It’s an eleven today. That means my fiancé and I have spent eighteen months together. A while ago, we were sitting in Starbucks when I asked, “So what was our first date?” That may seem silly, but when we had gone from hanging out as friends to starting a romantic relationship, the “first date” wasn’t quite clear.
I had an answer, but I wanted to know if he agreed. Was it the first time that we did something with just the two of us? That would have been in our second year of university, when we met for coffee to study for a final exam together. Or was it the first time we went out after I figured out that he liked me and I liked him? That would be another coffee date in our fourth year, when I asked him why he became Catholic.
Or maybe it was another date. He started asking me about the things we’d done since I returned from Australia. Finally we hit Remembrance Day—in the back of my head as our “first date,”—and he exclaimed, “I knew I was going to remember that for some reason!”
Our First Date
When I mentioned to my family that I was going to the museum with one of my university friends—a guy friend—my brothers gave me strange looks. I tried to tell them about the new LEGO exhibit, but their looks just conveyed what a boring time they thought I’d have. My family wasn’t into museums, which was why I’d rather tentatively suggested the idea to my friend—and been very excited when he agreed.
I arrived with my father’s punctuality—fifteen minutes early. Enough time to find the washrooms, peruse all the pictures in the lobby, read about the current exhibit, visit the washrooms again, stare out the front doors to see if he was here yet, and reread the flyers on the current exhibit. All while thinking about how, since we’d started our final year of university, we’d gone from seeing each other every two months to every two weeks.
He finally came up the steps, teased me about being early, and we headed into the Alberta centennial exhibit. I was reading one of the displays on the wall when he came up beside me and wrapped his hand around mine. My heart rate went from 80 to 160 in one second. In that instant, I knew without a doubt that we weren’t “just friends” anymore. Not that anyone, including us, had ever really believed that.
When he asked me about where in Alberta there was a UFO landing pad, other than St. Paul, I couldn’t have told him the answer even if I had known it. Maybe he could tell that his hand on mine was scrambling my brain waves. Or maybe he was just having fun teasing me about something I didn’t know. Either way, the twinkle in his brown eyes and the smile worthy of Rhett Butler curving his lips made it even harder to think. UFO landing pad? There’s one in Vulcan? Fascinating.
We wandered on, pausing before the information about the 1988 Calgary Olympics. I viewed the pictures with interest, while his eyes again began twinkling. He had grown up in Calgary and remembered the Olympics—while I had barely been in preschool at the time. There was much elbow-jabbing and teasing about our age difference before we took seats to view a short film about Alberta. I couldn’t tell you what it was about, but I could tell you how his arm felt curved around my shoulders.
We explored the LEGO exhibit and the toy exhibit and then went through the regular exhibits—the Aboriginal gallery, the bugs, the rocks. By the time we finished, we were thoroughly museumed out, but unwilling to call it a day yet. Our feet took us outside to the gazebo and then down the trail to the river valley. When we returned, it was getting close to supper time, so we jumped into his truck and went in search of a meal. I borrowed his cell phone to call my parents and say I didn’t know when I’d be home.
The meal led to a movie (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) which led to coffee on the way back to the museum. There, we stood finishing our coffees and talking. Our conversation meandered to a topic that had come up earlier that day: Mixed marriages don’t work. I finally asked him, if he believed that, whether he thought anything was possible between us? His answer was that we wouldn’t be standing there then if something wasn’t possible. That was when I told him I’d been going to Mass for the last month…
We talked more about the Catholic Church and what our differing faith backgrounds meant for us. I knew when I left where we stood in our relationship.
Eighteen Months Together
So that was our first date, eighteen months ago. I feel in some ways like I was a different person back then—it was such a long time ago. We’ve spent two Christmases together, been to half a dozen friends’ weddings, taken a few road trips, gone camping twice, seen a lot of movies and plays, gotten mad and forgiven, shared dreams and struggles.
He proposed to me in the gazebo at the museum where we had our first date, seven months later. That date was also a “marathon” date, as my friends like to call our first date. It involved a tiger lily in his backpack, a very long poem about love by Shakespeare, and more memories from our first seven months together. Next month, we’ll finally say our vows to each other and start a new life together as a married couple.
When we started dating, we made a big deal out of one month, then two months. And now it’s been eighteen months together… how time flies when you’re in love. 🙂