This is part twenty-nine of the Homey and Me Love Story.
It was March 8th. In less than 24 hours, I’d be picking up Homey from the airport and meeting him for the first time. Nervous doesn’t begin to explain how I was feeling.
“When I pick you up, I’ll be wearing a red shirt. Unless I change my mind and decide to wear black. Or green.” I said.
“Don’t worry. I think that I’ll recognize you.” Homey was right. Even though we met online and hadn’t met each other in person, it wasn’t as if we hadn’t seen one another. We had sent pictures to one another.
“Still, I want to be sure. Actually, I think that I’ll be wearing a pink shirt. And blue jeans.”
“I know!” I shouted, “I’m just gonna stand there, at the end of the escalators, holding a sign up that says your last name…LARSON…as if I’m your driver.” Homey laughed. I was serious.
“You realize, Catania, that tomorrow we’re going to meet one another. How exciting is that?”
“And you know what’s really cool, Catania? When we see each other, it’s going to be love at first sight?”
“Wow. That is cool.” I was in such a dream-like stupor that I couldn’t think of anything funny, smart, or impressive to say.
Finally, at some point, we said our good-byes and well wishes.
March 9, 2007
I put on my pink shirt, blue jeans, and really cute strappy pink sandals. I actually dried my hair, then ended up putting it in a pony-tail anyway! I put on make-up, perfume, rushed the kids over to my Mom’s house, then headed out to the airport.
I couldn’t just sit in the car and listen to music while driving to pick up Homey. I had to call friends. I called everyone I knew.
“Guess what??? I’m getting Homey right now!!!! AAAHHHHH!!!” It was nice to have the support from my friends. They were as excited as I was. I tried to get all of my craziness out so I could appear cool when Homey arrived.
I had also printed out Homey’s last name on a piece of paper. LARSON. It looked very professional. I was pleased.
I went inside the airport and waited. As I waited, I noticed a man from my ward–Brother Larson. He saw my sign (LARSON) and had an ultra-confused expression to his face. I made the connection as soon as I saw his confused look, and just put the sign behind my back.
“This is for another Larson!” I exclaimed.
“Yeah…Strange…I mean, I parked here at the airport.” He started to say.
“I know.” I said, “Well…no, I didn’t know that. I mean, I had no idea you would be here. This is really strange. I’m just picking up my friend, and so I made this sign kind of as a joke, but it’s not a joke. His last name is Larson. So, I thought it would be funny. Anyway. It is funny, and now it is funnier.”
“Your friend?” Brother Larson asked, knowingly.
“Yeah. My friend. I’m sure he’ll be here any second.”
“Well. This is funny, in any case.” Brother Larson said as he made his way off. “See you Sunday. Will your friend be around at church?”
“Yes. He will. I’m sure you’ll meet him then.” I said, laughing. Seeing Brother Larson, of all people at the Philadelphia International Airport, while I was holding a sign that said LARSON was a hilarious coincidence. It calmed my nerves and I was still laughing about it as Homey walked up.
I wish that I could tell you we ran to each other’s embrace. But it didn’t really happen that way. I was in too much shock. I’m pretty sure that I was doing the Moki face again.
Homey came up, and I honestly can’t remember whether or not we hugged. We didn’t kiss or anything. We just said “Hi.” Nervously. In some ways, he felt like a stranger. Though I knew him, I didn’t know anything about his physical presence. It was like my spirit and soul knew him, but my body and senses thought This is a stranger. It was a surreal experience as I kept telling myself, Don’t be nervous. He’s not a stranger. He’s HOMEY!
Homey laughed about the sign, and I began to tell him about how just a few minutes before he came down the escalator, Brother Larson had passed by, confused.
We got to the car, and started into our drive. It was then that I was able to feel really comfortable. I think it was because we were sitting in the car, driving, and just talking to each other. I heard Homey’s voice, his familiar voice, and his laugh. And I could quickly peer over at him. My first real physical impression of Homey is how he looked sitting next to me in my Volkswagen Jetta. I remember his profile. The way his smile looked as he laughed and talked. He wasn’t looking at me, he was just natural. I realized, I know this guy! He’s not a stranger. It’s Homey. I love him! And now I think that I love him even more!
We arrived home where he met my mom and the kids. We chatted for a bit, then Homey and I left to go get a bite to eat then we would drop his stuff off at my Relief Society President’s house. (Even though he was originally going to stay at the Bishop’s, the Bishop had to take a business trip. So, the Bishop kindly arranged for Homey to stay at The Relief Society President’s House!!!)
I had decided to take Homey to my favorite Pizza/Cheesesteak Place: Caln Pizza and Pasta. Of course, since Homey was visiting the Philly area, he needed a cheesesteak. So we ordered up some food, and began to eat. We were getting even more comfortable, laughing, and chatty.
Now…even though the food was awesome, I have to warn women about getting cheesesteaks on the first date with a guy you are trying to impress.
Obviously, I had set out to “impress” Homey, but then all of that was out the window when cheesesteaks were involved…
So, I was wolfing down my cheesesteak, laughing at Homey’s jokes. And Homey was wolfing his down, then he paused, while both of us had GIANT mouths full of Cheesesteak goodness, and kissed me on the lips. So…our first kiss was while were in the middle of eating a cheesesteak. Literally-in the middle of masticating a greasy, salty, cheesy, scrumptious, cheesesteaks. In other words, it was the best first kiss ever.
After getting some grub, we dropped off Homey’s stuff at the Relief Society President’s house. She was having a meeting with a bunch of other women in the ward (including the Bishop’s wife), so they were all very happy (giddy!) and excited to meet Homey. He was such a great sport about everything. He was kind, complimented me, and was polite. It was pretty great.
After that, I took Homey to my two favorite places on earth. Wegman’s and Wawa. And that was our first date together…
Of course, no trip to Philly is complete without an actual trip to Philly. Homey and I hung out with the girls through the course of the day, then in the evening we decided we’d go into Philly to walk around and eat dinner.
I know that it might sound lame, but I think that one of my absolute favorite ways to spend the time is to walk around Philadelphia (New York and Boston are good, too). I love watching people and absorbing the energy of the city. In fact, as I write this paragraph, I long for that feeling. I miss the east coast so much!
So, we went into Philly without much of an agenda. We went to Reading Terminal Market. We walked around the city. I took pictures of things I found interesting. We finally ended up at a Greek Restaurant on South Street.
The restaurant is good, but the experience we had there that evening was miraculous.
This restaurant is super duper tiny, so the tables are jam-packed together. No one can really have a private conversation. It might not have been the best choice for two people who wanted to chat and gaze lovingly into each other’s eyes. Luckily, Homey and I didn’t have that in mind.
We sat down, looked over the menu, etc. and two men were seated at the table next to us. They appeared to be 17 and probably 32. There wasn’t a huge age difference between them. At least it didn’t seem so.
When they arrived, they ordered beers, but the waitress wouldn’t serve alcohol to the younger man. They tried to sweet talk her into it but she didn’t budge. Still, they worked their magic on her:
“Is there anything that you’d like tonight.”
“I’m looking at something that I like, but it ain’t on the menu.” (The man proceeded to look this woman up and down.)
The hilarious thing about this is that the waitress was a Greek-no-nonsense woman who was probably in her fifties. She just raised her eyebrow at him and stared him down.
“I’ll have a gyro.” He finally relented.
Homey and I just looked at each other, smiling.
After flirting with the waitress, the two men started talking with each other. It turns out that they were father and son. And the Father was about to give his son a talk for the ages.
“Son, I’ve been meaning to talk to you about your girl.”
“You’ve got to give her up. She’s no good for you.”
“I know. But I just have to see her one more time.”
“No man, that’s what I’m trying to say. Stop seeing her. She’s no good. All you do is smoke weed and get high with her.”
“I know, but she knows I want to change.”
“Man, you say that, but you still using dope. You’ve got to stop. Finish school. Get a job. You got to get rid of her. You need to straighten up.”
“I didn’t know that she’d be trouble.”
“What you talkin’ about. Yes you did. You knew she was trouble ever since you met her.”
“No, man. I didn’t know. And now, it’s just like, we’ve been together for a while, you know? I mean, it’s hard to just leave her. I didn’t know that she was on crack.”
“Man. Yes you DID! You knew she did crack! You was doing it with her when you met her.”
“Oh man. That’s right. I know, but she wants to change. She wants me to change.”
“You say, ‘She’s gonna stop. I’m gonna stop.’ Boy, you won’t stop until you leave her. She’s no good for you. She smokes crack!”
“I know, but she’s gonna stop.”
“You just need to give her up. You need to give all that &*#@ up.”
Homey and I couldn’t believe it. It’s okay for people to have these discussions. I’m not saying that the discussion was uncalled for. If my son was dating a girl who was smoking crack, I’m sure that we’d be having a similar conversation. But it’s another thing to have this conversation in a restaurant that’s probably 500sqft of dining space, yet packed with people. Everyone in a 10 foot radius knew that this boy’s girlfriend smoked crack!
Homey and I tried to stifle a laugh. We just started texting each other.
–I feel bad for listening in, but I can’t stop.
–I know what you mean. And I’m not trying to be judgmental, but it’s not everyday that you get to overhear a conversation like this.
–This entire conversation is so foreign to anything I’ve ever experienced in my life.
–Yeah right. I know that the Silver Fox took you out when you were 17 and told you to stop smoking crack with your crack smoking girlfriend.
–haha! Can you even imagine it?!
–I need to eat so I can leave. I don’t want to laugh out loud or look conspicuous. I don’t want to be rude. It’s good that this dad is giving his son a Pep-talk. He’s like Danny Tanner.
–Yes…exactly like Danny Tanner.
Homey and I quickly finished our meals, then left the restaurant.
“I’m amazed, Homey. I’ve been to Philly so many times, and never have I had an experience that could come close to that! You are so lucky. Philly was on her best behavior for you tonight.” I explained to him. This was not a usual occurrence.
We walked around Philly some more, then headed home–completely entertained. I was so grateful that I was able to witness the Danny Tanner talk with someone as awesome as Homey.
One of the days during Homey’s visit, Homey and I decided to travel down to Washington, D.C. We would go to the temple and then we’d meet up with Homey’s friends: Jack and Jackie.
The ride from my house to the Washington D.C. takes about two hours. I take a scenic route, so the ride is actually a little longer, but is so worth it because you drive through scenery like this:
Despite the distance, I loved driving to the D.C. temple.
Homey and I weren’t expecting to go to the temple together the first weekend that we met, but it worked out that way. I think that at first, we were thinking it might be a little bit awkward as the temple is such a personal and sacred experience. By the time Homey came out to PA, however, we were very close and personal–we were already talking about marriage.
So, we went to the temple and had a great experience. I felt a little overwhelmed by the fact that I was going to the temple with someone that I loved. It was an interesting experience, and I knew it would be a real test. If I can still like Homey after this, then I really think it is the real deal.
I still liked Homey after the temple. In fact, I liked him a whole lot. It was the real deal, which was both amazingly joyful and also a bit overwhelming.
After going to the temple, we went out to eat with Homey’s friends. Jack and Jackie met us in D.C., where we ate at a really yummy Thai restaurant. It was fun meeting Homey’s friends and seeing him interact with them. I was impressed because both Jack and Jackie were so smart and interesting. I wanted to make a good impression on them, too. I wanted them to give me the “stamp of approval!” As the lunch proceeded, I felt more comfortable. I loved how funny Homey was with his friends. And I felt like I could laugh and joke with them, too. Even though it was a short visit, it was insightful.
As we lunched, we talked about tentative future plans. (ie: marriage)
“So…we’re thinking of getting married in May. We’ll go on a honeymoon, then Catania and the girls will move with me to Mesa.”
“Wow. What do you think about that, Catania.” Jack (or Jackie, can’t really remember who) asked.
“I’m pretty excited about it.”
“Where are you guys going on your honeymoon?”
Homey replied, “You know, we’re thinking of Cuba.”
“Cuba, huh?” They replied with a chuckle. “That should be interesting.”
“Yes, it’s this new thing that they’re doing–where you can go in and visit Cuba. Catania and I are going to do it.” Homey went on.
“Really–” Jack and/or Jackie said with a smirk
I quickly chirped in, “Yeah they are doing this really cool new travel program in Cuba. You might have heard of it…It’s called Guantanamo.”
We all laughed, and I felt like I did get some kind of “stamp of approval” from Homey’s friends. I was grateful to meet them. Mostly, I was proud for the opportunity to tell one of my best ever jokes. 🙂
After meeting with Homey’s friends, we travelled back to PA, and spent the rest of the day hanging out with the kids and fam.
The rest of the weekend followed suit. Homey and I spent a lot of time snuggling together and being so mushy that you’d probably barf, ralph, vomit, and yak all at the same time. It was perfect. Everything that being in love should be.
The time finally came for Homey to return to Mesa. Tiger, Panda, and I took him to the airport. We even parked the car and walked him inside. I was holding Panda’s hand and Homey was with Tiger. As we approached the escalator, I didn’t realize it, but Tiger froze at the top. She was afraid of it. Homey shouted, “Catania. Tiger is stuck at the top.”
Without thinking, I picked up Panda, tucked her under my arm (like a football), and ran up the down escalator. I retrieved Tiger and we safely travelled down the escalator without incident.
Homey was impressed.
“Wow. I can’t believe you did that.”
“Got Tiger like that.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, I was just going to go down the escalator then up the other one.”
“Oh…well, this was faster. And she was crying. No big deal.”
I really thought it was no big deal. It’s what any mom would have done. But it made an impression on Homey.
Throughout the course of the weekend, Homey was able to see me in my element. He saw what kind of mother, woman, and person I was. He saw my home, my favorite places, my city, my life. I was also able to meet Homey in person. I was able to see his big, blue eyes in real life. I could smell him, feel him. I noticed the tremors in his hands, his crooked pinky finger–from jamming it too many times during basketball. I was obsessed with his smile and his profile. But most of all, I was amazed that Homey was a real, living human being. I knew that I was totally in love with this mystery I had met online, and now…he was real.
I said good-bye to Homey. On my way home, I got a text.
I’m coming back next weekend.
I drove home happy that there was something new to look forward to.