TY AND I


We spent the Saturday after Valentine's Day together, Zoë, Ty, and I. The three of us had brunch and, like always, spent half of our time teasing each other and laughing about God-knows-what. After establishing a rough budget for this year's road trip, Ty and I ferried Zoë back to her house. Upon returning to my apartment, Ty announced that he was going to do the dishes. And I--not wanting to be too far from his company--ended up in the kitchen as well.

Ty scrubbed at the plates and the muffin tins as I busied myself with fried bananas. We bumped elbows and bashed knees in the cramped galley kitchen. But somewhere in that small vicinity, between slicing a banana and reaching for the dish towel, I remembered something.

"Tyyyyyyyyyyyy," I whined.

"Daaaaaaaaawn," he drawled in response.

I smiled. It was a game--one we'd started playing at the very beginning. We'd share stories with each other, small memories we had carried over the course of our four-year friendship.

"Ty."

"Yes, Dawn?"

"I remembered something." 

"Did'ya now." It wasn't a question; it was an invitation.

"Do you remember," I said, turning over banana slices, "the first time I visited you in Evansville? You were all worried, the entire time, about whether or not I was having fun. You were paranoid that I wasn't enjoying myself." I set down the spatula and reached for the cinnamon. "Anyway, there was that night you were cooking those fajita things. I had been sitting outside with your mom and her friends, and I went into the kitchen for a couple minutes. You noticed me, looked me up and down, and were, of course, wondering if I was bored. So I reached for your hands and said something like, 'You don't need to worry. I'm having a really good time.'"

Ty paused, dish and rag in hand. "I think ... I think I remember that."

I nodded. "I just remember what your face looked like," I said. I looked over my shoulder, in Ty's direction. "You smiled with your eyes."

And with his hands still in the sink, he leaned toward me, matching my quiet words with a gentle kiss.

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It's a strange thing, really, to kiss your friend in the kitchen. It's an even stranger thing to know that, four years ago, we were just student journalists. Ty and Zoë had started working at Purdue's independent student newspaper, The Exponent, long before I had. By the time I joined the staff as a copy editor, Ty and Zoë were, respectively, the managing editor and the editor-in-chief.

They intimidated the shit out of me.

Sure, all three of us had penchants for words and information. But, unlike me, they had futile rage, closed-door kvetching, and Bob Dylan.

Four years ago, if anyone had told me that I would be dating the managing editor, I would've laughed at the absurdity of it. 

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Three and a half years later, the three of us--along with other former Exponent comrades--were attending a Labor Day wedding. Zoë and I were hovering near the bar, eager for drinks.

"I ... I'm so sorry, Zoë. We ... we, uh, we just didn't know how to tell you." I was struggling for words, and was embarrassed.

"Dawn," she pressed. "It's okay. Really."

Before the ceremony, Zoë, Ty, and I had met at a restaurant in Broad Ripple. Ty and I had arrived a few minutes before Zoë, so we put our name in and waited for a table. We held hands. Things were still new, then. Very new and very confusing. We didn't know what we were or what we were doing. Not in the slightest. But holding hands? Well, it was a connection, at least, and a small thrill. It was nice.

Nice enough, anyway, that we didn't notice Zoë walk in, eyes wide with amused awkwardness.

Back at the wedding, we approached the bartender, cash in hand. "This isn't how we wanted you to find out," I said to Zoë. "I was going to tell you this weekend that we're something--I don't really know what--and ... I'm ... I'm just really sorry that this is what happened first. That I didn't tell you first."

Zoë rolled her eyes. "Dawn. You're fine."

"Are you sure?"

Zoë smirked and shook her head. "You guys are adorable. You're ridiculous."

After a few moments of silence, I turned to my friend once more. "It's okay?" I asked quietly, perhaps a bit pleadingly.

"Yes." She handed  me a cocktail. "Now drink, woman."

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By late fall, I was making the three-hour trek to Evansville once or twice a month. It wasn't unusual for Ty and I to end up in his room, talking about politics or Ernie Pyle. At first glance, the wood paneling and sloped ceilings made his room seem small. But, after a while, you noticed the details: the paisley rug, the Beatles poster--with one corner un-tacked--the photos of he and his grandfather, and the bookshelves, with the books stacked two and three deep. But, for the moment, we weren't talking about books.

No, I was in the mood for nostalgia. 

"Sooo ... you remember what I looked like the first time you saw me?" I asked, propping myself up on an elbow.

"Yes, Dawn." Ty sighed and looked at the ceiling. "You had on jeans, and a blue, long-sleeved shirt. And I remember that you were tall with long, brown hair."

" ... You've liked me all this time?"

"We-ll ...it's not like I was pining for you. It wasn't like that." He spoke with his usual intonation, with the emphasis--depending on how you looked at it--on all the wrong words. Or all the right words. Regardless, it suited Ty. "Besides," he chided, "I've always had a thing for tall brunettes. Conveniently, one of my closest friends ended up being one."

He elbowed me.

I raised an eyebrow.

While at Purdue, Ty and I had shared countless drinks at Harry's, our campus bar of choice. We'd made each other dinner, as friends, and had stayed up until morning, talking about old movies and insecurities. For Christmas, he'd bought me a journal to write in. For Easter, I'd sent him pens to write with. We'd taken two road trips with Zoë, and had been through Detroit and Toronto and Glacier and Seattle and the dozens of places between.

We'd shared nearly four years of deadlines and late-night talks, movie nights and Skype chats.

"I had no idea," I said. 

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Around Labor Day, Ty and I helped some friends move into a new apartment. We'd celebrated the move with a home-cooked meal and "adult beverages," and, after talking late into the night, decided it was best to crash in their spare room. The room--like the weather that time of year--was damp with humidity. All the same, Ty and I were laying on a futon too small for the both of us. It'd been a long day, and we'd been talking, like always. Originally, I'd had the futon to myself, with Ty occupying the air mattress. But after we'd started chatting about our divorced parents and about the end of my engagement, he'd moved closer to me. We talked. We held hands. And then, in the safety of darkness, Ty asked a question.

"Would it be weird if I kissed you right now?"

My fleeting mind wondered if this was where I wanted our first kiss to be--on a futon not belonging to either one of us. I was a daydreamer, after all, and had pictured grandiose scenarios. And though my mind was filled with racing thoughts, Ty--from his perspective--heard nothing but awkward silence.

After what could've been five seconds or five minutes, Ty threw up his hands, clearly embarrassed. "You know what? I'm sorry. Forget I asked. I ... sorry. Forget it." He began to vacate the futon.

"No, Ty! That's not--" I grabbed his arm and laughed awkwardly. "No, that's not it. I'm sorry. I'm sorry I'm sorry I'm sorry I'm sorry I'm sorry. That's not it. I'msorryIdidn'tsayanythingIwasthinking."

"Thinking?"

"Yeah ... I just ... sorry." I was at a loss for words ... until I started laughing again. "We're ... we're really bad at this, aren't we?"

Ty chuckled. "Perhaps so."

"Well, this is going to end well, then," I joked. We both laughed, our faces shrouded in darkness. After our laughter faded, I broke the silence with a question of my own: "Do you trust me?"

"Absolute."

"Then close your eyes."

And silently, nervously, and shakily, I leaned forward. Ty kissed me back.

And I forgot how to breathe.

9 comments:

  1. Happy sigh. This post made me smile so big. You write so beautifully Dawn and you look so happy in the picture :)

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  2. The more awkward a love story is, the better! If it weren't filled with embarrassment, nervousness, awkwardness, and complete bliss it wouldn't be real. :)

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  3. Such beautiful writing and such a beautiful story. <3

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  4. What a lovely story. I am glad you guys are so happy together :D. Also were the matching shirts on purpose? hehehe

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  5. Awwww. I feel like I know you just from reading this eloquent love story. The name of your blog is very fitting.

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    1. Er, I mean, the URL of your blog. But "Candidly Clyde" is also very fitting. ;-)

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    2. Haha. No worries at all! I really need to change the URL, actually. I've been meaning to, but am somewhat afraid of doing it...

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  6. I just happened to read this after clicking on the links here and there in your latest post. This story is so much like me and my husband. Almost the same exact story, in fact. We were really good friends for about a year before all the awkwardness began, but I am almost positive that I'd rather have had that then the whole "let's meet a guy and go on dates" scenario that lots of people do. And when we did start "dating" it was just weird. I remember my college roommates saying things like, "Oh, you guys are going on a date tonight! Yay!" And my response, "I guess? We're just going to a concert like we'd usually do....?" Regardless, I think some of the best relationships are the ones that start out this way. There are no false pretenses and it forces you to be honest with both yourself and each other.

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