Nineteen years ago, I was 19 years old.
And right about this time, I was at a now defunct nightclub in Media, PA with some friends from my college basketball team. We were meeting up with a bunch of people two of them worked with, including a guy that one of my friends liked. I was just along for the ride. The original plan was to go watch the guys play basketball, but their plans changed and they were heading out instead…so we did, too.
A funny thing happened. The guy my friend liked had a bunch of other guy friends with him (go figure). And one of those guys kept waving to me (in a hilariously goofy way) from across the room. I remember thinking that he was SO handsome, he couldn’t possibly be waving to me. But he was. Again and again. I can still picture his face, his outfit, his giant smile and funny wave. I can still picture who I now know as his best friend, standing next to him, egging him on. Finally, we got up the courage to speak to one another.
We hit it off.
He was nice.
He was funny.
He was a gentleman.
And today, 19 years later, he’s still all of those things.
Today, Kenny and I have known each other for half of our lives. Pretty cool, right? Tomorrow, we’ll have known each other more than half of our lives. Pretty amazing, right? Maybe even more amazing – we still like each other. Very much. 🙂
That summer – way back in 1995 – changed my life. Kenny and I started dating just a few short weeks before I was set to leave to go to Penn State Main Campus. We parted ways that first evening with plans for him to call me the next day…and he did. And the day after that. And the day after that. From our very first meeting, I knew in my heart things were different this time. From the very first time we spoke, he made me happier than anyone I’d ever met before. (And he still does.)
We went our first official date a short while later – over to Pennsauken to see Dangerous Minds.
I remember being completely giddy that evening getting ready for our first date. Even my mom could tell something was different. I remember being silly and sitting on the floor in the front of my living room, sneakily peeking out the curtains so I knew the exact moment when he pulled up.
At the time, he drove his father’s old pick up truck. My mom commented about it when he pulled up. And I remember not caring AT ALL what the heck kind of car he was driving – I only cared about who was behind the wheel. (I will say that one of my favorite memories is when he asked me if I wanted to listen to the radio and pulled a good, old-fashioned, battery-operated radio out from under the driver’s seat and handed it to me. Hahaha.)
We watched him try to parallel park on our street and I was so nervous. He finally nailed it and hopped out of the car. He knocked, I answered. He was wearing nice shorts, with a belt. (Read: his boxers weren’t hanging out the top of his pants like so many first dates before. Score.) He introduced himself to my parents, complete with some handshakes. (Score.) He answered all my mom’s questions about where he lived, where he went to school, if he worked, etc. etc. with a smile. (Score.) When he dropped me off – he walked me to the door and made sure I got in safely. (Score.)
He said he’d call me tomorrow. And he did. Every time he said he would. (Score. Score. Score.)
We spent as much time together as we possibly could over the next few weeks. And during that time, I had the good fortune to meet some of my closest friends today (his best friends and one of their wives). I loved everything about what was happening around me…and sadly, I had to pack up and move to central Pennsylvania towards the end of August.
He went to school at Temple, and honestly, we weren’t sure if a long-distance thing was going to work out. After all, we were young and in college…in two cities / towns that were very far away.
We wrote each other letters everyday. Our parents funded some pretty hefty phone bills. I went home as much as I could; he came to Penn State as much as he could. We were making it work. However, I wasn’t crazy about Penn State and living so far away from almost everyone I loved. I missed him (and my family – haha) so much and I knew, deep down, I just needed to move home. I lived for mail or phones calls or packages from home. I hopped into any car that was heading to the Philadelphia area, and quite often, made my poor Dad drive to Allentown to pick me up from a friend’s house…because the ride from Penn State Main Campus stopped there. I finally mustered the courage to ask my parents about transferring home for the following school year. They said as long as I wouldn’t get too far off track, I could transfer.
So the very next year, I did.
To Temple. (Go ahead – insert a shocked face here. Haha.)
And, yep, now we’re living happily ever after. Haha.
I think it’s really cool that we’ve known each other – and have been together! – half of our lives. I am still amazed that I knew – in my heart – from the very first time we spoke that we ‘fit’. I knew he was the one from that very first encounter. I don’t think either of us would have ever imagined we’d be living in Oregon with our two awesome kids…so far away from so many of our loved ones, especially given that I couldn’t hack it four hours away in central Pennsylvania for a few months. But, we’re doing it together. Just as we have for half of our lives. And that still makes me happy. And I imagine it will for 19 more years, and hopefully, 19 more after that. And maybe, just maybe, 19 more after that. 🙂
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