Saturday, February 18, 2017

The moment he "just knew"

(If you are new to my blog or just popping over after some time away, I'm in the middle of a series I've entitled "The Story of Us" where, in honor of our 10 Year Anniversary, I'm writing about how my husband and I met. This is post #2 so you can catch yourself up by first starting out here).

His version of how we met is different than mine.

The first time he laid eyes on me was across a glowing bonfire. The light of the blaze flickered and illuminated my face. He says there was something so very attractive about me, something that radiated purity and innocence. We didn't even speak that night, nor would we for quite some time, yet he tells me that he just knew he needed to get to know me somehow. 

There were at least 20 of us there, warming ourselves around the fire. We were situated near the edge of a bluff overlooking the Puget Sound, or at least it would have been, were it not for the darkness that swallowed the view. It was early in the school year, October, and there was a bite in the chilly fall air. Our entire dorm had caravaned to Fort Casey Conference Center, located on Whidbey Island, about a two hour drive from our university. We had traveled there to attend the "Hill Hall Retreat," an annual weekend away intended to encourage relationship-building and getting to know one another outside of the school campus setting. 

I sat bundled around the fire with some of my fellow floor mates, girls I was just barely getting to know. We hadn't left each others' side the entire weekend. We ended up by the fire, I'm sure, because someone in our group had suggested we head over to warm ourselves. The rest of us followed willingly, like a herd of baby chicks, all mutually terrified of being left alone and appearing friendless. There were boys already seated around the fire so it was obvious why our ringleader wanted to venture that way - for the boys and for the heat. I wore all my layers to insulate me from the cold - first my newly-acquired "Hill Hall" hooded sweatshirt followed by my blue winter coat (which Graham always claimed was purple....It wasn't. He later admitted it wasn't the coat he fell for that night, but I guess he managed to look past it somehow).

Graham was one of the boys enjoying the heat of the bonfire and he was paying attention. I wish I could say that I too spotted him (it would make such a good story!) but I don't really remember much about that weekend beyond the terror of being left alone should I lose any of my groupies. Graham apparently liked what he saw that night. What he termed as innocence, I might argue was more naivety, but, whatever the case, he made a mental note that he needed to seek out this new girl in the purple (blue!) coat and get to know her.

Living on my own for the very first time, I was a bit distracted by the "bad boys" when I left for college and Graham didn't exactly fall in that category. Later, when we were dating, Graham tried to convince me that he was "dangerous" in the leather-jacket-wearing-Harley-riding sense of the word but I didn't buy it. Before I go on, let's be real and clarify that I mean the term "bad boys" in the loosest of senses. To me, these "bad boys" from my sheltered perspective were the ones who drove 10 over the speed limit. They wore cologne sometimes, and flirted with the girls, and skipped class at least once a quarter. Such "bad" boys. They dressed well and majored in business and were gutsy enough to take girls on dates and even pay for them every now and again, terrible rebels that they were. Maybe "popular flirts" would be a better descriptor for the type I was after. 

I spent the majority of my first year pining after these popular boys who would occasionally flirt back but only once did one ever ask me out. For some reason that didn't stop me from hoping. Our college had a quarterly tradition called "Roomies." Three times a year, each dorm floor would plan a giant group date. Each person on the floor was responsible for setting their roommate up with a date for the event. I'm not sure who came up with this idea in the first place but it was genius on the one hand and sort of enabling on the other. Christian college campuses are notorious for uneven female to male ratios and ours was definitely no exception (when I attended, there were three girls for every boy!) They also have a reputation for attracting a large number of boys who pass their spare hours playing video games in their rooms instead of pursuing the ladies. This fatal combination made the dating scene vicious at times for us girls. Simply put: there just weren't enough guys out there doing the asking! I imagine some fed up, date-less girl must have eventually come up with the brainchild idea of Roomies to combat this depressing conundrum. Roomies was essentially a system that facilitated dating without the risk of having to put oneself out there. Perfect? 

I always had it really easy when it came to Roomies. My roommate had a long-time boyfriend named Brant who attended SPU. They met in high school and he was a few years older than she was. I always asked him to be her date, and, fortunately for me, he said yes every time. I would give Jackie my two cents on who I wanted her to ask for me in return. She and Brant both knew Graham through music and Jackie threw out his name as an option a couple of times (she really wanted to have someone to go on double dates with) but I always had other ideas which she obliged.

It wasn't until spring that Graham sort of presented himself into my life with any regularity. Prior to this point, I'd mostly known him as "the guy in our dorm who played guitar in the stairwell." He claimed the acoustics were great in there (and they were). 

So thus far, Graham's plans to get to know the girl in the "purple" coat hadn't really panned out. But, conveniently for him, one of his good friends from high school and his only ex-girlfriend (their relationship lasted 24 hours), just so happened to live on my floor. She and I grew closer as the year progressed and we ended up having a lot of classes together since we were both interested in the sciences. I was still on the fence between nursing and nutrition but, luckily for me, the first two years of both programs were essentially the same so I didn't have to make a decision right away. Danae had declared nursing as her major, as had Graham. He initially planned to pursue SPU's pre-med program but changed gears when he realized nursing jobs would never be in short supply and that med school would likely kill him.  

The three of us ended up in the same biology class that spring, where we sat theater-style around the lectern. Sometimes we'd walk to class together but that was about it. Graham always situated himself in the front of the room which I found interesting. Danae and I would opt for seats next to each other but toward the back. I remember Graham as the one who asked a LOT of questions in class. Like every day. I was always terrified to ask questions in front of anyone and so, if ever I was confused, I waited until after everyone left to talk to the professor privately. I feared revealing any gaps in my knowledge and I worried about appearing stupid, asking in front of an audience.  

Graham didn't come across stupid when he asked his questions though. He was obviously brilliant. I later learned that his question-asking was a part of his process as an auditory learner. He would hear the content and then take the concepts one step further and apply them to a different situation and ask a question toward that end to make sure he was understanding correctly. This helped him commit the ideas to memory. But initially I wondered if he wasn't just showing off. 

So, up until this point, my impression of Graham was that he was the smart guy who asked a lot of questions and the guy who played amazing music in the stairwell. It wasn't until spring quarter unfolded that I started to get to know him a little better....

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