I have a notion that a lot of our time is spent feeling as though our lives are ordinary. You get up and go to work or to school. You have afternoon activities, be it sports or poker or book club. You have dinner, wash up, and go to sleep. Each day is much like the one before it and not many things distinguish a day from the normalcy of daily life. However, there are days that do stick out. There are certain experiences that stand tall above all the rest. There are moments that will be burned into your brain for the rest of your life.
A father will never forget the birth of his child. A child will never forget the day they graduated high school. First kisses, first loves, proms, dates, and so much more will stick out when you’re old and gray and trying to recall the good times. There will be fights that will fade into nothing and there will be the normal days that are unremarkable and thus forgotten.
Music has been proven to be a trigger when it comes to remembering things. That certain song will always remind you of something you were doing the first time you heard it.
Love can be a trigger, too. When one is falling in love, everything is amazing. The world is so much brighter and the moments you spend with that special someone are worthy of a Nicholas Sparks notation.
One day I’ll write that book. I’ll write about the times we laughed and the days we cried. I will write about the ways we got closer and the things that drove us apart. There will be love and friendships and parental issues. Sounds cliché right? Maybe I’m just feeling a little mushy since I just got done watching Life of Pi. Talk about awesome. That movie is incredible and moving. Just saying.
So I’ll just start from the beginning…
We met in ROTC. When I looked at him, I saw this giant hunk of muscle. He was attractive and had the most intoxicating smile I’d ever seen. I actually talked him for the first time at a party. Neither of us were drinking (he because he doesn’t drink, and I because I didn’t know the people well enough to think that was safe). We struck up a small, easily forgettable conversation. I kept inviting him to parties because I wanted to be around him. There was something about him that drew me in. The way he looked at me left me in a stupor. At the first party I hosted at my house, he came. Everyone was goofing off and having a great time. I saw him sitting over by the fire pit and decided to take the opportunity to get to talk to him. I remember walking over to the fire, sitting down next to him, and just smiling at him. I don’t remember much after that besides the fact that he shifted his eyes from mine to the fire and back again. We talked for a brief moment or two before I decided to put out a feeler or two. “What was your girlfriend’s name again?” He looked calm and smooth as he told me her name. I later learned that he was as surprised by my question as I had been by his answer. I hadn’t known he’d had a girlfriend. I was just trying to find out and was surely hoping he was going to say that he didn’t have one. I was wrong. But the way he smiled at me that night just took my breath away.
Fast forward to Christmas Break of 2012-2013 school year. I was busy rehabbing my knee and he started to text me. He started to motivate me and started telling me to keep working hard. He told me that he believed in me. Though I didn’t know him very well, it helped. I got out and ran almost every day because I knew he would ask me if I had run. I was not going to disappoint him. I remember one time in particular that it was cold and rainy. I told him I wasn’t going to run because of the weather and he sent me one of the many motivational pictures that I had gotten so used to receiving. He told me that it built character, which made me laugh but I ran.
He did lots of color guards with me throughout the semester as well as security details. I loved the color guards because they required us to stand shoulder to shoulder. Just being near him was so hard and yet so relaxing.
Next came the Carrie Underwood security detail. We rode together, which was nice. I was excited to have the alone time. I was sad when we were split up for the night and I remember looking for him around every single corner. At the end of the night, there he was. I walked into the stadium and looked down onto the floor where the stage was being broken down. I spotted him almost instantly. He was carrying chairs. They all were. I only saw him. A few minutes later he was walking with me back to the car, freaking about Carrie waving at him and talking to the backup singer. I laughed as he ranted. Just hearing him talk was enough.
The night that it all came down though was a regular security detail. We were standing in the Grand Lobby of the Forum, waiting for further instruction. The wind was whipping through the lobby and we could see our breath. It was 29 degrees or so outside and the temperature was about that where we were. I started to stand behind him because he blocked the wind, but it quickly became a little more than just using him to block the wind. I put my arms behind my back and leaned into him. They fit right in the small of his back and he radiates heat like an oven. I had to move for whatever reason at one point, but I immediately went back to him. I was literally shaking from the cold. I wrapped my arms around my back and backed into him only to find that his hands were open and behind his back. They landed conveniently on each of my butt cheeks. I stood there unaware for a moment before his hand moved a little and realized what was going on. The next few seconds were spent trying to decide how to handle the situation. As you can imagine, the internal debates got to be a little much. I wanted him. I liked him so much, but this couldn’t happen. I moved away from him. Inevitably I started to freeze again. I weighed my options and ended up leaning right back into his hands. In the grand scheme of things, it was probably a win-win. That night when we were about to leave, we were talking about how hungry we were. He asked me to dinner. He asked me to come to Olive Garden with him once we got out. I panicked a little at the idea of a date and ended up inviting three other ROTC friends to come with us. He was perturbed, though I had no idea why. How could he like me? Dinner was an experience. He is the most mean when he is hungry. He is a little bit like a bear. If you don’t feed him in time, he gets relatively upset. The waitress sucked, so he was pretty upset. I put my hand on his knee to try to soothe him and he returned with the same gesture. I looked at him and he looked back. It was then that I realized something was starting. The night, I got home and was still texting him. He was apologizing profusely for his behavior as the restaurant, but then he made an analogy finally. He finally told me how he felt about me. Sort of. He made some crazy analogy about a police man and us both knowing what was going on but neither of us were going to say the first words. I went to sleep confused and excited.
The first night we kissed was electric. I remember certain details more than others. We came to my house after dinner one night before we were even official. He asked me to be his girlfriend while we were at the restaurant and I told him I’d have to think about it. I’d been on my own for so long that it felt strange to even think about someone actually claiming me again. I was also pretty skeptical. After Craig, I questioned all of my previously instated beliefs about love. I was pretty scared to start thinking in that direction again, but here he was. He took me back to my house and we walked to my room to sit. We started talking and gradually worked our way up to laying next to one another. In hindsight, things moved pretty quickly. It didn’t feel fast though. It seemed to move at exactly the right pace. He was propped up on one arm and I was laying there on my back. We were just talking. It was that strained kind of talking where you’re basically just saying something to fill up the silence, but there is so much more on your mind. He inched closer. His movements were miniscule but noticed. Finally I had to say something, so I said, “I know what you’re thinking.” He laughed and said, “No you don’t.” I replied, “It’s been written all over your face for the past thirty minutes.” That sped up the process a little. The kiss was fire and from that moment I was hooked.
Things moved pretty quickly after that. Within the first week of us being official, he came out to my parents house with me. He met my dad much sooner than he had anticipated he would. He handled it remarkably well, but it was pretty awkward. I’ll forever be grateful for that day. He braved the dreaded “meeting the father” because I can’t stand to face my parents alone.
Then there is the first date. We argue about when the first date actually was. There was the night we went out after we had finally realized we liked each other. That was the night that he asked me to be his girlfriend. We were at a little Chinese restaurant in Memphis. The night was electric. The thrill in my stomach was unreal. I think, however, the first date was the night we went to Outback. We had a good dinner with easy conversation. That is something I’ve always loved. The conversation has always been easy with us. Even though we are both pretty shy, the words flowed naturally. We went bowling after dinner. He gets pretty competitive (even with himself). I suppose that is just part of being a Marine. As we were walking out of the alley, he began to play a song on his phone. Garth Brooks’ “The Dance”. We slow danced in the parking lot that night. I’m sure it looked cheesy to anyone who might’ve passed us, but I didn’t care. I was entranced. I was wrapped in his arms as we danced and I didn’t care what happened next. I loved him then.
The times that followed those first few days were magical and yet forgettable. They were dinner here or bowling there. We went to a couple of baseball games. We watched fireworks on the river. We went to the Lakehouse for a few days of solitude. We fell in love. I’ve never been so sure. I’ve never been so close to someone. I’ve never been so in love. Only one person in the world has ever understood me better. I suspect no one will ever top that. Sometimes you meet someone who just fits you. Sometimes, I think, that person is just a part of your soul. They help mold you into who you are meant to be. He is my other half.
There are many memorable nights to follow I’m sure. That is the crazy thing about love. You can make dumpster diving fun. As long as I’m with him, I’ll go anywhere, do anything, face anything.
It’s you and me. Until the end.