On the way back into town, I asked Katelyn if she was up for some bowling. She said, “Yeah, sure…that sounds really cool.”
When we got there, I took her into the restaurant first so we could grab a quick bite to eat and drink. We both ordered a hamburger with fries and washed it down with a pitcher of beer.
Our conversation was mostly about other things that we each liked to do, so we shared some favorites and realized that after bowling, we thought a nice walk through the park would be fun for both of us. I told her about a park in town that had some hungry ducks and how most people just try to feed them bread. What they really like is corn tortilla chips.
After we finished eating, we went into the bowling alley and played one game. They rented shoes to us because we still had our mountain boots on. Neither of us was very good at bowling, so needless to say, we had a few gutter balls and I refuse to admit who beat me.
We split afterwards and went to the store to buy some bread and corn tortilla chips and headed over to the park. The parking lot is fairly close to the area where the ducks like to hang out and some of them usually just get into the pond. They are used to people getting out of their cars and walking right up to them, and when we did, they all scrambled over toward us to get their fair share of grub.
One of the ducks has a lame leg and he’s been around there for a long time. I pointed him out to Katelyn and she immediately fell for him. She wanted to take him home, but I discouraged her from doing that. I explained to her that he’s been around here a long time and this was his home with all of his friends.
Katelyn really enjoyed our time together in the park. We fed the ducks first and then decided we would walk around the pond along a waterfront trail with tall trees and bushes all around. Once we were past the pond, the trail winded around in the back of the park and usually there is nobody around.
There’s a small bench back there about halfway along the trail, so we stopped there and sat down together. I put my arm around her shoulders and we got close to each other. She laid her head on my shoulder and we sat there quietly for a couple of minutes enjoying the sunshine and nature. The birds were chirping and we could hear the children nearby in the little playground area.
I asked Katelyn if she wanted to have kids one day and she said she wanted two; one of each. I told her that kids are a lot of fun and that every day is a new venture with them as they are growing up. She said that she didn’t want to have children until after she finished college and got settled in her career. It was a very smart choice for a young lady to be thinking like this and I told her that.
We avoided saying anything about the two of us in relation to the topic of children. We just talked about what she wanted.
In the back of my mind, I began to wonder if Katelyn was thinking about me being the father of her children. I knew that she really liked me because I was so understanding and kind to her. The problem that we were distinctly aware of was the vast difference in our age. By the time she reached her mid 30’s, the children would be in their early teens and I would be too old.
As fond as I was for her, I knew that it could turn out to be a mistake to think that something like this would be the right thing to happen. She needed someone much younger – but then again, her past experiences with boyfriends were all let downs. They were all too immature for her and none of them apparently had the skills to treat Katelyn with honor and respect while at the same time knowing when and how to man handle her when the moment was right.
As I thought about all of this to myself, it became clear to me that this might be a good time to talk to her about it. I hinted toward having a conversation by telling her that I had something on my mind. She was eager to hear what I had to say.
The first thing I wanted Katelyn to know was how amazing she was. A very soft-spoken and gentle young woman who enjoys being with someone who understands her and is not mean to her. Someone she can trust – a guy that becomes her best friend and they fall in love. He knows how to touch her and hold her in his arms and he is never selfish, always thinking of how he can make her happy.
She was starting to get tears in her eyes again and I suspected it was about me, so I asked her, “Katelyn, I can see that you are thinking about something that upsets you. I think I know what it is – so all you have to do is nod your head yes or no. Were you thinking about how hard it might be to find a best friend and father of your children?” She nodded yes. My next question was meant to be more precise. “Does it upset you because I seem to be that friend to you and you wish that I was younger?” She nodded yes again and then her lips started to quiver as she broke out crying.
I just held her tight in my arms and didn’t say another word. She needed to let her emotions pour out and I wasn’t about to try and stop her. I pulled my shirt sleeve down over my hand and dabbed it around her cheeks and eyes to soak up her tears. This was another moment in our relationship when I needed to be understanding and sympathetic with her need to let it out without trying to tell her everything would be okay. That’s the last thing she would want to hear because it wasn’t okay at all – and we both knew it. We had just met each other and in a matter of a few hours we had developed a close friendship and it was turning into love.
An idea came to mind just then and I thought it would be the best way to get us through this, so I said, “Katelyn, I have a great idea. Let’s just stay together today. I want to hold you in my arms and we’ll take a nap, cuddle up together and watch a couple of good movies and eat some popcorn with lots of butter.” She started to chuckle a little bit and hugged me tighter. I said, “Later this week, I am going to schedule an appointment with a professional counselor so that we can go in together and talk about what is happening between us. I think the counselor will be able to help us sort through everything. Would you be willing to do that with me?” And without hesitating, she agreed immediately.
The reason I had suggested this was because we were both starting to fall in love for each other and it wouldn’t be right for either of us to try and sort it out ourselves. It was too complicated for us. We needed professional help and I knew it had to be soon, so that’s what I told her. I didn’t want to say anything that might hurt her because I really cared for her and I knew she felt the same for me, so I told her that too. When I did, she spoke to me very softly and said, “I don’t know how you do it, but everything you’ve said is right on.”
With that, I helped her up and we walked back down the trail toward the playground holding hands. We stopped for a couple of minutes to watch the children play before we walked back to my Jeep.
On the way back to my place, we stopped at the store. Katelyn and I went in to get a few things and we selected two movies from the Red Box machine before we left in a hurry.
When we arrived back home, she helped me unload the Jeep and we put things away. I kept the sleeping bags in the living room and got some pillows and extra blankets out of the bedroom and spread everything out in front of the hi-def flat screen TV. I got into a pair of pajamas and gave her a pair so we could both relax.
We put the popcorn in the microwave and melted a half cube of butter to pour over it along with a few shakes of salt. I cut up some cheese and an apple to go with the popcorn, got us some Red Cabernet wine, and we settled into a late afternoon and evening just watching the movies. It was like best friends having a pajama party – and I didn’t want to spoil it doing anything else with her. I deliberately kept my hands to myself except when I held her in my arms as we snuggled up to each other. It was important for both of us to experience this friendship the way it is was meant to be. We had engaged ourselves so fast over the last several hours that it was time to wind down a little bit. She had to go to school and work the next day and this was the best way to wrap up a very romantic first date.