I met Dana in 1995. She stood with a group of girls in the downstairs entry to the dome that would be my educational institution for the next five years, and although she was a grade ahead of me she was new, too.
"They're forming a volleyball team," she said. "You should play!"
"I don't know how to play volleyball," I hedged, feeling shy and painfully aware of my lack of athleticism.
"I don't either, but it'll be fun!"
I did join the team, and Dana and I remained good friends for a couple of years. But as life goes we split ways when she left the school and moved on with her life.
We regained contact almost 12 years later with the aid of social networking. That is, we became Myspace friends. Although each of our names and profile pics sat comfortably in the friends list of the other, we never talked, and I considered deleting her one day while trimming down my list.
I didn’t, however, and that was the best decision I’ve ever made.
February of 2008 found me bored and alone. I spent quiet work days doing my job and wasting time on Myspace. So it was that I got the e-mail at my desk.
“My boss saw your pic on my Myspace,” Dana wrote. “He says you’re a hottie boombalottie with a naughty body! Do you mind if he e-mails you?”
Intrigued and flattered, I followed Dana’s direction to Frikafran on her friends list.
His face beamed at me in black and white. His eyes, slightly crinkled at the corners, twinkled with warmth and kindness, and his smile was wide and free. He caught my attention.
“Ok,” I replied. Tell him to write me!”
But…he didn’t. I waited, and I waited and I heard nothing.
I am not a patient person, and what must have been only days felt like weeks to me. So, as any bored young woman would do, I took matters into my own hands. I couldn’t tell you what I wrote, but it broke the ice and he finally replied. We exchanged a few e-mails. E-mails led to instant message conversations on Yahoo, and IMs turned to text messages and phone calls.
I found him charming and funny, and slightly mysterious…maybe even aloof. He was silly and a tiny bit dorky and he made me feel comfortable. As we learned more about each other I realized that we shared a similar intellect—the very first item on my list of priorities. While we often had different points of view we were able to discuss them together. I learned from him and enjoyed the company of his conversation.
After several weeks of talking, Paul asked to meet me.
Not yet. I typed. I was shy and unsure. I was afraid that he wouldn’t like me after seeing me in person. I was afraid to disappoint this man that I already liked so well. But he is, if anything, persistent, and I agreed to spend an afternoon with him.
I had to work that Saturday morning, but Paul was to make the trip up from Snohomish in the afternoon, and I asked him to meet me in the parking lot of my workplace. I wanted a safe place to run in case he was a psycho.
I was nervous as I waited for him. I paced the parking lot and kept my eye on the highway, watching for that bright yellow Mustang to make its way towards me. And when I finally saw it I watched it zoom past the driveway and on down the road. I grinned to myself and waited.
Within minutes he was back. He parked, climbed out and strode towards me. He walked with confidence and sported a wide smile; he held his head high, and I noticed a slight swagger in his step—that rhythm of motion that I would come to know so well. He wrapped his arms around me in a quick hug, dispensing with the awkward moment of first contact, and we agreed to go to the Starbucks next door.
We talked. Well, he talked. My nerves, as they always do, kept my tongue in check and I struggled to respond. I just knew that he was going to be disappointed…I had no problem talking online, but in person I was agonizingly boring! But the longer we sat together, the looser my tongue became. He made me feel comfortable and I liked him.
Our date meandered. We drifted from place to place, never actually doing anything specific but enjoying each other and taking our time in deciding what to do next. I would later learn that this is how we work together. It hasn’t changed.
We drove around the island. And talked.
We drove to Skagit County. And talked.
We ate dinner at a small Thai restaurant in downtown Mount Vernon. And talked.
Finally, far too soon for my liking, the hour grew late and Paul still faced a 90 minute drive home. We drove back to Oak Harbor and this time we were quiet. But it was the comfortable kind of quiet. There was no emptiness.
I dreaded leaving him. I wanted the night to go on forever. I wanted to talk and talk and talk until my words ran dry. I wanted to know everything about this man, and I wanted to rest in his presence for as long as he would let me.
I had managed to forget about what might happen at the end of a date, and I was mildly surprised when, parked again in my employer’s parking lot, he leaned in to kiss me. More like swooped, as he was nervous (I later learned). I recovered quickly from the surprise and discovered that our mouths had been created for each other; they fit together perfectly. I melted in his kiss; I abandoned myself in his kiss, and I kissed him back with the knowledge that this was the kind of kiss that was created by the gods. He pulled away and I felt dizzy. My face tingled and I was grateful to be sitting down. My legs would not have held me. I looked into his eyes in the dim light of the dashboard and asked him to kiss me again.
And he did.