We drove together out of the desert. Conversation still flowed but there were more comfortable silences in it than before.
He pointed to a hill on our right and said, "My parent's house is just up there, behind that hill."
He felt awkward not taking me home to meet them, but he wasn't ready to tell them about me just yet. (He told me that later.)
Instead he took me to an outdoor supply shop, about 2 miles from where we live now actually, and bought me a "decent water bottle."
We went to his favorite pizza place near the beach, and after a day of trail food we attacked that pizza, and the micro brewed root beer. We stopped on a beach to see if a flash in the wave was phosphorescence, it wasn't, and essentially just wandered around before making our way back to the church where I was staying.
And then it was weird. They were all staring at us. My friends. They would pretend they were talking to each other in hushed tones, but their attention was totally fixed on us.
He was flying to India in two days, and we weren't ready to say goodbye, so I suggested we head out to the beach near the church for a while.
We were both struggling. It felt strange, this part about saying goodbye. We had only just met, and now we were parting, and it felt...wrong. There was stilted conversation about where I planned to be one year from now, would I ever come back to San Diego? Would we ever be in the same place at the same time again? I didn't even have a permanent address. He didn't know if he would ever come back, but he planned to be gone at least a year.
I wrote my email address in his book, and told him he ought to get one so we could write. (Imagine. Remember the days when not everyone had email?)
And then he said, "Well, good bye. I hope I'll see you again someday."
And I said, "At least give me a hug before you go. It feels wrong not to hug you goodbye."
So he hugged me, and we stood there, embracing, staring at the waves for what felt like a really long time. And then he started singing, and I listened to his voice as it vibrated in his chest.
Finally, the song ended, and we broke apart, and headed back toward the church. He asked if he could hold my hand on the way back, of course I said yes.
And then we chatted for a few more minutes before he hugged one more time. "Goodbye, I love you", he said, and then walked away.
Our first meeting
The first uh date?