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

June 29, 2017

I’ve talked in bits and pieces about how Gabe and I met and started dating, but for my own memory’s sake I thought I it was time to write it down. 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. Both of us were a little blindsided by each other…

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 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;))

At this point in my life, 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. 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 never missed a class because I was anxious to learn. (I look back and envy that energetic motivated version of myself who got up for swim team at 6am and arrived promptly at 7:50 am to my political science class every M,W, and F after being out dancing the night before.)  I hung out with guys, and went on a few dates, but was not really interested in anyone.

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 recognizing someone familiar. It was slightly terrifying to be honest, as I felt this deep pitted realization poking at me telling me he was the one.  I don’t consider myself romantic and I was not on the lookout, so you can imagine how fast 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 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. It annoyed me that I could no longer ignore how I was drawn to him. 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. One afternoon he asked me to go with him to visit a spunky elderly woman named Fran. He had befriended her, and liked to check in with to help her around the house. I remember that was when I thought it might be time to let my guard down a little and maybe consider telling him how I felt.

The problem was, in my own circle of friends, a few other gals also had their eyes on Gabe. So….of course 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 friends telling me they had a crush on Gabe, I worked up the courage to let down those walls a little. They were some solid walls.  I didn’t realize at the time that he too had interest in me, and he even tried to send hints my way to which according to him I shrugged off and ignored. Poor Gabe. I knew I was going to have to tell him.

I gathered my two bffs, and told them how I felt about Gabe. I needed a pep talk, and they delivered. I was kind of a shaky mess. I called up Gabe via my first-edition flip phone to his land line phone (dating before social media meant know easy way out), 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, 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 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.

*Update: Part Two here, and Part Three here.

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