I think it all began in a coffee shop in a small town that most people have never heard of. Or maybe it really began at a basketball arena in another small town that only slightly fewer than most people have never heard of. Or perhaps it didn’t begin in a specific location at all but rather in the vast expanse of the galaxy of the written word. I’d like to think that’s where it began. Pen to paper. Or keystroke to Mac. However you like. I think that’s where the genesis of our story lies. Lies play a prominent role in this narrative too, you’ll see what I mean in a moment…
There’s a depth of humor to it I suppose. I was semi-dating a girl in December 2007. I don’t know what you call that thing you do in college that isn’t dating and isn’t really “just friends” and nobody really knows what to call it so they just label it “talking” as in, “oh, Kyle and [other person]? Yeah they’re ‘talking’.” What does that even mean? Another post for another time I suppose. Anyway, I was “talking” to this other girl while Jen and I were actually real-life talking. As friends, of course.
We had known each other for a few years and enjoyed some good laughs over board games and intramurals. Nothing more, nothing less, just the kind of easy friendship that develops in college.
So I was “talking” to this girl and Jen and I would meet every Tuesday to chat about our lives (she was dating a “rockstar” in California at the time). We talked about life after college and our respective relationships and sipped coffee and tea like a pair of old people. We talked about books and trips, and love a little, but only indirectly. We talked about what we wanted out of life and what life wanted out of us.
We also talked about writing on Tuesdays and during the week we would write. Messages, emails, and notes to each other. Any medium that could feasiblly support communication between the two of us was used. We wrote and wrote and I probably wrote more but she wrote better. I don’t think there was a specific time we started overtly falling for each other, but rather with each paragraph and each click of the ‘send’ button we started knowing each other.
We both became simultaneously enthralled with each other while semi-committed to other people. It was like something out of one of those romantic comedies that makes you cringe because you know it’s going to end badly. Thankfully, this was real life though..
For Christmas that year, Jen knitted me a scarf to give to [girl I was talking to]. Perhaps a wild stab at acquiring my affection or simply an act of goodness from her heart, we may never know.
Subsequently, our respective relationships faded into the background and Tuesday coffee-shop relationship-building with Jen took center stage.
In fact, Tuesday coffee-drinking turned into Wednesday Pandora-listening and Friday antique-shopping and Monday lake-attending and Saturday breakfast-grabbing.
Our relationship evolved as relationships do and before I knew it I was standing in my driveway at the end of Winter 2008 asking her out on a real-life date (PF Changs) to a land far away (60+ miles) with two other real-life people . We had fun that night, it was an exclamation point of sorts to sentences and paragraphs of our story that we had been writing (literally) in the preceding months.
I could skip ahead past “…the rest is history” (because who really wants to hear about all the ooey and gooey that goes along with a relationship?) and tell you about the six month secret we kept but I would be cheating the story. There were bumps, for sure, and one bigger than all the others.
We were sitting in a Panera parking lot at the end of the summer of 2008 (5-ish months after our first date). I had been feeling a bit antsy, and a lot beleaguered after spending the entirety of my summer job grading papers in the basement of our school’s business building. That’s not an excuse, mind you, simply a revelation of my thoughts and emotions in that season of my life. I felt cramped and tight emotionally, not the way I imagined love at all. For a variety of reasons we broke up that day, we postponed our date with destiny. It wasn’t meant to be.
Except that, over the next 4+ months I started to realize it was actually meant to be. I missed Jen desperately, the way an artist misses his work — our relationship was, at times, tough and strained and drawn out, but always fulfilling and good and joyous. I missed the star-crossed union of our hearts and the creativity-filled fusion of our minds. I missed making life together.
In November of that year, a friend and I sojourned an hour and half south down the only major highway that runs past our town. We had a man-date to watch our man-crush (Steph Curry) and his team (Davidson) take on the University of Oklahoma in a basketball game. I remember that night pretty clearly. We grabbed barbecue and kicked back in an arena both of us hated.
We talked a lot that night (friend had just recently gotten engaged) and thought a lot about our futures. We watched Curry drop an easy 44 (it could have been 65) against Oklahoma, inspired by every deep three and every cutting, orchestrated drive. We were moved by a basketball game, silly as it sounds, friend and I were affected in every way possible that night. As we drove back home I thought about Jen and my life with her quite a bit (truth be told: I never stopped thinking about her).
As I pulled into my driveway I called up my mom who proceeded to effectively tell me, “if you want the girl, and I think you do, then you need to go get her.” I knew she was right, so I headed over to Jen’s apartment. She lived on the second floor which was buttressed by a sprawling oak tree. I was trying to be romantic so I shimmied up the tree and rapped on her bedroom window. She didn’t find it very romantic at first but opened the window anyway.
I fumbled around with some words but managed to tell her how much I missed her and that she could thank Steph Curry for any inspiration I might have needed for re-kindling our love (I’m pathetic, I know). She closed her eyes and took it all in and I kissed her right on the lips. And THEN “the rest was history…”
Click HERE for Part 2