Those first few weeks of talking with Chato were simply amazing.
I remember our first call. I told him he could call while I was walking to the subway because it was a short walk. I didn't expect to sit on the steps outside of my office and talk for over half an hour. It wasn't until he got paged to go back to work that we realized how much we had said.
From that point on, we spoke daily. What did we talk about? Everything. Nothing was off limits.
A few weeks later I asked if he would come with me to a birthday party in Rhode Island. A part of me had hoped he would say no. Then I wouldn't have to put my money where my mouth was. He said yes, without hesitation.
That started the flurry of planning.
Now here is what I will say about being a parent who is about to embark on an affair: You want to take your child and run.
Run because while you can see where you have been and where you are heading, you want to protect your kids. I am sure of this.
I hear the stories. I know that good parents don't ever want to hurt their kids. Ever.
By the time Chato and I met in April, we were friends. The kinds of friends who would say anything to the other. But, I wasn't sure we were anything else.
He told me he loved me. I said 'thank you'. I couldn't say it back. As much as we talked and shared, he wasn't real. Not really, real.
We met on a beautiful spring day. He was perfection. I had never imagined that this stranger would show up in NY and drive with me for 3 hours and that those hours would feel like minutes. We laughed and we shared stories and we teased each other.
But like any good movie, we started our trip with a crash. A bridge that for years had stood lowered, was raised for a boat to pass through. As I stopped and looked back in my rear-view mirror, the car next to us was rear-ended. I rememebering saying to Chato: This is unusual. This bridge is never used. It must be the universe telling us something.
I still believe that. I fell in love that weekend like I had never fallen in love before. We did the most random things. We watched bad MTV shows and he laughed at me as I sat, mesmerized, by the NFL draft. We ordered pizza in and watched CSI marathons. And we woke up the next morning like we had been together 50 years.
And I wondered how I had never noticed that look before. You know the one. The one that says: You are my love.
Where was I all of these years? Maybe I had decided there was no 'one' for me. I'm not sure. All I know is that by the time I was driving home on Sunday morning and he was flying back to Chicago, I had changed my life in some way.
And I wasn't go to 'un-change' it for another two years.