Monday, April 21, 2014

Meeting my Husband For The First Time-- My Real Life Love Story Part Three

I met Darren for the first time in September of my Sophomore year. The first time I ever noticed him, he was on stage in rehearsal for my High School's musical, The Music Man. He had a one line solo, "I got a box of maple sugar on my birthday," and he sang it in the goofiest voice you've ever heard, AND he made his own prop. A box with the words... maple sugar... drawn across it, and it was wrapped with a bow. It take commitment to be that kind of goofy when you have only one line, and dang if he wasn't adorable.  If there was a cuteness scale of High School boys, Darren would beat everyone up with that scale.

It's possible that I am slightly biased, but I don't think so.

Here's proof. This is Darren back when I met him for the first time.


Yes, that's not actually Darren. But it's close. Really really close. Like so close, I don't think it'd be cheating if I once had a dream about Joseph Gordon Levitt.

Which never happened.

Blink. Blink.

Ahem. I got off track somehow. The important information, is that DARREN WAS CUTENESS personified.

All my friends thought so too.

Here's the sucky part about my love story. I almost missed it.

My very best friend in the entire galaxy liked him first. She was standing next to me that first time I heard Darren sing out that solo. We both looked at each other, she raised her eyebrows first, and called dibs.

In High School, I was the goofy girl with bad hair and thrift store clothes who belted out show tunes as I walked down the halls. Emily was the tall blonde who had her arm in the crook of mine and who kept me on tune. (Ish.) She sang the same song as I did. It made sense that we'd like the same guy.

I met Emily in Junior High. We bonded over MASH games and skipping class to hang out in practice rooms to talk about boys. Darren was her first boyfriend, but more than that, he was the first boy who liked her back, and I adored their relationship. Number one fan. Darren liking Emily meant someday a cute boy would like me. I wanted every detail, and Emily was happy to tell me. I kind of lived vicariously through their relationship, which is super weird to think about now.

 In a series of strange coincidences, I had the privilege of knowing every girl my husband dated. And it WAS a privilege, because every girl he choose to date made me respect him more. He chose Girls of Quality, and more than that, he chose Girls of Qualities That Most Guys Don't See.

He dated four of my friends in total, and I heard a lot of stories from all four of them. And the more times I heard about people kissing Darren, or dating Darren, or liking Darren, the lower on my list he went, despite the fact that he was the most adorable teenage boy to walk the planet.

To me, he was one of the few boys I thought of as just a friend.

For a couple of weeks in my junior year, he used to drive Emily and I home from play practice. I'd always sit in the passenger seat while she would sit behind Darren, so she could have her hands wrapped around him the whole time.  In Emily's defense, this was her very first boyfriend and Darren was delightfully adorable. Because of the route we lived on, he'd drop her off first and I'd sit in the car and read my script while they said goodbye.  After a few minutes, Darren would get back in the car and he'd drive me to my house. Along the way we'd have these little conversations. I don't remember exactly what we talked about, but I do remember once, while his car idled in my driveway, Darren said something so surprisingly kind and mature I thought to myself, Darren is such a good guy. He's going to make someone really happy.

He does.

My very first date ever, I went with my husband and his girlfriend Emily. My date was a boy named Jeremy. We went to a girl's choice dance in like NOVEMBER... Which meant I waited for...calculating, a long time (still not good at math) after my sixteenth birthday for that first date, and I had to ask him.

After that though, dating became a thing I did. Not a thing I was good at, mind you, but still it was a thing that I did. It was fun.

A few months after that date, Darren and Emily broke up, which shocked my whole world. Emily and I were back to walking home. We were back to liking boys who didn't like us back. In a lot of ways we were back to who we were in Junior High, except that Emily had crossed a threshold that I hadn't even seen yet, and while we were still walking with our arms crooked together, she seemed so much further ahead than me. If I hadn't held her arm in mine, I felt like she would disappear.

Somewhere along the way I put my arm down to my side.

Darren became a background person in my life. Because of loyalty to Emily, I couldn't really be friends with him anymore, and I couldn't ever date him. Not ever.


So he became a cute boy our other friends dated and thought about, and I didn't think about at all.

Not for years.

Monday, April 7, 2014

The Friendship Zone- My Real Life Love Story Part Two

A sixteenth birthday is a big deal for a Mormon girl.

In case you weren't aware, Mormon teens aren't supposed to date until they're sixteen, and that was prophetic counsel I kept.

Though not for lack of trying.

My sophomore year of High School was a big year for me, though I didn't know it at the time. Living through it was torture. ALL my friends had their sixteenth birthday, got their driver's licences, and went on dates. All of them except me. Still fifteen, I walked everywhere like a child, and tried to learn how to talk to boys.

Summer Birthdays suck for Mormon girls.

Around that time, I'd heard a lesson in church about not dating until you're sixteen, and I had decided to actually not date until I reached that magical birthday, which felt like a big sacrifice at the time, despite my strangely quiet field of boys.  Besides, the sixteenth birthday rule explains why no one had asked me out or liked me back. They must all have known how pious I was.

Still, I really wanted to learn how to talk to boys.

Turns out, boys weren't that much harder to talk to than girls were, which in Sheenaland, means REALLY HARD to talk to until I've done something embarrassing and we're already friends, and then super easy to talk to. I had a couple of boys on my roster that I could walk past in the hall, and say..."Hi" to, (not to brag) and a few magical boys that together we could carry actual conversations, (totally bragging). These magical boys became something more than my roster of crushes. So high above it, in fact, I need a new name for for this particular kind of boy. Let's call them... "friends."

Dear cute boys from my high school. If you considered yourself my friend, you should consider yourself on the list of boys I liked. No, more than liked, I befriended. I did not know at the time that being friends with boys meant that I was friends with boys.  To me, it meant there were BOYS( magical, pedestal sitting aliens that I've been crazy about since elementary school) with which I talked. Now in the dark and tortured corners of my head, these BOYS with which I talked, were actually potential BOYS WHO WOULD DATE ME.

You know, once I turned sixteen. Cause I'm all pious and stuff.

My sixteenth birthday was not magical.  Do you know who asks you out when your birthday is in the summer?

This is me legitimately asking, because I have no idea.  The sad answer is no one.

I spent the day in Community Summer Driving School, (which is worse than it sounds) and that night I watched the window and my phone for all those BOYS WHO WOULD DATE ME to... date me. I had waited for this day, and it came, then it went, and no boys were asking me out. If facebook was a thing back then, my status update that day would be depressing and embarrassing and possibly involve jazz hands and the words COME AND DATE ME.

I think I learned how to talk to boys wrong. Because even after that magical birthday these BOYS with which I talked did not magically morph into BOYS WHO WOULD DATE ME. Somehow they became BOYS WHO WOULD DATE MY FRIENDS.

Sucksville. Population, me.

It seemed like all of my friends went on their first dates while I twiddled my thumbs, and read, oh, and had a life.

I had a life. Dreams. Goals. Big plans. In the Anthony Era, I discovered what I wanted to be when I grew up. That's something not everybody knows, especially when they're fourteen. I was going to be a Jr. High School Drama teacher. I'd teach English in my non-Drama periods, and put on plays, and in the summer do Community Theater. This was my goal, my future, and my dream. I wanted to be just like the woman who changed my life and inspired me. I wanted to help kids like me, and tell stories for the rest of my life.

I knew the step I had to take to get to that dream meant college, and because my parents clearly told me they weren't in the position to pay for school, that meant I would have to get a scholarship. Knowing my mad skills at math, (something Chase should have paid attention too) and my inability to play sports, or have any kind of skill set above standing in front of people and telling stories and playing characters, I knew my only option was to work my tail off to get a Theatre Scholarship.

 I started that work young. Sophomore year, in fact. So I was really busy and focused on acting, and scared of these boys I couldn't talk to, and then weirdly overconfident around these BOYS with which I could talk, plus I occasionally wore random clothes I bought from the thrift store, had weird hair, and would belt out show tunes while walking down the hall.

Who wouldn't ask that girl out?

Answer-- every boy I knew.

It happened again and again. There'd be a boy. We'd become friends, and while trying to get to know if I liked him or not, I got to know them, and they changed from a scary distant person on a pedestal into a friend, only it didn't ever feel like that. It felt like love, although I didn't even know what love felt like. I'd like them, but not realize that they didn't like me. Not until one day, sometimes weeks after I started liking them, once years, I'd hear these words, "I don't like you like that."

Six times in a row that happened. I remember the last time. It was the summer after my first year in college, and I was talking to this boy I really liked after work. He walked me to my car, (protecting me from the scary monster boys who lurked in shadows) and we talked for almost an hour until he said, "You know we're just friends, right?" 

Psh. I nodded. "Yeah." Psh. "Of course." Psh. "Obviously."

"Okay cool," he responded. I sat down in my car, smiled, and waved goodbye. As I pulled my mom's minivan back out of the parking spot, my lip started curling, and my eyes widened and my fingers tightened around the steering wheel... until I'd had enough and slammed on my breaks. 6 times. 6 times. What is wrong with me? I pressed on the gas and hard turned the wheel. No, I thought. This is not happening again. I am SO sick of the boy I like turning into my best friend!

And then a clear and quiet thought entered my mind. Yes, but your husband will love it.

I removed my foot from the gas, waved once more to this boy who watched me randomly jerk the van around like I was having a seizure, and then drove away.

I love that my husband is my best friend.  The friendzone is in the corner of our relationship.

I didn't realize that at fifteen, but I had learned to talk to boys in the right way. It just wasn't the right time, or the right one, or maybe I just wasn't ready.

The reason my sophomore year of High School was such a big year for me, though, wasn't because that's when I learned how to be friends with boys. It's a big year, because that's the year I met Darren.

I didn't know it at the time, but one of those BOYS with which I talked, would somehow, magically, morph into a BOY WHO WOULD MARRY ME.

But that story was just starting.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

My Real Life Love Story -- Part One

So for the next couple of weeks, I'm going to be telling you guys a story. My story. The story about how I met and fell in love with my hot handsome husband, Darren.

This is the end of that story, but to get a full picture, I have to start at the beginning. The first time I ever fell in love.

I was in elementary school. His name was Chase, and he had dark hair that fell in an exact line above his eyebrows, green eyes, and a cute smile. He sat in the desk behind me in class. I didn't say much to him except occasionally things like, "Here's your paper," or "Would you stop kicking my chair?" He was adorable, and at recess I'd watch him as he played kickball with the other boys.

Then one day, he copied off of my math test. The teacher kept us both in from recess, so he couldn't play kickball, and I couldn't watch him play kickball, and we were in serious trouble.

Well, I was anyway. Chase, the jerk, had told the teacher I was the one who had copied off of HIM, and despite my protests, I'm the one who got in trouble.
Jokes on you, Chase. I suck at math.
In Elementary, I learned that boys could be jerks.

But I still really liked them. To say that I was boy crazy would be an accurate description, but my lesson from Chase taught me to cover my paper better, and to not put all my eggs in one basket, so from then on out, I had a tier system. If you were semi cute, and semi nice then you found your way onto my list, Elementary and Junior High School boys. The roster would change consistently, but I had about five starters at all times. At least until I was fourteen.

By this time, I had learned that boys could do worse things than copy a math test and blame it on you. Much worse things. When you like someone as much as I liked boys, you put them on a pedestal, and as such they were a distant and an unknowable thing. I really liked boys, but I thought of them as almost another species. The idea that they were people never crossed my mind. They were boys.

And by the time I was fourteen, the idea of boys were tarnished by the world I lived in. I'd go for a walk, and check behind bushes for an attacker. I'd have a buddy when I went to the restroom, because you never know. I'd heard of IT happening to girls that I knew and loved, and I knew how common IT was, and part of me was waiting for my turn at torture and scared of all men everywhere.

I knew good men. My dad is a good man, my brother and his friends were good male kids, but boys? Boys were distant and unknowable creatures. I both loved them and feared them, and wanted one of my own.

About this time I started going to regional dances, which in the Mormon culture is a place teenagers 14-18 could go and dance to the music their parents heard in high school, and where the boys would sit and talk about video games, and the girls would hide in the bathroom and cry over the boys who were sitting and talking about video games. I was not the kind of girl who cried in the bathroom. I was the kind of girl who stood near the boys, keeping my face in the practiced eyes-wide, mouth closed, expression that I thought made me look the prettiest, but actually made me look slightly deranged, as I waited for one of the boys on my roster to try to climb to the top of the list by asking me to dance. I did not speak to them, I just hovered, in their vicinity, looking like a crazy person, and also feeling like I was at my prettiest. The boys still never noticed.

That's where I was when I met Anthony. Anthony was adorable. He looked, and I kid you not, like a young Leonardo Dicaprio (This was him, I'm not even kidding) with dark hair, and I was very into this young Leonardo Dicaprio with dark hair. I didn't even see him coming, he literally bumped into me, and then asked me to dance, and I was smitten. Gone was the list. There was only Anthony.

 But I was terrified of him, and didn't say a single word the entire time we awkwardly shuffled back and forth in tiny pointless circles. But I found out from my friends afterwards that he went to my school. Oh, I liked him.  The next year, he was in my History Class, and the teacher, a blessed woman, had set up her classroom so that half of the desks faced the other half of the desks, and Anthony sat opposite me. Technically a few rows to the side of me and a couple seats back, but it didn't matter, because I could see him and he could see me. I tried to do the whole eye flirt thing my friends could do, where you stare at them until they see you, and quickly glance away, but I wasn't very good at it. I'd quickly glance at him, and then wait for him to glance at me, and then he didn't... and then other people in the class started noticing me always staring at this one boy and started teasing me, so then I vowed not to look at him ever again, and then I broke that vow again and again. But I never talked to him. Except one day when he bumped into me in the hall, and put both of his hands on my shoulders and told me (and I quote) to, "Watch where you are going."

Now I'm wondering if maybe Anthony needed glasses.

Anyway, he disappeared as quickly as he came, this cute boy I never talked to. But I was older, and wiser after Anthony. I learned the important lesson, that you have to talk to boys in order to fall in love.

And thus began the Third Age.

We shall call it, the Age of the Friendzone.