This morning I woke up earlier than usual and turned over in the bed to face my husband's back. In general I'm a very sarcastic person and am not a big fan of the sentimental. But this morning I saw my husband's back and I put my hand gently on it to feel him breathing but not wake him and I thought, "mine".
Want to know the story of how Jeff and I met? Let's pretend that you say yes, because I'm about to tell you anyways.
It was in March (perhaps this very day) in 1994. There is some speculation that we actually met much earlier, because growing up, one of my best friends was also best friends with Jeff's sister. My Mother remembers one incident in which we played in the same back yard at this mutual friends' house, however she claims I was a little preoccupied with learning to walk and Jeff was running around with the other boy there whipping things with sticks or whatever 3 year old boys do. So 1994 was the first time we met and actually remember it.
I was a freshman in high school and Jeff was a senior. I was a massive drama nerd in high school and had landed myself a role in the Spring production of Midsummer's Night Dream. One of my fellow cast-mates was turning 16 and invited me to her birthday party, so I went. At 14, I was one of the youngest ones at the party, and I grew bored with the crowd. While everyone else was off watching a video in the family room, I sat with my best friend Bibi (also only 14) on the floor of the dining room talking. And in walked Jeff Culver. He was there because he was friends with the birthday girl's older sister and was aimlessly and vaguely pursuing either one of the sisters. He was very tall, skinny with rosy cheeks, and was sporting a bowl cut parted down the middle. I was smitten. He sat with us in the dining room and made a few dry and sarcastic comments that had me swooning in my tapered jeans.
My friend Katherine was supposed to give me a ride home from the party, but she bailed on me to go parking with her boyfriend (which she later claims was intentional so that Jeff could step in and offer me a ride). Jeff quickly offered to give me a ride home (which was TOTALLY against my parents' rules as Katherine was one of only 3 friends they trusted to drive me around). I quickly accepted. He walked me to his car (the very same one he finally sold like 6 years ago) and I distinctly remember it was a long, dark walk. I made a snide comment about how maybe he was just taking me out into the woods to kill me and he went along with the joke, wrapping his arms around my shoulders for a minute and pretend shoving me off the side of the road. I was a twitter. On the ride to my house, we talked about his career aspirations, where he was applying to college, my passion for the performing arts and how strict I thought my parents were. He offered to let me hang out at his house if I ever wanted to. My heart was a flutter. He dropped me off and that was it. I called Bibi the next day and told her I had a crush. A week passed and I only saw him in the hall once or twice, each time getting nothing but a polite hello. I started to get desperate.
A week later, Katherine and I were hanging out at her house one night and started calling around to invite people over (her Mother was rarely around). I oh-so-subtly suggested that we should call "that Jeff guy" to see if he wanted to come over. We called and his parents told us that he'd gone to Seattle with one of the sisters from the birthday party. Did I mention that this girl was a senior? And the heart throb of many, many senior boys? Cue heart break.
But. BUT. A week later it was St. Patrick's Day. I had play rehearsal until late that night and when I got dropped off at home that night and went to say good night to my parents in their bedroom, my Mom stopped me as I walked away, "Waaaiiiit! I forgot! A BOY came over and left a card for you. It's on the kitchen table." I totally lost my cool and asked, "What did the boy look like!?" to which my mom unhelpfully provided, "He looked just like Tyrone Powers!" I looked at her like WTF? because what 14 year old knows who Tyrone Powers is. So she added, "He had really rosy cheeks!" I rushed to the kitchen and snatched up the card. I still have the card. He designed it himself. I think it said something about how he was sorry he'd missed my call the week before, referenced a specific joke that we'd made the night he drove him home, and then suggested that if I wanted to get together sometime, that I should call again. I immediately ran to my basement bedroom and called Bibi to flip out. Years later my parents told me that they could hear me yelling through the floor, "He made me a card!! He wants me to call him!!!" (or something equally dorky) over and over.
I called him the next night after ballet class. We talked for like 3 hours about all sorts of shamefully immature topics. The next night he took me on our first date. My parents made him come in and introduce himself before they'd let me go. I think they were ready to hate him and the whole idea of me dating a senior, but the family-friend connection helped (they knew he came from "good people") and I'm pretty positive that his bowl cut and general polite, dorkiness took him the rest of the way. They sent us off with a strict 10:30pm curfew.
We had a hot date at La Pinata where I ordered fajitas and he ordered something weird with shrimp in it in order to appear "interesting" (a theory he was currently testing). After dinner I think we did all sorts of random things, like I vaguely remember driving to the top of a big hill on Chuckanut drive to look at the stars, we wandered the aisles of Haggen Grocery for a while, and I think we cruised the Western campus; basically filling the time until 10:30 when he returned me promptly to my back door where we stood on the stoop saying good bye. But there was no kiss good night. That wasn't to come until my 15th birthday 10 days and 5 dates later. I'd like to say it was because he was a gentleman, but truthfully I think it had more to do with being a chicken. But he's MY chicken. Still is.