August 8, 2020
After a year-long week, “The Date” finally came. Cameron planned on taking Marquette out to eat after work and then they’d talk about the options. Well, he picked her up and went to the restaurant he picked out only to find it closed…so they went down the road to the next restaurant only to find it was closed as well. 30 minutes later they were at a Sonic in Albuquerque, trying to make small talk through the awkwardness. So much awkwardness!!! Marquette got two calls during their strained small talk asking how it turned out. The tension kept building. Eventually they headed back out towards home and pulled over on his dirt road to talk. Cameron knew this was important, and that the friendship was important to him, so he had decided that he needed to be as completely open and honest as he could be…and he was. He laid his feelings out completely. He told Marquette that he wasn’t romantically interested in her, that he had been interested in Jalayne and that she didn’t return his feelings, that he had prayed about dating Marquette during the school year and received a “just be friends” answer each time, etc. He reassured Marquette that her friendship was important to him, but he had never been attracted or interested in her. He laid everything out in the open in its real and raw form. There was no question as to how he felt.
In the end, after he’d told Marquette everything, he gave this line: “So I don’t know what you want to do now. I’m willing to give dating a try if you’d like, but if you’re mad at me and don’t want anything to do with me now I’d understand too. I’m going to leave it up to you though.”
There was an awkward silence as the two sat in thought for a few minutes. Marquette knew her feelings towards him, and she knew that his friendship was important to her. She didn’t want to see that end and knew that their friendship would be permanently altered and awkward from that point if they just left it where they were at that point. She had just been told that the man she already loved wasn’t romantically interested in her, and even though she’d already known that she felt like she’d lost something in having that knowledge confirmed, and knowing that, she wasn’t ready to lose his friendship that night too. So finally she made up her mind and said, “What if we tried dating, and when the end of summer comes we can evaluate where we were and go from there?” It was dating with a built in out. Basically they both knew it was just a summer dating plan and they’d break up come August. He took a deep breath and then agreed.
The awkwardness was thicker than peanut butter. What now? They were officially dating, but it was weird. How do you proceed forward from there?
Cameron sat thinking, trying to figure out what to do. He remembered a conversation he’d had with his Dad about Marquette. Kerry was asking why Cameron wasn’t dating Marquette. Cameron explained that he just didn’t like her like that. “But I’ve seen you two hug when you say hello or goodbye? When I was your age a hug between a boy and a girl was pretty indicative of a relationship.” Cameron explained that hugs now are pretty general. Friends hug. “Well, have you held her hand?” “No! You don’t hold a girl’s hand unless you’re officially dating.” After explaining that things were opposite with hugs and holding hands when he was growing up and dating, Kerry laughed and said, “Well, you can’t find out if you like a girl if you don’t at least hold her hand.” That seemed reasonable, especially now as Cameron was trying to figure out what to do. So, after what seemed like forever, Cameron said, “Well, I guess since we’re dating I should probably hold your hand,” and he began reaching for Marquette’s hand. Time slowed down in her head and a part of her wanted to move her hand out of the way and say, “You just told me you don’t like me and that you’re not attracted to me and now you feel obligated to hold my hand?! No way!” but thankfully another part of her said, “Don’t be dramatic, you’re the one that just decided to try officially dating even though you knew his feelings. This is okay.” Luckily Marquette listened to the 2nd little shoulder angel and gave Cameron her hand. They sat there holding hands in the car and finally to break the awkwardness they started visiting about his job and just life in general…nothing important. The more they talked, the more Cameron relaxed and the happier he seemed.
After about 15 minutes of visiting, Cameron decided to try and put his arm around Marquette…but being that they were sitting in a Geo Metro that didn’t really work out, so he said, “Why don’t you scoot over here closer to me.” Before she could really even say or do anything Cameron had put his arms around Marquette and had picked her up and pulled her over so they were both scrunched into the driver seat (Marquette half sitting on his seat and half sitting on the parking break…it was less than comfy, but it worked). Marquette had such conflicting emotions. This is what she’d wanted, but this isn’t what he’d been wanting. “20 minutes ago this guy was telling me that he wasn’t attracted to me and now he wants to snuggle?!” The two of them sat like that, with his arms around her, for a while longer just visiting. Finally after about an hour of just talking Cameron said, “Marquette, how have I’ve been so stupid? I could have been snuggling with you and holding your hand for months now. I’m an idiot.” They just laughed at that and finally Cameron drove Marquette home. He never told her that night, and not for a few months later even, but holding her hand was the key. Cameron went home and slept like a rock. Marquette went home and couldn’t figure out what to think. Day 1 of dating, July 1.
Click here for Part 6, the penultimate chapter.
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