Part I: If You Asked Me To

There’s something about him – his quietness, some insecurity, or maybe it’s not insecurity at all but the sign of a confident man.  Perhaps it was the way he placed his hands together, not in an arrogant way, but one of quiet reflection. I instantly liked him.

“If you asked me to…” his voice is rhythmic as if he’s humming a song. A few moments later, after I turn and face the man who spoke the words he continues, “… I wouldn’t mind helping you with your bags?”

Bashfully smiling, I glance down at my three bags and answer, “I would love that. Thank you.”

He effortlessly hoists the duffle bag over his shoulder, and wheels the two other bags forward. We take long strides towards what looks like a golden cart.

Casually, I add to the conversation we already had about my bags and say, “I’m not a light packer.” Throwing my black gloved-hands over my face with embarrassment, I provide more explanation saying, “I’m only here for the weekend.”

He chuckles at me, and nods his head as he places my bags on the yellow gleaming luggage trolley. In a quiet voice he whispers, “I’ll tell you a little secret.”

“Okay,” I answer matching his tone as if we were spies on a mission to save the world.

“Most people aren’t.”

My face flushes as I giggle.

“If you want to check-in, I can take these to your room,” he instructs me as blonde wispy hair bounces on the top of his head.

“Right!” I answer in agreement.  I don’t know why I didn’t head straight to the lobby desk of the hotel.  This isn’t my first trip travelling alone and for sure, I know what the standard protocol is. But it’s my first trip in some time, going solo.

I’ll blame the flight. A gusty north wind blowing up the Atlantic Ocean made for an erratic, bumpy, and all around turbulent flight.  In the last few seconds before we touched down, my table dropped in front of me as if our plane were asking me, one last meal?

At various times while airborne, all I saw were the backs of people’s heads that ricocheted right to left, and up and down.  Sudden surprised gasps punctured the cabin air as we were jostled. Finally our landing gear skidded along the runway. As a tribute to the dramatic flight we already had the pleasure to experience, we lurched forward in a final crescendo as if it were a last attempt by the pilot to stop the plane before we ran out of pavement!

Thinking about the whole ordeal again, my hands shake. I walk towards the counter in my Miu Miu suede boots, Calvin Klein winter jacket, and hang onto my Coach handbag. I leave my gloves on as they were a gift from someone I love immensely, were expensive, and given at a difficult time in my life last month. Also, I have a tendency to lose things. The joke between us was this: we should have strings attached to your jacket, so you don’t lose them.    

I laughed, nodded in agreement and said, I’m sure you’re right.

***

I’ve checked in, received my room key, and spin around to see the bellhop with the nametag that said “Evan” on it speaking to another guest.  As I approach him I notice his robust frame, and guess him to be a man in his 30’s. His head is slightly tilted as he speaks calmly to an elderly woman in a black fur coat and carrying a white miniature poodle. Her eyes twinkle at him and with a wave of her hand she says, “thank you,” as I arrive.

Evan turns around to me and says, “All set?”

“Yes,” I announce proudly holding my swipe card to my room. Flipping the envelope open as if I’m about to announce the winner of a prize I say, “I’m in 1104.”

“Ok,” he says. He glances down at my bags and scoops the duffle bag from the cart, and proceeds to wheel the other two bags behind him. Glancing back at me he says, “The elevators are this way.”

Once inside the elevator he asks, “What brings you to New York?”

“Oh,” I stall.

The whole story? Part of the story? No story?

I decide to keep it to the basics.  “A little escape, from the dreariness of life,” I answer.

“Ah,” he says. “I understand that. Do you have plans while in New York?”

“Not really. Maybe do some shopping.” I laugh throwing my head back. “Assuming I can get anything else in my suitcase.”

Evan smiles at me. I may have even heard a gurgle of laughter. It’s hard to tell though. He’s probably afraid to laugh. Friends told me that when they first met me, I made them feel uncomfortable. It was the way I dressed, and the way I carried myself. They believed I lacked a sense of humor because I seemed sooooo proper. After they got to know me though, they learned quickly, I wasn’t a serious person.

Ding! The elevator breaks into our conversation.

As we walk down the long corridor together Evan says, “You should see a show. I’ve head New York has a couple,” he says as his forehead scrunches together in mock amusement at his own joke, and with a small trace of a smile.

When we arrive at my front door, I tap the swipe card to the lock and watch as the light switches from red to green with a click. I glimpse up at him and say, “Perhaps I will.”

When I push the door open, we’re greeted with heat that is stifling!

From behind me I hear, “Holy Sh–! That’s hot!”

I lose control at the almost unfiltered comment and near-oops on his part-; and also the blatant honesty.

He catches my eye and says, “I said holy shoot, that’s hot.”

“Yup, that’s what I heard.” I bend forward in laughter.

He quickly heads towards the thermostat and says, “If you asked me to, I’d turn the thermostat down, and open a window so you can breathe in here?” I know it’s a rhetorical question, because he’s already taken care of the thermostat and is now pulling a window open.

My eyebrows are  squashed together. I can’t stop laughing. I wave at him and say, “Yes, please!”

With the window open a cool breeze rushes through the room. It calms my laughing.

I tilt my head at his lingering grin. My smile remains too.

In a burst of electronic energy my phone splashes through the moment and breaks the quietness between us.

Evan walks towards the door and waves a hand at me. I begin rummaging through my bag searching for my cell. My eyes flicker at my wallet.

TIP!!! TIP!!!

Shit!

I turn around and frantically wave at Evan trying to get him to stop while saying, “Hello?”

As I approach the door, my face is flush. I pull my wallet open. Evan touches my arm gently and whispers, “Next time.”

“Sorry, can you hold on?” I say to the familiar voice at the other end of the line.

“You were so helpful.” I stare at Evan’s green eyes.

With a calm smile, Evan shifts and says, “I never minded.”

“You made me laugh.” I stagger over my words.

He doesn’t know. Evan doesn’t know there’s only one other person who’s been able to make me laugh in the last month, and I have him on hold.

“Good.” He says as he disappears through the door.

With nothing left to say, and Evan gone, I close the door and say into my phone, “Hi, honey.”

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