On the way home from work just I now, I heard a song on the radio called “When I’m with You” by Tony Terry. It is a beautiful love song in which Terry tells of all the wonderful things that happen when he is with the one he loves. You can listen to it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fR-e5KJzREc
I’ve always loved this song and since I met my husband, Anthony, I think of him whenever I hear it. Today when I heard it, I thought of our relationship, in particular its first budding moments.
I love hearing stories of how couples first met or began dating. Most people who know me personally know my husband and I met at work in 2003, but only a few know how it all transpired. Since it’s on my mind, I want to share it with my readers today.
I had just started my first real job at a Fortune 500 company and thought I was on top of the world. It was an entry-level position, but at 22 years old it was the bee’s knees. It was a first shift, 40-hr per week gig that required me to dress business casual and gave me full benefits. I was used to the, “Would you like fries with that?” kind of jobs so a job like this made me feel like a real adult.
Not only was I used to a less-mature position in the drive-thru industry, I was also used to the same exact type of romantic (or lack thereof) relationship. I was in love (stupidly) with a guy who had never felt the same and had proven it time and time again by lying, cheating, and being disrespectful. When I landed this job, it definitely made me think deeper about changes that needed to be made in my life—including in my relationship. This relationship was already slowly fizzing out, but I just wasn’t ready to let go of something that in reality was already gone.
My new job demanded more of my time and concentration, which left less of both for my relationship. I was meeting new people who were on a totally different level in life than the man I was dating, who was young and just out of college. Although I still saw him, I was less and less concerned about him and what happened to our relationship.
Towards the end of the job’s three-month training session, the new-hire class and I were given our new team assignments and were out on the floor meeting with a few of our soon-to-be new team members. I noticed a couple of guys who had just entered our area and were shaking hands and introducing themselves to some of us new folks. The two guys happened to be standing directly in the entryway that lead to the restrooms. I really had to “go” so I attempted to briefly walk past them and be on my way.
As I tried to go past without drawing attention to myself, I felt a loose grip on my wrist. One of the guys had stopped me and was attempting to introduce himself. My focus was on the tingling sensation in my bladder and not on anything he was saying. I did, however, notice he was kind of cute but looked into my eyes just a little longer than I thought he should. I told him my name (without the slightest clue of what he had just said his was), gave him a quick, “Nice to meet you,” and made a bee-line for the restrooms.
A few days later, our class graduated from training and moved to our new teams. Lo and behold, there was the guy whose name had come second to nature’s call sitting in the desk right behind my new one. Fortunately, all of the desks had name tags, so I took a quick glance at his and committed it to memory. He saw me, smiled, made some corny joke that I can’t remember, and then made a comment to the other guy who had been with him when we first met, who also sat nearby on our team.
Over the next few weeks, we got to know each other through team interaction and his endless bank of jokes. This guy was a real clown. He always had a witty comment or snappy comeback ready. At times he was a little corny (forgive me baby, if you’re reading this), but little did he know, I was quite corny myself. A guy who could keep me laughing had a good chance at stealing my heart.
As the weeks went by, we exchanged numbers and started taking our lunch breaks together. It turns out that he was just as friendly as he was funny and I was enjoying being his friend and spending time with him at work. I was still seeing the other guy occasionally, but more out of habit and not really knowing how to let it go. Though I was growing closer to my friend at work, I still didn’t know him very well and my other guy and I had “history.”
Unfortunately that “history” meant nothing to my guy. He showed his true colors when I needed him and pushed me right into my new friend’s arms—literally.
A couple of months into our friendship, my lease was ending and I had accepted a new one with another apartment complex. Even though I had a grown up job, I still wasn’t completely experienced at making grown up decisions—my old lease was ending two weeks before the new one could begin. I wasn’t able to move in early or move out late so I was basically homeless for two weeks!
The natural thing to do (in my eyes) was to let my guy know the deal and ask him if I could crash there for a couple of weeks. No big deal right? Wrong! He came up with some lame excuse about being out of town or some nonsense. Immediately, I knew the real reason was because I wasn’t the only girl he was seeing. Honestly, that didn’t even bother me as much as his not willing to put that on hold and help out the one who had been there for him for the past three years. My best friends had moved away a few months earlier and I literally had nowhere to go.
Back at work, my friend was wondering why I had been acting so distracted so during one of our lunch breaks I told him that I was on the verge of living out of my car for two weeks. Without looking up from his sandwich, he nonchalantly said, “You can sleep on my couch for a couple of weeks if you need to.”
I almost choked on my lunch. How could someone who barely knew me so freely open up his home (couch) to me? I thought it was very sweet and kind, but of course I was a bit cautious. I hadn’t known him very long, but after a couple of months of seeing each other almost every day, talking on the phone a couple of times a week, and going out to dinner a few times, I felt he was a pretty good guy. I didn’t expect him to try anything inappropriate, considering we had to work right by each other every day.
I thanked him for his offer, but didn’t accept right away. I told him I would let him know. In the back of my mind I knew it was either his couch or the back seat of my two door Cavalier coupe. I think he could sense the uneasiness in my response so he invited me over for Sunday football (Go Cowboys!) and snacks so I could see where my prospective, temporary living quarters might be.
Though I wasn’t a big football fan at the time, I had a lot of fun watching the game and hanging out with him. He made me feel very comfortable with him in his home and I thought his big, soft, oversized couch could be a perfect makeshift bed for a couple of weeks. At the end of the night, I took him up on his offer and began packing up my stuff in the next few days.
I was still a bit nervous the first couple of nights staying in his place, but he was such a gentleman, not overbearing and didn’t try anything inappropriate. Like me, he is a movie buff so we spent most nights just making dinner together and watching DVDs. I was surprised at how good a time I had with him during those two weeks. It was like being able to hang out and have fun with a good friend every evening after a long day of work.
Once my apartment was ready, he spent the weekend helping me move in. In the two weeks we spent together, we had become very close and had learned a lot about each other. I realized that I really liked him and felt like he really liked me. I hoped that I would still get to hang out with him now that I was out of his place.
While I was unpacking and arranging my things the day after my first night in my new place, my phone rang. I started to ignore it because it had been ringing off the hook for the past few days. My old guy kept calling and calling and calling and leaving messages. He was supposedly concerned about me, wanted to know where I had stayed for the past two weeks and if he could come see me. I had been letting all of his calls go to the voicemail. The audacity of him to think that I actually believed he was concerned about me and that I even wanted to speak to him. But, this time, something told me to answer the phone.
When I picked up the phone and looked at the caller ID, I felt my mouth spread across my face as I began smiling from ear to ear. It was Anthony! I was so happy to hear his voice. He asked me how I was getting settled in and if I needed any help. He had already helped me so much and I didn’t want to seem needy, so I told him I was fine and didn’t need any help. That was true, but I really wanted to say yes just so I could spend some time with him. What I got was much better than spending a few hours together that day.
We made small talk for a few more minutes and then I will never forget the words he spoke to me just before we were about to end the call. He said, “I really enjoyed having you stay with me. I miss you and I want you to come back.”
That was just the first of many, many sweet things he would eventually say to me in our time spent together. Within minutes, I was off that phone and packing a bag to take back over to his apartment. Later that night, I was back on his big, soft, oversized couch, but this time I was snuggled up in his arms—just like I have been every night for the past eight years (different couch now, though).