Inspired by St. Valentine


So I think due to all of the stress going on at home since I started this blog I have somewhat drifted away from the original intent of paying more attention to the positive things in my life. I mean, I could launch into yet another illness related post here: my wife was sick over the weekend and I now have a persistent cough and sore throat. However, rather than do that and in honor of Valentine’s Day last week, I hope you will indulge me while I write about the best thing in my life, my wife. More specifically the story of how we met.

So as I mentioned in the About section here on the blog, we’ve been together for about 15 years now. We actually met for the first time a week from today 15 years ago. The encounter itself was an odd string of coincidences and decisions that used to keep me up at night with panic realizing that I almost didn’t meet her.

It was my senior year at college. A few weeks prior to our meeting I had run into an old friend from the dorms at a local coffee shop. He told me that his band was going to be playing at a party at a bar the next week, and that I should check it out. I was planning on going out that night anyhow since it coincided with my birthday. I made plans to meet up with some friends and go hear the band. I took the metro to the city where the party was to be held. I had planned to call my friends from the payphone at the metro station when I arrived so they could come pick me up. However, when I tried to call, I kept getting a recording saying that the line was not available. Since I had nothing else to do that evening I sat at the underground station for about 2 hours trying to call every 15 minutes or so. I was tempted to call it a night and head home a few times, but I stuck with it and eventually I got through. It turned out that the phones were off on my friend’s block due to construction. It’s funny to think that for people just a few years younger than me that whole scenario is totally foreign. First of all, I don’t think you could find a payphone in a metro stop anymore because almost everybody has a cellphone. It seems that fewer and fewer people have a landline anymore! I’m a bit old fashioned and still have and actually prefer using a landline, but I digress.

My friends picked me up and we drove to the site of the party. We got to the club/bar and there were two girls smoking out front. I mentioned my friend and his band and was it alright if we went in? It turned out that party was the birthday celebration for one of those girls. We wished each other happy birthday and I went downstairs into a huge space. I didn’t know what I was expecting, but it turned out to be totally and completely…. dead. There were some bored bartenders waiting around and a group of maybe 5 people sitting on some couches near the bottom of the stairs. I didn’t see anyone I recognized. Suddenly this beautiful girl came up to us to say hi and find out who we were and what we were doing there. I remember her huge smile and her clothes and shoes which implied she might have been a raver. My friends and I being the types to save money when we could (and not having a lot of money anyhow) had brought beer from the local liquor store hidden in our coats, so we went to sit down at a table to chat and drink. She came over a little bit later and after talking to all of us she started talking primarily to me. I also remember the way she stared so intently into my eyes when we talked. As the night progressed we would talk for awhile, then she would go off to see friends(it started filling up later) and I would talk with my friends, then we would talk some more.

It was an amazing night, we had all kinds of interests and experiences in common and it was so easy to talk. We had both lived abroad, we both spoke Spanish (her via living abroad). There were many people we knew in common, even though we had never met. Anyhow at some point it was time for my friends and I to go. I have always been extremely insecure about expressing interest in girls and of getting rejected, so I wasn’t harboring any plans of trying to see her again and said something to the effect of “it was really nice meeting you and I hopefully I’ll see you on campus” and left. At the top of the stairs my friend said “Dude, are you going to get her number? She was totally into you!” I was a bit surprised, but after some forceful prodding I went back down to ask if I could call her sometime. She said she would “really like that” and wrote her number down on a metro ticket(which I still have). So my friend from the dorms and his band never showed up, but it was a worthwhile night.

Swingers(the movie) had been out for about a year, so the “wait 3 days” mantra was firmly in my head. On the fourth day I called her number but she wasn’t in and I left a message. I called once a week for the next 3 weeks since she was either of town, or I got the answering machine. I felt dumb but really wanted to reconnect. On the final call, I said that just in case she had missed the previous calls I was leaving my last and final message. Didn’t hear a word. I was bummed, but chalked it up to my usual bad luck with women. I’d actually been in a similar situation a few months before where I was getting signals of interest but no returned phone calls. What killed me the most was how sincere the “I would really like that” has seemed. This rejection served as confirmation that I was better off not making the effort to start a relationship since I was just going to get rejected anyhow. I shouldn’t have gone back and asked for her number, it would have been safer to just leave with the memory of having a really nice night talking with her and my friends. Oh well. I resigned myself to not meeting anyone, and it didn’t seem to matter since I would be graduating in a few months.

Those months passed. As part of graduating we had to attend “Loan Exit Interviews”. It was an informational session about loan repayments and deferments options. I chose a date at random, and got there early. About 10 minutes in the girl I had met at the party walked in. I was trying to convince myself that I didn’t find her attractive anymore but it didn’t work. I then decided that I was not going to go up to her(why get rejected twice?) and wait for her to leave before I did. That didn’t work either. She stood at the foot of the seats while everyone was leaving and seemed to be jotting down information. She stopped me and flashed a smile and said my name as if questioning her memory. I hadn’t forgotten hers, but I played dumb. We talked and talked all the way back to campus. In the interim since our first meeting we had both independently decided to move to the same city(far from where we currently were). She remembers me using a golf umbrella as a cane, and I remember her eyes and mouth (and this overwhelming desire to kiss her). We came to a junction on campus where we split ways, and this time I gave her my number(I wasn’t about to get rejected twice!). I wasn’t sure what to expect but she called a few days later and we talked a lot during the next couple of weeks before we went on our first date, the rest is history.

Recalling this story is interesting. I don’t go into the cold sweats I used to reliving all the events that led to us meeting; the encounter with my friend at the coffee shop, waiting at the metro stop, the chance encounter at the loan exit interview. I used to wonder, what if I had given up on reaching my friends via the payphone? I didn’t sit in the metro station for as long as I did because I felt that there was a larger purpose or something important was going to happen. Rather, I didn’t have anything better to do, and I was feeling a bit stubborn and sorry for myself. What if she hadn’t gotten up earlier than usual to go that specific exit interview? From the beginning of our dating it felt so right and meant to be. Despite the distance from the cold sweats, so many things aligned perfectly for us to meet that it still seems scary. Our relationship was the first time that the idea of fate or synchronicity seemed remotely possible.

I am also reminded that taking risks and being disappointed is often necessary to achieve greater things. If I hadn’t sat at the metro station for as long as I did or if I hadn’t asked for her number I might have avoided the disappointment of not having her call me back. However, I wouldn’t have met what I truly consider the closest possible thing to a “soul mate”. I think I need to keep that in mind in regards to other aspects of my life. I tend to minimize my exposure to risk or failure and I think that gives me a sense of safety but it’s very shortsighted. What other great things in my life am I missing out on because it’s too scary to fail?

What I also feel in recounting this story is the joy and lightness and warmth that we had when we first met. It’s like a getting a whiff of a perfume and instantly being transported to a different time or place or really having a vivid memory of someone. For me our story is a whiff of the excitement and discovery that we had getting to know each other and also a reminder that my wife is such amazing and stunning person. Going back to when we first met helps distance me from the stress of our lives now and reminds me that she is her own person with her own dreams and longings. Remembering she is separate from me makes her more real and precious and makes me desire her even more. It reminds me how much I love and appreciate her and how I cannot imagine my life without her. It makes me want to treat her as I did when we first met, and be more happy to do things for her rather than bitch and moan when she asks me to get something or I have to interrupt whatever I am doing(especially when I am tired).

So to my wife, I love you so much more than I can ever tell or show you and despite all the stress and craziness I love my life with you. And to all the players involved in us meeting, I’m eternally grateful.

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