Once again, the yawning and stretching and eye rubbing that came with it being a new morning were mine. Tuesday. History class. This meant I would be seeing Joseph again.
After class, in a booth at Einstein's, Joseph asked me about the painting on my guitar. He remembered it from church. It was a rough painting of city skyscrapers at night. The buildings had a moon above them, and roots that made a heart beneath them. I was a bit obsessed with roots growing into hearts at the time.
I told him that I had been inspired by a doodle I had seen in a port-a-john at Cornerstone. I decided to put it on my guitar to remind me to pray for the two cities that I majorly had a heart for at the time: Chicago and Tokyo.
He asked if I knew how to play that guitar. I blushed. No. Not even a little bit. It had been my mom's guitar, and she never had played it either. I told him that I would love to learn... someday.
Doing his best to conceal his excitement, he asked if I would like him to teach me. I said that would really be great, and we should pencil each other in some time.
He whipped out his planner and said, "What days are good for you? How about Fridays? When do you get out of class?"
I blinked. I really didn't expect him to actually pencil me in. Um, okay... Fridays would be perfect. I got out of class around 2:30 on Fridays.
He said that was splendid and asked if we could meet at the tree that was all blazingly yellow and orange just outside of the building we had history in.
With this new arrangement I really did practically see Joseph every day. Sunday and Wednesday for church, Tuesday for class, Thursday for class and sometimes contra, and now Friday for guitar lessons.
He was an excellent teacher, drawing me little pictures of where the chords are to take back with me and practice. As the weather grew chilly, and I began to stay later, he would pinch the sleeve of my jacket before I left, say it wasn't thick enough to keep me warm, and offer me one of his to wear over it.
One Friday guitar lesson, I sat in his computer chair, watching him play the simple little song I wanted to learn (from the movie Juno) and I was noticing how sweet his hands were.
Maybe it could be okay to have a crush on a friend again, I thought. What were the odds I'd get burned again, anyway?
Just then I was startled when the door opened and Azalea walked in.
Wow, I thought, she really just walked right in, didn't she? No phone call? They must be on really familiar terms!
She carried her knitting in with her, nodded hello to me, sat down on the bed, and started telling Joseph about her day.
I knew my guitar lesson was over, so I got involved in the conversation. She was a fun girl!
Joseph excused himself to the bathroom, and Azalea, getting straight to the point, asked me how my love life was going.
Whatever very small part of me was taken aback, was thoroughly overruled by my relief that we would be talking about something real instead of endless, boring smalltalk. I gave her a brief sum up of the situation with Eddie Kindle and explained to her that I had never had a boyfriend, nor the wiles to get one, so I had almost completely accepted my fate to become an crazy old spinster making the walls in my house out of origami cranes and collecting kinkajous, sugar gliders, and coatimundi. I had planned this out, you see.
When Joseph returned, Azalea told him that she wanted to go star-gazing at the baseball field. I was invited along, so I bundled into my coat and we trundled down the stairs and into the night. Telling stories, and playing through the metal sculptures around the art building, we made our way across campus, past the Ramsey Center, around faraway parking lots, over a tiny bridge that spanned a creek, and into the baseball field.
We lay down with Joseph in the middle of the pitcher's mound and commenced our diligent star watching. There was bonding. There were tales of woe and of joy followed by silliness and laughter. Then I got some kind of freak, unreasonable wild hair. I would try my hand at wiles, I thought. I could... oh I don't know... put my head on his shoulder? No. No that's too much. Perhaps I would just scoot a little closer and roll over onto my stomach and put my chin in my hands. Okay, that I could handle.
I only got so far as propping myself up on my elbow before I saw it.
Hand holding action. There was definite hand holding action going on.
Azalea shot me a look and then chirped, "I could just sleep out here! Whadaya guys think? Wanna sleep out here?", she gazed into Joseph's eyes.
Competition. I couldn't compete. I wouldn't fight. An old friend of mine had once said, "That which you have to fight to gain, you have to fight to keep."
I didn't know for sure if that was true or not, but it sounded wise. Besides, I could see that she really liked him, and I was kind of on the fence so...
Oh, I forgot, I was supposed to say something about whether or not I wanted to spend the night here. That was tricky. I didn't want it to look like I was just bailing because I saw that she had his hands, but I didn't really want to stay and be a third wheel, either.
Mercifully, at just that moment the sprinklers came on.
Azalea looked at Joseph and implored, "Oh so what if we get all wet? It could be fun!".
I smiled at them and said that just this once I think I'd prefer to sleep dry, stood up, and started heading for the bridge.
Azalea and Joseph got up and followed.
When we got to the bridge, Azalea stopped me to ask why I wasn't wearing shoes. I told her I just don't always like to. She said it was too cold out not to have shoes on, and began insisting that I take hers.
"No, really, it's okay! I like being barefoot! I chose to leave withou..."
"Take them! Just take them!"
"But what about your feet?!"
It was too late. She had them off and was handing them to me. Putting them on the ground and saying that if I didn't wear them, she was just going to leave them there and nobody would wear them.
I don't like borrowing things. Borrowing things means later I have to return things. I am a scatterbrained human who routinely doesn't keep track of my own things, much less anyone else's, and if I forget to return something, I carry guilt with me until it's either returned or I lose both it and touch with the person who lent it to me.
But alas, she had pulled the ol' "take or it's gone" tactic, so I heaved a sigh and put them on.
There was some talk of someone going back with Joseph to cut his hair, but I maintained my position that I was longing for a full night's sleep.
I hugged them both goodbye and headed back to my dorm by myself, trying to process the last few hours.
Hand-holding action? But if Joseph had a girlfriend, wouldn't he have said something in all our hours and hours of hanging out? I guess the truth was that our hangout time was purposed. It was class or church or guitar lessons. Maybe we weren't as close of friends as I had thought we were.
Anyway, if I had been certain before that a crush on a friend was a bad idea, I was now thoroughly convinced that this was an undeniable fact. It was alright, I guessed. I would just have to stop entertaining the idea that he could be more than a friend.