my version of meet cute

Taking a break from the medical updates for a minute. Last night, Sarah asked how Fred and I met, and I gave her the short version. But it occurred to me that I have a lot of new readers now, so I’ll share the full version here.

I originally wrote this on my old blog, and it’s not done. Maybe one day I’ll finish it.

From October 3, 2006

in the beginning…

Last night I was sitting across the kitchen table from Fred while we drank our beers (him: Sam Adams Cream Stout; me: Dogfish Head Punkin Ale) and waiting for our pizza to cook. Monday nights in our house (between the months of September and January) mean pizza and beer and MNF. It’s a tradition Fred’s had for I don’t know how long, and when we started living together, I gladly took part.

As he talked, I watched his face, and thought back to a night five years ago when we sat across from each other. And last night, his mannerisms, his facial expressions, the sound of his voice, they were all the same. He caught me staring, and stopped mid-sentence, a smile turning up one side of his mouth. “What?” he asked. And I told him, “You haven’t changed a bit.”

The night that I was remembering was the beginning of the oddest, and quickest, courtships I’ve ever had. 

Fred and I have known each other, or at least, known of each other, since 1998, when he arrived in Arizona, a newly minted Cornell grad eager to start a Ph.D. program. I was starting my senior year, and was working in the office of the director in the same department as Fred’s grad program. I felt awkward around the grad students, mainly because I was so close in age to them but couldn’t seem to connect. They were friendly, I was friendly. But it mostly my contact with them was a passing “hello” in the halls.

In the spring of 2000, Fred was helping to organize a grad student conference. By this point, I had graduated and been promoted to assistant to the director, and was helping organize catering and such. Because of this conference, Fred was in my office quite a bit, and we got to chatting. I was getting ready to leave for New York in the summer, but there was a chance I would end up in Boston instead. He lobbied for Boston, I cited the Beastie Boys as a reason for Brooklyn. And I could never shake the tiny tremor my stomach would give when I saw him.

As I’ve mentioned before [Ed. note: have I?], I moved back to Arizona from New York in the summer of 2001, and in early September started a new job. A week after I started was September 11.

I couldn’t predict on that Tuesday the upheaval in my personal life that would come from those events. My ex reconnected with me, and repeated his desire to reconcile and start a long distance thing. I did my best to ignore his requests, but continued to communicate with him. Against my better judgment.

Just shy of two weeks after Sept. 11, I was walking back to my office from campus where I’d had lunch with my mom, and saw a group of people I recognized from my old department. And a little tickle in my stomach accompanied the recognition of Fred among the group. I laughed to myself when I saw him, because just the Friday before, a friend of mine (who at the time was engaged to a fellow grad student with Fred) called me at work and asked if I remembered Fred. To which I replied, yes, but would not go out with him. I was shallow and had stupid rules. I turned down her suggestion of a double date. “But he thinks you’re cute,” she insisted. “And he looks like Keanu Reeves. Don’t you think?” I was firm, and she reluctantly gave up. Apparently, fate decided to intervene.

Back on the street, I called his name and waved.

He looked in my direction, shielding his eyes from the sun, and lifted his hand half-heartedly. We continued on our way.

Returning to my office, I hastily typed and sent a note to the friend that had called me, saying if there was any chance before of my going on a date with Fred, he had just killed it. “He didn’t even know who I was!” 

Satisfied, I sat back and started some work. Within minutes, a new message arrived in my inbox from my friend. It was a forward. Seconds after receiving my message, she received another one. From Fred. Wondering if she knew if I was back in town because he thought he may have seen me. And she had forwarded my message to him.

There I sat, cheeks flaming, and the little butterflies tumbling around inside me.

To be continued…

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