13 years ago I accepted the dare of a friend and asked out a young school teacher that I had been interested in from afar. She surprisingly agreed.
At the time, I was working as a gopher on the new construction of a performing arts wing at my church and she was teaching in the school that was run by the church. I could tell that this girl was cool. She seemed comfortable with who she was and her confidence radiated through her and made her even more attractive to me. So I made a point to walk by her classroom as often as I could. And after a few “hellos,” and her students noticing my repeated presence, she introduced herself to me. Yeah, I was pretty lame and didn’t introduce myself first. But remember, this was 19 year old me, and I was not nearly as comfortable in my own skin as I am now.
I was talking about this new girl I’d met to a friend while she was out at recess with her class. He dared me to go ask her out or he would. So, making a long trek out to the parking lot, with hard hat in hand, I very awkwardly asked this girl out on a date. She said yes, and we went out two days later. The date? November 2nd, 2003.
OUR FIRST DATE
I was young and poor and had never really taken a girl out before, so we met at church (it was a Sunday), and then went bowling. I tried to decide whether I should let her win or impress her with my bowling skills. Yeah, as if any woman had ever liked a guy for being good at bowling, but like I said, I was 19 years old and this was my first REAL date with a “stranger.” I quickly realized that the result of the game had nothing to do with me when she beat soundly by bowling a 201. To this day, she’s never again scored anywhere close to a 201 but on that day she must’ve had the hot hand. At one point, while trying to be funny, my gum accidentally fell out of my mouth and landed right onto the ball return. I quickly grabbed it and returned the gum to my mouth, hoping she hadn’t seen. I found out later that she had and she thought it was funny.
It was that day that I found someone who would let me be me without criticism or judgment. Up to that point I had always worn a mask of sorts. I was always trying to be the person that other people expected me to be. It has taken years but I finally feel comfortable in my own skin the way I perceived her to be. In fact, my wife is the one who gave me a safe place to become the man I am today. The person that people know and love today is the result of Jamie and years of love, forgiveness, and patience. When I think about it, Jamie gave me a chance to be the REAL me. Without her, there’d be no Real Person | Real Needs.
Today is the 13th anniversary of our first date, and with two kids and hectic lives, I still look forward to every opportunity to take her out on a date, just like I did the very first time.
I love you, Jamie.
PS- How do you still look the same 13 years later? I’m a lucky guy.