The restaurant was one of my favorites from high school; I wondered if the breadsticks were still as delicious as I remembered. I wasn’t sure what time they opened for business on a Sunday, but eleven seemed like a safe time.
We were among the few customers that morning. The after-church lunch rush was an hour away.
I ordered wedding soup to be clever, but also out of necessity. My stomach couldn’t handle a heavy meal. I had butterflies about the date, as well as some general queasiness due to the activities of the night before. He ordered soup, too.
Have you ever noticed that sleep deprivation feels similar to a hangover? The nausea, the wooziness, the trouble focusing. Everything is dark around the edges, muddled, a little uneasy.
Glasses of water came and we gratefully drank. We spent our words already, it seemed. We had left each other’s company only a few hours ago, just enough for a little sleep and a shower.
I felt twinges of regret and compassion – he had a nine-hour drive ahead of him to be home in time for work the next day. I was headed back to school, only five hours away. I could catch up on sleep at my parent’s house in town; he didn’t have that luxury.
My best friend – the bride – thought that her wedding was a perfect time for us to meet. She and her groom invited him as a friend, but also as a possibility. Their matchmaking efforts were thoughtful. When we met I felt like I had known him for a long time already.
Our meeting was ushered in with declarations of “he’s really cute” and “she’s a lot of fun.” We were in our early twenties – it doesn’t take much for people that age to be interested. We trusted their faith in us, and that helped smooth over the awkwardness in the beginning. We knew there was something there, even before we met.
At lunch, we laughed about taxiing one wedding guest home the previous night, and how I really got my use out of the bridesmaid’s dress I wore until five that morning. Sitting at a table in a floor-length gown at Denny’s with a bunch of rowdy men in tuxedos was an extraordinary Saturday night.
Our soup came, and we ate, gingerly. Neither of us was up to the task. I mentally went over our conversations from the wee hours, and it struck me that not many 24-year-old guys I knew spoke of their family with such bare pride and adoration.
It was a wonder my little car hadn’t run out of gas as we sat at the door of his hotel and talked for hours. We got to know each other at the door of that hotel.
In the subsequent years of our courtship and engagement and even early marriage our family and friends joked, eyebrows waggling, about our use of “talking” as a better, more proper way to describe what really happened between us in the car that night. “Is that what we’re calling it now,” they’d kid.
We sat in that restaurant on our first date, pretending to eat, exchanging glances and smiles, and made plans to see each other again. We lived in different cities, but they were close enough for weekend visits. We wanted to make it work despite the distance.
So we did.
This post inspired by:
Prompt #1: A memorable date.