It was the summer of 1997. I had been going to college year round for two straight years. No breaks. Fall semester. Winter semester. Spring semester. Summer semester. Round and round I went. I wanted to graduate and move on.
But, for some strange reason, I decided to move home and save some money for the final summer before my last semester of college. I hadn’t lived at home since I left for school in 1992 (including a two year stint in Hong Kong). I loved being away from home and the college life, so inexplicably, I moved home.
I don’t remember the day well. I just remember getting a piece of mail from my university. I opened it. It was a letter with some colorful brochures inviting me to participate in a sort of mentor program for incoming freshman. The brochure was full of brightly colored pictures of fun, frivolity, and freshmen. Definitely not my thing. I’m not really not into trying new things. I don’t like uncomfortable settings. And into the trash it went.
However, the brochure kept calling my name. I tried to ignore it, but finally I pulled it out of the trash and stared at it for a long time. Then, a brilliant idea struck me. If I could cajole on of my buddies to do it with me, if it was a disaster at least I wouldn’t be alone! I called my buddy and told him that I thought we should sign up for this freshman mentor thing and do it together...”it’ll be fun”, I said. I was completely surprised when he agreed and we signed up.
As mentors, we met up a few days before school started and were taken to the mountains for a three day “training”. I can’t remember much training. I do remember a ton of activities and fun. Upon arrival, we were divided into groups of 8 or 10 with an even split of guys and girls.
And that is when I saw her for the first time.
To be honest, my heart didn’t melt. She was nice. In fact, she seemed too nice. You know what I mean? I couldn’t believe that someone could be that nice. She was kind, considerate, thoughtful, well-spoken, and friendly.
(Now, you should know that I am was cynical, sarcastic, and sharp-tongued. Traits I am not proud of, but it is the truth.)
Therefore, through my way of seeing the world, I concluded that she was fake. Something that, in my self-righteous state, I believed was the ultimate tragedy. Just be real. Fake...Gross!
(I’m pretty sure that I yanked her hair while trying to snag a bug out of the air when we first met. Not my finest moment. I have chosen to repress those memories, so I’ll leave it to her to tell that part of the story.)
As you can imagine, our group spent pretty much the next three days constantly together. After the first day, I began to notice that everywhere we went, she was next to me. She always chose the chair next to me. She always sat on the grass next to me. Every time I turned my head - there she was. What? She liked me!
It was around this time that I began to notice two important things.
- She was beautiful. She had long, beautiful hair. She was stylish. Lips the size of pillows. But most of all, she had an incredible smile. You know what I mean, right. A smile that had the wattage to power New York City for a lifetime. I found myself working hard to bring out that smile.
- She was real. He kindness wasn’t an act. She was genuinely interested in seeing the best in each person she knew. She was unlike anyone I had ever met. She was kind, gentle, meek, and gracious.
After I realized these two key things, I began to feel two important feelings.
- I felt amazing when I was around her and when I saw that smile. I felt all gooey inside! But, ya know, gooey in a really good way...
- I felt like I wanted to be around her all the time. I wanted to embrace her incredibly generous traits (as I read this back, I realize that is a double entendre). I wanted to put away my cynicism and sarcastic tendencies. I wanted to be like she was...kind, thoughtful, and good.
Those three days were magic for me in so many ways. The rest is history. It took some serious wooing from me to get her to commit to me, but it was all worth it and then some!
But, most of all, I have worked every day for that smile! Oh how I crave that smile...
We’re opposites. And we attract!
...And that is my side of our story!