This is the 20th of my "Advent Calendar" Christmas ornament posts. For some background information about this project and why I'm challenging myself to complete it, see here. Note: it's entirely possible some of these memories are inexact, but I'm sticking with them anyway.
There's no mistaking the kind of man you're getting when he arrives to pick you up for your first date, your first face-to-face meeting, wearing cargo shorts, hiking boots and a classic Mickey Mouse T-shirt.
Dave didn't seem at all nervous that day, as I walked out to his car and he said hi to me for the first time. How could he be so sure that everything was going to go well once we left the house and drove off? Sure, we'd been talking online almost every night for months, and it felt like we already knew each other, but with an international border between us it was hard to know what kind of chemistry would happen between us in person.
The original plan was for him to come to the Jazz Festival Montreal in July with his brother, and we would meet on my turf and get to know each other. But as the weeks passed, I found I couldn't wait that long. I booked a flight and got myself to Maryland, and the rest is pretty much history. Turns out our chemistry was excellent.
He took me to see the Marines Silent Drill Platoon in DC, and when the marching band began to play, he sang along with the tuba part - boomph, boomph, boomph. I laughed. It was silly, and I thought it was adorable. I knew for sure then that he was being himself, completely and honestly, and not putting on any sort of persona to try and impress me. What I saw was what I'd get, no plays, no games, no tactics. Because really, who would set up a play using the tuba impression? Not this guy.
I've often told people that the tuba moment is when I knew I had to keep him. That's probably not completely true - I don't know exactly when I knew. Maybe it was when we were ignoring the crowds and focusing more on our conversation than on the fish at the Baltimore aquarium. Maybe it was when Animal surprised Dave by settling in my lap and giving his purring approval. Maybe it was when we stayed up all night watching Fawlty Towers. Maybe it was when I said goodbye at the airport that weekend, and cried the whole way to my gate and half the flight home.
I'm just glad he knew he had to keep me too.