If you’re new to this fun summer story, go back to yesterday and get the links for the first chapters. You’ll enjoy this development far more. See you in a minute.
Also: This post is quite long, but I assure you it’s super worth it. I’ve broken it into two sections. If I break it up into any more posts, some of you guys are going to murder me.
Over the weeks, my visits to the receiving room weren’t any more frequent than usual, but I would linger and chat with Mariano for a little longer each time. He’s just a really neat person. He’s from Miami. He’s in college studying sound engineering. He speaks Spanish. He’s a bassist in a metal band — I know, I know. But before you roll your eyes, you should know that he’s a gifted musician with an impressive list of awards and accomplishments and has been playing in bands and orchestras his whole life. Oh, and he lives in the building. That’s how he saw the sign on the receiving room door! Incredible.
So he talks to me about music, I talk to him about writing and quilts. We talk about all kinds of things. Mariano said to me a while back, “Well, I’d love to see your quilts sometime.”
Now, did I take that to mean “Maybe I could drop by and see your quilts sometime”? No, I did not, because I am a Total Nerd. No, I took this to mean, “Why don’t you haul a bunch of quilts down here to the gross receiving room where the lighting is terrible and show them to me where they can get dirty from sitting on the counter, and then haul them back upstairs?”
I had two friends who literally smacked their foreheads when I told them this. I can hear you doing the same thing. I also did the same thing. Later.
And so, a couple weeks ago, I hauled a big stack of quilts downstairs and had a little show-and-tell. Mariano was impressed. A few days later, I came in for a FedEx and he said, “Hey, you showed me your art. I thought I’d show you what I do.” And he gave me a copy of his album. Neat-o.
He went to get my package and I took a deep breath. I thought it would be easier to ask him to get a drink sometime if I wasn’t actually looking at him.
“Hey, do you want to like, get a drink sometime?” I said, doing my best, “I just thought of this just now” voice. “I mean, I really like talking to you and this is like, the worst place to have a conversation.”
He reappeared with my box, smiling. “I’d love that.”
* * *
For my birthday, I decided to buy myself a gift from the School of Life shop. I won’t wax on about how wonderful this organization is because right now, nobody cares. After you’re done here, though, google it; you’ll be glad you did.
Weeks ago, I ordered several sets of their beautiful question cards, including the “Conversation Toolkit” deck. Conversation cards aren’t anything new, but the School of Life is so thoughtful, so smarty-pants, I knew the conversation cards would be amazing. I swear to you, I did not have anyone in mind when I ordered the cards. (Remember: I didn’t pick up the “show me your quilts” thing, so.)
I got a notice that my package, shipped from the UK, was finally going to be delivered. And I had a brilliant idea: Why not ask Mariano if he wanted to do these cards with me! It was perfect! I sent him a text (we had exchanged numbers) and said:
“There’s a package coming from the UK. Let me know when it comes in. I’m going to open it down there with you. I’ve got an idea.”
The package came. Mariano gave me a razor to cut the tape. We opened the box to find these gorgeous boxes of beautiful, thick cards with wonderful questions printed on them. We set a date for Sunday night. I wondered if we should go to a bar for the game, but I felt comfortable asking him to just come up to my unit, like “Melrose Place.”
We had a blast. An absolute blast. What fun it was to learn about someone in this way! Zero small talk, zero fartin’ around. We jumped right to answering questions like, “Do you think other people regard you as a good listener?”
The whole time, though, I’m thinking, “I have to tell him I blogged about him. I have to.” Because at a certain point, not telling Mariano about all this felt dishonest. And then, miraculously, my chance was literally in the cards. I pulled a question:
“What’s the most surprising conversation you’ve ever had?”
Mariano told me about his neighbor back in Miami who shared a birthday with him. He told me about several remarkable conversations he had with this interesting person, what he learned over the years. I paused.
“I bet I can top that,” I said. I swallowed hard. Then, “I need to tell you something. I blogged about you. Several times.”
His eyes got big, but he didn’t make a break for it. I grabbed my iPad and summarized for him the first post. Then I said, “There were a couple other posts. But the most important thing is the open letter. I wrote it to hopefully read to you eventually. So…can I read it to you?”
He nodded. He took a drink of his gin and tonic. And I read the letter.
When I finished, I looked up at him. We were sitting on my couch. He was looking at me, smiling.
“I think you’re really beautiful, too.”
Me. Nerd Girl. Beautiful. Oh, Lord have mercy. I blushed about nine ways from…something. I mumbled, “W-well, that’s just… Wow, I mean, thank you. Um…”
There was an awkward silence. And then I said, just freakin’ going for broke:
“Do we kiss, now?”
“Yeah,” he said, and we were like two magnets, just zap!
Boy, did we smooch. I smooched Receiving Room Guy, you guys!! Can you believe this?? It was amazing! I mean, the whole thing is amazing: This is really a terrific story. Even if it wasn’t happening to me, I’m pretty sure I’d think it was an extraordinary tale.
Now, just hold your horses: We just smooched. For awhile, yeah. But that’s all, because, well, that’s all. (For the record, this would be the first time in the history of this blog I have ventured into smooch detail. No matter what happens next, don’t expect any more details of this nature! Blech!)
Anyhow, there’s what happened, my dear, sweet friends. You heard it here first.
How cool is that?