Today is our miniversary – the anniversary of our first date and the day we got engaged. And our wedding anniversary is on the 30th which makes this one helluva week!
This seems like a perfect time to share some tales from the “early days” five years ago so thank you in advance for indulging me as I take this little trip down memory lane.
Our first date
Mike and I had our first date on a summer night in San Francisco which meant…it was freezing! He kept the plans a surprise but insisted on picking me up like a true gentleman. Being the feminist that I am (or maybe I just wasn’t used to dating a gentleman) I was trying to convince him to let me grab the cab to pick him up since his apartment was on the way downtown. In all honestly, it made no sense to me for him to backtrack 10 blocks to come and get me. But after a little back and forth (consider it a foreshadow for all of the negotiating that goes into our marriage) I caved and he was on his way.
He called to say he’d be there in a few minutes and I put the final touches on my outfit and ran out the door to meet him downstairs (it was really important to me to prove how low maintenance I was and it made no sense for him to come all the way up to my apartment to get me). Five minutes passed with no taxi in sight. Just as I was wondering if he forgot where I lived, a black sedan with tinted windows came to a stop in front of my building. The driver circled the car and opened the passenger door to reveal, yep you guessed it, my date looking dashing in a grey tweed overcoat (you’ve heard what they say about summer in San Francisco, right?).
Saying I was surprised would be an understatement. As I mentioned, I had a track record for dating bad boys (you know the struggling artist types who would never be caught dead being thoughtful or actually planning a date) and I’d rarely been picked up for a date let alone picked up in a chauffeured car. Poor Mike, if only he knew how low my expectations were he wouldn’t have had to try so hard!
He selected this amazing restaurant in the city called Bix which was indistinguishable from every other door in the dark alley it resided on except for the blinking neon light out front. As we approached, the sounds of jazz and laughter drifted down the alley. And lo and behold behind the heavy wooden door, there was a gorgeous dining room with the charm of a supper club and the romance of a speakeasy.
I should probably back up here to share an interesting incident that happened on our walk from the car to the restaurant. We had to travel a whole 100 yards or so on foot and of course, it couldn’t pass uneventfully. As we were crossing the street, I was gabbing away telling him some story or another. When I fell. In typical fashion, my ankles buckled (and don’t blame the three inch heels I was wearing because this happens in flats, sneakers, and flip flops as well) and next thing I knew I was on the ground. Fortunately, I was a pro at this move by then and hopped right back up but nevertheless, it was embarrassing.
Mike tells a great version of the story and it goes something like this: “We were walking along talking, and next thing I knew she was gone. I barely had time to look down when she was up and moving forward again. It happened so fast I wasn’t sure if maybe I’d imagined the whole thing.”
So yeah, I figured why not let him see what he was destined for should he decide to pursue a relationship with a clumsy girl like me.
Back to the restaurant.
As soon as we walked in I knew that under my black pea coat, I was under-dressed. I’d been very thoughtful when deciding on my outfit. I wanted to be sexy but classy. Casual but still “me.” And fun but simple. I’d settled on a pair of dark wash jeans, my favorite turquoise heels, and a backless t-shirt with a brown and gold pattern on the front. Perfect for margaritas and cuban food in the Mission. Not so much for high end dining in Jackson Square. Fortunately, no one else seemed to notice and after a glass of wine, I started to care less and less – the fall really did break the ice and set the tone for a fun and lighthearted evening.
And then I ordered the chicken.
I ignored the decadent truffled cheeses, steak tartare, and chilled foie gras begging to be relished and instead, selected a nice rotisserie chicken for my main course.
Mike’s thinking during this whole ordering scenario: a combination between – “What’s wrong with this girl? Does she not have a clue how to order a good meal?” and “Cha ching…my estimated expenses for this evening just dropped significantly! What a cheap date!”
My thinking on the other hand: “Holy crap. This place is really pricey. And between the car service and whatever else he has planned for the night, this guy’s going to drop a pretty penny on our first date. AND, I’m not even going to put out – poor guy. I should probably play it safe and order the chicken.”
Dinner was wonderful. We talked mostly about our families and discovered that we had a lot in common – with the exception that I was born and raised in the same town until I went to college while he was a resident of the world by the time he was 15. We laughed a lot and looking back, I remember that conversation flowing much like ours do today. Like we’d already known each other for years (which I suppose we had but that’s a different story altogether).
After dinner, we walked a few blocks down to a great little spot called the Cigar Bar. They had a live band playing and we ordered a couple of mojitos and immediately hit the dance floor. According to Mike, I danced mostly with myself, twirling around and leaving him to keep the beat on his own from time to time. We were both tipsy and happy and that’s just what I do when I’m tipsy and happy. I twirl.
And then we kissed. We’d already kissed before – three years prior and again the week earlier – but this was the first date kiss and it was different.
August 25, 2006 will remain one of the most perfect nights in my memory. And ever since, I’ve prayed that it would be the last first date I’ll ever have. It was certainly the only first date that segued into the next day and the next. By the end of the weekend, we were a couple and not only that, I think we were both pretty sure we’d be a couple for a very long time to come.
I always wanted to believe that I’d “just know” when the right person came along. And I did but not the way I thought I would. Sure, there were butterflies in my stomach and a sense of wonder at what he was thinking from time to time but more than anything, I remember a feeling of calm washing over me that night from start to finish. I went into the bathroom at one point during dinner and I remember looking in the mirror and thinking, “This is so right.” I didn’t care about falling, what I was wearing, or if my lipstick had faded away from all that chicken I ate. I wasn’t embarrassed to dance in front of him (and I’m not a good dancer) or share how much I adore my family. I didn’t need alcohol to loosen up although I certainly took advantage of the server’s generous pours. I was comfortable and happy and sure.
I guess I just knew.
I’ll tell the story of our engagement later this week but there’s a taste of how this crazy life of ours “officially” began. I’ll save the tale of our first encounter years earlier for a later date – that ones a doozy; just you wait and see!