Monday, August 9, 2010
Maybe I'll get in a fender-bender, I wished as I drove the fraction-of-a-mile from my apartment to the college Sports Center where I was to chaperone the evening's Eagles basketball game. Earlier I'd hoped to suddenly spike a fever--anything to get out of spending the night walking around the mezzanine of the arena ensuring that the Pensacola Christian College students were behaving. Why not wear a sign on my back: "I'm an old maid with nothing better to do on a Friday night"? I certainly hadn't volunteered for this assignment, one of those extra tasks assigned single female faculty members. It was my duty, though, so I went, however unwillingly.
I ascended the stairs to the second floor of the arena and began my rounds. Soon I spotted an acquaintance. Since I'd met Mark only once, I wasn't going to stop to chat; but when he called to me, I turned around. He stood and said the words that changed my life: "Heather, do you know Nathan?"
No, until that moment, I couldn't say that I did know Nathan; but I had seen him around, and he'd been in my thoughts occasionally.
For a couple months, I 'd seen this cute guy around campus. Actually, the first time I noticed him was in Wal-Mart when we passed each other in an aisle and he smiled and waved. Another time, I was eating lunch in the graduate-assistant section of the college cafeteria (I was smart: if you want to find a husband, you have to go where the single young men are.) and noticed a cute guy--the guy from Wal-Mart--staring at me. I stared back for a few seconds. A bold move, but not as bold as our next encounter. One Sunday I saw him again. He claims I was checking him out, but I say he was checking me out first as I came down the church stairs. Either way, our eyes were locked as I walked from one landing to the one on which he was standing. I guess I could have said "hi," but I was content to just look and keep walking.
We got closer to actually meeting at lunch one day. I was sitting at a large table with my friend Betsy and some of her graduate-assistant friends. "The cute guy" asked if he could join our table. Evidently, he and Betsy knew each other, but she never introduced us. (Turns out they'd only been in Latin class together, and she'd forgotten his name.) We did speak our first words to each other, though.
"William Caxton was influential in standardizing English spelling," I contributed to the table discussion.
"Who was William Caxton?" the cute guy asked.
"He printed Mallory's Morte d'Arthur in 1485." That was it. If finished eating and ran off to my office to grade the perpetual mountain of compositions.
"Do you have your eye on anyone?" my mom asked one night while I was home on Christmas vacation.
"Well, there is this one guy I've seen around," I confessed, "but I don't even know his name." A brilliant idea struck me. My sister had the latest PCC yearbook in her room. I ran to get it, flipped to the graduate-student section and began searching faces until I found him: "Nathan Peets."
Despite our encounters, I didn't think much about Nathan Peets. He was on a list of guys I'd consider going out with, but he didn't figure any more prominently than the others. Until our official meeting, that is. Mark introduced us, we said hello, and I continued on my less-than-merry way scanning the crowd for rule-breakers. But then--halftime! Nathan came to where I was standing; offered me a Power-Aid, which I refused--I hate the stuff--; and we chatted. I don't remember everything we said, but I do remember bringing up his older brother Ben--Ben seemed like a fitting topic of discussion since he'd been an Eagles player back in my college days: what else do you say to a guy you've just met? We talked for only a few minutes, but that encounter shook me. I knew he was interested, and, most importantly, I knew he could be "the one."
After a terrible night's sleep--I just couldn't get him out of my mind--I got up to tackle my Saturday housekeeping. "You know," I told myself, "he might call this morning. Ten o'clock would be the perfect time."
The phone ran, well before ten, but it was my sister. I told her about the previous night's encounter, but she tried to stick a pin in my balloon. "He's taken." (She was only trying to be a good sister, of course.)
"There's no way, Lisa. A guy who's taken doesn't send out those kind of vibes." (Of course, some do, but in front of 3000 people on a close-knit college campus?)
"Well, he's taken," she insisted. (Later we learned that he had been off the market for a while but had been back on since October.)
I wasn't going to be deterred by my sister's obvious misinformation. When our conversation ended, I resumed my chores with an eye on the clock. Ten o'clock was approaching as I washed the bathroom floor. The phone rang, my heart pounded, and I tried frantically to convince myself that it was probably my mom; but the caller ID displayed an on-campus number. It's probably Lisa again. But no, it was Nathan, and it was 9:55 a.m. (Eventually he told me that he wanted to avoid calling at exactly ten because he thought calling on the hour would look too planned.)
I'll spare you the details, but we went on our first date that night, February 4, 2006; got engaged May 12, 2006; and were married on August 12, 2006. (Yes, if you're doing the math, we were married only six months after meeting.)
Am I glad I didn't get in an accident on my way to the game that night? Do you even have to ask?
Happy Anniversary (in 3 days), Nathan! I love you!