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March 31, 2000
a year ago
two years ago

Exploring

Nothing like the scent of frying eggs and buttered toast in the morning. Geoff was a real sweety and made breakfast while I was showering and trying to get myself awake. Morning. East Coast morning, two hours early. Ugh. Eventhough I actually slept pretty late, and felt somewhat the better for it after the previous week of not really sleeping all that well in anticipation of everything. The toast was cool. Thick-sliced white bread in neat squares with a nice chewy crust and the toasting gave it this good texture that I don't usually associate with white bread. The eggs had been a special request and he did mine perfectly over medium. I sopped up the one egg with the two pieces of toast and was very content.

Eggs and toast and ... coffee... kinda. I took one sip, sighed, "Canned?" at Geoff and he nodded. I watched, rather fascinated, as he put about three heaping spoons of sugar into his mug and stirred. I thought about it, added a spoon of sugar and some milk that he'd thoughtfully provided into my coffee. He normally doesn't have milk in the house, it seems to go bad too fast; but he'd gotten some for me. With the additives, the acidity of the stuff was blunted, and I drank it with my breakfast and felt a bit more alive. Alive is good.

The day was brilliant out. Sunny and bright and I even wore my sunglasses. It isn't a Colorado sun, though, not nearly as intense. In Colorado I can almost feel my skin frying when I'm out, directly, in it. Here it's just the pleasant warmth of the Seattle sunshine, the start of spring. It was so sunny out that when Geoff recommended coats I went out and stood in it and called him a wimp. So we went out in t-shirts, jeans, and flannel shirts.

I'd forgotten how cool it is to use a bus system. To just stand at a bus stop and be able to talk and then when on the bus being able to just talk without having to concentrate, too hard, on where we're going. It's so much nicer than driving. Geoff had fun pointing out parks, green areas, bits and pieces of things he'd been talking about with me for the last few months. An elderly lady got on at one stop and he blinked and told me that she used to be his neighbor when he was very little. So we went up to the front of the bus so that he could talk with her. It was really cool to watch him, animated, friendly, and so interested in finding out more about how she was doing, where she was going, and what she'd been up to. Something I hadn't expected, but very rich in the finding.

Reminded me a lot of John, in some ways, of the time when we were in Seattle. That connection with people that seems to come with having lived somewhere for so long. This was where Geoff was borned, raised, and has lived his whole life and it was cool to see the evidence of that.

From the bus stop we got off at we headed out toward the rivers and a park where the Allegany and the Managahela (can't spell *that* to save my life) meet. Hiked through business parks out to the grass and I was astonished at how good it felt to walk on grass where the ground actually gives under ones feet. It had been so long. I was immediatly drawn towards the cherry trees blooming in the sunshine and Geoff followed me patiently. It was very keen to know that he had no real agenda here and was willing to let me just wandering in whatever direction I wanted to go. So to the cherry trees to contemplate the blossems, then out to the fountain playing huge against the waters of the huge rivers. It was so nice to be where rivers are real bodies of water instead of sometimes there and sometimes not there trickles. I had fun sitting in the sunshine on the concrete watching the people watching the fountain and being able to just watch the river waters roll by.

Then off to the glass castle that he'd pointed out a glimpse of last night. It turns out to be a tower and three buildings owned and built by Pittsburgh Plate Glass. And the glass is a special type of glass for making buildings with, and we entered through the Winter Garden. The Winter Garden is an indoor atrium, with tropical plants and water running through it and it was so warm inside I was in an instant sweat. But it was so beautiful to look at and I could imagine that in the depth of winter it would be a marvelous place to sit and rest and warm up and soak up sunshine. The four building formed a bit of a courtyard with a central art piece that we sat against and I could look up and up and up the great glass tower and see the clouds reflected in the glass. That was fun, to just sit and look and feel the immensity of the building right before me.

Just a block off from that was several clusters of food shops, restaurants, and other things. There was supposed to be a good Japanese restaurant out there, but by the time we actually got there it was about 3, so it was closed for lunch and not open, yet for dinner. So we went back towards a shop that Geoff said was a local thing. On the way I saw a Nicholas Coffee shop, that looked very much like a local roaster and selector of really good coffees. So I ducked instantly into there and Geoff laughed and followed. He wasn't sure if he had a grinder, and I wanted a mechanism to make a small amount of coffee for myself if he needed a pot of his stuff in the morning. So I looked for a coffee press and found that it was relatively cheap, so I got that along with half a point of Jamacian high mountain coffee, not the Blue Mountain, as that was nearly four times the price, but the high mountain stuff is pretty good as an everyday kinda cup for me. Coffee snob that I am.

It was minorly frightening to find half the bins in the shop filled with flavored coffees, but I guess that sells. So long as they had what I wanted, I was happy. I had them grind the stuff for the press and Geoff was a perfect gentleman and carried the bags to save my wrists.

Piramanti Brothers used to be a local greasy spoon that serve all of the trucking community that went through Pittsburgh. It used to be a single place out on the edge of town that served really good food cheaply and plentifully. It became very popular, expanded, and is now not quite as good as it used to be. Or so Geoff says. It was really cool listening to him relate the tale of the place while we sat and watched the cooks work. I ordered a cheese steak with everything, and it turned out to be more like a hamburger with cheese on it than what I usually think of as a cheese steak. The novelty was having french fries hot out of the fryer smashed on top of the meat patty and then a scoop of tangy cole slaw slathered on top of that. The whole mass was put on regular white white bread sliced thick, and the whole tower was sliced in half for our enjoyment.

I soused the whole thing in malt vinegar, and then proceeded to eat. It was such a huge sandwich that I couldn't get my mouth around it, so had to take careful bites in all directions. The fries were so hot that I almost burnt my mouth on them before figuring it out and letting the whole mass cool little bit before eating. The combination was very interesting, and the potato starch lent comfort food status to the mass that was unexpected. I really enjoyed it and ate nearly the whole sandwich to both my surprise and Geoff's, as most girls of his acquaintance don't seem to eat quite as much as I do.

From then we wandered on back into the center of town, on the way to his workplace to pick up a check. On the way we stopped at a weird little bookstore that he used to frequent more often, as it used to be stocked much more aggressively. The store itself had a very weird sorting system, as an example, all the cookbooks were also sorted with all the witchcraft recipes. Good books seemed to be mixed with bad books, and the whole collection didn't seem to have much sense to it. It was interesting to peer around, and find a few gems in the jackdaws nest.

Geoff got to lead me around the maze that is his workplace. Next time, it should be easier to find him, if we do meet here again. Next to his workplace is a park by Mellon Plaza. The sunshine felt very nice, so we stopped for a while to just talk and then we had fun studying a steel pipe and cable sculpture. The pipes were pretty heavy, and all the cables felt as if they were under high tension. Geoff had fun wondering what might happen if the cables ever failed. There was also a beautiful, Gothic building right next to his place of work. On top of the building were two ornate cathedrals in the Gothic style, and all around the building were hung swaths of safety netting, supposedly for the facelift of the carvings on the cornices. It was really cool to see that old building in the middle of all the modern steel and glass.

From there he took me down back alleys to see the USX Tower that was made by U.S. Steel. All the columns and girders were made from a special type of steel that was invented so that no one would have to pay to the exteriors to keep them from rusting. The steel itself would oxidize on the outside surface just enough to protect the inside, and the whole building had this patia on all the supporting structures. The building was also shaped like a triangle, with three rectangles set edge to edge. I wished at that moment that I had actually brought the camera with us, but it was back in Geoff's house. Tomorrow I'll have to bring it.

We wandered into the graveyard of an old Episcopal church by Trinity Cathedral, and he perched comfortably on one of the gravestones. The walls of the church were still black, the black of Pittsburgh before it was cleaned up from all the old coal smoke. I think I'm still too much a creature of the young West to be entirely comfortable with perching on gravestones, but I sat next to him and we talked for a while about bookstores as I took in more of this juxtaposition of old and new. The sun was slanting towards the West, and we thought about going home.

On the way to the bus stop there was a Duncan Donuts. Since we bought coffee, I thought it would be fun to get donuts as well, and Geoff was amenable. So we went in and bought a few chocolate chocolate donuts and a few sour cream donuts because I had never had those. Then we went to the bus stop and talked while we waited. It showed up in short order, and as we climbed on the bus driver greeted Geoff very cheerfully and asked if that was Geoff's Li. Seems that Geoff has been telling a lot of people that his girlfriend was coming, including the bus driver. That was very fun to experience, and when we got to Geoff's stop and there weren't many people left in the bus or behind the bus, we talked for just a little in greeting. The driver said that Geoff had said lots of good things about me and he was glad to have been able to meet me. Made me blush a lot, but it was really good to know and just gave me that much more of a feel for how closely connected Geoff is to the people in his everyday.

Home again home again... and it was getting dark. Dinner wasn't until late, so we had fun with the time and talking and I got to hear some more about his games and writing. Then we actually scrubbed off Geoff's kitchen table, set some silverware, put on some music (which seems to be playing constantly when Geoff is home anyway, which is actually nice, it's been a while since I just listened to stuff all day) and he scampered down to talk with Bob about what was happening.

He came back with a black bean and rice salad. Nicely dressed and crunch with onion and baby greens. Yum. When we were finished with that Bob came up with a big bowl of clams in garlic and butter and white wine sauce, told us it was 'finger food' and that he'd found it at a food show and then trompled back downstairs to take care of the next course. Babyneck clams. Yum. Hot and open and sweet. A few of them had a little sand, but I happily slurped and sucked and chewed what I could get. I'd been thinking about doing clams tomorrow for Geoff, since there was a plan to go to a seafood store, but he'd beaten me to it. The sauce was really excellent.

The course after that took a little while longer because Bob was smoking turkey breast for it and it was taking a little longer than expected. It was well worth the wait. The turkey slices were tender, smokey, excellently flavored and juicy with a crisp skin and dense texture. On the side were super thinly sliced potatoes in a potatoes Anna that tasted like butter and cheese and chives all baked into the thinly sliced base of the potatoes. Green bean almondeen was really sweet and crisp and nice, the beans cooked just long enough to be tender to the bite but still hadn't lost their texture. Very, very nice.

It was nearly eleven by the time Geoff went down to bring up dessert. A lovely chocolate mousse pie with a layer of white chocolate underneath and whipped topping on top. It was rich and yummy and finished me off just fine.

I really liked the structure of the dinner and being able to just sit and talk with Geoff a lot between courses was actually really nice. I enjoyed that a lot and it was pretty evident how much effort he'd gone to to make it good, everything from picking the courses to coordinating the serving and making it fun. That was really, really nice. It was good to have the time to talk about some of the things that were concerning both of us, and it made things just that much more relaxed when both of us felt like we'd been heard. What was better was that a lot of it lined up with feelings that neither of us had been expressing too well, so we were both much happier by the time dinner was through.

On finishing, Geoff shoo'ed me off to call John and cleaned up while I talked with John about his day. John sounded much better than yesterday, and was very cheerful and happy that I called and it was good to just sit and talk with him for a while about his day. Work had gone okay, and he was happy to have gotten in some bike riding and Fezzik and he had had a good dinner and were happily baching it without me. Fezzik developed a bit of a limp, which didn't seem bad, but we talked through postponing Fezzik going to Marshall Mesa with the puppies until after his limp went away. So we'll likely see if it goes away in the time until I get home and if it doesn't, it's likely off to the vet's again. John said he didn't seem to be too unhappy with it, so that was good.

In reflection, this day really helped me out a lot. Compared to the trips I used to take to Mark's, Geoff had carefully planned out things to do, other places to see, many other things to pay attention to, be interested in and discover. Other than just him. Shared experiences that we could now talk though and remember and see how and what interested the other person. Lots of things that are very different to focus on, rather than just each other.

Also his care that I call John, make sure he was comfortable and happy and supported during the weekend really helped me out a lot as well. That he was, in those details, concerned that my primary reationship worked out well, was really really cool. It just eased all the concerns I had.

While we'd been talking for months about this, it was just all talk. It was seeing all the actions and the results of those actions that Geoff put into motion that made it all real. He acts in every manner necessary to make this work. Everything from insurance that we don't become the centers of each others universes, to making sure that I'm comfortable and curious about this new place that I find myself. He does the things that make it so that I feel more at home. He made me breakfast, made sure he bought air cleaners to keep the dust down for when I was there, cleaned up his clearly bachelor's pad to make me comfortable, and did the thousand and one things that showed that he really cared.

Seeing so much of it in one day was really astonishing, and really, really nice and set me at ease as nothing else could.

Brought to you, in part, by Dragon System's NaturallySpeaking vertion 4.01.

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