I stood in my dorm room waiting. I was ready. My outfit carefully selected, my dorm room as clean as a dorm room could possibly be, and the butterflies in my stomach just starting to pick up speed. I was awaiting my very first date with “cute president boy”. (You know how when you live in the dorm and you see people all the time, but you don’t know their name, so you make up your own name for them? Or, maybe that only happened in my dorm, or maybe that happens everywhere and not just in dorms?) Regardless, it turned out that “cute president boy”, the president of our dorm, had a name…Chris.
He was late. He was late 12 years ago and surely he will be late arriving home this evening. Apparently late is his thing. He was cute-as-can-be when he, and his huge smile, the same smile that saves him to this day, finally did show up in my doorway. We walked out to the car…the ’84 Chevy Citation that Chris shared with his sister. He made some joke about the “elegance” of the car as he opened the door for me. I didn’t care about the car … well, I kind of did care about the car. I hated it the night I got pulled over, alone, because it stalled at a red light, and felt pangs of love for it when we signed it over to its new owner years later…but that night I could have cared less about that the old, ugly car that Chris called “Buchanan”. Chris was proud of Buchanan and I liked that a lot.
We started that night off by heading to a bookstore. Chris was in need of a gift for a baby shower. Who knows why he was going to a baby shower…these types of oddities or breaking of social norms just seem to happen with Chris. Regardless, he thought it would be fun to have me help him pick out some books for the new baby. Brilliant! I love bookstores. I love children’s books. I love babies. He was obviously a guy who was sensitive and secure enough to tackle a baby shower…we both were banking points.
We were planning to see a movie next and had some time before the show. There was a small coffee shop next to the bookstore so we sat and had lemonade. No, we did not sip out of straws from the same glass! We talked. We talked about our families, our friends, the people most important to us. I already liked him. I liked him a whole lot.
The movie was next on the agenda. Never Been Kissed. Yup, that is what we saw. So, not the greatest of movies … OK, a really bad movie, but it didn’t matter. For nostalgic purposes that same movie sits on our DVD shelf, surely never to be watched … it really was terrible, but rather as a tribute to the night that would forever be remembered as our “first date”.
You know that things are going well on a date when the “planned” events have run their course and you just want to find something else to do to continue being around one another. So, I know this next part sounds very scandalous, but I can promise you that movie-watching and talking is all that happened. We went back to my dorm room and somehow, I have no idea how, decided on watching Shawshank Redemption. Really? I sat on the floor and Chris sat on the couch. Really! We watched the whole entire movie and when it finally ended we sat talking, both enthralled by the feelings that began to stir that evening.
Chris left me that night with a hug in my doorway. Yes, just a hug! It was the perfect end to a perfect date. I was sold…and so was he. He called the next day, and the day after that. We had started dating just weeks before finals. Our test scores suffered that year, but boy was it worth it. Falling in love with him was the most fun I’ve ever had.
It is hard to believe that this weekend we will celebrate 12 years together. 12 wonderful years filled with…friends, family, vacations, graduations, cars, dorm rooms, apartments, houses, celebrations, loss, children, grief, job loss, new jobs, remodels, a whole lot of painting, holidays, adoption, good days, bad days, and all of the days in-between. Our story is certainly not remarkable ... and our first date certainly not a romantic fairytale to which Hollywood will be seeking the rights. We have lived life, just as many other couple do, together, doing the best we can as we travel down life’s path. What is remarkable is that on that very first date 12 years ago we became partners, a team, a couple. Our lives intertwined that evening and began what has been a simple and uncluttered partnership. Through the last 12 years our solidity has never wavered. We are “us” and we always will be. As we look back, we remember all that has brought us to today, and as we sit here looking forward to all that might be ahead, we know that that “first date” 12 years ago was the best gift ever given to us.
Here’s to “us” reminiscing about the past and looking forward to the future!