I met Steve in August of 1996 when I was 19 years old. We both attended Humboldt State and majored in History. We sat in the front row during our Early Modern European History class with Professor Sundstrom, and we both wore Converse. He furiously took notes as I struggled to stay awake during the mid-afternoon class with the windows that let the warm sun shine on my sleepy form. I wish I could say our Converse lead to conversing, and have the rest be history, but it was a year and a half before we started going out. During that time I had other lessons to learn besides Robespierre’s influence and how the printing press changed the world, but Steve would see me around town and offer me a lift or ask me out. My response was always a chipper “No, thank you!”.
Despite my rejections, he still bought me drinks at Toby and Jack’s — even after the night when he gave me his number as did somebody else. All our bar meetings allowed me to see him interact with his friends, and there was one thing I noticed: they were always laughing. There was mutual respect and camaraderie among them; all of them were having a good time. About a month or two later, it finally occurred to me to call him. I left a message. He called back and we talked for an hour and decided to do the Nineties pseudo-date of going for coffee. When I met him at the coffee shop, I still saw him as “friend” material. He was, honestly, not my type, but then again, my “type” wasn’t quite working out for me. That night Steve humored me and let me read him his tarot, as I dutifully referring to my How To Read Tarot book. The last card I flipped, the one one that reflects the passage of your life, was a two of cups. I read from my book and it said something on the lines of “someone is interested in you for reasons that aren’t clear to you.” Immediately, my face grew hot as I realized that that someone was me. This threw me into a state of panic. Could he see it was me? Was it written on my face? What should I do with this newfound knowledge? Should I swing open my arms and yell, “Surprise!”? I sat on it instead. Two more weeks passed.
You would think that by what happened next that that would have gotten the ball rolling. It was finals week, and my first opportunity to go get really drunk afterwards (the first and last time I participated in this lively tradition). I even told my landlady. She didn’t quite know how to respond when I told her, “By the way, I’m going to get really drunk tonight.” My mantra on the way to the bar was, “Don’t make a fool of yourself and hit on Steve. Don’t make a fool of yourself and hit on Steve.” I was a good little drunk that night. I stayed on my barstool and everything. And I didn’t hit on Steve. I just rubbed his arm every time he walked by me or stood next to me or asked me a question or turned to talk to someone else. Taking this as a sign of encouragement, he walked me home. Now, now, now, don’t get any ideas. There were too many eyes and ears out for me to cause any shenanigans. Before leaving the bar, Steve was grilled by two sets of friends about his intentions. When we got to my house, my landlady had stayed up to make sure I got home. She said she heard a male voice with me, and slyly followed us down the hall (it was a 7 bedroom Victorian mansion that allowed for stealth) to find out if he was “friend or foe.” Then there was my housemate Katie, who also was on patrol.
Steve, however, was a gentleman and helped me with my “routine”: twenty minutes of flossing, brushing my teeth, washing my face, and taking out my contacts. He was a bit amazed that someone so inebriated would still do her nightly routine. Then he made me drink a lot of water, listened to me tell long teary stories about my grandpa, tucked me in, and left. I woke the next morning to find a note with two ibuprofen. What I didn’t tell you about this evening was what happened in front of Everett’s bar. That’s for me to know.
Winter break passed. The spring semester started. We went on our first official date to Mazzotti’s in Eureka. He dropped me off, patted my knee, and said, “Thanks for coming out with me.” I was confused. I had a vague recollection of him kissing me in front of Everett’s. That did happened, didn’t it?
A week passed, and finally it was all too much. We were back at Toby and Jack’s sitting near the darts. I asked him, “Did you kiss me?” He finished taking a swig of his Rolling Rock, placed the bottle on the table, folded his hands, and said, “Yes, and when I’m done with my beer, we’ll talk about it.” After a few minutes we left the bar and talked about everything. He was concerned about starting a relationship because he was graduating in May and moving in August, and I was graduating in December. He was also working on his senior thesis, and that would take up a lot of time. Was it really viable to start a relationship now? I thought so. I hit on a scheme that really made a lot of sense to me: let’s casually date and then break up in August. How perfect was that? He agreed.
The trouble with that plan was that we didn’t specify which August. August 1998 found us in a long distance relationship. August 1999 found us in our first year of living together. August 2001 found us living our last month of pre-9/11 life– an event that prompted Steve to propose in October. August 2003 found us in the midst of last minute wedding plans. Steve even flew my best friend and maid of honor in from Texas, so she could attend my bridal shower. On September 13, 2003 we got married. Now it’s September 2012. It’s been nine years.
I’m still with the man who still takes care of me and supports me and makes me laugh. Here’s to the next nine years.