Friday, July 12, 2013

Our Love Story (Part 1)

(I had been planning on posting this for our anniversary next week, but then Grace started a trend. :) ) 

Keith and I met in August of 2008, right after he moved to Pittsburgh, just before his first year of grad school and my senior year of college. A mutual friend through the Pittsburgh Oratory was having a cookout. I remember meeting him very clearly. He doesn't remember meeting me at all. Hmm. In his defense, I had recently decided I was ready to start dating again and was feeling very … available. I was also considering going to grad school in the city next year. So I may or may not have been keeping tabs on how many handsome Catholic grad students were present at the time. Ahem. 

As for our conversation that night, I remember a friend telling some sort of riddle about a duck a bunch of us were standing around in a circle trying to solve it and I got frustrated and walked away, but I’m pretty sure Keith stuck it out to the bitter end. That’s about it.

The second time we met was at a party (once again, a largely Catholic event) in the city. (Keith remembers it.) This was the night it all really started. While other people wandered from room to room and socialized with each other, we stood in the hallway and talked for ages. About house styles and art and living in California vs Pennsylvania and our childhoods and morals and all sorts of things both deep and whimsical. After that long conversation, I drifted around a bit talking to other folks, but I found myself looking for opportunities to slip into whatever circle he was talking in. Smoothly and unobtrusively, of course.

See us standing in the background? 
My school was more than an hour north of the city, but we became Facebook friends and exchanged messages and chatted on Gtalk a lot. This is how we initially got to know each other. I love that I can go back and read those messages. It makes me all nostalgic. :) 

It was pretty clear there was mutual interest … but I was busy, he was busy and stressed out by his first year of grad school, and to top it off I was figuring out whether or not I wanted to be a FOCUS missionary (which entailed a year long dating fast), which put a damper on things.

And yet I occasionally made the drive into Pittsburgh for one event or another, and we'd actually see each other and talk in person. 

At one point I complained on Facebook about wanting to make a recipe that called for rosewater, but not being able to find it anywhere. Keith dropped me a very casual message saying he was pretty sure Whole Foods had it. (The implication was that he had happened to be strolling through the store and glimpsed it on the shelf. The reality was that he became a man on a mission to find a store that carried it.) I lived nowhere near Whole Foods, but at some point I found an opportunity to stop there, and I couldn't see rosewater no matter where I looked. I was too embarrassed to ask so I left empty handed and confessed to Keith I didn't find it.

Not long afterwards, we both attended the Oratory's annual barn dance at the retreat center. (Yes, their retreat center has a barn. It's a beautiful place in the middle of nowhere, PA.) I remember sitting in the second-story chapel that day, feeling sorry for myself over a variety of things. Then through the windows I saw Keith walk to his car, open his trunk, and dig around in his backpack. He had brought me rosewater. 

Before the dancing started. Sitting next to each other but not too close. ;)
I also remember dancing in the barn after darkness had fallen and then stopping for a moment to look outside. He was wandering around a short distance away with his camera,  head up, looking at the stars. Something about that moment made my heart jump. The fact that he had walked away from everyone else for a moment--from all the laughter and noise--simply to drink in the sky. The more I came to know him, the more I realized we were kindred spirits.

But for all that, not much happened.

I DID invite him up to my school to see a Shakespeare play. (I guess I'm just not a modern woman, but you have no idea how forward I felt!) Sadly, the weather was snowy and stormy, so he didn't come.

And he DID give me his phone number. Twice. And I knew he was hoping I'd give him mine in exchange. But at that point I was kind of stubborn and hand't learned that idealism needs to dance with reality, not just stand there stiff and unbending. So I didn't give it to him. If he wants it, I thought, he needs to explicitly ASK. Oh Rosemary. 

In December a bunch of us went to see the light display at Hartwood Acres. (As an aside, I am so, so sad this display doesn't exist anymore.) We sat around a huuuge table at Eat'n'Park, I at one end, Keith at the other ... with a girl. A girl from California, whom he spent a lot of time talking to, whom he clearly shared inside jokes and private knowledge with. A girl he introduced to everyone as Claire. 

We didn't talk that night, partly because there were at least eight people seated between us, and partyl because ... well, you know. To be honest, I don't remember exactly how I felt about it. I know I was disappointed, but these sort of things happen, you know? He had never actually asked me out or anything. And I had a lot of other things going on in my life and was generally happy. So yes, disappointed. But not broken-hearted. 

Then, the very next day, he messaged me on Gchat and asked, “So, did I introduce you to my FRIEND Claire? Who I've known since high school and am not at all romantically interested in?” (Okay, so he didn't type it in caps like that, and I sort of made the second part up. ;) But that was totally the subtext.) And I felt so … relieved. I know that I smiled at the screen. (In fact, Claire was later one of my bridesmaids. On the way home from my bachelorette party we passed that Eat'n'Park and had a good laugh.)

Time kept passing. I got accepted to grad school and not to FOCUS. Keith got rid of Facebook for a while. He did not ask me out. Another guy did. The Other Guy was a nice Catholic young man, and he was pursuing me very insistently, so I said yes.

The Other Guy and I went to our first party as a couple. Keith was there. I didn't mean to, but I must have been watching Keith very closely, because I can clearly remember the look of dismay on his face when the Other Guy put his arm around my waist. 

Cue me complaining to my best friend about how if he had asked, I would have gone out with him instead. His loss, right? Except that I was much more interested in and attracted to Keith than my current boyfriend, and had been for months. So it was my loss too. 

To be continued ... probably. :) 


  1. Yes, please! Despite our summer meetings and livejournal entries, I've never known the full story of you two. It's nice to go back in time a bit.

    Also, odd how that second picture still won't appear for me but the first one dies. O.o

  2. Hey! So I was at a lot of those same events (Barn Dance, Hartwood Acres, probably the Swissvale party), but didn't pick up on anything (I'm usually good at sensing people's romantic interest). Probably because I was immersed in my own new-ish relationship with my love. But after the inevitable happened with the guy you are dating at the end of this segment, I DID notice and I DID try to help you out by giving Keith a nudge! (haha - but he had already beat me there, the day before) :-)

    1. Well, I don't think you had a ton of opportunity to witness us together since I wasn't around much ... and also Keith was kind of shy of me in those days. :) (He didn't even ask me to dance at the barn dance!) I don't remember if you were at that particular Swissvale party or not.

  3. This is so sweet! Can't wait for part 2!

  4. More more more! I'm on the edge of my seat over here!