I'd known Josh off-and-on for several years already. More off than on, because I rarely saw him, and when I did, I'm not sure he ever actually spoke to me. He dated one of my good friends through high school, and I'd see him at her house sometimes, but I seem to only remember him occasionally laughing &/or shaking his head at us.
The first time I legitimately remember him speaking to me personally was probably 3-4 yrs after we first met. I was freshly back from my one year away at college, and I was staying under a bridge due to abuses at home which, being over 18, I was no longer legally required to put up with. His girlfriend, L, had been told my our mutual friend about my circumstances, and she and Josh showed up at the bridge and said, “T,” [what everyone called me in high school], “what the hell are you doing? Get in the truck. You're coming to live with us.” I found out years later that it was actually Josh, not my friend, who insisted upon this.
I lived with them as roommate for about a year, maybe year and a half, until L decided to blow up at me and kick me out one day out of the blue. I was homeless again, which really sucked, but I managed to get a “free if you move” 1970s mobile home...which probably sucked worse than sleeping under bridges or on school buses. I had a place though, even if it was so disgusting that only two rooms were livable, and there was no electricity or water. A kerosene heater, camper toilet, and water jugs I could fill at work made it good enough for me.
Eventually things blew up between Josh and L, and they broke up...without telling any of us for
L eventually moved out, and a few months later Josh was forced to do the same. He had no place to live, so I invited him to stay at my hovel until he found a place. With only two livable rooms, we of course shared my bedroom. Again, I thought it was merely a convenience thing for him.
Until one night. I guess it was a bit romantic, since I had to light by candles anyway, but I sat at the head of my bed and he sat at the foot playing his guitar. We'd lived together long enough before, hung out in between, and I'd heard him play guitar a million times. He's so cute about it – he plays well, but the man can't sing. He does it with such passion and abandon though, happily rocking out. It's fantastic! This time was different, though. I can't put my finger on what, exactly, made it different, but this time it was obvious that he wasn't just playing for himself, for the joy of it. Josh was playing for me.
I'd never had a guy play guitar and sing for me before. I still can't say what was so different about it; maybe it was just the charge in the air or the way he looked at me. I don't know. I just remember thinking, “Whoa! This...might not be 'convenience' for him after all. He might actually like me in that like-like way.”
Not much later, we were at one of his friend's houses, and Josh pulled me on his lap, smiling at me and kissing me right in front of his buddy. In his seven years of dating L, I'm not sure I ever saw him do that. He was always quiet, in the corner, observing, and not prone to great public displays of passion. That day I dropped the “might” and realized that I shouldn't sell myself so short. He seemed to legitimately like me – a lot – and I realized and finally admitted to myself that, surprisingly enough, there was a very good chance I was falling in love with him.
Luckily, I was right on both accounts.