(You can read Part I by clicking HERE.)
...When Kadin came back the next day, it was for a summer BBQ we were having at some friends' house down the street from my apartment. I can remember that he made the most amazing prosciutto-stuffed clams and that he sat next to me. I remember having debates and discussions with everyone at the dinner party and that Kadin and I were on the same team or trying to make the same point almost every time. I remember thinking he was smart and intense (I'd been described as "too intense" by an ex-boyfriend before he walked out the door about a year prior). And by "intense," I mean he was thoughtful, expressive and spoke with conviction.
I remember that he leaned in close when he said goodbye that night and it terrified me because I was afraid of getting hurt again.
We didn't contact or see each other until the following winter. I remember being disappointed that I hadn't heard from him, even though I made it clear I was only interested in friendship. I wondered why he hadn't called to just hang out. In that time, his grandmother had died and he'd been involved with someone from his past. I traveled alone constantly for work and pleasure (Paris, London, Berlin, Bologna, Milan) and I planned a long-awaited trip to Peru, where I would volunteer at an orphanage for some two weeks and hike Machu Picchu. I stopped thinking about our obvious connection and instead connected to all of the places that I traveled to. I became steadfast in my resolve to be single, a single mother and perhaps a not so lonely old cat lady (even though I'm severely allergic to cats).
Sometime around Christmas, I got a call or an email from Kadin asking if I wanted to meet for a drink on Christmas eve. He was going to stay in L.A. for the holiday but I, of course, was spending it with my family since I was from L.A. I didn't feel comfortable inviting him to come with me to what might be another dramatic but never boring Mauk family holiday gathering, but asked him if he was willing to do it Christmas night instead.
We met at a bar called HMS Bounty in Koreatown. It was dark, wood-paneled and filled with geriatric regulars and hipsters drinking whiskey. I was nervous until we sat down and started talking. We told each other a ton of dating stories--we had comparable unbelievable and embarrassing stories. The exchange of dating details definitely kept things in the friendship court on this night, but I was hyper aware, again, of how easy and comfortable and automatic it was to be with him.
When we'd had enough to drink, Kadin walked me to my car (he was also always opening doors for me--a totally foreign concept). There was no closeness or lean in or even a hug. He just sort of waved goodbye then asked me what I was doing for New Years Eve. We both had plans, but mentioned that we'd be doing nothing on New Year's Day. At this point, the fact that he was continuing to make plans with me, but wasn't acting romantic in any way or making any moves had me in a complete tailspin as to what his current motivations were. It also had me suddenly wanting him to want me even though I said I wanted only friendship.
He called me again on New Year's Day. It was about three or so in the afternoon and I was hung over, on the couch and makeup-free in my pajamas. In fact, he didn't call. He rang the buzzer at the front door of my apartment building. He'd decided to just show up. With a friend. A really weird friend who I still like to refer to as Silent Bob. He asked if they could come upstairs and I asked if I could meet them at the coffee shop down the street in ten so I could pull myself together.
I remember having butterflies as I approached and saw Kadin. He was wearing shorts, a hoodie, a scarf and flip-flops. It was freezing. Silent Bob was silent and did not make eye contact almost the whole time, making it awkward as well as seemingly obvious that this, again, was not a date. We chatted over tea for awhile and eventually decided to go see a movie...
...to be continued...