Peas and Doves

The following is based on two dreams I had last weekend.

A trip to his college campus…

In the hall of passing students one day on the way to art class I saw the flyer. It was a yellow piece of copy paper tacked to the bulletin board with a blue push pin with a bold heading and a number of blank lines.

It read:

College Exchange-Sign up

A sub heading listed the name of the college providing the exchange, as soon as I saw the name I grinned. Pulling a pen out of my pocket I added my name to the list. Before I walked away I glanced at the list again, somewhere in the middle of the list, as if he had not thought through completely what he was doing, was a name: Jason Daniels.

I shook my head. I had met Jason in my history class and ironically, as different as we wore, we had become friends. He was the most unorthodox person can I ever expected to sign up for a college exchange program. He had a B./C. grade average, he was a raging extrovert went to large parties, and listened to rap and hip-hop. Strangely enough, the last person I expected to change on this trip happened to change the most.

Two weeks later found Jason and I driving to Indiana in Jason's old beat- up truck.

"Why do you want this exchange so bad?" Jason asked.

"I was going to ask you the same thing." I shot back sharply.

"My parents think it will be good for me. You?"

I could feel my face heat up even before the words were out of my mouth.

"One of my friends I knew in high school goes there. He and I are very close."

"Personal reasons?" Jason asked quietly.

I nodded.

"Boyfriend?" He asked.

I shook my head.

Jason grinned, "Come on Joy, you can't be serious."

"Jason," I had a warning in my voice, "don't start, people have been bugging me about this for years."

I looked at him evenly. "I'll tell you but keep your mouth shut."

"His name is Andrew, I've known him since I was little; we grew up together."

I paused.

"Is he hot?" Jason asked.

"What any business is that of yours?" I asked sharply. "If you were my girlfriend I might tell you."

"So?" Jason pressed.

"He's a computer programmer." I answered matter-of-factly.

"A geek! You can't be serious!" Jason exclaimed.

"Actually, I think he takes it as a complement sometimes. If you were to say what you just said to his face he'd probably just laugh. I think he thinks it's funny—what people think of him."

Jason seemed taken aback by my statement and was silent for a long time.

As we drove up to the campus 4 ½ hours later Jason finally spoke.

"I'm going to drop you off at that side door, I have to go find my tutor for algebra and my dorm."

I nodded, happy, for once, to be alone.

As I entered the building the hallways were unusually empty. I passed one group of study carols, they were empty. Next to this space was a lounge room with a large flat screen TV, past this was a large doorway that opened in to in other large room, this, unlike the other rooms I passed so far was full of students; some talking quietly others studying.

Not far from where I was standing, to my surprise I spotted Andrew. He was deep in conversation with a long, lanky boy with dark hair who was surprisingly good looking. As I got closer I studied Andrew for a moment, and suppressed a smile. He was lying on his stomach, a position I had rarely seen him in since he was much younger, two books spread out in front of him: a large math book (probably a textbook) and the Bible.

I walked up behind him.

"Andrew," I whispered, "Andrew."

He turned and a smile broke across his features, he looked surprised, but happy to see me. He rose to his feet.

"What are you doing here?"

"Exchange program, I'm here for a month."

We held each other gaze for what seemed a long time, and suddenly I was overcome by emotions that had been dormant for months.

As I wound towards hand for a hug, I saw him glance over his shoulder as if he were embarrassed that I would do this in front of so many people, but finally he leaned in hugged me. I buried my face against his shoulder relieved to feel his warm solid body against mine again. I would have been content to stay there forever, unfortunately, the sound of someone clearing their throat very loudly interrupted us. I looked up from Andrew's shoulder to find myself looking at a very stern looking woman with graying hair.

"Joyce Turner I presume."

I opened my mouth and closed it again, going very red, and glancing over at Andrew, he was no better, his ears were an uncommon beet red and he was uncharacteristically studying his shoes.

"I'm Miriam McIntyre, I am in your counselor I'll sign you up for your classes which you start tomorrow, and then," she looked sternly for a moment at Andrew, "and then Mr. Robbins can walk you to your dorm."

Thirty minutes later, Andrew and I were walking across campus. By now it was almost eight o'clock and most people were back in their dorms for the evening whether they were going to bed or not.

"Here you are, your roommate is Helen Peterson, I know her and her boyfriend is a computer science major." Andrew knocked on the door twice before it opened to reveal a tall girl with blond hair and blue eyes.

"Helen this is Joyce Turner."

"Oh yeah, my roommate, I was told you were coming. Come in."

I made sure that Helen once out of ear shot before I said goodnight to Andrew, he hugged me again and whispered in my ear, "I'll see you on Friday, girls open house." Then he was gone.

"Is he your boyfriend?" Helen asked abruptly as soon as the door was shut.

"No," I answered wearily "but he might as well be we do give that impression don't we?"

My head was still buzzing with the events of the afternoon and it was almost 9:30 before I was settled in and I still wasn't tired. As I lay on my bed I saying that first few lines of a song from My Fair Lady:

"Bed! Bed! I couldn't go to bed! My head's too light to try to set it down! Sleep! Sleep! I couldn't sleep tonight, not for all the jewels in the crown…

...

Before Andrew moved to California…there was our first kiss…

Over spring break- for Andrew at least-the weather was a balmy seventy five degrees a perfect day for doing just about anything. On this particular day a face was staring at me through the screen door standing on a porch, a face transformed into a trademark grin.

I opened the door for him, he had no sooner climbed the stairs before I took his hand.

"I want to show you something."

Leading him down the hall, I opened the door to my room. Taking my portfolio from where it was leaning against the wall I sat on the floor turning the pages. I stopped at a drawing in pencil of a china doll in a wheelchair.

Andrew sat down on the floor beside me." Nice." He nodded.

"This picture is based off a song lyric from one of the songs I wrote,' since when do you to like china'... it's how you treat me sometimes Andrew." I said quietly.

"I don't want to hurt you." Andrews said, just as quietly.

I knew he was just being careful what I would like to call reasonable, but sometimes when he was like this I just felt like yelling at him and knew I couldn't.

"I know, but sometimes it makes me uncomfortable." I said, still speaking softly.

"I'm sorry, I don't mean to make you feel uncomfortable." Andrew replied softly, his voice seemingly expressionless.

"I know you don't, sometimes I don't know how I feel about it, sometimes I like the feeling of feeling... protected, cared for."

Andrew was silent, he seemed unsure of how to answer.

"I'm glad I make you feel that way." He finally replied, his voice barely above a whisper. As I lifted my head to look at him I noticed there was a pale pink flush to his cheeks, I rarely saw him blush.

"You mean a lot to me Joy." Andrew said, in that gentle tone importance he often used when it was just the two of us talking. I felt a warm breeze as his breath wafted across my cheek and realized he was sitting right next to me. Slowly, he lifted his hand and gently cupped my cheek.

I realized then how incredibly close Andrew was to me, I was used to our proximity being very close but that didn't apply to our faces. The only time when his face was that close to mine was when we were hugging or if we were sitting close anyway and we were staring at each other.

It would be so easy just to close the distance between us and...

We seem to have the same thought at the same time and I don't remember who leaned in first but we sort of met each other halfway. At first, neither of us moved, then, tentatively I angled my head parting my lips ever so slightly...

I heard Andrew's breath catch and a muffled moan, which seemed to surprise him and I felt him tense as I touched his shoulder. I trailed my fingers along his shoulder up to his neck, resting my hand on his cheek until my arms wrapped loosely around his shoulders.

In these few moments I had shifted my position Andrew had taken control of the kiss, by now we were both kneeling facing each other. Andrew wasn't being demanding, he never was, but firm yet gentle. Finally we broke apart, breathless and that's how my brother found us; staring at each other looking slightly startled cheeks and lips flushed.

...

"Flight 69, now boarding." The voice over the loudspeaker said in a monotone.

This summer, my family was going on a vacation to California, or it was my excuse to see my boyfriend who had taken a summer job in San Diego. Our story was a long one, we've been friends for almost ten years and the last year of college we decided it was just as well we continued our friendship, but at a deeper level. I couldn't stand the thought and going away and he knew it, but we managed like we always had: by e-mail and Instant Messaging.

The flight was boring and I spent most of my time writing and drawing and daydreaming about what would happen once I was in California. Sometimes I wished he would have been able to come with me talking to him always made the time go faster.

From the day we met we were inseparable, every time I were parents would see us together they would just smile.

"Like two peas in a pod." My mother used to say. If we were doing something the other was never far behind. I suppose it was his closeness that caused people to tease us, but after so many years I didn't care as much and realized what I felt for him was all that mattered.

I drifted in and out of thought, doodling absently in my sketchbook drawing nothing in particular...

I watched the passing scenery idly. My heart is going a mile a minute, after four days of sightseeing and various activities north of San Diego I was spending the weekend with my boyfriend and his relatives. His name was Andrew and because of the location of his new job he was staying with his aunt and uncle for the summer.

The warm, balmy, weather had caused me to roll down my window all the way. Currently, I was leaning out of it feeling a warm breeze on my face and anxiously searching for the house to which we were headed.

I was still leaning out the window when we were pulling up to the house, in the driveway I saw another car and shutting the door behind him was a familiar face. His hair was longer now and the hot weather had plastered his bangs to his forehand. His normally tidy dress shirt was pushed up to the elbows and his tie hung in a loose knot around his neck.

"Andrew! Andrew!" I called, and I was out of the car before my dad could even put on the parking brake.

We met each other halfway up the driveway. As it had been since the time we started dating we usually reserved our hugs for departure not greeting, but this was an exception. I flung myself into his arms almost knocking him off balance.

"Whoa!" He said laughing.

"I haven't seen you since April." I said shortly, breathlessly.

In one swift motion I undid his tie the rest of the way so it hung limply around his neck and gently pulled him forward into a long, overdue kiss. It was only the second or third time we had kissed and he wasn't as awkward as he was the first time, the first time he had been experimenting (we both had) but now it was less awkward.

"This must be Joy." A voice said from behind us.

Andrew and I jumped apart, both blushing, Andrew was fiddling with his watch a motion I knew by now that he was bored or nervous about something, and I wish I could have taken a picture of him, I was blushing too, but not near as much as he was, a crimson flush was quickly spreading to the base of his neck; in the ten or twelve years I had known I had never seen him blush this much.

Andrew stepped away and cleared his throat nervously.

"This is Joy." He looked like he was going to elaborate but didn't.

His aunt and uncle both shook hands with my dad, and I frowned slightly to see the knowing smiles that the three older adults exchanged.

Before he left my dad shook Andrew's hand, as he always did, the gesture made me smile and reminded me how polite Andrew was.

Dinner was quiet except for the endless chatter from Andrew's cousin Jessica, who was ten years old. Andrew and I were unusually quiet, usually when they got together the first thing we did was update each other on what we had been doing, but I had a feeling, Andrew was just as nervous as I was about revealing our relationship as we had only been a couple for a few months.

Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, Andrew's aunt spoke.

"So, Joy, tell me about yourself, how did you meet Andrew?"

"We met at school..." I paused, unsure how much to tell them. "I stood up for him when he was being teased."

Her eyebrows rose "Teased?" She looked at her nephew to verify this information.

Andrew shrugged, "I was only eight... it was just a guy at school."

"We've been friends ever since." I added finishing Andrew's thought.

"Friends?" Andrew's aunt replied, her eyebrows rising.

"What we saw in the driveway seem to be more than "just friends"." His uncle sad, finishing his wife's sentence.

"Well..." I started.

"We just started going out a couple of months ago." Andrew explained, "Joy thought it would work better if we managed are long-distance relationship as a couple rather than just friends, after all we've been corresponding for three years like this..."

"So..." I interjected.

"It's not really much of the change." Andrews said shrugging.

After that, the conversation returned to normal and after dessert we adjourned to the living room to watch a movie on the couch.

...

We hadn't really spent that much time together as a couple, the last time I had seen the Andrew I had a long conversation about where are friendship with going, talked, laughed, smiled, and shared a first experimental kiss, but other than that we were still adjusting to each other and our new boundaries we had set up.

For the next three hours we were sprawled on the couch, watching everything from Return of the Jedi to one or two Star Trek movies. I enjoyed being with Andrew as I always had, and for the first hour and a half we sat on the couch, a bowl popcorn between us, Andrew occasionally playing with my hair. For a long time I was curled up against Andrew my head on shoulder until I felt him stir.

The credits were rolling by then and Andrew had to go to the bathroom, so I took the opportunity to stand up and stretch and by the time he came back I had put in another movie holding the remote looking at him expectantly.

His eyes were shining, "Star Trek, all right!"

Our only interruption for the next two hours was Jessica, who waltzed into the living room with a Polaroid camera.

Just then, Andrew leaned towards me, "Looks like we have company, and I think I know what she wants."

"Andrew and Joy sitting in a tree K-I-S-S-I-N-G!" She sang, giggling.

"If you watch you'll get cooties." Andrew teased.

"I don't care." Jessica replied matter-of-factly, looking every inch a part of a paparazzi reporter.

Andrew and I returned our attention to the movie and a few minutes later he leaned over and kissed me gently. I was reminded of the first time we kissed, his lips firm but gentle, exploring. Dimly in the background I heard a camera click. I smiled against Andrew's lips.

By 10:30 I was half asleep, leaning against Andrew as he finished watching the movie.

...

I was surprised to find Andrew's aunt still up, as we walked back the back bedroom she was holding a sheet, blanket, and a pillow.

"I'll put these on the couch for you," she grinned, "unless you'd rather sleep with Andrew of course."

I would have given $1 million to see the looks on our faces, but I knew I was blushing enough to turn my hair red and Andrew was about as red as I was, he was studying his socks his ears still a vibrant pink. Without speaking or looking at each other Andrew and I went our separate ways, Andrew into the bedroom and me with my suitcase into the bathroom.

I appeared few minutes later in nothing but a long T-shirt I made my way back to the lifting room and was turning down the coffers of the now makeshift bed on the couch when Andrew appeared in the living room.

My mouth fell open, but I closed quickly.

Andrew and I had known each other for years, but we had never seen each other in such a state of undress. He was only wearing boxers, a T-shirt in his hand. He looked slightly embarrassed.

"Well I...uh... just wanted to say goodnight." He stammered. "If you want me to..." he held up the shirt, but I knew what he meant.

"No, no, it's alright." I said quietly.

I sat down on the couch and Andrew sat down next to me; our shoulders brushed, and even through my shirt I could feel the heat of his body.

I lay down and Andrew stood up leaning over the couch looking down at me.

"Do you want me to tuck you in?" He teased, his eyes dancing in the dark.

"If you want to." I replied coyly, his tenderness still surprised me.

Gently, he pulled the blanket up under my chin as if I were a little girl again, softly smiling. Then I leaned up to kiss him.

Andrew's hand tangled in my hair as he gently deepened the kiss, soft, easy and gentle as always. My hand curled in a fist, as if for support against his bare chest. It's still surprised me to see him like this, always in the back of my mind he was the skinny, nerdy kid with glasses he didn't even start filling out until a few years ago, he had more defined muscles now.

When Andrew pulled away from the kiss, his eyes were burning with an intensity I still didn't understand, his blue eyes like two pools of liquid fire.