It was Saturday, April 14th. A beautiful, glorious, perfect Saturday. Many people on campus were gone visiting family for the long Easter weekend. I made plans to go to St. Helens the following day so that I wouldn’t have to be in a hurry during my date with Rob.
My date. With Rob. A date!
A much anticipated trip home to see my family over Easter paled in comparison to a date with the man of my dreams. No... a man so far beyond what I had previously even thought to dream about. How did I get here? Pinch me—is this real?
Like a giddy 19 year-old college freshman would do, I’m sure I squealed, primped and just about passed out as I was getting ready that morning.
Rob lived in West Salem, about 25 minutes from campus, and we were going to be hanging out downtown so we agreed to meet in the middle at the Rite-Aid parking lot in the early afternoon. He had made it clear that he just wanted to get to know me, and he wasn’t really excited about spending very much together on campus. At a Christian college the marriage rumors start flying about 10 seconds after you’re first seen with a member of the opposite gender. He made it clear that he didn’t want rumors to fly while we were still getting to know each other, because that’s all we were doing—getting to know each other.
Mental note #1: This may or may not be a date. This is kind of a date. This is a get-to-know you date. It’s not a will you be my girlfriend kind of date. There would be no need for a break-up talk if he decided he didn’t want to take me on another date. He just won’t ask, and that will be that. Oh, please, please ask!
Mental note #2: I need to be sure not to squeal my excitement about our date with too many other people. Clearly he doesn’t want the news of our date blasted throughout campus.
Mental note #3: Don’t make a fool out of yourself for heaven’s sake. This guy is amazing—don’t blow it!
I went to brunch in the cafeteria that day and tried not to let my excitement show on my face. My friend, SaraJane asked what I was going to do for the day. I told her I thought I’d take a walk downtown. It wasn’t a lie, by any means, but it wasn’t exactly the whole truth either. I’m really glad facebook wasn’t around during those days as it was hard enough trying to keep our relationship under wraps on a small campus. I think I would have had a hard time not sharing at least bits and pieces of my excitement and anticipation with all 500 of my closest ‘friends’! And, am I ever so grateful that I didn’t have to declare my relationship status back in those dating days. I think I would have just left it on, “it’s complicated” for the first six months!
After brunch I drove toward down town, praying diligently the whole way. We met in the Rite-Aid parking lot only to discover signs everywhere that said the parking lot was for customers only. So I followed him to the Salem Center Mall parking garage and we decided to walk around the Thomas Kinkaid Art Gallery for a little while.
I, for one, was grateful that we were breaking the ice in an art gallery where there was plenty to look at. I still wasn’t sure I was ready to sit across a table from him and look him in the eyes just yet. I know it sounds funny, but I was having a really hard time looking directly at him. I’m not sure if I was afraid I would just start gawking, or drooling, or swooning, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it!
Then we headed toward water front park where we walked several loops around the park. It was really cold outside, but I was determined to buck up and bear the cold for as long as possible. This date certainly wasn’t going to end on account of me being too cold!
After several loops around the park we settled down on a bench in the middle. I have no concept of how many hours went by, nor do I recall much about our conversation. But I do remember that I enjoyed every last minute of our time together.
A while later we started to get hungry so he invited me out to his barn to get something to eat. Yes you read that right—his barn. He lived in a tiny apartment in the hay loft of a pole barn set out on 12 beautiful acres.
He treated me to a gourmet snack of a cup o’ noodles and we enjoyed spending several more hours together out at his place. I had been out there before, but certainly never alone. I was alone. With Rob. In the barn. On a date! And he seemed to be enjoying it… I think.
He must have been enjoying it, I reasoned, or he wouldn’t have invited me over to his barn, right? He could have easily ended the date at the park and that would have been just fine. Who knows? This guy certainly didn’t wear his heart on his sleeve!
Around 6 o’clock he took me back to my car and I followed him out to a mutual friend’s house to celebrate that friend’s Birthday. We had pizza, played some games and then went bowling. J was there. Awkward. Did I mention that it was pretty obvious that this other mutual friend also had an apparent interest in me too? Not that I was that much of a catch per se, but I was the new girl, and that was enough to catch the attention of at least a few guys.
During the bowling portion of the evening everyone started asking around about going back to our friend’s house to watch a movie. I was quick to say yes in Rob’s presence, hoping that he would decide to come too. He declined however, but by that time I felt stuck going since I had already enthusiastically said that it sounded like fun.
Uh-oh, should I read into the fact that he didn’t want to go watch a movie?
Nevertheless, I tried not to read into anything because clearly I wasn’t very good at reading this guys signals yet. So I headed back with some of our friends, including J and this other guy who I was decidedly not even remotely interested in (but who kept obnoxiously flirting with me) to watch a movie. J knew Rob and I had gone out that day, but I don’t think anyone else there had a clue. Part way through the movie I decided to excuse myself and head back to the dorm. Honestly, the only reason I had said yes to going back to watch a movie was because I was hoping to spend some more time with Rob.
I didn’t want the smile on my face to make J uncomfortable, and the whole situation just felt awkward. Besides, I don’t remember what the movie was, but I remember that it wasn’t that good. It definitely wasn’t as good as replaying my day over and over and over again in my head. The greatest director in Hollywood couldn’t create magic as captivating as I was feeling in my heart.
As for how Rob was feeling? I had no idea. Not even the faintest clue!
Click on the "Our Love Story" tag at the top of the page to see other love story posts, or to start from the beginning.