One common story all couples tell is how they first started dating. Much like Stephen Colbert’s tale of how he met his significant other, looking back at the beginning John and I can’t help but laugh at how clueless we really were.
John and I went to the same high school, played varsity soccer, and even had many of the same friends. But for some reason, both of us never thought the other would be interested in dating.
Fast forward to my junior year in college when I returned home for Thanksgiving break. My friends asked if I wanted to go out to a dive bar for some drinks. I pounced on the chance. My boyfriend at the time had not only cheated on me, but also ended things. He couldn’t even allow me the satisfaction of leaving him. A beer and some distraction was exactly what I needed so I agreed despite hating the bar.
While the bar first started as “Moody Monkeys,” it went out of business quickly and a new owner named it “Ryan’s”. But a new name and a modernized décor (a welcomed change from the strange jungle-theme from before) couldn’t save it, and it would eventually also go out of business. At least when it was “Ryan’s” it didn’t feel like we were crashing a six year-old’s birthday party.
When we got there, I saw John already sitting at a high-top with his friends who graduated high school a year ahead of me. Although I wasn’t more than an acquaintance with John, I did know the other boys, so I walked over to say hello.
If you ask either of us today, we couldn’t tell you what we talked about, but I quickly forgot my ex. I remember thinking: Wow, I can’t remember the last time I laughed this hard.
So when they asked if I wanted to hang out after the bar closed, I excitedly said yes. I left with them to drink one more beer before John offered to drive me home. He had been designated driver and didn’t mind.
As I got out of his car, my phone fell out of my back pocket onto the passenger’s seat. Neither of us noticed in the pitch blackness of that late winter night. John would later learn that this is a reoccurring flaw of mine; that I leave and lose things pretty easily. Back then though, John thought it was my way of saying I wanted to see him again (which I did of course).
Through Facebook messenger we planned a day for John to drop my phone off at my house. When he did, he asked me out.
Before I went back to school for my last term, he picked me up wearing a nice polo and khaki pants– a very different look from the jeans and soccer tee I was so used to seeing him wear. I remember how cute it was he tried cleaning out his Oldsmobile. That car certainly earned the ‘old’ part of its name. The passenger’s window didn’t work and the brown dashboard was curled, and rigid like a banana that had been left in the sun for too long. But the state of this car seemed to reinforce what I already liked about John. He wasn’t like other guys who were flashy or tried to be something he wasn’t. What you see is what you get.
After I graduated, we continued to hang out, mostly on John’s parents’ patio. We would sing along to Jack Johnson’s “Banana Pancakes” or The Fugees’ “Ready or Not” and talk for hours. He made things come naturally, so naturally I didn’t even think twice about singing in front of him.
Close to six years later, I would give anything to go back and watch it all happen again.