It was April 2006.
I was 19. He was 24.
We had both been invited by friends to the "college & career" group one Friday night.
I was the college. He was the career. He came late and stayed near the back, leaning up against the wall in his UCLA shirt.
I watched his every move, asking my friend if she knew who he was...
She didn't... so I went to find out.
I walked up to him, introduced myself, and we spent some time small-talking.
That was it... not much else from that night made it to long-term memory.
The C&C group went out one night after church. Half of the group went to see a movie, half of us went to ice cream. Dan didn't get ice cream... I got cakebatter with sprinkles. Obviously. We sat next to each other on the steps of the outdoor mall in Palos Verdes, talking...and talking...and talking, until 3 hours had passed and we realized everybody else had already left. We talked about Johnny Cash, traveling, our families, pets, school, hobbies. I found out he grew up at a church a few blocks away from my house and we had probably seen each other at El Burrito Junior, Phanny's Burgers, and the beach (which is just fun to think about)... even though our age difference meant we wouldn't have given it a second thought.
We walked to our cars. He asked if I was going to church Sunday. (Yes.) I left. I drove home listening to "Ring of Fire", smiling, and giggling.
Sunday morning comes. He finds me after church. I told him I was going to go to the beach later. He asked if I wanted company. (Yes.) He got my number. He met me down by "burn out", we sat by a lifeguard tower and talked. I told him that I was going to Colorado for a few weeks on a road trip with a friend. We left.
He called to ask if I wanted to go dinner before I left. (Yes.) He picked me up after work. He drove a '92 forest green Firebird that you could hear coming a mile away.
We went to Daphnes because he knew I loved Greek food. We ate, and laughed, and talked... until the restaurant was empty and they kicked us out. He took me home, (accidentally) met my mom (who just happened to be taking out the trash as we were sitting in the car out front). He came in, we talked some more. Hugged me good night. I had to stand on my tippy-toes. I had a great time.
I left for Colorado. He called me every-other-day and we talked for an hour or two each time. Then...
he stopped calling.
9 days, no call.
He was in the hospital. Had a girlfriend. Lost his phone? Fell off the face of the planet.
Was dating my friend instead. Moved away.
...No. He just was "busy"... "with work"...
I was so over it.
I got back to California. He called. We went to 'dinner', watched the sunset, he got food poisoning. I sat outside his apartment for 20 minutes, thinking "food poisoning" was a pathetic excuse to make me leave. He actually did have food poisoning. We watched "10 things I hate about you"... with his roommate laying on the adjacent couch. We sat 10 inches apart.
Days go by...we see each other at church and probably hung out once or twice...
He calls. We start talking about "how things are going"...
disclosure: this is a totally accurate and unbiased interpretation of the conversation based on my own impartial and very non-subjective memory of that evening...
him: I have had a really great time getting to know you.
me: me too...
him: and I think you're a really great girl.
him: And, and you know that feeling that you get... like when you walk into a room and see the person you like and you get butterflies....
me: yes... I know that feeling...
him: well... I just don't get that with you.
::: silence ::::
:::: silence ::::
me: well... obviously, you're not capable of being in a relationship right now. I just feel like we are both standing at the edge of a pool and I'm ready to jump in, but you're still testing the water.
::: bam! :::
[ The funny thing is, I wasn't even upset... I had never actually been "rejected" before, but I had a strange peace about it all. We went on with our lives... sorta. ]
We had both volunteered to do worship and ministry for the junior high group that year. So at least twice a week, we saw each other to practice and do youth group. He started making excuses to come over... practice/ "help" me with homework / sit on the couch...
After youth group, the leaders went out for frozen yogurt (cakebatter and sprinkles, duh). We were all hanging out in the parking lot. Dan asked if I would be willing to teach him to drive stick. I drove a '97 Magenta VW cabrio convertible (with cow-print seat covers)... (Yes.) We went to a nearby school's parking lot and drove around and around as he got the hang of it. We were sitting in the car. We were probably quoting ridiculous movies like Anchorman and Dumb and Dumber. He mentioned the company BBQ he had invited me (and 2 other guy friends ) to the following week. He asked if that day could be more of a "starts with a 'd', ends in an 'ate'"... "dominate?" I replied. (Yes.)
For our first "date" we went to his company party at Knotts Berry Farm. We went through the In-N-Out drive thru (grilled cheese, animal style). He packed a picnic of sparkling cider, chips, and cookies. We ate on the grass. We spent the day inside the park. I lost my phone on the log ride.
We were walking to the BBQ pavilion... he asked to hold my hand. (Yes.) He introduced me to all of his co-workers. They thought we were married. (No.) It was a great time.
We drove home, parked by the ocean and watched the stars. It got late. He took me home and walked me to my door. He (didn't ask) kissed me. I was standing on a step, so I didn't have to stand on my tippy-toes. It was wonderful.
We went on 2 more dates.
We made "excuses" to see each other more than 2 times...
November 4th, 2006
I packed a picnic. We sat on a blanket at Lunada Bay watching the sunset. We saw a movie. We probably made out the whole time. We sat on the steps of the outdoor mall at Palos Verdes.
He asked me to be his girlfriend.
(click here to read Part Two)
(click here to read Part Two)