Monday, April 12, 2004

One Year Later

Today is April 12, 2004. One year ago today, Brandi and I went out on our first date.

It was a Saturday. I went to BGSU's spring football game that afternoon, then came home and watched a Reds game on television (and perhaps napped a bit on the couch) before showering and getting dressed and ready. If I remember correctly, I showed up at Brandi's apartment at 6:00. We hung out and chatted there for a little while, and then went out.

We went to dinner at The Spaghetti Warehouse in Toledo. Afterwards we went to Showcase Cinemas in Maumee to see Adam Sandler and Jack Nicholson in Anger Management. Then we went to a bar called Brewster's in BG, which was far too loud and crowded for our tastes at the time, and from there we went to BW3. We had a drink or two there, and then went back to my apartment to watch movies and hang out a little bit longer.

The movies we watched were As Good as it Gets and The Wedding Singer (sticking with Jack Nicholson and Adam Sandler), and we continued talking and getting to know each other. Neither of us wanted the night to end, and thus she ended up staying over. I took her home the next afternoon shortly before she had to go to work.

Needless to say, it was a magical evening, and one of the first building blocks in where we are today. Getting here was no easy task. When we first started dating, Brandi had just recently come out of a relationship and didn't feel ready to jump right into another. I had been out of my last relationship for a longer period of time, but after being in a relationship nearly constantly for nine years (one for three, another on and off for six), I was planning to enjoy the single life for a while. Neither of us was looking for what we found.

Some interesting anecdotes from early on....

When Brandi and I first met, I was kind of seeing her friend Cricket. I went out to BW3 one Wednesday to meet up with Cricket at their karaoke night, and Brandi was there. After hanging out for a bit, the three of us eventually moved on to a place called Skybar. Eventually Brandi and I struck up a conversation. She was still dating her ex-boyfriend at that time, and we were actually talking mostly about that, but it was enough to sow the seeds of a mutual attraction.

The second time we ran into each other is when I got her number and we actually decided to go out sometime. That was an interesting evening, to say the least. See, I originally went out to meet up with another girl (Sarah) that I had met recently. However, the bar where we decided to meet up was a place that I was known to frequent, so Cricket and Brandi went there to look for me. They found me before Sarah did. This put me in a weird spot, because I was worried about screwing things up with Cricket. So I blew Sarah off, stopped looking for her, and luckily didn't run into her. I felt bad about that, but I saw it as my only option at the time--I don't think Cricket was under any impressions that she was the only girl I was seeing, but I still thought it might be a bit awkward for all of us to run into each other. At any rate, it turned out not to matter, as both Cricket and Sarah soon became romantically irrelevant.

The first thing Brandi said to me that night was "My boyfriend broke up with me." I picked up on that as a signal right away and let it set the tone for the evening. Eventually the three of us ended up in a group out on the dance floor, where Brandi and I kept talking. It came out at some point that we were attracted to each other, and we decided to get together and go out sometime. I felt a little weird about it, since this was Cricket's friend, but really, I knew already that things were going nowhere with Cricket (in terms of dating, that is...she's very cool, and we're all friends now--she's dating my friend and former roommate Adam, and we hang out relatively often); I even had a sense (which was later confirmed by Brandi) that Cricket knew what was going on and was cool with it. Anyway, Brandi and I started dancing together, and before the night had ended we were holding hands and she had kissed me on the cheek. Nothing major, especially considering some of the goings-on at college bars, but plenty for my mind, which was already overloaded with the evening's proceedings (and a fine layer of alcohol).

Brandi and I started dating in April, and I moved into a new apartment in May. In between, we spent a lot of time at her place. I ended up staying over pretty frequently. We'd usually talk the night away and well into the morning. Sleeping there was interesting at any rate. Her bedroom was immediately next to a railroad track, and it was pretty common to be awoken by a train rumbling past, blowing its horn. Also, not too far from her apartment was a charming little pig-slaughtering facility. Occasionally we'd be lulled to sleep (or jarred from it) by the lovely sound of pigs shrieking their last breaths away. Still, I wouldn't trade those times for anything. That was when she and I got to know each other. We talked openly about the obstacles facing our relationship, and that helped open our lines of communication. As we talked, we realized that it wasn't going to be easy, but I think that's also when we began to discover that it would be worth it.

Early on, I think it would have been easy for either of us to call it off. As I've said, there was plenty of stuff in our way, and neither of us went into this looking for a long-term relationship. However, as we continued to spend time together, we started falling for each other, almost against our wills. It just happened. Eventually I came to realize that it would be harder for me to be without her than it would be for us to work through our difficulties. It seems that she came to that conclusion as well.

So that's where we started from, around this time last year. Now we've been together for this long, and we're planning to move in together soon. I think this is a good move for us, and I'm excited about it. She'll be back in BG in August, at the latest, and I can't wait to have her.

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