When your ex calls you up four months after you break it off because he won't commit, and says, "We have to talk," chances are you have an idea of what he wants to discuss.
Andy obviously felt that what he had to say was important, since he was flying 2,500 miles to say it. I don't think I expected him to hand me some sort of manifesto laying out his terms for reconciliation when he alighted from the plane, but I didn't expect that he would just flash a smile and snicker as my defensiveness melted.
"I am going to show you your new town," he declared. Apparently he'd invaded the Web and discovered every Phoenix-related site. He had our entire weekend planned.
"I feel like I'm being courted," I laughed as he managed to open doors for me while balancing his bags in his other hand. Andy had embraced the chivalry he'd always derided as chauvinistic.
It had been a long time since either of us put much effort into each other, or into Our capital-O-capital-R Relationship. This weekend, Andy had put out major effort. Wooing me with a sophisticated strategy usually reserved for the commercial film shoots he assistant-directed.
Andy and I had always been great friends. That's how things had started out. We met when I was casually dating a friend of his. Andy would come over and we'd crack each other up while the friend watched. When things went nowhere with the friend, Andy kept calling. We never made a decision to become more serious. Things just, as they say, happened.
Once I started to crane my eyes to see beyond, Andy alternately brooded or distracted me with humor or surprises. (I preferred the presents.)
Andy loved the lack of complications.
Anyway, he'd found a wonderful little restaurant near downtown with a great blues band. Couples huddled at tables, speaking in voices low enough to not drown out the singer. A couple next to us wasn't talking and seemed focused on the music.
"They're probably married," Andy said with a laugh. "So they don't need to talk anymore."
We obviously didn't have that problem. Andy told me about his latest projects at work and updated me on the last months' happenings in our social circle. I asked about his niece, about whom I was absolutely crazy. I chided him for not knowing. If it wasn't for me, he'd barely pay attention to her or his nephew.
"When she can discuss politics, I'll take her out to lunch," he said with a chuckle. "She's got a few more years."
He told me he thought I was brave for picking up and moving here. He told me I was looking well. He told me he'd missed me.
The next day, we went to a street-arts festival near Arizona State.
Shrugging off his usual need to act cool, Andy looked on bemusedly while I stood in line with five- and six-year-olds to ride the carousel repeatedly. He even consented to eat cotton candy.
He embraced the chivalry he'd always derided as chauvinistic.
As we sat on a bench and tried to wipe the spun sugar from his hands, he told me that, Jersey boy that he is, he'd fallen in love with Arizona's vast sky and the city's shiny newness.
"The film industry here is growing, isn't it?" he asked, listing off movies that had been shot here recently and the MTV specials he remembered.
I felt a tightness in my chest.
"This area is like L.A., junior," he continued.
Later that night, we went to a dimly lit, tres expensive French-type restaurant overlooking a golf course. It was the sort of place to which you'd take your parents or a business client - not the sort of place Andy or I would normally pick. I'd choose a funky ethnic joint over white tablecloths any day.
I sat through the meal feeling strangely disconnected from the proceedings, as if I was an actor in a play anticipating the lines from the other characters. Andy was telling me how much he'd missed me, how much I meant to him... I was keenly aware of the gentle pressure. It felt insistent.
"Let's..." he began, "...um, Jess... let's move in together."
Oh. That's not what I was expecting...