It wasn’t long before Lizette and Lawrence were FaceTiming or having text dates pretty much every evening. They talked about birds, of course, but also how they ended up in San Francisco. They discussed what they thought about San Francisco as well as his childhood in Pennsylvania and hers in NOLA. They shared wishes and dreams and, despite the pandemic, found themselves growing fonder of each other with every passing day.
The next time they were scheduled to work together, Lawrence came up with an idea. “I know fast food isn’t exactly elegant, but maybe we could get something to eat. We could eat on a picnic table or even in my car.”
Lizette was excited to get together with Lawrence. Even though they could only take off their masks to eat, it still promised to be an enjoyable first real date. After work, they got into his car and went to his favorite drive-through, In-N-Out. The line was shorter than usual, since most people were staying at home. They feasted on burgers, shakes, and animal-style fries. And when they finished eating, neither of them donned their face masks immediately, and Lawrence gently kissed Lizette. It was a sweet, tender kiss, and it made her feel special.
Eventually Lawrence and Lizette started seeing each other outside the shelter. They would still go to a drive-through to get food. They dined on burgers or tacos or chicken nuggets and sandwiches. The first time they went to a fast food outlet that specialized in chicken, Lizette looked up from her lunch and asked, “You and I love birds so much. Should we really be eating them?”
Lawrence spewed his lemonade, nearly dousing Lizette. “I never thought about that. Then again, chickens aren’t just any birds. They’re tasty birds! When I was growing up, I loved going to the state fair. I used to talk to the chickens, remind them that they were delicious, and inform them of their prehistoric ancestors.”
Lizette dissolved into laughter. “I just imagine you going to a state fair and calling all the chickens yummy dinosaurs.”
“Don’t forget the ducks and geese,” Lawrence said. “They’re delectable dinosaurs, too.”
They giggled and guffawed and howled and hooted until their sides ached and tears trickled down their faces.
After that, they would see each other as often as possible. Sometimes they watched birds at Buena Vista Park or Lake Merced. If they got together in the evening, they would sprawl out on Lizette’s parents’ yard or on the roof so they could look at the stars. Lawrence pointed out various constellations such as Ursa Major and Ursa Minor, and he said that his late father would take him and his brother outside to gaze at the stars. He promised that, as soon as the COVID restrictions had eased, he would take her to the planetarium.
Lizette promised to introduce Lawrence to her friends. “We have a couple of coffee houses that we like. Brewed Awakenings, Deja Brew, and Underground Coffee. Great coffee, all of them, and amazing sweets. Cinnamon rolls, muffins, cookies, and scones.” She sighed. “I wish this was normal times and that we could all get together. You would really like my friends.”
“I think I will. They sound awesome. I’m sure they miss you as much as you miss them.” Lawrence paused a moment to gather his thoughts. “Even though it would just be the two of us, we could go to any of these shops and get drive-through.”
“That’s a great idea! Maybe we could stop before we go to the sanctuary,” Lizette suggested.
In a short time, Lizette went from being bored to being almost too busy. She finished her coursework online and ahead of schedule. She had her work at the sanctuary and even volunteered for more hours, especially if Lawrence was going to be there, too. Her free time was spent talking to him, texting him, going to drive-throughs with him, and hanging out in safe environments with him. In fact, she had been so busy that she didn’t have a chance to chat with her beloved friends and didn’t tell them about Lawrence yet.
To be continued…