooden book shelf, with books on display. On the right side of the room, the wall is lined up with frames with different quotes from different books, all of which are written in stylized calligraphy. The chairs and tables are all made from wood and on each table sat a small glass vase with wild colorful flowers, which cut through the monochromatic theme of the place.

Andrew waves at me as I squint a look around the room, He is sitting at a table near the book shelf full of real books (I initially thought they were fake); I spot some Bronte, Austen, Salinger and Twain as I make my way to our table. I’m quite impressed by Andrew’s choice of place, and choice of table, he loves books and he knows how I love books too, a plus point for his thoughtfulness.

Andrew looked exactly as the photos I see of him online, brown eyes, short curly hair and the cutest smile I’ve ever seen. He’s my type of handsome, unassuming and shy even.

We start the conversation with the usual catch-up on each other lives, he talks about how exhausting yet fulfilling the past weeks have been, then I talk about how toxic yet gratifying my shifts have been in the hospital. We shared a few work anecdotes, which bring about smiles and laughter on our table.

There’s just something about his smile, which makes his face glow more. As he is telling a story about how his colleague managed to discuss Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet in the most comical way to a bunch of high school students, I can’t help but fall for him, fall for the way he tells the story, fall for the way his eyes and lips smile, and fall for the way he looks at me while he tells his story.

Then I tell him my story…  and that’s when I fall helplessly deep, the way I can tell how he puts his own thoughts aside, long enough to focus on mine, his beautiful brown eyes looking into mine, and his nods and smiles assuring me that I have all his attention.

It is already six o’clock in the evening when Andrew and I decide to have a stroll at the park in front of Anticipation; we have already spent two hours talking and sharing snippets of our lives. The sun is in its final colorful glory for the day, a few more minutes before it takes its crimson bow.

Running out of stories and anecdotes that are first-date friendly, Andrew and I walk in silence, admiring the sceneries in the park.

Then it happens, I see a cute dog being walked by an old lady…

“First pet?” I blurt out.

Me? A dog, named Murdoch” he replies while looking at the lady and his cute dog pass by.

Then we passes by an ice cream truck…

“Favorite ice cream flavor?” He asks.

“Rocky Road… and Pistachio… and Cookie Dough!” I answer with glee, while I look at a group of kids running around the playground in the park.

“Favorite childhood game?”

“Hide and Seek.” Andrew says.

Conversation starts flowing again, taking cue from all the things we see while we stroll.

“Favorite movie as a kid?”

“Jurassic Park.”

“Favorite movie as a teenager?”

“Titanic, I guess… I think I saw that nine times.” Andrew replies, though still unsure about his answer.

Favorite girl band?

Spice Girls, is there any other?

The fast facts questions lasts for an hour, we have both enjoyed ourselves and the little facts that we discovered about each other, some facts are characteristically ordinary, while some facts are weird, like how Andrew’s first boyfriend is his second boyfriend’s ex, or how he finds it weird that my favorite X-men is Beast. He says it’s the first time he’s heard of a person who likes Beast more than the other X-men.

“I like Beast because he’s the resident medical doctor of the team; we have the same profession, that’s all.” I explained further. Still, even after my explanation, he finds it weird.

“Weird is good, right?” I ask Andrew.

“Weird is great, I like your weirdness!” He answers.

We come back to Anticipation to pick up my car. Starving after an hour of strolling and talking, I ask Andrew if he wants to grab something for dinner before going home, and he enthusiastically said yes. I hope that it was because he wants to spend more time with me too, not because he is starving.

Dinner is short and sweet, we have both agreed to go to the Italian restaurant beside Anticipation, we continue with our conversation, that by the time the waiter asks if we want some desserts, I feel that I’ve known Andrew for a very long time.

I insist on driving Andrew home, to which he declines at first but eventually agrees to, when he realizes that both our home are in the same side of the city.

There’s just too much to discover from one person, because while we are on the road and listening to some of my music, we find out that we both have the same taste in music, sort of. He likes indie pop-rock but is also familiar with Broadway show tunes, and isn’t scared to admit liking some popular artists now, and my car playlist, thanks to the universe, contains those genres.

As PJ Olsson’s “Ready For A Fall” starts to play, and while my right hand is free from maneuvering the shift stick, I hold his hand, he looks at me and smiles.

“I remember this song; it’s from Dawson’s Creek, right?”

He asks, referring to the song currently playing.

“Yes, I love that show when I was in high school, and of course the soundtrack, my all time fave.” I reply.

“I love Dawson’s Creek! I rooted for Pacey and Joey, I like Jen too…” 

“I like Jack the most…” I say.

And out of nowhere, just like the possibility of love, the most amazing sight of the full moon, surrounded by a glowing halo appears.

It catches us both by surprise.

“I didn’t notice that awhile ago.” I said.

“It must have been blocked out of sight by the tall buildings” Andrew explains.

It might be true, because we are now at the part of the city populated by residential homes and low rise buildings.

It feels magical to see something really peculiar on a night that is becoming more and more special. There might really be some magic in the air because he suddenly lifts my hand that is holding his, and kisses it softly, while he looks at the moon.

I decide to pull over for awhile, I wanted to be in that moment, and I wanted to see the moon.

“Let’s stop for awhile, I want to check out the moon, I’m finding it hard to gaze at it while driving, is that okay?” I ask.

Sure.” He smiles.

And as the song from Dawson’s Creek faded…

I can’t believe, you’re the one for me, if it was this easy to find you… I should be ready for a fall…”

We both stared at the wonder and the halo surrounding it while we hold hands. Because it is some kind of magic to have something as wonderful as the moon and its crystal halo appear in the sky to coincide with finding a possibility of love.


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