When we last saw me, the heroine of this story, I had just been smacked with two grand truths: 1) I was going to marry a man I had just met; and 2) he was currently living with his long-term girlfriend.
You’d think that if you were the unsuspecting recipient of cosmic enlightenment, like, say, being able to predict your marriage to someone the first time you saw them, that you would actively seek that out, that no obstacle (like a live-in girlfriend) would get in the way of you fulfilling your destiny.
I think that would be true of most people. However, I was not like most people. I immediately accepted defeat and vowed to just love him from afar, which was, at this point in my young life, totally par for the course. Cute guy on the dorm floor? Loved from afar. Good friend in high school? Loved from afar. Jonathan Taylor Thomas? You get the idea.
Thus, from January to April 2007, I did what any other completely insane stalker would do and never turned down an invitation to be where he was. I took the 720 bus across the whole of Los Angeles to go to a Passover seder he and his girlfriend were attending together, and then offered to do the dishes just to spend twenty minutes with him at the sink, scrubbing ground lamb out of the bottom of a skillet. (As a vegetarian, this was a huge sacrifice for me.) Another time, I went to his apartment with some people from the comedy paper to watch Groundhog Day on Groundhog Day (how clever!) and watched, my heart shriveling up into a chest-raisin, while his girlfriend sat in his lap the entire time.
Those are just the times I remember. There was a lot of pathetic pining going on. For lots of a months.
Eventually, because I gave him no choice, he and I got to be good friends. I was satisfied with this because I had absolutely no faith it would ever be anything more. Growing up with brothers and male cousins and lots of high school guy friends, I had become accustomed to being “one of the boys.” And, really, as long as he was talking to me, I didn’t care.
One day in April, as we stood on Bruinwalk at UCLA handing out copies of the paper to unsuspecting victims, he casually mentioned to me that he and the girlfriend had broken up. A person with any agency at all would take this information about the man they were destined to spend the rest of their lives with and run with it. A person with any sort of gumption would dance a jig and jump on this chance.
I was not this person. You know that old adage, “Once bitten, twice shy,” was written for me, right? Except originally it was “Always bitten, shy for the rest of her life,” but it got chopped up in editing for being “too pathetic” and “a mouthful.”
Instead of being full of glee that my chance had finally come, I did nothing. I made no moves. This Future-Husband situation was on course to play out exactly how most other “relationships” I’d had did – by never really moving into “relationship” territory at all.
And, because I was pitiful, I was okay with that. We started exchanging cute Facebook messages (I KNOW. I also wish my love story did not involve Facebook messages, but I refuse to rewrite history), and he gave me three progressively more adorable mix CDs. I would reread the messages and play the CDs for hours alone in my apartment and then see him and pretend I hadn’t given him a second thought since the last time I’d seen him.
In retrospect, that seems really childish and stupid and I’m embarrassed. And then I remember that I was 20 years old, so I was legitimately pretty childish and stupid. And embarrassing.
On May 7, 2007, he and I found ourselves alone on campus – there was no comedy paper meeting and no one else was around. Neither of us had cars and I was currently embroiled in a turf war with my roommate, so we decided to go to the media library and watch This Is Spinal Tap on an aging computer in a study cubicle. I spent the entire movie sitting as far away from him as the small space would allow. (Again, I was a baller.)
After the movie, we walked back to my apartment building and spent the next several hours talking on lounge chairs by the pool on the roof. It was May in Los Angeles, so it was warm and we didn’t realize it was 4 am until we checked a cell phone. He’d missed the last bus back to his new, girlfriend-free apartment and I was living with a loose cannon, so after he walked me back down to my door, he went back up to the roof to wait out the next few hours.
Even now, I was not convinced there was funny business happening. My college experience up until that point had been made up entirely of late night conversations in weird places, and he had made no moves, so as I settled into bed, my only thought was of how sad it was that he was upstairs all alone.
Then, my phone buzzed. He’d sent me a text that read something like, “You should really come up here and look at these stars.”
And suddenly, for the first time in my entire life, I understood. I read a situation totally clearly. I knew that text was not about the stars. I knew. I knew that if I went up the elevator to the roof, my life would completely change.
So, what did I do?
I pulled on my Ugg boots (I KNOW) and hit “Roof” on the elevator. And for the second time in the few months I’d known him, I saw him through opening doors and I knew.
I had changed my life.
Four months after our “first date,” I was living with him. Exactly one year later, on May 7, 2008, he proposed by the lounge chairs near the pool on the roof of that apartment building. And two years after that, on May 8, 2010, we got married.
I have a reputation. I am a realist and a terrible cynic. However, I can safely say without snark or sarcasm or ulterior motive that sometimes, you really just know.