So when we left off, Tom had gone back to the other side of the state to live with his parents for awhile, and I was missing him like heck. I finally got to see Tom again when I traveled out that way for my friend's wedding. He spent the day showing some of us around Philadelphia.
And then mid-summer, he returned to Pittsburgh, and we got to hang out again!
|Yes, that's his real hair|
|Yes, that enormous afro is his REAL HAIR!!|
|At my surprise birthday party - notice way less hair under his hat|
|Still on my wall at home :-)|
Tom and I continued spending tons of time together in our large social group.
|He came to visit me at my first-ever apartment|
|At a St. Therese party. I told him he looked great, and made him let me get a picture|
|Dressed up, as always.|
And at my apartment-warming party, he showed up with his dad - so I got to meet him too. I went to see Tom play with his band a couple times (not because I liked the music much - ha, but because they always begged friends to help them meet their audience quota for the bars).
The guys' house had moved to bigger place, and their parties had become legendary by now. They attracted larger crowds, and were always a great time.
|From the "Pirates and Ninjas on a Plane" party at Halloween [remember when all those things were so trendy and cool?]|
|A bunch of the guys decided to pile on whichever one of them I had the misfortune of sitting next to. I kinda got squashed under the pile. I'm on the far left. Tom is wearing the plaid bathrobe (?!).|
|Channeling Frank Sinatra at the fancy cocktail party, planned and hosted by Tom, myself, and my friend Elise.|
|Yet another party. On the Facebook comments after this photo was posted, I remember Tom writing, "We look like my parents." That stuck with me for some reason.|
During the winter, Tom found himself in a difficult personal situation. I was one of the few people - and the only female - who he confided in about things. He began coming to me often for help or advice. I was concerned, but firm with him about what he needed to do. During this period, I began telling him regularly that I loved him (but just as a friend!).
I was also dealing with my own much less serious issues. A hopeless case of unrequited...well, enormous crush on a guy. And he'd given me the old "I need to discern the priesthood" line. You Catholic girls know what I'm talking about. Anyways, Tom wrote me this sweet note, which I still have:
|"Don't sweat ____ too much: he's got God as his top priority, which is obviously a good thing. Besides, the Church has one billion members, half of whom are male! Also, I, at least, will *always* be there for you! Always Yours, Thomas ____"|
By this point, we kept one another pretty up-to-date on our love lives (or lack thereof). Both of us were often suggesting mutual friends that the other should consider dating.
He ended up going back to live with his parents for awhile again. It was all pretty sudden, and I wasn't given any warning. He became impossible to get ahold of (he had always been terrible about returning phone calls or texts, but contact from him virtually stopped for awhile). A couple of our friends knew some more details, but they had all decided on total secrecy, and no one would tell me anything. I felt concern, sadness, and irritation. And I really missed him.
It wasn't until a couple months later that I finally managed to get ahold of him. He sent me a sweet e-mail once, saying: "I miss spending time with you. You are a great influence on me, and a great friend. And you're very beautiful and deserving of a good man. If any dude ever gives you trouble, just let me know and I'll break his neck!...Thanks for being my friend."
I left him voice messages and texts very often. Once in a blue moon, he'd get back to me. A couple times we spoke over the phone. He was still in a rough place, and wasn't himself. He never had a whole lot to say. But I'd always fill him in on the latest stuff going on with me and our friends back in Pittsburgh. And I'd tell him very candidly what I thought he needed to do.
Finally, near the end of the summer, he came back!
|Out for margaritas|
My Grad Program Year
[I still think of most events of my life in terms of what year of school I was in. This would have been 2007-2008.]
In September, Tom was the bestman for his friend's wedding. I knew the couple, but not that well. Tom asked me to be his date. Well, I guess I should say his "plus one" because he assured me that it was just as friends. We had a nice time there, and tore up the dance floor.
Tom and I and one of my roommates started a little "breakfast and a movie" club, since with Tom's schedule, mornings were one of the only times he could hang out most days. He would walk up to our house - he was living just down the street in an apartment - bearing bacon and eggs. We'd cook it up, and then watch a movie together.
It was nice having him back in my life, and spending time with him again.
|Cooking a big feast (we're the two on the right)|
|Our for drinks with friends (I hate his facial hair here...ugh)|
|Out for drinks a week later. You would think, from this picture, that we were dating....but no.|
|Tom and I threw another fancy party at his new apartment. This time for the Ides of March. I know it's hard to tell here by our awkwardness, but we were dancing.|
By this point in time, Tom and I were almost a "unit" in some ways. I don't know how to describe it. Something akin to "partners in crime." We were always on the same team. There were some lame-o guys spreading rumors about people for awhile, and Tom and I always took one another's side. We stuck up for each other.
A friend had a "Hollywood" party, and I made sure that Tom and I posed together for a bunch of glamor shots. Here are a couple.
I know it's hard to believe, but at this point in time, we were still JUST FRIENDS.
"Two whole posts written...almost five years of knowing each other, and they're not even dating yet? They don't even have romantic feelings for each other??!" Nope. But in the next part, I'll finally explain how that all happened, and wrap this thing up! See part 3