Touching Thoughtfulness

HugBo is from Wisconsin and has an adorable northern accent. He is a smart, confident Triathlete with a great smile and gentle heart. When I met him at church back in February, I was still with Bryan, and Bo had a girlfriend himself. But we’ve known each other for a while now, and he’s become a friend who I like and respect.

While teaching Vacation Bible School together this week, I found out that Bo and his girlfriend broke up about a month ago. He just mentioned it in passing while a group of us herded the kids between stations, but my ears perked up.

I know I’m still a mess. I know I don’t need to jump into another relationship. And I know that I want to be good friends with the next guy before I get romantically involved with him. But the knowledge that a solid guy like Bo is still available gave me hope – not even necessarily for us to work out, but that I might actually be able to end up with a godly man my own age rather than picking off one of the bright-eyed 23-year-olds fresh from college or, at the other end of the spectrum, settling for an emotionally unavailable, baggage-laden 36-year-old (*cough, Bryan, cough*).

After VBS on Wednesday night, Bo, Diana and I hung around to catch up with a few other friends. Somehow the subject of love languages came up, and Bo immediately turned to me. “Yours is definitely physical touch.”

“What?” My face lit up with surprise. “How did you know?!” I actually have two primary love languages – quality time and physical touch – but Bo and I haven’t spent enough time together for him to have any reason to know that.

Bo shrugged in response; then gave a slight smile. “You’re a really touch-y person.”

I giggled nervously. “Um.. what?” Everyone else starting laughing, too – friendly laughter.

Bo laughed and waved his hands, “No, no… not in a bad or inappropriate way. You just seem to like to touch people’s shoulders when you talk to them… and you hug people a lot…” his voice trailed off.

“Oh. I mean… yeah. Physical touch is important to me.” All eyes were on me now, so I went on, “When I was a kid, I didn’t have an alarm clock. My mom would rub my back to wake me up every morning.”

“Awww…” I heard Diana’s soft voice float over from my right.

“I come from a loving, snuggly family,” I went on animatedly, “And I don’t… you know… fool around… so I don’t ever get my physical touch!” I threw my hands up in the air in mock frustration as I grinned at Diana. “That’s why I always hug you when I see you.”

I directed the conversation away from myself then, asking everyone else about their love languages. Bo said that his are words of affirmation and acts of service, although he also made an insightful comment about men in general: “I think words of affirmation are universally one of the top two for men. Men like to act tough, but we’re actually really insecure.” He didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know experientially, but I appreciated Bo’s honesty and vulnerability. How many men would publicly make a statement like that, acknowledging their insecurities?

On Thursday night, Bo had to leave as soon as the VBS session was over. “I’ve gotta jet,” he called to the group as he got up from where we were all sitting cross-legged in the grass.

“Later!” we all called back as he started to walk across the field to his car. But after a few paces, he stopped, turned, and walked back to me. Bo surprised me by bending over and hugging my shoulders as I sat in the grass surrounded by children. Then he wordlessly straightened and walked back to his car.

It wasn’t until I was climbing into bed, mentally reviewing my day, that I realized Bo had made a conscious effort to meet my needs. He heard, remembered and made a decision to love me the way I need to be loved.

His thoughtfulness was touching. Pun intended.

Authentically Aurora

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Kissing Goodbye to My Inner Cat Lady

For Valentine’s Day, Bryan took me out for dinner to a wild game place where they serve not only the usual “exotic” meats of elk, buffalo and venison, but also kangaroo, yak, llama and more. I was told that the llama tastes like lamb (which is my favorite meat), so that was my choice. It turned out to be a good one.

As we ate, Bryan and I naturally started talking about different meats. And animals. And then pets. Bryan had every pet imaginable growing up, from hamsters to hermit crabs. I never had any pets as a kid, but I recently fostered a kitten for a weekend as I considered finally getting a furry companion of my own.

petting black catBryan asked me why I would want a cat, so I told him stories of a stray black cat from my college years. That cat was skittish with everyone else, but sometimes if I sat cross-legged on the driveway, she would circle me several times, getting closer with each revolution, until she would tentatively step into my lap and curl up there.

I loved holding that black cat, stroking her as she nestled in the folds of my knees. Her whole body would vibrate as she purred. Snuggling with her made me feel comforted and loved. “Physical affection is important for me,” I told him in conclusion.

Cirque du SoleilAfter dinner, Bryan surprised me with tickets to Cirque du Soleil. I had been once before, but it was in college, and only a few sideshows had come rather than the whole troupe, so I was ecstatic. We saw their Amaluna show, and it was fantastic! From the costumes to the music, the ambiance of this green-blue-and-purple peacock-themed production was as mesmerizing to me as the acrobatics themselves.

Bryan isn’t much of a hand holder, but for the rest of the evening – from our conversation at dinner forward – his hand was in the small of my back, guiding me as we walked, or on my knee, silently communicating his presence during the show. He wrapped his arms around me during intermission, and he kissed me sweetly at the end of the night.

As the evening drew to a close, Bryan hugged me to himself. With my head on his chest and his arms around me, he pressed his lips to my forehead and murmured in a sleepy voice, “Think you still need that cat?”

I smiled into the softness of his shirt. No, I don’t think I do.

Authentically Aurora