I don’t even remember our second date, it was as though we were immediately inseparable after date one. We began texting constantly and it was just assumed that we were spending Friday and Saturday night together, unless I was grounded for some reason my mom made up or he had plans with his friends.
All of a sudden, I was spending lunch with him and his friends, and I had a whole new life. I remained friends with the friends I had before we started talking James and I were best friends, and I was actually making more friends as time went on.
It was the exact opposite of my relationship before. He wasn’t jealous when I was laughing or talking to my guys friends, he didn’t escort me around like a dog on a leash, but he also wanted to be around me and spend time with me. It was perfect.
Sophomores, especially first semester sophomores, were supposed to eat lunch on campus, but Jake and his friends always ate lunch somewhere else. Now, obviously, I had gone off campus for my horrible lunch date, but now I was spending every lunch going to restaurants with him and his friends. Occasionally there would be “patrol” looking in cars and making sure no underclassmen were sneaking off campus. Those were my favorite lunches. I would hide under a blanket in the back seat and the “danger” of getting caught was a fun high to ride on.
Jake was kind hearted, funny, and friends with everyone who crossed his path. Not only did he have the group that I had met at the hockey game, but he had two best friends who were almost always our lunch companions (the boys from the football game) that made the three of them look like the most unlikely pair. Both of the boys were around my height, 5’6”, one had long blonde skater-boy hair, and the other had a buzzed head of brown hair. The two of them both had their own cars, the blonde a jeep, and the brunette a Nissan Xterra. Their bond was highly developed over their souped up cars, love of four wheeling, and of course, fly fishing. They immediately included me in their friend group because Jake did.
Our Friday and Saturday night plans typically included two things, either a hockey game or a night at his house. Both were fun and wonderful, but I prefered being at his house. Jake had a big family and his house was always full of at least his mom, step dad, younger sister, grandmother, and sometimes his older sister. Each of them were warm, loving, fun, and took me in like I was family. When we spent the night at his house they always had a family dinner. A proper family dinner. We would sit around the kitchen table, no tv in the background, and talk and laugh.
Dinners at my mom’s house were now almost exclusively pizza delivery, tacos, or the occasional spaghetti without utensils. All the meals were eaten in front of the tv with either no communication or it would be a night of insults and hearing stories about how awful my dad was.
These dinners were Leave It To Beaver style family dinner and I loved every second. They laughed and talked and I always helped with dishes afterwards. It felt like what a family should be, safe, fun, loving, and suddenly I was part of it. They had immediately welcomed me into their lives and I was living this Twilight Zone family life on the weekends and loving every second of it.
The butterflies had stopped doing the cha-cha every time I saw Jake, but they never truly left. Something about being around him was different than I had ever experienced.