Friday, May 19, 2017

And so it begins

(If you are new to my blog or just popping over after some time away, I'm nearing the end 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 #14 so you can catch yourself up by first starting out herehereherehereherehereherehereherehere, here, here, and then here).

I was taking one of my very favorite college courses of all time - Food and Culture - that spring when Graham learned that I was finally, finally ready to date him. In it, we studied the typical diets of different regions around the world, tested out traditional ethnic recipes in the Food Lab, and then sampled them together, all in the blessed name of “school.” For our “homework,” we were to select a restaurant from the endless array of choices in multicultural Seattle, dine at it, and then complete a write up about the experience. Slay me! Such arduous, horrible assignments that were required of me. 

Graham caught wind of my dining out project shortly after the news of my shifting feelings reached him. Never one to waste an opportunity, he decided to spare me the obvious embarrassment of eating at a restaurant alone. And so he took a leap and asked me out to dinner, you know, for "homework purposes." On a Friday night. 

When the day arrived, I put on a skirt and paid special attention to my hair. My stomach fluttered with nerves. It’s just Graham, I told myself. Though we had yet to have “the talk,” I knew this dinner invitation was something different. I was waiting in our dorm lobby when Graham pulled his silver Jetta into the parking lot. I will always remember that beast as the car that smelled like melted crayons. He jumped out to open the door for me and I saw that he had dressed up too. Waiting for me on the passenger seat was a single rose. I tried to remain calm as I smoothed my skirt and gently scooped up the flower. Yes, we were on the same page it seemed. 

Where he took me first is the best part of the story. We literally rolled down the hill in neutral to make it to the 76 Station in time. I stifled my giggles in the car while he worked the pump. Only Graham would pick up a girl for a first date and forget that he was completely out of gas!   

Once the problem had been remedied, he took me to Queen Sheba Ethiopian Restaurant on Capitol Hill. We ate our entrĂ©es with injera bread in place of utensils, large flat pancakes used to scoop up the saucy dishes. It was messy and fun and nontraditional and perfect. If I took any notes for my Food and Culture assignment, they probably had little to do with the food. I was pretty taken by my company. 

As our meal ended, the bill arrived – this – the telltale moment of truth. Graham scooped it up as I grinned inwardly. He’s paying! This is officially a real, live date. It was only later in our relationship that I would learn my dear father-in-law most likely paid for our date. Many dates, actually. We will never know for sure but it’s quite likely that the card Graham presented the server that evening was the “emergency credit card,” a card his dad provided each of his sons for, well, emergencies. And this was certainly urgent! There was a girl who was hungry and needed to be wooed. Thanks, Jim.

I knew I was ready to make our relationship official and, thanks to the grapevine, so did Graham. Yet neither of us had the guts to even go near the topic over dinner. Nerves had joined us as a third wheel that night and so we waited until the last possibly second to bring up our feelings. We were driving back to SPU when it finally happened. Graham would be performing at the Emerson Coffeehouse later that evening, an open mic night put on by one of the dorms, and we were cutting it close with our timing.  

We were seconds from our college campus when Graham cut the silence with a line as smooth as butter: “So. How are you feeling about dating?” 

Graham has never been one to mince words.

“You know, I think I’m ready,” was my reply.

“Whoa," he said, followed by a long pause. Then again "Really?!” just to be absolutely sure. Although he had a strong suspicion my answer would be affirmative, it somehow didn’t make my "Yes" any less surprising. “So, umm, what does this mean? Are we like, boyfriend and girlfriend now?” Now he was tripping over his words.

“Yeah,” I squeaked, trying desperately to hide my giddiness.

And then the car fell silent. Totally and completely SILENT.

Gulp.

Where was the excitement? Where was the fanfare? He wasn't even smiling. In fact, he looked almost perplexed. My heart started pounding faster.

“Is that OK?” I tried, alarmed by his lack of response to my confirmation that I was officially his girlfriend.

“Yes!" he finally recovered. "It just feels so strange. I’ve never really had one of these before.”

The corners of his mouth turned upward to show off the grin I'd been waiting for. And, just like that, our sophisticated DTR was behind us. Short and sweet and it was a good thing too because it was time for Graham to rush off and do a mic check.

Of course I attended the Emerson Coffeehouse that evening. My restaurant write-up could certainly wait. I remember sitting in the audience, simply beaming. You couldn’t have wiped the grin of my face it you’d tried. I was officially dating the best boy in the whole world and I was so proud of him up there on stage I could hardly stand it.

Graham wore all the musical hats that night, ranging from a little surprise Brittany Spears number (Hit Me Baby One More Time) with his friend Eric, to an emo piece called “Bethany in August” by Juliana Theory. I sat listening in the crowd, pretty sure he was singing directly to me (and he was). 

After the concert, Graham asked to walk me back to my dorm, figuring we could use a little more time than our two minute care conversation had allowed to discuss our relationship. But his buddy Glendon saw us leaving and ran to join, neglecting to see Graham's "eye” meant to ward him off. We were an awkward threesome, both boys walking me to my door that night. Graham hugged me stiffly as we bid each other goodnight. It was May 15th, 2004, and we were finally official with Glendon as our witness unawares. :)

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