July 17, 1997: My boyfriend of three years breaks up with me.
July 19, 1997: 21st birthday celebration, long-planned, and still attended by my new ex ("we'll still be friends"), Morgan, and missbard. That is its own story in surreality.
Late July: It occurs to me that I'm going to Pennsic for a week. Week-long event. Hmm.
August 2 or 3, who was keeping track?: Morgan needs help moving from the dorm to home. I have a minivan and had offered to help.
We spent several hours loading the minivan with his stuff. Normally, I could count on Morgan to make some sort of smart-assed half-flirtatious comment, but not today. Not one single syllable that I could use to propose a Pennsic liasion.
Finally, turning the key in the ignition of the minivan, I decided to make my own opportunity. "You know, I can think of a lot better ways to get sweaty and grunting than this." Okay, it wasn't poetry.
But it has the desired effect: he ripostes. "Well, if I'd known that, I'd have put clean sheets on the bed."
"Well, actually..." And I reminded him of our June conversation, and noted my recent singlehood, and the weeklong duration of Pennsic.
We were tooling down Avenue E, leaving Livingston campus. He was silent for a moment before replying, "You're bluffing."
"What?" This was not the response I expected. "Sure, yeah!" maybe, or even, "Sorry, but I'm expecting to shack up with a cute redhead from Canada I met online." Bluffing?
"You're bluffing! This is a bluff!"
I rallied. "Have you ever known me to bluff?"
I had him there. Someone who had picked up the moniker "the Well-Prepared" was not especially prone to bluff. He paused. "Ah, but you would know that I would know that you don't bluff, ergo you can bluff now and think that I won't call you on it."
I sighed, "Whatever." I was amused at the mental gymnastics that were apparently required to just say, "No thanks," and disappointed at rejection - but not crushed. It wasn't like I'd pinned my hopes of happiness for the rest of my life on him or anything. Talk turned to other topics.
Zipping down Route 18, we decided that we were hungry and pulled into a Burger King. Pulling out again, conversation ceased as I tried to get into traffic without getting us both killed. He used the silence to suddenly say, "You know how sometimes you just can't get a topic of conversation out of your head?"
"Yup," I said, having an idea about where this was going.
"Were you serious?"
"Oh. Well, okay then."
So we did.
A coda to the "ten years ago" story:
We had fallen for each other, hard, even in the two weeks before Pennsic. But I was worried about "the rebound," so we talked in circles around "four-letter words" and I avoided any promises of commitment, in case my feelings ended up being mere infatuation.
Pennsic ended with a rainstorm that had the folks from the Midwest scrambling to break their camps. We could see clouds overhead turning in lazy circles and decided that it was time to get out of Dodge. The trusty minivan was brought to camp and, in the pouring rain, Morgan and my sister brought our gear over and I used my inherited packing-fu skills to fit it all in. We were packed in record time. Glad to be going, impressed with the speed with which the decision was made and put into effect, Morgan paused me in my packing efforts to place one hand on either shoulder.
"Don't take this the wrong way," he shouted over the rain. "But I love you!"
I'm sure he said it again, later, when I was less commitment-shy, but that's the one I remember.