Saturday, June 19, 2010

43. Royal Treatment

One of Cayden's favorite things to do is to lie in the park with his friends and a few beers after a good run. They'd talk about life and careers and future plans. You know, all the things guys talk about (I'm going to assume this means girls, and girls at work, and future girls). But nothing made him happier than lying in the grass, looking up at the trees on one side and the historic buildings on the other. Hyde Park is his favorite park. So being there with him, holding hands and walking the trail he usually runs, brought his emails to life. That was the strangest feeling. I always tried to imagine the things he talked about in his emails—the parks, the pubs, his flat—but seeing it in real life was like filling in the blanks to his emails. I suddenly wanted to go back and read all 1,000+ emails (literally) so I could paint a more accurate picture.
Hyde Park was green, more green than I had expected. As we walked the trail I pictured him running it, sweat rolling down the side of his face, his shirt damp and clung to his back as he pushed himself to go farther, faster. He was always pushing himself. He'd set a goal, reach it, then set a higher one. Pursue. Reach. Repeat.
We walked through the park and then into Kensington Gardens, one of London's Royal Parks. We walked through the fountains and stopped at the fence to watch a momma duck and her baby ducks swim around the lake, dipping their heads in the water looking for food.
On our way to Kensington Palace we passed a carousel playing carnival music with young kids laughing and smiling. I couldn't remember the last time I'd been on a carousel. Then I imagined getting on and snapping the poor unicorn's back in half under my weight and walked a little faster.
I stopped in front of the palace and tried to make sense of it. I'd never seen a palace in real life before. I snuck a glance over at Cayden but he caught me looking. He always caught me. Later he said he loved watching my reaction to things. I've always been told I have interesting facial expressions.
I would have paid to see my facial expression when he took me to Carnaby Street and Oxford Street later that day. It was like being on Fifth Avenue the day after Thanksgiving. There were at least a billion people crowding the streets carrying giant shopping bags. Don't hyperventilate. Don't hyperventilate.
"Oh my god. I'm going to punch them," I said when a group of tourists stopped without warning to consult their map.
Cayden wanted to show me Carnaby and Oxford because they're big tourist attractions. They're pedestrian shopping districts. Well, I hate shopping (unless we're at a market) and I really hate pedestrians.
After surviving the tourist/shopping torture I felt I deserved a cookie. Good thing Cayden still had Ben's Cookies on his mind as well.
My mouth started to water as soon as I got my first whiff of warm cookies, fresh out of the oven.
I chose milk chocolate chunk again, for fear of trying something new and not having the same orgasmic experience. He opted for the orange chocolate cookie. Again, by bite number three we couldn't stop talking about it.
"It's even better!" "Oh my god. I could eat one of these every day for the rest of my life and be happy. Fat, but happy." "I'm going to stop here after the gym every day." "You're going to have to smuggle these to the states."
On the ferry on the way back to Cayden's place I started to get nervous about the evening. I was about to meet his sister, her boyfriend, and some of Cayden's best friends. I can usually shoot the shit with anyone, and I love meeting new people. But there was a lot riding on this meeting. What if his sister didn't approve? What if his friends were all giant douchebags? What if their accents were too strong and I couldn't figure out what the hell they were saying?
Cayden helped me pick out my outfit. He tried to convince me to wear an England jersey, but I refused. I decided on a dress I had borrowed from my older sister, Noelle. It was white with dark blue, green, and brown paisley designs. I paired with knee-high brown boots and a brown headband.
"I should walk in and be like, 'HOWDY YALL!'"
Cayden laughed and kissed me.
"You look great."
"As do you, sir."
And we were off.
I was pretty excited to see Topher again. We'd hit it off pretty well a year ago. Apparently I'd intimidated Drew when I met them, but Topher didn't scare as easily.
"Ready?" Cayden asked as we walked up the steps to the Dickens Inn.
"Let's do this," I answered.
The pub was starting to fill out with soccer fans, but his sister and her boyfriend were already there and had claimed a big table in front of a TV.
"Whitney, meet Ashley," he said as he gestured toward his sister. She was short and brunette and all smiles. She was cute as can be.
"Nice to meet you," I said, and was relieved when she came in for a hug. A hug is always better than a handshake when meeting a female family member.
"Nice to meet you, too! I've heard so much about you!"
She introduced me to her boyfriend, Nate. Ashley and Nate were adorable. She was probably 8 years older than him, but you'd never know it.
Finally Topher walked in and I jumped up to give him a hug. He seemed genuinely happy to see me again.
Then I met Anthony and Will. I wanted to steal them and bring them to Texas to be my new drinking buddies. Anthony was a riot, and Will had the same sense of humor as my friend Maddie—dry, sarcastic, somewhat pessimistic. That's my favorite kind of humor. You don't know if you should wince or laugh. I always go for the laugh.
I scooted in next to Ashley and we talked about my visit so far and how I felt about Cayden.
"Oh, my mum would just love you," she said at one point in the conversation. "That is, if Cayden ever lets you meet her."
Cayden is very private when it comes to his family. He really only opens up to Ashley. In fact, his "mum" didn't even know I existed. I knew for damn sure my mom would love Cayden. My whole family would. I couldn't wait to bring him home.
The game started and I was very cautious of how loud I cheered. I imagined the pub to be full of drunks throwing punches and headbutting each other. But everything was pretty calm, except for when their goalie, Green, let the ball roll past him in what should have been one of the easiest saves, um, ever. The room filled with groans and gasps. But it was nothing like what I expected. I expected the bar to look like the Dallas West End during OU-Texas weekend. Not even close.
After the game we stayed and drank some more, then decided to check out another pub. On the way, one of the guys stopped at the ATM so I grabbed Cayden and pushed him up against the side of a wall, out of view of everyone. I kissed him hard and let my hand slide down his stomach until it lingered just below his belt. Then I pulled away, grabbed his wrist, and said, "C'mon let's go!" and I skipped away, back into the group. They didn't even know we were missing.
The first pub we came across looked dead. The second one had a sign that said, "Private party, enter through the rear."
"Hey Cayden, don't ever enter through the rear, OK? That's never good."
The guys cracked up and then I realized I probably shouldn't have said that in front of his sister. Foot in mouth.
We finally found a place with decent music and a good crowd. It was called the Castle. Yes, I was inside a "castle" in London drinking and dancing with my Prince Charming. Everything was perfect.
Before my visit we'd both said we didn't want to get drunk when I was in town. His reasoning: He wanted to remember every second of it. My reasoning: I didn't want to spend a day hungover. Either way, by the end of the night we were both pretty damn drunk.
Back at his place, I was lying on his chest, his arm around me.
"Whitney?"
"Yeah?"
"Will you be my girlfriend?"
I looked up at him and smiled.
"Ask me tomorrow, when you're sober."

2 comments:

  1. Love the entry, girl! Can't wait to read on.

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  2. smart girl with that last line lol

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