I had to divide this into three parts to get it the way I wanted it. Sorry if it's long.
While I was in London visiting the museums and friends I was also organizing "The Meeting" with Robby. We sent texts back and forth and finally we decided to meet in Birmingham. Not the conventional tourist attraction.
I got train and bus info to get there and back, I found out that I needed 2 hours by train to get there and 3 by bus. This was not going to be the easiest thing since it was also my last day in London before leaving to go back to Italy the next morning so I wanted to see all my friends for drinks or dinner, both new and old. (I had met some fun Italians while I was there).
I lucked out on cheap train tickets which I bought on Sunday... we were meeting on Monday, I was leaving Tuesday.
I have to admit that there was an inkling of fear in the back of my mind. A woman meeting (almost) a complete stranger. No-one knew about "The Meeting" except for a friend waaay far away in Canada. I was (very slightly) worried he was going to slit my throat and drop me into a river or something.
The evening before I left I told my Canadian friends in London that I was going for a day trip (wasn't sure where). I told my Italian roommate at the hostel that I was going to Birmingham to meet a friend, and I jokingly said that if I didn't come back to call the authorities.
I was surprisingly calm on the train, I charged my phone and tried to read... unsuccessfully so I just looked out the window.
I was supposed to get off at the main, new, train station, but unfortunately my train didn't stop there. "It's only a 10 minute walk" the woman at the ticket counter said at the time.
So I texted Robby to ask him if he'd come meet me there or if I should meet him a the "new" station.
"Meet me at the New station" he texted back.
I walked over to the new station (2 minutes not 10, probably my mistake in understanding the British accent at the ticket desk).
I walked into the main atrium and had the urge to text him that I was there. I slowly turned on the spot looking for him and saw him standing and staring intently at the passengers coming through the turnstiles.
He was pretty much as I had seen on MSN. He was taller than I expected. And his hair was a dirty blond speckled with gray, (he's only a few years older than me). It just proves that we met on MSN young and should have met in person sooner.
I walk up to him, and he immediately recognizes me.
-Now I thought about this constantly on the train. What was I going to do when I met him?? Hug? Kiss? Be distant and just say hello and start walking?-
I didn't need to think twice.
He opened his arms three meters wide and bear hugged me. It was a fantastic sensation.
**I have to make a side note about hugs. I love hugs. Hugs can be entirely sensual if they're done properly. This was not one of those sensual hugs. A guy has to know how to wrap his arms under a woman's arms, up around her ribs and waist, one hand high on her back and one almost on her tummy. Tight but not too tight, a crescendo of just the right squeeze, that can last an eternity. This was a friendly hug. A nice welcoming hug. It felt good because it was him.
We said our hellos, embarrassed to see each other, finally after so long. We giggled and talked and walked. He gave me a flirty push at which I said "don't push or I'll start pushing back". And he (unfortunately) didn't push me again.
We had a coffee while we talked easily about stuff in general and about what we were going to do for the day. We had the WHOLE day and I kinda wished I hadn't booked friends that evening which put me on a train at 6:00pm. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
We walked over to the little tourist information centre where we gathered information on galleries and things to do. We knew that we needed something to keep us occupied at least for a few hours so that we didn't have to face each other and just talk. It would have been awkward.
We decided on the city museum.
We got utterly lost trying to find it. He had never been to Birmingham and was trying to use a map unsuccessfully. We laughed at our total lack of direction, knocking shoulders occasionally, (to knock each other off balance), but that was the extent of our physical contact.
We finally found it and spent a good part of the morning in the Egyptian part, looking at their relatively scant displays on mummies and other such things. The place was pretty much empty, there was only a group of young school children there.
We headed down to the painting section and we wandered the rooms until I found a guard. I had seen a poster for an Edward Burne Jones show, so I asked her about it on the off chance that we might catch it "do you have any Pre-Raphaelite paintings?" She looked at me inquisitively and told me to go through to the green room. We sauntered over and I was blown away. The most amazing collection of Burne Jones Paintings I have ever seen (which isn't many). It was spectacular. I was on the verge of hyperventilation. Robby could see that I was in Awe and came to stand next to me in front of the biggest painting (below). I was in heaven. I looked at the painting, looked at him, smiled, looked back at the painting, looked back at him... and on and on. I couldn't get my bearings. We were almost completely alone. Just the two of us and these amazing paintings.