Our First Date

On our first date, Seth took me to a hole-in-the-wall cafe featuring southern comfort food, and I internally raised my eyebrows at his choice. During the drive from my apartment he’d been talking out loud, trying to decide between the southern cafe and a steak restaurant down the street. I definitely would have gone with the steak restaurant for a first date, but ultimately I decided I liked that he chose a restaurant that suited him.

CrackerBarrelInteriorAlways a gentleman, Seth opened the restaurant door for me, and as I took in the decor, I realized this diner was Seth through and through. Following the hostess, I slid into the booth she indicated, taking in the antlers and farming antiques lining the walls. It reminded me of dinners at Cracker Barrel during family road trips when I was a young girl.

The small town country decor inspired me to order a chicken fried steak, and it was the best steak I’ve ever had. Granted, I’d only ever had chicken fried steak once before, but it absolutely melted in my mouth. Seth tried a bite (and then another) and teased me that I was going to be spoiled from ever appreciating chicken fried steak again.

Cookie_Ice_Cream_SandwichAfter dinner, Seth took me across town to try his favorite dessert – cookie ice cream sandwiches. We ended up splitting one because they were huge. Seth smiled at me across the table, and I giggled as melting vanilla ice cream dripped down my fingers.

When he finished his half of the ice cream sandwich, Seth went to wash up. Upon his return, he announced, “The men’s restroom door has a sign on it that says, ‘Use women’. But I’m not going to do that.” I rolled my eyes at his joke, and he gave me a rakish grin in response.

We walked around outside for a while, enjoying the night air, and on the drive home, Seth reached over to take my hand. My stomach flip-flopped, and I marveled at the fact that such a simple gesture could mean so much to me. My hands had been in my lap and not on the arm rest, so he’d really had to go for it. And he did.

His thumb stroked mine, and he glanced over at me as he drove, seeming to take me in. He tucked my hair behind my ear, sending shivers down my spine. But at the end of the evening, he didn’t kiss me goodnight. And I was immensely glad. 

I was surprised at myself for being pleased by the lack of goodnight kiss, so I mentally explored my reaction. I decided that I wanted him to kiss me, but I also had come to hope that Seth really was every bit the kind, honorable gentleman he seemed to be. So I was glad he continued to show himself to be a slow, steady, respectful man of character.

Seth hugged me goodnight, asking if I had anyone to take me to the airport for my business trip in the morning. Ashley had offered – wonderful friend that she is – but I told Seth what I’d told her. “I was planning on parking at the airport and expensing it. The company is willing to pay for parking.”

“What if I wanted to take you to the airport? Would that be okay?” He wanted to be the last to see me and the first to welcome me home. My heart melted.

“Yes,” I said with a smile, “That would be okay.”

“Great!” He smiled back. “Why don’t we go to church together in the morning; then we can stop by your apartment to get your luggage, and I can take you straight to the airport from there?”

I don’t usually look forward to business travel, but a morning of fellowship followed by a drive to the airport with Seth? This man had definitely given me something to look forward to!

Authentically Aurora

Going With the Flow

Dating Flow Chart

I checked my outfit in the mirror one last time as I heard Seth’s knock on my door. I’d chosen my knee-length maroon dress with a cropped khaki jacket, hoping I looked cute but not like I was trying too hard.

Seth had called me thirty minutes earlier and asked what I was doing. “Um… eating a quick dinner before bible study?”

He’d called me at 5:15 PM, and our Wednesday night bible study started at 6:30 PM. But even in light of the time crunch, Seth had asked me if I would like to get ice cream before bible study. “I can pick you up; then we can go to bible study together.”

Naturally, I said yes, but a quiet part of my mind was doing the backwards planning: It’s going to take him thirty minutes to get to my apartment in rush hour traffic; then another thirty minutes to get to bible study, which allots us only fifteen minutes to actually eat ice cream if we’re going to be on time.

But of course I didn’t say any of that. I have been coached by ex-boyfriends and ex-fiances alike that I am “too Type A” and come off as unattractive and “unfeminine” when I reveal the inner workings of my planning, detail-oriented mind. So I am learning to bite my tongue as I attempt to go with the flow.

At the sound of his rhythmic knock on my door, I tucked my hair behind my ear and unlocked my front door to open it for Seth. We greeted one another with a hug; then I stepped back and unintentionally looked him up and down. He was wearing a maroon button-down tucked into khaki slacks.

I giggled. “We match,” I told him, gesturing to my own outfit. He smiled in reply before escorting me down the hallway to his truck after I locked the door behind me.

We drove to a Chinese shaved ice shop where they serve bao bing in a variety of unique flavors. Seth and I opted to share a vanilla-flavored “ice cream sundae” topped with bananas, strawberries, almonds and bright blue raspberry whipped cream. Digging our spoons into the tower of shaved ice, we dubbed it the Smurf Sundae, and Seth laughed at me when I stuck out my tongue and asked him if it was turning blue.

We enjoyed relaxed conversation until Seth glanced at his watch and announced that we were definitely going to be thirty minutes late for bible study. Sure enough, we arrived at 7:00 PM, and everyone playfully raised their eyebrows at not only our tardy arrival together but also our matching attire. I saw one of Seth’s friends wink at him, and Seth – not realizing I was watching – grinned in response.

At the time, I was excited; hopeful; cautiously optimistic. But in the weeks that followed – while Seth and I continued to spend time together – he always arranged for us to meet in group settings. We met at a baseball stadium and bought tickets with a group of mutual friends to watch the game together. He didn’t even sit by me until the 7th inning, both surprising and disappointing me. But the very next morning when we went out to lunch after church with some friends, Seth – in front of everyone – asked the waitress to put our two orders on the same check, and I was encouraged again.

The theme of group outings continued right up to the week I went out of the country on a business trip. I had figured three weeks would be plenty of time for Seth to ask me on a date, but as the weekend of my departure approached, I started to wonder if Seth was interested after all. I’d been back in the dating scene for three full weeks, and he’d told me I would know when he asked me on a date. We’d gone out for ice cream one time, but he hadn’t called it a date, and we’d been rushed on our way to bible study. Was he interested or not?

The night before I left on my business trip, Seth had invited me to a birthday party for a friend of his who I didn’t know. I agreed, but about an hour before he was supposed to pick me up, Seth called to let me know he’d just found out there wouldn’t be any other girls at the party.

“That’s okay,” I told him. “You go ahead and spend some time with your guy friends. I can call up my girls to hang out.”

“But I wanted to spend tonight with you,” he told me. I smiled in spite of myself. So he did want to see me before I left!

“Well, I was a female engineer. I’m used to being one of the guys. I can come along if the birthday boy doesn’t mind.”

“Or we could do something just you and me,” Seth countered. “We could go get dinner or something.”

I felt the left corner of my mouth turn upward in a half smile. “Yeah, we could get dinner just us.” What are your intentions here, Seth?

“Okay. Let’s do that then.”

Seth showed up at my apartment thirty minutes later in a button-down shirt tucked into dark blue jeans and cowboy boots. I welcomed him inside, and we hugged hello. As we pulled apart, Seth kept his hands on my waist and looked down into my eyes with a nervous smile. “So… do you want to go on a date?”

My soft smile was immediate. “Yes, please.” I thought you’d never ask.

Authentically Aurora