How we met Pt. 1: Dolphins, premonitions, and land line phones

June 29, 2017

I’ve talked in bits and pieces about my marriage and dating years to Gabe, and how he has impacted my life in big ways. I don’t think it really can be accurately described unless you understand the beginning of it all. Back when I was miss independent with no plans in the near future to get into a relationship or have kids. Back when Gabe had just bet his friend $50 that he wouldn’t date anyone that semester because he was sure that Rugby and school would be his only focus. But see we aren’t really always in control of how our lives pan out are we? Says the gal with 5 kids scratching her head wondering how that happened so fast…

This could probably be its own book of comical short stories. Maybe we will get around to recording it soon, but for now here is my best attempt in writing.

“Let’s start from the very beginning. A very good place to start.” I had just gotten done with a volunteer year, and starting my Freshman year of college at a small private school in small town, OH. People came from all over the country to attend the school, an Gabe was already a Sophomore there all the way from Milwaukee, WI. My sister also went to the school so she was able to give me the low down on all of her friends before I arrived. She offered her advice just as sisters do, on who to get to know and what things the school had to offer. (I consider this sister a best friend who knows me better than anyone else.) So I definitely paid attention when she offered her last bit of advice which would end up being an ironic unintentional premonition, “I can’t see you dating any of the guys here….except maybe Gabe Liesemeyer who is really funny.” I put it in the back of my mind and kind of forgot for awhile since Gabe was studying abroad the semester I arrived.

 

(We had a lot of themed parties;))

 

As I previously mentioned, I was miss independent. I didn’t want to waste time on boys and broken hearts unless it was one I really had a good feeling about. I survived high school with this mentality and no intention of changing my game. So I put my time and energy into making the most out of my college experience. I played every intramural sport the school had to offer, joined the yearbook committee, joined a household (kind of like a sorority), and showed up ten minutes early to every class because I was that anxious to learn. I look back and envy that energetic motivated version of myself who got up for swim team at 6am and arrive promptly at 7:50 am to my political science class every M,W, and F after being out dancing the night before. Side note: I am now at least ten minutes late to everything, and think getting up before 6 is un-human. I hung out with guys, and maybe went on a few dates, but was not giving anyone so much as a batted eyelash!

Fast forward one semester, everyone is getting back from Christmas break and I was heading to the bookstore to pick up books for classes. A few people ahead of me stood this tall rough haired boy who looked familiar from the pics my sister Maria had shown me of her friends. After I got my books and headed out I almost bumped into him on the steps back to the dorms. He started the conversation with “You must be Maria’s little sister!” It clicked that this was Gabe, the friend she had given me the heads up on. As I looked at his goofy expressions and wild hair I had a brief strange experience of what can only be described as my soul recognizing his. It was slightly terrifying to be honest, as I felt this deep pitted realization poking at me telling me he was the one. (I wouldn’t doubt that it was God very gently giving me an FYI;))  I don’t consider myself romantic and I was not on the lookout, so you can imagine how I awkwardly shoved that thought down the drain and pretended to carry on small talk conversation. I successfully ignored that thought the whole semester as we became good friends.

As the semester went on, I observed Gabe’s dedication to everything and everyone he cared about. He was an all or nothing guy. The show up for that optional extra Rugby practice kind of guy, and the kind of guy you’d call if you didn’t have a car and needed a ride somewhere. My admiration for him grew. I never had a “list” of things I was looking for, but I did hope for someone who shared my love of faith and who had a good sense of humor. Well the second of the two started to become pretty clear early on. He wasn’t afraid to make an idiot of himself for the sake of a laugh which is still one of my favorite things about him. For example: one night, a group of us were all playing charades and Gabe had to act out the word “dolphin.” I never had seen such a ridiculous dolphin impersonation, and I laughed till there were tears in my eyes. He was growing on me whether I liked it or not. It annoyed me that I could no longer ignore the feeling that he would play a significant role in my life. My liking for him grew into a deep respect as I saw how he would go out of his way to help anyone who needed it. I even got to accompany him one time as he introduced me to an elderly woman named Fran he had befriended and liked to check in with to help her around the house. I thought it was probably time to let my guard down maybe a little and maybe consider telling him how I felt.

The problem was, in my own circle of friends, several girls also fell for him and would confide in me who their crush was. “Gabe? No wayyy!” I would say pretending to be supportive when inside it was all deflated hopes. Since I valued friendship over boys, I continued to wait it out….all the way through summer and into my sophomore year. When there was finally a lull in Gabe crushes, I worked up the courage to let down those walls a little. Nails could have bounced off the walls I had built.

I played up a good independent game, but really didn’t have much confidence inside back then. Gabe however, would always make extra efforts to pull me out of my shell and make me smile and laugh. I didn’t realize at the time that he too had interest in me, and even tried to send hints my way to which I apparently shrugged off and ignored. Poor Gabe. An example of this: One night my friend who was crushing hard on Gabe at the time asked everyone to go around and describe their dream girl or boy hoping to get more info out of him. Gabe started to describe his dream girl and as he did, my face started to burn red and I stared down at my food refusing to look up. I could tell he was describing me. I didn’t even know how to handle it, and he would later confess he wanted to see how I reacted. Since I gave him no reason to believe I was happy about this, he concluded I just wasn’t interested. When in reality, I was dying a little bit inside of embarassment yes, but also hope…maybe it was time to tell him how I felt.

A few months later the courage finally came, and I gathered my two besties Molly and Liza, and asked them to say a prayer for me to help calm my nerves. I was kind of a shakey mess. They were also clueless I even had a thing for him which proves I had the stone cold killer thing down pat! I called up Gabe via my first-edition flip phone and his land line phone (dating before social media was kind of the way to go), and asked him if he would meet me on the corner street between our two houses. He lived in a house full of Rugby players and I lived in a house full of good gal friends. I had never called him directly before, and I believe my shaky voice might have contributed to him thinking this call was probably about something awful I was going through.

We met at the corner and I started walking with him down the lamp lit dark street as I confessed how much I admired him above any other guy on campus, and how I hoped I could get to know him on a deeper level. Gabe was nodding his head in silence and his eyes were big and wide. All he responded was “I think I’d like that too.” And just as mysteriously as we had met at the corner, we parted ways. Both of us stoic and serious on the outside and both of us bursting with excitement on the inside. That was that.

 

I realize this has become a novel at this point, so how about part 2 tomorrow? If you have made it this far I salute your attention span. Stay tuned for more tomorrow, but as you can see by the 5 children we have, the story ends well.

 

 

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