I think my first ever words to him were: I swear I'm not high, I just finished hot yoga, and I'm totally zenned out <a phrase I made up? I'm sure he thought I was crazy, but our conversation, even that first meeting, was totally frank and honest, a laying out of who we were at the time. We discussed what we dreamed, what we planned, what we loved and hated about our current situations, and the biggest mistakes we'd made recently. It was pretty intimate for a first time meeting you coffee. But at the end, we just went back to our lives for the next 3 and a half months, and it wasn't until August that we met again.
Our first year of graduate school was intense, and we shared all the same classes. Our class (then 8 people and after that only 7) probably saw more of each other than was healthy. Brendan knew everything about me: my obsession for web MD, my penchant for Smoothie King, my love of straight As, etc. I knew Brendan didn't cook much (and I brought him leftovers weekly), worked harder than anyone I knew, and was, hands down, the smartest person I'd ever met. But we were just friends. Into our second year, I knew I had an innocent crush because I enjoyed being around him so much, and would eat lunch at his desk most everyday (much to his "I have stuff to do" dismay) but even through the coffee shop meetings, and the outings with friends to eat alligator or ghost hunt in abandoned graveyards or attend the strange Contraband Days carnival, we were just buddies. I was dating someone else, and at times, so was he.
It didn't occur to me until the summer after our second year that my crush on him was really serious. By that time, my relationship had deteriorated, and everyone had seen it coming long before I had the courage to actually end it (even my Dad, ha). The realization of my feelings for Brendan hit me really hard, in a smokey bar, typical hangout of all places, but, by then, a dysfunctional relationship had left me emotionally drained, and I knew I was in no place to act on my epiphany, nor did I have any idea if Brendan would feel the same way. I focused on getting better because I had to. It was really hard, and maybe the most uncomfortable period of my life to examine the past two years seeing reality and not just what I wanted to see. Luckily, I had friends (including Brendan) and family to help me through it (Thanks Will & Missy, Erica, and the Price-Woods especially). It wasn't easy, but once I was better, I still had a lot of soul searching to do.
You know the rest is history, but it's not really the whole story, because before Brendan and I kissed, we still had these months of just being regular old long walks, tipsy talks, you have to read this, oh my god, your poetry presentation sucked, best friends. And those are maybe some of the best memories ever. Even though at the time, I wanted to know if he held my hand because we were friends or something more, now, I wouldn't trade those months for anything on this earth. By October, we had kissed and I'd invited him on a first date: We attended my favorite two year old's birthday together. So, somewhere in between the jump-jump and the drive home (at 3am-crazy two year-old!), two weeks after said first kiss, we figured this was the real deal. It felt like such a relief to know it (not that we said it, but we just knew it). I'm not a high-risk kind of person, and the courage it all took was scary as hell. In the end, it was more scary to not do anything though. I'd usually reserve song lyrics for an AIM away message when I was 15, but the Counting Crows summed up the situation pretty damn well:
All my friends told me, you don't need laws to tell
that if it feels like falling, you probably already fell
the whole table saw your hand, you might as well just play it
and you ain't fooling no one, you might as well just say it
so, I guess I'm in love
I guess I'm in love.
And that was that.
The middle of our semester, the end of our "just friendship," and the beginning of our something even greater ship. Now, 4 years later, I remember that first coffee shop meeting exactly. I know what I was wearing, what I ordered, and exactly what he looked like, and I remember everything he told me. I'm glad I didn't know the rest of the story though, because I couldn't have written it better.
"If you stayed around here, you might wind up by my side
and that's true.