Friday, May 5, 2017

Wooing me with caffeine

(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 #12 so you can catch yourself up by first starting out hereherehereherehereherehereherehere, here and then here).

How does one hit up the same coffee chain five times without it feeling monotonous? Well, this is exactly the kind of situation where Graham shines. The guy has a knack for taking a set of circumstances that could feel as repetitive as the movie Groundhog Day, and making each noteworthy. After adding a dash of his endless creativity - VOILA! Five unique dates are born.

Creativity may always be in Graham's back pocket but subtlety most certainly is not. I tend to be a very perceptive human yet somehow over the course of our next five dates, I had no idea that I was being "couponed." We burned a lot of hours together sipping caffeinated brew and I was completely unaware the entire time that, thanks to his winnings at Body Image Awareness Week, not a penny was spent on my behalf. He was a sly one, that Graham.

First there was the Discovery Park Take Two date, the one I remember best. Graham picked me up at my dorm and, waiting in the cup holder for me, was a to-go cup of the steaming brew. What better way to hide your couponing ways than to make sure the purchasing transaction happens before the girl is even in your company? Winning!

In his typical Graham fashion, he didn't tell me where we were going. By now I knew to kick back and just enjoy the ride. It was always bound to be an adventure when I was with Graham! He drove us to Discovery Park, this time thankfully in the light of early evening. It was April now and the days were getting longer and warming just enough that we could sit outside comfortable without shivering. We parked by the Daybreak Star Center and I followed him, coffees in hand, to a nearby path. It guided us upwards, high upon a bluff, where we settled on a bench overlooking the water below. We sat there for a long time, talking and talking and sipping and talking as the sun dipped it's way toward the Bay.

Had I been watching the sunset with any other guy, I probably would have been wrought with nerves and obsessing over how romantic the gesture was and questioning what on earth did it mean. But not with Graham. He was always such a calming presence for me and he set me at ease. Plus, by this point, I already knew where he stood. There wasn't a whole lot of wondering. Where at one point in my life, knowing he had feelings for me would have caused me to run in the opposite direction, I was comfortable with it. He was fast becoming one of my dearest friends. Though I was on a different page, I was starting to read the same book. I was taking things as they came and enjoying the present. I loved talking to him and, let's be honest, who wouldn't in their right mind be completely wooed by a guy who brings her coffee and takes her to watch the sunset?!

Our next coffee outing was the Chess Lesson Date. Graham took me to Cafe Ladro on Queen Anne Hill where he made a most valiant effort at teaching me the game of chess. Upon arriving, he had me take a seat to "reserve our table" while he placed our order. (Me: "What a gentleman!"  Him: "I'm a freaking couponing genius.") Once we had our javas, he gave me the "quick" chess play-by-play (is there such thing????) and then our fierce gaming began. It went down about like this:

Him: "Ok you go first."

Me, taking 0.03 seconds to ponder my move: "Is this right?"

Him: "Yep, that's fine."

1 minute goes by.


5 minutes pass.


(The Jeopardy theme music starts playing in the background.)


Now we are at 7 minutes and he's been looking intently at the game board the entire time.


Me: "Hey, I think it's your turn."

Him: "Yeah I know. Just give me a sec."

Me: "Oh ya." (Massive but totally discrete eyeroll). "Got it."


TWELVE MINUTES LATER...he makes a move.

Me: "That looks solid and well thought out."

And then I make my move before he even has a chance to blink.

The waiting process repeats, just like before. I wonder if maybe I should have brought a book.
FINALLY, he takes his turn only this time he knocks out like thirteen of my guys in one fell swoop.

Me, with ever the slightest hint of sarcasm in my tone: "Good game! That was really fun."

Him, eagerly: "Want to play again?"

Me, this time in my head: "Is that some sort of trick question!?!???"

Though my recounting of my first ever game of chess may be ever so mildly exaggerated, it's certainly not by much. Graham creamed me, to be sure, despite the fact that he was taking it easy on me. It took a few rounds to convince Graham that I wasn't much of an enjoyable opponent, but eventually we cleared off the game board (and I scooped my pride off the floor) and we settled in to just talk. Even though I left a loser that evening, I still had a lot of fun. I would never have chosen to learn chess on my own accord but that's what I liked about Graham. He was always mixing it up and I was drawn to his creativity and quirkiness. His ideas were endless and he was FUN. My very "Vanilla" and overly-structured life needed a little shaking up.

You would think that by the third Cafe Ladro date, I would have sensed the trend. But no. Graham changed the location we frequented for each of our outings so it always felt new and exciting. For our third coffee date, Graham says he took me to the Fremont location. I remember none of this one but he tells me I ordered an iced coffee (isn't it adorable that he remembers these details??)

Our fourth date was another one of the walking and talking types, quickly becoming our specialty. Graham brought coffee to my dorm room and we set off walking from there. Typically these "local" walks landed us either wandering through the neighborhoods surrounding our campus or heading in the direction of the canal. But this time, we marched straight up the steep incline that was W Bertona St. The road was practically vertical, not one you wanted to maneuver on a icy Seattle day. But on this evening, it was warm and we were breaking a sweat by the time we reached the top. At the crest of the hill, the road met a "T" and, off to the left, there was this little grassy area where the sun would shine on just so. It was here that we settled that evening and it would be here at this "T" that we pounded our first metaphorical stake and claimed a spot as "ours." Though we would later consider a few areas around SPU's campus "our" special places, this one was the first.

From "our" spot, you could survey the Interbay neighborhood below, followed by Magnolia and then, in the distance, the bay. We had many-a-serious conversation seated in this patch of long grass, enjoying the view as we watched the sky change colors and the sun sink behind the hill. On this occasion though, the conversation wasn't particularly serious. We were just talking. It felt like we could talk for hours and still have so much more to say. The company of this man was something I was growing to enjoy immensely.

Our fifth and final Cafe Ladro date was less memorable for the both of us. I joke with Graham that the reason neither of us can recall it is likely because he used the coupon on another girl. But he insists otherwise and holds firmly to the statement that those coupons were for me and me only. And thank goodness! Every moment I spent with this guy, I was growing to like him just that much more. That man was one smart cookie, wooing me with coffee.


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