He heard that people who move to Philly either love it or hate it, no in-betweens. Nearly two years have passed since his arrival and, decidedly, he counts as one of the lovers. After a period of shyness, he met Rose the same way he met most of the people he knows in the city – by being himself and having the balls to do what he felt was the right thing at the time. In the case of meeting Rose, having balls and doing what felt right just meant pushing his way through a crowd of people to get her a drink at a party where he'd caught a look in her eye of hopeless frustration.
When his dinner guests begin to arrive, he's preparing a salad. He expects nine people, five of whom he knows. The other four are Rose's friends Suki and Annabeth plus their boyfriends, and this little group arrives last, knocking on his rented row home door just as he removes a roast from the oven. Suki and Annabeth hug Rose and wish her a happy birthday while the others all introduce themselves. He places the roast on top of the stove and joins them in his living / dining room, where he immediately recognizes Suki and Annabeth's boyfriends. A sudden feeling of having come full circle in Philadelphia overtakes him.
"Linc, hey," says Rose, "come meet Suki and Anna and their boyfriends, Garret and Joe."
"Hey, I'm Garret, thanks for having us." A hand extends and he shakes it.
"Yeah, thank you. I'm Joe." Another handshake.
"Nice to meet you guys, I'm Lincoln, everyone calls me Linc. Welcome. I hope you eat meat?"
Both men nod.
"Well alright. You guys look familiar, by the way." He considers mentioning the day when he spoke with them briefly at 700, but decides against it.
Garret and Joseph shrug, and Garret says, "We're around."
They eat dinner and talk about their lives and the city and how the ones who know each other know each other, and he's so happy he can hardly contain himself. The beers go down too easily and he worries that he talks too much and that he overcompensates for talking too much by seeming too interested in everyone else. Did he come off like a zealot for land bank legislation? Did he ask Suki too many questions about the pet rabbit her friend lets roam freely around her finished basement?
Everyone seems to have enjoyed the meal, or at least they tell him so when they leave. It never feels right for him to ask men for their phone numbers, so he doesn't ask Garret and Joseph for theirs, but he thinks next time he sees them around the neighborhood, they'll remember tonight's dinner.