Graham would say we became acquainted through a host of different outings. I like to say it was in anatomy and physiology that we really started to get to know one another....
I mean. Did that not grab your attention or what?!
Our anatomy course was large by SPU standards, about 50 students, and Graham and Danae and I once again found ourselves in class together. It was taught by my very favorite professor of all time, Dr Moore. The guy had to be pushing 70 but he didn't let his age slow him down. He was trim and energetic, and, most obviously, very passionate about the human body which he referred to with great fondness as "The Bod." He couldn't have been more than five feet tall yet he made his presence known. He seemed to take great pride in keeping his students on their toes. Sometimes, to illustrate a point, he would unexpectedly jump up on the table in the front of the room or assume a supine position across it on his back. But my all-time favorite Dr Moore move was the one where he would pause mid-sentence, throw one hand on his hip and the other on his bald head, fingers splayed out and facing forward, as if palming his own cranium like a basketball. He would cock his hip to the side, puff out his chest and then hold this posture like a statue while he made some proclamation of the magnificence of The Bod. I'm not sure whether he did this to be funny but I sure found him to be a riot.
Graham quickly recognized how ample the opportunities another class with me provided him. He could see me with increased frequency, and not just during lecture and lab. At first it just happened periodically. He would accidentally "forget" to bring his notebook to class and then he'd "pop over" to my room and ask to borrow my mine. He wanted to copy them so he could study for our exams. Then these interactions started happening with more regularity. Given that he was closer friends with Danae who lived a few doors down, it never occurred to me to question why he didn't just ask to borrow hers. Before long, his drop-in visits lengthened. He'd ask for my notes and then sometime forget to even take them with him when he left. I was entirely oblivious.
He had a habit of entering our room and making himself comfortable on Jackie's lower bunk, clutching her stuffed alligator as we chatted. Graham tells me that I was always studying at my desk or typing at my computer when he would come by. He says there were times when I would have nearly an entire conversation with him without ever turning around. I hate to admit that his recollection is probably accurate. I wasn't intending to be rude. I was just very, ummmmm, focused. I had grades to keep up! And I also was growing to be super comfortable around Graham. He was really friendly and laid back and easy to talk to.
One weekend, Graham decided to make an attempt at peeling me away from that desk of mine. He invited both my sister and I along to see a movie, the nightmarish film "The Ring" that had just hit the theaters. Graham knew many of it's scenes had filmed in our hometown of Bellingham, in the very forest where Lani and I had gone away to summer camp on a handful of occasions. He thought this would be a fun activity. Graham also knew that taking two girls to a scary movie likely guaranteed him some female closeness. He was right, the genius.
He settled himself between the Wilson sisters and we watched with great terror as, the scenes unfolded before us. Lani in particular, was frightened and ended up viewing the entire movie through the slits of her fingers, hands cupped over her eyes as if doing so would somehow protect her. I wasn't a whole lot better. I kept one hand clamped over my mouth in feeble attempt to dampen the sound of my my shrieking. With the other hand, I clutched at the flesh of the closest body (conveniently Graham's) with the grip of death. It wouldn't have mattered who was sitting next to me, I would have practically crawled in their lap.
On another occasion soon after, Graham asked Lani and I if we wanted to go out to ice cream (gosh, he knew all my weak spots!!) There has only been one time in my life where I have turned down ice cream and it was when I had the stomach flu. Otherwise, I am of the firm belief that it is always a good time for ice cream and so of course I said yes.
Neither Lani nor I had a car at SPU but, since Graham did, his invitations were always a welcome way to get off campus. We selected our ice cream flavors and took them to Kerry Park where we ate them in the freezing cold while looking out over the lights of the city. After we finished, Graham told us he had an idea.
Graham always, always has ideas.
We got back in the car and before long he was driving us through the Magnolia neighborhood and into the dimly lit roads of Discovery Park. We weaved through the darkness and eventually he parked the car, right up next to a metal barricade in the middle of the road with a sign reading "Keep Out." Graham removed the keys from the ignition and exclaimed that we were "here."
Where? I wondered but followed his lead and got out of the car. He headed straight over to the barricade and stepped over it, looking back at Lani and I expectantly. We just stood there.
Umm, did he not see that sign?! It seemed pretty clear to me.
But this moment would mark the first of many, many instances where I would learn that rules and signs simply did not apply to Graham. He viewed them merely as suggestions. That is, the times when he even saw them at all. Graham reassured us that he had been down this road before, that we would be "just fine," insisting that there was something he wanted to show us.
For those readers who have never been to Discovery Park, it is a vast place with miles upon miles of beautiful walking trails and waterfront beaches, complete with playgrounds, visitor centers, a radar tower and a lighthouse. It's an old army base and there is even a wastewater treatment plant on site. The park is amazing place, but I'll be the first to say that after dark, it is downright creepy. The area around the water treatment plant is protected by tall fences and barbed wire and plastered with all sorts of warning signs indicating danger and requesting that the public keep a safe distance. Of course, having never been to Discovery Park before, all I could make out in the darkness were the oddly-shaped forms of the tanks and towers in the water treatment plant. I had no idea what they were and I was terrified to ask. In a matter of minutes, I had myself convinced that the place was the site of a top secret government operation. I was sure that the buildings were filled with loads of dead bodies and that spies with night vision binoculars trained in our direction were watching our every move.
I might have over reacted ever so slightly but I obviously was no longer very thrilled about this little "let's go get ice cream" outing that Graham had taken us on. Very reluctantly, Lani and I followed him over the barricade and down the road, headed directly toward all the dead bodies.
As it turned out, there actually was a trail adjacent to the road that was not marked with all the signs of forbiddenness. Foot traffic was welcome on the path; it was the cars that needed to stay out. The trail took us gradually downward until we reached a rocky beach below. It was only then that I realized our destination.
Ohhhhhhhhh, I exhaled, as I saw what was in front of me. We are going to the lighthouse! I breathed a heavy sigh of relief when it grew clear that I probably was no longer in danger of getting sniped by the FBI. (What can I say? I think I may have watched Sandra Bullock in Miss Congeniality - MY FAVORITE - just a few too many times...)
The lighthouse was sweet and great and all and we admired it for a short while before retracing our steps back to the car (which I was relieved to discover was still there!) By that point, with all the danger signs and everything, I was pretty ready to skedaddle on home and give my blood pressure a rest. I had had enough adventure for one night!