"Andy called while you were out today, " my mom casually mentioned in conversation. "He said that he'd love you to come hang out with him tomorrow in San Jose. Some of your friends from Cal Poly are going to be there and he thought you'd want to come." It was the middle of Spring Break and I was at home visiting my family. Silently I wondered what "friends" he was talking about. I knew that he and my Big Sis, Steph, had just started dating (which I was ecstatic about) so I figured she would probably be there. But who else? Steve lived just over the hill in Santa Cruz and I wondered if Andy had somehow schemed to get us both in the same place for the day. Currently Andy was the only one who knew I had any feelings for Steve. I had finally admitted it to him after that night at Megan's house. Chances were that he was scheming, because he loved Steve and I knew Andy thought we'd be a perfect match.
Later that night, when I talked to Andy, my suspicions were confirmed. Andy was willing to drive all the way up to Pleasanton (where my parents currently lived) to come get me and then he was going to drive all the way to Santa Cruz to get Steve. Stephanie was visiting Andy with her roommate Lori and all of us were going to hang out for the day. It was an unbelievable opportunity and I was quick to say, "Yes!"
When we had finally gathered everyone from around the Bay Area, we went and simply messed around for the day in San Jose running errands for Andy's mom (a small price to pay for getting to use her car), going out to eat at Chilli's, and then going on a silly walk through the nearby Toys R Us. Somehow Andy and Steve ended up on the Pogo Balls, a throwback to their childhood for sure, and by the time they were done, we were getting the "eyes" from management to get the heck out of there. So we did. It was time for us to take Steve back home anyway for Andy still had to drive me home in the complete opposite direction.
When we arrived at Steve's, his parents were both home and welcomed all of us so warmly. I was immediately shy and just tried to fade into the crowd. They were cooking up some sausages on the stove so we all stayed for a bit and chatted about the day while getting a little after dinner snack. It was delightful to be there but totally overwhelming. I had a feeling Steve was just as interested in me as I was in him but, there wasn't anything said between us yet. So I felt the need to just be another friend that he knew and tried to be as inconspicuous as possible. It was safer that way for both of us.
As we were leaving, Steve caught my eye and said something totally unexpected. "Do you remember how you told me about that English class you're taking next quarter?" I nodded. His eyes sparkled as he spoke, "Well, it turns out I need it as a GE so I went ahead and registered for it. Looks like we'll see a bit more of each other this Spring." I about keeled over. That class met four times a week. Four times! That meant I'd be seeing Steve nearly every single weekday. I wasn't sure if I was excited or just plain scared to death! In a moment, I decided I was both. I smiled back at him and said, "Wow, we'll definitely be seeing a lot of each other, that is if you come to class. Because as you know, I never miss class-ever." He grinned back and said, "I think you can count on me to show up pretty regularly."
That conversation right there made my whole Spring Break. Class with Steve Dauphin nearly every day. Next quarter was definitely going to be exciting!
* * * *
Spring Quarter was going really well. I was seeing Steve most days of the week and we were starting to get to know one another much better. Walking to and from class together helped and working on some class projects outside of class also helped too. But things remained really mellow. Both of us kept things pretty under wraps with our friends and there wasn't any mention of feelings at all between us. We were just being friends and it felt wonderful. I loved getting to know who he was more without the pressure of knowing we liked each other. It was perfect.
However, I was definitely at the top of my game. No showing up to class in sweats. It took a bit of work but every day I wore some sort of cute skirt or outfit with ribbons adorning my hair. I wasn't stupid. I wasn't sure I had totally "caught" him yet, so I had to keep up appearances. I'm not the girliest girl on the planet...well, I'd say I'm just not pretentious in that area. So it definitely took some deliberate effort. Yet the smile he had waiting just for me, whenever I saw him, made all the work worth it.
I had also gotten a job offer to work in the Camp Hammer kitchen. All of the counselor positions had already been filled by the time I applied. It wasn't what I was originally looking for because I wanted to be a Counselor. However, it was a job and I was thankful for it. Plus, Steve would be there working on the Program Staff. That definitely made it worth it to me.
Toward the end of the quarter I bought my first car, a 1990 Toyota Celica. I paid $1000 cash for it and it was mine. All mine! The only problem was that it was a stick shift and I didn't know how to drive a manual transmission. But I was determined to learn. Right before finals I found myself at the AGO house and a bunch of us, Steve included, went out. As I stalled and stopped, totally embarrassed at my horrible skills (I only had the car a few days at that point), Steve grabbed the stick shift, put his hand on mine and helped me shift. I was relieved he knew how to drive the car and I instantly relaxed. Within a few days of lessons from him, in which he showed immense gentleness and patience, I'd mastered the stick shift. I figured, oh well, even though I looked like an idiot at times to him, it was still quite a fun way to learn.
The next week Steve left for camp early after taking his finals in advance, since he was on the Program Staff, and I stayed at Poly to finish up finals. I had gotten so used to seeing him all the time! I missed him. So I sent him some cookies, partly in an effort to totally embarrass him knowing the staff up there would make him do something silly like sing for his package, and partly just to make some contact with him.
I thought I was so brilliant. The package was sent to Steve "The Prince" Dauphin (Dauphin literally means "prince" in French). And the return address read, from Nikki "The Greek Goddess" Georgatos (because I'm Greek). Ha! It was the boldest I'd been with him in the whole six months. And it sure embarrassed him all right. All of the Program Staff who knew and loved Steve well up at camp were wondering who this "Greek Goddess" was coming from Cal Poly who sent Steve the cookies.