For part 1, please click here.
Jon and I continued to converse through email, the occasional lunch and once in a while dinner together through the early fall of 1999. By early winter we had started talking on the phone at home in the evening once or twice a week. He took me for lunch on my birthday in mid-December of that year, and I thanked him with an awkward one-armed hug. I wasn't very touchy-feely with my coworkers, and that was how I thought of it. He was still one of my coworkers.
By early January, I had started to fall for him. For the first time, I allowed him to come to my house to pick me up for dinner at his insistence, instead of meeting him at a restaurant. Shortly after that, we had our first kiss. But we still kept our distance, still tried to pretend this was a professional friendship. A long-distance friendship, even though we both knew we were falling for each other. And we both knew there were many reasons why we couldn't take this friendship further. So we restrained ourselves as much as we could, and tried to take a cool approach to things.
On Valentine's day of that year, he asked me if I would see him. I said no. When I got home from work that day there was a single red rose and a CD I had been coveting waiting for me in my back mudroom, obviously hand delivered. I emailed him a thank you, and continued to try to play it cool. That was not a tactic or a ploy, I just knew that I couldn't send him any more signals that I was interested in him. Even though I was. For right or wrong, come Hell or High Water, I had fallen for him.
Two weeks later, on a Saturday night, I went to a party for my cousin's birthday with one of my sisters (Kouf), while another of my sisters (Shouf) babysat for me. We should have stayed over with my cousin at the motel, because I had no business driving in the condition I was in. But, I didn't want to leave my other sister in the lurch babysitting my child at my house. So I drove home and I thank the Heavens that I didn't hurt anyone. I could barely see straight, could barely even stand and walk, I was so drunk and stoned.
I walked in the house around 11:30 and my sister Shouf immediately told me that there had been a firestorm on my answering machine! Not only had some guy named Jon been leaving me messages every 10-15 minutes for the past four hours, but our mother and other sister, Bouf, had called saying that he had also called them looking for me! (That should have been another red flag right there. Anyone willing to call strangers living in the same town who have the same last name as you, looking for you on a Saturday night when you have the nerve to not be home waiting for them, is not right in their head.)
Before I got a chance to figure out what was going on, or listen to the messages, the phone rang. I picked it up, and it was Jon. I said, "what the hell is going on?" He said, "come outside". I put the phone down and stumbled outside in the rain, and there he was in my driveway. I walked up to him and put my arms around him to keep from falling, and we kissed against the side of his very wet car. He said, "I've been circling the neighborhood for hours waiting for you to come home". At the time, I actually thought that was romantic. I asked, "what happened?".
He said, "I told my wife about us and she kicked me out. Can I stay here?"
6 hours ago