I’m a romantic. When getting to know a new couple, I always ask “so how did you meet?” I adore when people tell me the details of how they fell in love. As the story unfolds, they usually exchange secret glances, tiny giggles, and playful squeezes. I love watching a couple interact as they remember how they first came to know each other.
Obviously, you can’t watch me tell you the story of how Ben and I fell in love. But I think it is a cute story. Love is in the air today, so I thought I would share.
We met on a blind date. After exchanging a few emails, I asked Ben to meet for a drink. We decided on a small bar called Tony’s. I arrived first and sat at the end of the bar. I saw him the second he walked in because he was so tall. He introduced himself and I noticed the pocket of his shirt had “Elvis” embroidered on it. The guy had potential.
We sipped our drinks and made small talk. Our tastes in bands and movies matched up, but I wouldn’t say there was instanct chemistry. While our conversation broached all the right topics, I don’t know that it hit the correct notes. We were concentrating on being cool and flexing our wit- at least I was. I went out dancing with a few friends afterwards and remarked, “I liked him, but there was no real spark.” Thank god for second dates.
The next night, we went out with a group of mutual friends. I remember the exact second when my feelings began to change. My friend Bob joined us, mainly just for fun but with the ulterior motive that he could check out Ben and give me feedback.
Bob and Ben hit it off right away. Perhaps it was being around people he knew, or maybe it was just the pressure of the first date being gone, but Ben seemed much more in his element. He relaxed and cracked jokes. He had this way of listening to people that let them know he was genuinely interested in what they had to say- a characteristic that I don’t often find in people, including myself. He and Bob started talking about 70’s exploitation films. I don’t recall what Ben said, but I can still visualize the moment. He turned his hat around backwards and smiled, and for the first time, I noticed he had dimples. Spark City.
Ben got up to use the restroom, and I immediately looked at Bob with raised eyebrows signaling “what do you think?” Bob said, “He’s really cool.” With the official seal of approval, my heart really began to beat. A few minutes later, Ben walked me to my car. He kissed me on the sidewalk, under the street lights, and I think I actually swooned.
The next morning, Ben left on a two week backpacking trip, out of state, out of cell phone range. It was maddening for me, but positively torturous for my friends. Every fifteen minutes or so, I would ask “Do you think he likes me? Do you think he’ll call?” After the hundredth time, they just shouted “YES!” before kicking me out of the conversation.
Fourteen days later, Ben returned. As he was unpacking his car, he called and asked me to dinner. We’ve been together ever since.
Ben is not a lovey-dovey affectionate person. He hates over the top sentiment. He always seems to find his own way of being romantic.
After dating for a few weeks, I drove to his apartment for dinner. I knocked on the door, and when he opened it, he was wearing a t-shirt that read “Safety Begins Here.” We both thought this shirt was hilarious. I told him I was going to steal it, and he replied “you are never getting this shirt.” Of course, being a girl that loves a challenge, I vowed then and there to win his heart and that t-shirt.
On my birthday a few weeks later, I again went to his house for dinner. We were casually sitting on the couch and he said “there is something for you on the counter.” Neatly folded on the countertop was the t-shirt. I unfolded it and smiled. He looked at me and said “I love you” for the first time.
There is perhaps no greater indicator of the longevity of the relationship than the first fight. I don’t remember what ours was about. I do know what we had tickets to see Henry Rollins spoken word, and we skipped it to have this fight.
At some point, I said the typical “I think you should just go,” or some variation.
Ben looked me straight in the eye and calmly said “If you really want me to go, I will. But you better be sure. I don’t do the make up, break up thing. I won’t chase you. So if you say those words, make sure that’s what you want.”
This stopped me dead in my tracks. Chasing had been the entire basis for all of my past relationships. His words scared me, but beneath the fear was intrigue. I was dealing with a grown up. I could no longer act like a child.
I have never said those words to him, because I never want him to go. Ben accepts me exactly as I am, but through his acceptance, he challenges me to be the best person I can be. He is so incredibly kind, gentle, and trustworthy. I strive harder to find those qualities in myself because I want to be worthy of him.
Our friends initially thought we were an odd couple. Ben is Mr. Outdoorsy. I’m the flakey artist. He has a degree in chemical engineering. I’m a graduate of the School of Hard Knocks. The first time I met his family, we went to a library fundraiser. The first time he met mine, my brothers broke out in a fist fight on the lawn. Our dates would alternate between hiking trips and afternoons doodling cartoons in notebooks. I don’t think anyone counted on it lasting.
As my friends and family got to know him, I heard over and over again “He makes you so happy. You seem so peaceful when you’re together.” Maybe our differences created balance. Or maybe he’s just that great of a guy.
Last night, I was walking though the neighborhood with a friend, collecting food for a local resource center. We stopped at my house. Ben had just got home. After a few minutes of conversation, Ben asked “what do you need me to do?” He jumped right in and started helping with the kids, preparing dinner, and fixing a bike.
I saw my girlfriend today, and she said “Does Ben ask that every night- what do you need me to do?” Yes, he does. To the point that I take it for granted, and her mentioning it reminded me of how lucky I am. To think of what I would have missed out on had we never had that second meeting, had he never flashed those dimples, and kissed me on the street. Luck is definitely on my side.