The first time I met Tom I was recovering from swine flu.
Remember swine flu?
It was miserable.
The only good thing about swine flu was that I got ahead on my reading for the semester. Oh, also, I think I lost 3 pounds.
It was November of 2009 and I had been released from Swine Flu quarantine but still felt to lousy to do anything. Sadly, this meant I would miss out on a date night with two of my favorite people; two of my college roommates & best friends – Whitney & Christina.
On The Night in question I was gloriously attired in black and pink plaid pajama pants (you know, the pair you’ve worn so much the bottoms are frayed off and you really should throw them away but you just can’t) and a giant hoodie. My hair was twisted into a greasy bun and I want to bet I was pretty much make-up free.
A little warning that I was about to meet my husband would have been nice.
I was wandering barefoot down my dormitory hallway when the doors opened and 5-6 guys from our “brother hall” showed up waving pieces of poster-board and pipe-cleaners.
A lot of pipe-cleaners.
They ambushed us for an early Christmas party but, since it was a semi-surprise, a lot of girls were already off the hall for the weekend.
I was pretty much obligated to attend.
I wound up sitting across from an animated red-head who immediately began making me a pair of paper bracelets with illustrations for the days of creation drawn on them.
We laughed for three hours.
I forgot I was in my pajama’s, sick and looking pretty terrible.
After they left I scurried down to Whitney’s room, paused in the doorway and made my announcement.
“I met someone”.
Her face was priceless.
“WHO AND WHEN?”
I grinned; “Tom and…tonight”
she paused….”the guy with the crazy red curls who always wears Hawaiian shirts?”
I knew two things that night.
1) I was going to date him someday.
2) He would have to figure that out for himself.
There was one specific thing that instantly “sold” me on Tom.
The whole time we were talking, laughing and making creation bracelets he talked to me.
Let me explain that.
There’s this thing a lot of guys do that drives me absolutely nuts.
Picture a guy. He’s standing there talking to a girl. Yet, he’s not really talking to her – his eyes are scanning the room. Comparing, rating, assessing the other available girls. She’s the filler girl until he finds the flirting girl.
He’s scoping not relating.
That, that right there, drives me nuts.
Guys, if you do that – stop. Enjoy the conversation of the woman you’re talking too. Girls, if you like him and he won’t stop long enough to focus and talk – move on, not worth your time.
That is why, for much of life, I liked books better than boys.
However, on the night in question – when I was far from the most attractive woman there, Tom talked to me. Something between us clicked.
It was authentic and it’s what convinced me I wanted to date him.
Then, we didn’t talk for one year (didn’t see that coming, did you? ).
I honestly didn’t even think too much about him. I’d see him around campus and remember that I liked him and wanted to date him – then I’d get busy with graduate school. He was working and involved with his church. Life was full.
We had one brief conversation in September - he walked me down the street and told me how he wanted to translate the Bible.
I waited but he still didn’t ask me out.
I kept waiting.
Then, sometime in early December of 2010, I ran into him in the student center. He was at the post office and we exchanged a brief hello. I stuck the mailing label from my Amazon box on his arm and left for work. It was literally a 2 minute interaction (if that).
Over the next week it grew into a few more inside jokes, he stalked my desk at work, we had a Facebook war of words (which continued into text) and eventually shared a movie night with friends.
During the movie I shared sour patch kids with him.
I hate sour patch kids.
Before the semester ended we had, what I call, The Trial Date. He asked me to run errands with him – so we picked up a gift card, bought meals for some homeless men, went to Wal*Mart then had desert at Dennys… we talked for four hours sharing life stories.
Later that week we attended December graduation together. We sat in the balcony and, when his roommate’s degree was announced, he kept yelling to congratulate him.
I punched his arm.
Some things have been the same in our relationship since the beginning .
We went our separate ways for Christmas break. He went home to Tennessee and I was in Columbia than Honduras.
This was the test.
He texted me the next week and asked if he could call.
I said yes (but meant YES ).
The he called again. We Skyped (a lot). He emailed me while I was in Honduras. Then, when he came back from Tennessee, he made apple pancakes with me and we ate them sitting on the kitchen floor.
There’s always been an ease to our relationship. I can be utterly myself with him. That’s a pretty wonderful feeling.
A few days later he asked me on a date (finally).
Actually, he sent three of his friends to ask me on dates while I sat at the receptionist desk (my college job). After each friend asked me out he had his roommate call (posing as God) and instruct me to turn down the dates.
When God called the fourth time he said I could accept Tom’s request for a date.
So I did.
He took me (Tom that is not God) to a Grecian restaurant and out for ice cream. We wandered around downtown talking and enjoying time together. He asked me what I wanted in a relationship and it was all I could do not to just say “you”.
A few days later he talked to my dad and got his permission to date me.
Then, on Tuesday of that week, we drove to Bi-lo at 11:00 p.m to get cookie ingredients. Driving home his fingers curled around mine and he asked me to “officially” be his girlfriend. We started dating at the stoplight on North Main Street at midnight.
I didn’t know then that I would marry him 11 months and 5 days later.
I just knew my heart was about to explode with joy.
To be continued…