Every year, I retell the story of how Phillip & I met because I’m still amazed after 5 years at the fate of it all. It’s a good story, but it’s been told. What hasn’t been told is the story of our first date.
I can remember asking my mom when I was little how you are supposed to know when you meet The One. I don’t think she ever gave me a direct answer aside from, “You just know.”
Her answer was not very specific but the meaning behind it, much like the love you experience for your child, never really sank in with me until I was much older and experienced it myself after finishing up my 12-hour first date with Mr. Cooper. There hasn’t been a single day since we met that Phillip & I haven’t spoken, and that includes the week after we met leading up to our first date. Every day, I found myself looking forward to talking to him and I can still remember how my heart jumped each time my phone dinged because I hoped it was him. I had just gotten out of a 4-year relationship, so the prospect of something new was equal parts exciting and terrifying, and I had a lot of nerves about that first date. Thankfully, it went far better than I ever could have anticipated.
The date started with us going to eat Chinese food because earlier in the week he had asked me what my favorite food was. When I say it’s Chinese, I mean that I kept the lights on at my favorite buffet, Imperial Garden, for a couple of years with my regular trips for cashew chicken takeout. I had joked with my best friend’s mom, “That’s it! I’m going to marry him!” based entirely on him saying that he, too, loved Chinese food. However, the plan was to eat Hibachi (which I know isn’t Chinese, but it still falls into the Asian category) and that plan quickly went awry. Folks, this was the end of July in Kentucky. If you’ve never been here, know that it gets hotter than the hinges on the gates of Hell in the summer here and the humidity only makes it more miserable. You combine that with the heat off of the hibachi grill and you end up with a recipe for the sweatiest first date known to man. Approximately 5 seconds after entering the doors, we decided to go next door for some cashew chicken & general tso’s instead. We ate, we talked, we laughed, and I loved every minute of it.
When we finished, he paid like a gentleman and we went back to my house for movies and more talking. He showed up to my house promptly at 6 that Friday and that date didn’t end until 6 the next morning. Now, I know what you’re thinking, but there was no walk of shame happening. In fact, nothing physical happened at all aside from a goodbye kiss at the very end. Instead, we talked for half a day and would’ve kept going had it not been so late/early. It was after he’d left that I realized the length of the date, we hadn’t run out of things to talk about and I hadn’t been bored even for a second. Nothing was forced, nothing was awkward, and I’d had a genuinely good time with a genuinely good guy who had a charming smile and a great sense of humor.
Speaking of humor, mine is either loved or people don’t get it at all. Phillip laughed at my jokes and didn’t look at me as though I might be a little off in the head. He appreciated my taste in music, though he admitted he was surprised by it because apparently I look like a Billboard Top 40 kind of gal and he was impressed when I recognized his Eric Clapton references. I liked the new music he introduced me to, but the fact that everything was new wasn’t even the most appealing part of this blossoming relationship, it’s that it all felt old like the perfectly worn in sweatshirt we all reach for on lazy Saturdays. And I knew.
I originally wanted to detail every moment of our first date, but I realized in typing everything that the details aren’t important. When I look back on that time, I remember some of the stuff we said, that we played Super Nintendo, and that he introduced me to Edward Sharp & the Magnetic Zeros, sure. I remember what we wore and how his cologne smelled. I remember the lingering feeling of the goodbye kiss on my lips too, but what stands out to me the most was the ease of it all. It felt like we’d known each other all along and I understood what my mom had told me when I was little. I just knew. I was able to be myself around him and we just clicked. He got my references, I laughed at his jokes, we filled each other in on the parts of each others lives we had missed and it was like we just picked up where we left off even though that was the beginning. When he left that morning, I just had this overwhelming sense that it would work, and I was right. That 12 hour date led to 3 years of marriage (and counting!) and a 4 month old baby with his eyes. Has it been easy? Not always. But I wouldn’t dream of sharing this life with anyone else, because even after all this time, he’s my best friend, my other half, and I’m so so glad I agreed to that first date.