Saturday, March 17, 2012

Saint Patrick's Day Memory

Eleven years ago today, I met him.  My perception of reality, which may or may not be true, was that I had been visiting my sister in Massachusetts.  I came home.  A guy I worked with in the library called my cellphone (yes, I had just bought a little blue AT&T cellphone—it was horrid!), and he invited me to a kegger.

I had a lot on my mind.  I was done with Wish He Was My Boyfriend.  I was moving on with my life.  I needed a change. I thought going to a party with some people I didn’t know might be the way to achieve that change.

I asked my roommate Tiffany to accompany me, but she was tired or maybe she had other plans.  I called a few of my other friends, and they all declined.  I hemmed and hawed.  I didn’t want to be stuck in the house all night, thinking and analyzing my life.  I wanted to leave, to party, even if it meant going out by myself. 

I hopped in my car, the 2000 Toyota Camry, and drove the few blocks to the house where the party was being held.  I believe he lived on 42nd Street in one of the townhouse apartments.  Walking in, a long dark staircase led up the stairs to the party apartment.  I could hear the noise on the 2nd floor, drunken laughs and boys guffawing.  I built up the courage of one single girl going to a party where she only really knew one person, and was semi-acquainted with the other, and I walked up that long staircase, knocked on the door and was let in by unidentified boy.

There were only boys at the apartment, so you can imagine their thrill to see a girl show up.  Their entertainment had arrived.  They told me the keg was out back.  I could get a drink, and I immediately did to “chill” my nerves.  Some of the boys assured me that “Rob” (whoever that was) had left to pick up his friends, including a few other girls.  I made my way out to the back porch, (also known as Rob’s bedroom!) down some rickety white steps to the backyard and somebody helped me fill up my red Solo plastic cup with beer. 

When I walked back in, I found Sid my friend from the library had arrived.  We talked for a bit, and then I sat down on the loveseat in the main den, unsure of what to do with myself.  From there guy after guy came, sat down beside me and talked to me for a while before moving on.  It was like being in a speed dating round with alcohol. 

Before too long, a drunken boy came in with another guy and a girl!  Imagine my surprise.  He stumbled over to the loveseat and introduced himself to me as Rob.  He was obviously drunk.  He had brown fuzzy hair, and he smiled at me a lot.  We discussed writing and music.  He told me he really liked writing poetry.  It served as an outlet to him.  I also think this is where the nagging began, because I told him he shouldn’t drink and drive.  He never has since—or that I know of.  Soon, we needed another beer, so we walked out to the backyard and sat on the cinder block wall drinking from our Solo cups.  We looked up at the sky and stared at the stars together. 

When it was time to go, Rob walked me out.  He saw my car, and he said “Ooh—I’d like to drive that one day.”  I was still unsure of him.  I said, “Um, yeah, maybe.”  I think we kissed, and it was a drunk sloppy kiss.  We exchanged phone numbers, and I left.

I remember arriving home at the house on Albemarle.  Tiffany was there.  She asked how the party was.  I told her I met someone, and she asked if I thought I’d date him.  My reply was, “I don’t know.  He’s nice.”  

The next day I had to work at the library.  I really didn’t expect to hear from Rob for three days, as boys seem to have this requisite amount of time to wait so they don’t seem too eager.  In the afternoon, around 3:00 PM I received a phone call from Rob. He asked if I wanted to come over and watch the Simpsons. I declined because of working.  I remember telling Tiffany I couldn’t believe he had called so soon.  I didn’t know what to do with a boy who wanted to be with me after playing on and off games with Wish He Was My Boyfriend for two years and not letting anyone else serious into my life.

Tiffany said, “What’s the harm in hanging out with him?”  They were all pleased I’d be letting go of my obsession with Wish He Was My Boyfriend.

And so I thought, what’s the harm?  That evening I went to work and about an hour into my shift Rob showed up at the library with toys for me: a rubber ball and bubbles. 

He said, “I brought you some toys.”

“Um thanks.”  Yes, Lauren was not so good at this relationship crap, even though I’d been in a few serious relationships beforehand.

From then on, I pretty much saw Rob every day.  I didn’t really ever decide to see him. He was just there, and he grew on me.  I was happy to be with someone who really wanted to be with me and who showed me that he did.  I was happy to meet his friends and to feel joy in my heart when he walked in the room.  I remember telling Tiffany about Rob’s eyes, and how they were green with specks.  I remember thinking I liked him a lot, but still holding back.  I wasn’t quite over Wish He Was My Boyfriend.  I *maybe* told Rob this, but I’m not sure he heard me.  He was head over heels in love with me, and we all know what that feels like.  Then a part of me decided the relationship worked, and I was so glad to have someone to journey out of college with, to help me discover what I wanted to do with my life, to laugh at my jokes, to make me smile after a long day at a job I didn’t necessarily like or want.  We were there for each other.

It’s been exactly eleven years since the Saint Patrick’s Day, and life has taken off.  Rob and I have been through a lot of tough times together.  We have survived our marriage thus far, not necessarily enjoyed it all, but we’ve supported each other through the tough times, even with arguments, silent days, passive aggressive behavior, withdrawing completely from one another and finally reaching out and trying to find each other again.  Searching for our twenty-one year old selves in each other’s hearts to see what brought us together in the first place: love and companionship.

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