Monday is my husband’s and my anniversary. Thirteen years. That’s a lot of years and also, thirteen, it feels so ominous, but we’ve survived the thirteenth year we’re entering fourteen which just so happens to be my favorite number. It doesn’t possibly seem like I’m old enough to have been married for thirteen years. It doesn’t feel like yesterday, a lot’s happened since then, five maybe, even seven, certainly not thirteen.
The first time I met Brian he spelled my name wrong on my student ID during freshmen orientation he had dyed blond hair so I didn’t even realize he was the same boy I ended up dating until the end of that first year. The first time I really noticed him was at breakfast. He was the short order chef in the school cafeteria and he would wear jeans a plain white t-shirt and a brown apron folded over tied at his waist. He was very very attractive in that utilitarian apron flipping pancakes and making omelettes. I never ordered from him, instead I opted for cold cereal every day, because to place an order you had to walk into the kitchen write what you wanted on a slip of paper and attach it to the side of the oven with a magnet. If I did all that then he might talk to me, he might ask me how much cheese I wanted in my eggs, or if I wanted bacon with my french toast…and then I’d be expected to answer…
He sat next to me at lunch one day. A huge group of us were crowded around the table and he came over to join. I moved my chair expecting him to settle in next to someone else. He sat next to me, I think he smiled at me, and I know he said something, only I can’t quite remember what it was…
On our first date we went with friends to dinner (Denny’s) and a movie. Before I was even ready to go my grandmother, sisters and all of my aunts knew I was going on a date. Most of them called me. I think that tells you how often I’d been on a date before. I ordered a chicken sandwich and was so nervous that the few bites I took stuck in my throat. When our bill came, he touched my arm and said “I’m paying for this.” I was relieved he told me because I wasn’t really sure and my Grammy had given me a twenty just in case.
I was no good at flirting. And I was worried he wouldn’t know I was interested. How does a shy person who’s just been on a date, all nervous, let someone know they enjoyed it? I sent him a thank you card. Which seems ridiculous and hilarious now but you know what? He called me on the phone after that to ask what I meant by “any way, it’s not easy being green.” (I think the card had kermit on it.) I made him cookies a couple dates later and then I started ordering breakfast from him on Fridays. I got a lot better at flirting, or at least I got more comfortable with him. We would walk around the pond and he listened when I told him how worried I was that not all of our theologies matched up (also hilarious to me now).
Every Friday after he got paid he bought me a peanut butter twix bar from the school bookstore because he knew I liked them. And once a friend of ours caught us making out in a music practice room a fact which still embarrasses me today, though not as much as it did then.
So much has changed, but not the togetherness of us. We’re both older, better, and our love is deeper. But, sometimes I still get that funny nervous feeling and I think, “How lucky was I that he sat next to me at lunch?”