He was never explicit about it because he's not the romantic or sentimental sort, but it was implied that reason that he spent the whole of Sunday with me was because it was the 14th of February. We took a train to Audley End where we spent some time (a little over an hour) walking to the Audley End House, which belonged to Thomas Audley, the founder of our college. During the walk, we talked about John Rawls' difference principle and his 'common assets' argument, which is based on the idea that the fruits of whatever talents or skills that the individual possesses are not really his, and that they should benefit the society as a whole; and that, of course, led to a discussion about whether that premise is true, or convincing. I didn't think it was; he thought that it made perfect sense. He expounded on his theory of personhood - it is metaphysical to the core, possibly Kantian but more Germanic than anything. When I asked him if people are actually convinced by Kant's transcendental self, he said in his usual ironic fashion, 'Of course. It is obviously correct.'
I like that we don't have the same opinions on these matters. He challenges me intellectually. His thinking seems more communitarian than liberal; he focuses more on the person's surroundings and his interaction with the same, rather than the individual as the centre of the universe. I think it is very interesting. Sometimes, too, I am unable to comprehend how clever he is.
We finally got to the vicinity of the house after walking under a bright blue sky with lots of sunlight with a vast expanse of greenery and thin, naked trees flanking our sides. Unfortunately the house itself was closed for Lent, and it didn't make sense to pay the full price of the ticket to walk around in the gardens; and so we walked on to the nearest town, Saffron Walden. We had lunch at Ask Italian, which was nice, then went in search of a cafe. The three cafes that we walked past were all closed, unsurprisingly. There was a cathedral (of course, right?) which looked quite impressive on the outside. (I was going to post a picture but I am too tired and lazy; maybe another time.) We visited the Bridge End Gardens which was pretty and tranquil. He kissed me under the sunlight.
We managed to find a cafe that wasn't closed, and I had a cappuccino which was shitty. The walk back to the train station was more laborious than the walk to the town from the train station, which is to be expected. The whole day was very enjoyable, even if it was really, really cold. But still: it was something new, something different, and it was him. I laughed a lot. I thought a lot. I had a lot of fun.
We got back to Cambridge at about 5pm. I went to Evensong at the college chapel - shocking! It was convenient because he had to light candles and collect money (okay, tithes, however it is spelled) from the people there, and Billy, my housemate, who usually sings in the choir, had a solo, so I thought I would go and hear him sing. I think my expectations were a bit stupid. I thought I would just sit there and listen to the choir for 45 minutes, and then the preacher would give a sermon for 15 minutes, and then it would be done.
Alas, there was a lot of standing and sitting, a couple of sing-along hymns, some prayers, and some lessons (i.e. excerpts from the Bible). I honestly wasn't sure what the difference was between the two passages; the basic idea seemed to be to not sin...which is the basic idea of religion anyway. It was really cold in the chapel and I was a bit hungry, so at one point, I started thinking about what I would order when we went to the Indian restaurant up the hill after Evensong. Mostly, though, I spent the time thinking about things - my PhD, my going out with Dominic, myself. Alas, I did not have some miraculous religious conversion. However, the songs were very nice, and I really like the sound of the church organ (even if the organist played a few bum notes).
Dinner was at Maharajah. I prefer the other Indian restaurant that we usually go to. He came back to my place, where I gave him his gift, which consists of a card, strawberry shower gel from the Body Shop, and exactly two Lindor milk chocolate balls. I wanted to buy a small box of chocolate but 1) I didn't have time to go to Sainsbury's; and 2) he said once that he didn't like chocolate and so I wasn't sure if it was a good idea. It turned out that he loves those specific ones; his parents recently sent him a box of things, including those chocolates. How nice, right? The Body Shop thing was just because we talked about it last week, and he seemed intrigued when I mentioned that it's soap-free. The main thing that I wanted to give him was the card. I think it's quite well-written and honest. It's not over-the-top, it's not a declaration of my undying love; it's a conveyance of my present feelings, which I think is nice to reveal to the other party once in a while.
He gave me a novel: Wittgenstein Jr. by Lars Iyer. This was the first thing in the morning when we met at the plodge. He said, 'So I'm not into sentimental things and kitsch, but I walked into a bookshop the other day and I saw this book. I thought you would like it - and I also want to read it, so I would like to borrow it when you're done.'
The level of romance in that speech knocked the winds right out of me. I made fun of him for it, minding maybe a little but not significantly, because he is who he is, and I like his awkwardness when it comes to feelings and things along those lines. At my place, I attempted to get him to say that he wanted to spend the whole day with me because it was Valentine's Day, but he thought I was asking him to say what he liked about me or to express his feelings. 'This is torture,' he said. I collapsed into a fit of laughter.
Later on, he more than made up for the gaffe in the morning. Regarding the book: 'Isn't romantic to read the same book?' He also promised to read Barnes' The Sense of an Ending when he goes back to Germany for a few days in March. Then, while lying facing each other in bed, I asked him if he would've asked me out if I'd not sent him that message on Facebook thanking him for a drink. He wondered about that too, since he's all shy and everything, and he said that it took some courage for him to ask me out. 'I liked that you laughed at my jokes,' he said. 'And I've always thought that you're cute.'
I replied, in my usual egoistic fashion, 'Just cute?'
'Come on, I'm sure you know that you are very beautiful.'
I smiled into my pillow. 'Well, it's nice to hear it from you.'
Later on, right before he left, very spontaneously--
He: Do you know why I wanted to spend the whole day with you?
Me: Yes! Why?
He: Because you're hot, funny and silly.
Me: Hot? Really?
He: Yes you are. I think you're out of my league. You're so much better-looking than me.
What a silly boy.
I really need to sleep. This wasn't that short in the end, was it?
One final thing: My PhD is becoming a fucking bloated monster. KILL ME.