BackgroundThe Beard and I met in August 2009. We started hanging out in October and kissed in December. It was still really casual and cautious, and in March we both decided independently to be gone for the summer - Ryan in Arizona and me in England. We hung out more and more in April, realizing we really liked each other in the face of departure.
A week after we first met - the night he got my digits. Epic.
The night before he left for Arizona, at the end of April, we had a really good talk about our expectations for the summer. We weren't even bf/gf at that point, so doing the long distance thing was clearly out of the question. The Beard was a bit of a commitment-phobe at the time and I had reservations about that. I also knew that he was going down there with his single dude posse, and that there would undoubtedly be just scores of hot Arizona girls to occupy their limited down time.
As for me, this was the first summer that I didn't take classes and two months before I left. I was incredibly excited about have a "real" summer and though I really liked Ryan, I wasn't going to waste my summer stressing about a boy that wasn't here.
So we decided to have an awesome summer, stay in touch if we wanted to, and see what September brought back, with equal parts hope and pessimism.
Ryan left on a Sunday. Monday I got up, went to work, and had a very regular day. No tears, no sadness. I was pretty sure Ryan was going to forget about me and I can't STAND feeling clingy. I just decided to get over it, expect nothing, have fun and not even think about him. There were new adventures ahead.
When I got home, my cute roommate Natalie was getting ready for FHE and invited me to come. I LOLed a little.
Still. I was committed to meeting new people and having a blast this summer, so I went. Big mistake. I don't remember what we did, but we sat down in the big circle of chairs and instantly some boys came over to talk to us. I looked up and was instantly drawn to one of the guys, who saw me looking and walked toward me, smiling.
"Wow." I thought. "They really were right about singles wards. I am having a Taylor Swift moment with a guy I've never met. All because of FHE."
He sits down next to me, we exchange names and small talk, and then the Bishop gets up to start the lesson/activity/whatever we were doing. We quiet down. I was trying to be as charming as possible, obviously.
My mind is going a mile a minute. "What was that connection? Did he feel it? Don't get ahead of yourself, Crazy, he could have a girlfriend. Could I even date someone in my ward? That's an awkward story to tell our kids we met in a singles ward." Don't act like you haven't done this embarrassing thought train route before.
But then I started to notice all my judgy little things. "That's weird... why would I be attracted to a guy in construction-style dirty boots? Wait a minute. Those are Bugle Boy jeans. His hat is camouflage. What. What. What."
Let me be clear. I have no issue with many of those observations. It's just not my type. I was starting to question my mental health. Then he started talking again.
"Do you like Mexican food? I need a date for this week and I'd sure like to get some Cafe Rio!"
How did I not notice his hick accent before? And did he really just ask me out within 5 minutes of knowing me? I even thought I was attracted to this guy. I'm going crazy. I must be.
I accepted, because I will always accept a first date. Always. Any single girl who doesn't is a B*TCH. Who do you think you are, turning down a guy who worked up the courage to compliment you with a date?
As we left FHE, I'm in this weird shock. What just happened? I thought I had a legitimate connection with this guy. Am I crazy? He's 0% my type. The more I talked to him, the less I liked him.
Plus he was clearly fresh off his mission - he brought it up like 100 times and asked what my favorite scripture was. All the more apparent during our date... dun-dun-dunnnnnnnnnnnn...
THE DATEThe next morning he sent me a very next follow-up text. With one too many winky-faces. How many you ask? One. I'm mean. I know he was just trying to be nice. But a winky face is always creepy.
Two days later, he would pick me up 20 minutes early for our date (WORSE THAN BEING LATE) and proceed to offer a prayer over our Cafe Rio meal in the middle of the restaurant. Yes. As always at Cafe Rio, there were no less than 10 people I knew there, watching. No that I'm ashamed of praying. I pray. Oh, do I pray. But am I wrong in thinking that maybe in the middle of Cafe Rio on a first date might not be the appropriate time/place for a verbal prayer? Regardless, I bowed my head and prayed with him.
The REALIZATIONAfter dinner, I politely declined his offer to watch a movie at his place. It seemed weird at 6 pm on a Wednesday night. Also he probably only watched the Living Scriptures, and man, sometimes Laman and Lemuel are just too much for me, you know?
I walked back into my apartment is disbelief. What a dismal date from such optimistic beginnings.
So what was going on? What did it mean?!!!!
At that precise moment of confusion, my other roommate, Becca, walks up. I told her I just went on a date with that kid from FHE.
"WHAT? That guy talking your ear off all night? He totally reminded me of Ryan! He looks so much like him!"
There it is.
He had Ryan's same color and shape of eyes. Brown hair. Big football guy build.
So I'm not gonna say that was the moment I gave up dating, because I went out with a handful of guys in those two months before England. But it was.
Cafe Rio prayer guy reminded me that there was no one quite like Ryan, and that I wanted to see where that went. I'm really glad the Beard felt the same way and spent his summer texting me between houses.
Because it went here.