The next thing I remember doing together was visiting DC’s famous Newseum on Sept. 11, 2011. Frank and I gathered a bunch of friends to visit the museum's special exhibition in honor of Sept. 11, 2001. Frank had free passes to the museum, which sealed the deal.
|Outside the Newseum with Frank's friends. Also, I just noticed I'm wearing this dress in just about every Love Story photo. I must have worn it a lot that summer!|
Off we went to the Newseum and had an amazing, inspiring day looking at the Sept. 11 exhibit and the winning Pulitzer Prize photos of the last few decades. It was a serious and moving visit, not light-hearted like most museum visits are—but unexpectedly serious seems to be a theme in my developing relationship with Frank.
Frank’s friend had never met a real, live Catholic before (a common occurrence when I met Frank’s college friends) and he had a bunch of questions for me. Amusingly, he was curious about what exactly a nun is. I felt pretty confident explaining, and I launched into a short description—Bride of Christ, spiritual mother to the Church, etc. I ended by saying, “It’s a really beautiful vocation and like many Catholic girls, I would be honored if God called me to be a sister!”
Frank leaned over at that point and said with a laugh, “You’re much too attractive to become a nun, Tess.”
Ugh! What! How dare he! I was righteously indignant. I spluttered that God calls the best people, and his comment made no sense at all!
“I was just teasing,” he said, continuing to laugh.
I spluttered away in continued indignation, but secretly I was pleased. Frank thought I was attractive!
|Outside the Newseum ... Frank looks so very cool|
My good friend Matt came to the party and we started talking about law school. It turned out he was in the same class as Frank!
“So how come you’re here, if you have that big brief to prepare?” I asked Matt.
“How did you know about that?” he smiled.
“There’s a guy who I was hoping would be here tonight,” I explained, “but he had to work on his brief.”
Matt laughed and rolled his eyes. “Sounds to me like he’s either trying too hard in class, or making up an excuse! That project isn’t due til Monday and I’m not starting it til tomorrow.”
I was glad Matt told me that, but it made me feel funny about Frank. Was he really that much of a Goody Two-Shoes? Or (gulp) did he really not want to come to my birthday party? Maybe this was definitive proof that he didn’t like me? My mind spun as I overly dissected this information.
Strangely, the thought that Frank might have avoided my birthday party on purpose made me even more interested in him. Whether it was reverse psychology or just wanting what you can’t have, suddenly he seemed even more desirable to me.
Luckily I was busy talking to other guests, and the next day I flew home to see my family for my birthday, so I didn’t have too much time to dwell.
Besides, I had the perfect revenge. Remember that giant, expensive bottle of Bombay Sapphire Frank gave me? Well, what better occasion to use it than by serving gin and tonics as the custom cocktail at my birthday party? One guy brought over a bag of limes and a case of tonic water, and my friends and I polished off the entire bottle.
Meanwhile, a few weeks earlier my mom had come to visit and she took me shopping for my apartment. Along with curtains and kitchenware, we got a nice entryway table and mirror.
The mirror became an issue, because I wanted to hang it above the table but I wasn't sure how to hang something so big and heavy. Frank mentioned one day that his dad was a carpenter and he had plenty of tools at his place. Perfect! I began pestering Frank to come hang my mirror for me. I think I must have asked him at least a dozen times.
Now, there were other guys I could have asked, but the truth is I liked the thought of Frank coming over in the evening and helping me around the house. Something about it just seemed right. But somehow Frank was always working late, or too busy, or forgot his tools. Didn’t stop me from bugging him about it again and again.
For the record, he never hung the mirror. I ended up propping it on the table and leaning it against the wall. When we moved into our little apartment his dad hung it above the fireplace … and I still bug him now and then about how he never hung that dang mirror.
Things finally came to a head in early October. Frank was studying for mid-terms, and he has the endearing habit of handling stress by cooking. He spent the day at his apartment studying and making slow-cooked Beef Burgundy, and he invited me for dinner. He said he might invite other friends, but as the dinner got closer I didn't hear anything about other people coming.
At this point I was beginning to strongly suspect that I was not called to the religious life, in part because I couldn’t stop thinking about that darn Frank. When he invited me over for such an elaborate dinner, I thought this must be a clear sign that he was making a move. I mean, just the two of us, eating his tasty home cooking in the evening at his apartment? I think any girl would have thought the same.
My excitement about the evening forced me to admit that I really did have a crush on him.
I went to Mass that day and as I prayed I couldn’t help thinking about Frank. Everything about the situation seemed so right. I sent up a quick prayer: “God, if it’s your will, please make things work out with Frank.” I don't think I'll ever forget that moment—kneeling in St. Matthew’s Cathedral and asking God to work things out between Frank and me. Of course, God answered that prayer, but it took much longer and was a much harder route than I suspected.
After work I took the metro to Frank’s stop and he picked me up in his car. I was so happy and excited! The roads were crowded and wet so we had a little extra time together in the car. Fine by me. :)
Then Frank mentioned that another friend was already at his house. When he said it I remembered that he had extended the dinner invitation to a few others, but I didn’t know anyone had followed up on it. Ok, that was fine. No big deal. I could work with that.
But then he really dropped the bomb.
We started chatting about his hometown in New Jersey, and he casually mentioned a girl he was “seeing back home.” “Would you believe that my mom suggested we date?” he said with a laugh.
I could hardly believe my ears. Frank was dating someone back home? Frank had a girlfriend??? Of course I shouldn’t have been surprised—such a friendly and popular guy—but oh man. All my happy little dreams came crashing down around me. I felt like I’d been sucker-punched in the gut.
I really don’t know how I got through the rest of that evening. I barely said a word the whole time I was at Frank’s house. Frank commented on how quiet I was being, but I lied and told him I was just tired. The delicious beef burgundy, probably the best meal anyone has ever cooked for me, was like sawdust in my mouth. I even suffered miserably through an episode of the Dick Van Dyke Show before Frank finally gave me a ride home.
Back at my apartment, I collapsed on my bed in sorrow and disbelief. I couldn’t believe how heart-broken I was over Frank’s revelation. It’s your own fault for letting yourself get attached so quickly, I scolded myself. I had been sad over guys before, but somehow this was different. This time I had been so sure. Frank had seemed so right for me.
For the first and only time in my life, I let myself cry over a guy a little bit. Then I called Lillian and told her the whole tragic tale. Finally I made a promise to myself: no more spending time with that Frank. I’ve always believed that the best thing to do when you like a guy who isn’t interested in you is to avoid him completely, so you don’t get hurt even more.
That’s it, I thought. I can’t let myself get hurt like this. I’m done. If I can possibly help it, I'm never seeing Frank again.