When Benji and I begun getting to know each other, I had just turned 20 and he was 19. We had been around each other before, in groups of friends, but really hadn't spoken. If you know Benji irl (in real life), you know that he can come across as quiet and reserved in public. The first time we met he had a huge beard (much like the one he's sporting now) and long, unkept hair; we sat in the back of a mutual friend's pickup while driving to a corn maze for a young adult get together. Part of the time he wore our friend's old lady Halloween mask. Classy.
A few months later he had shaved his face and trimmed his hair. He was very mysterious to me and I thought I felt him watching me with his green eyes and slight smile. (I confessed this later in our relationship and he had no idea what I was talking about, so maybe I had just read too many Jane Austen novels). Come February a girlfriend and I decided to give all the girls an excuse to dress up and dance, so we planned a Valentine's Day party. One night I was out to dinner with friends at the local (and only) Applebee's, I was sick and felt oh, so awful. Well Benji comes in with a friend and is sat in the booth directly behind ours. I am feeling friendly, so I invite them both to the Valentine's party. Benji shocks me and asks if I have a date to the party. No, I don't I stammer as a playful smile shows on his lips. Wanna be mine? He asks me, with the smile still mocking me. Well, what are you going to buy me? I hear myself say, an attempt to be coy. I am suddenly aware of what has happened and quickly add that my friend Vic is my Valentine and turn around. I leave Applebee's early mostly because I feel sick, but partly because I feel embarrassed. The next day I text our mutual friend Laura for Benji's number, after she gives it to me, I type out a text to him, apologizing for what I said and telling him I am not like that. We quickly begin a conversation through text while I am manning my tutor station at the community college where I work. We agree to meet up at Safeway before heading to our young adult group. Now I am still feeling sick and it's February in Washington State so I wear my nicest sweats to our first one-on-one meeting. He also brings the charm and wears the most ripped, stained and hideous sweatshirt I've ever seen (he will eventually reveal that he's owned it since middle school)!! We talk music and friends and Jesus. And by the end of our young adult group, I have agreed to go out with him on Valentine's Day.
Now this might sound romantic, but really I don't know what I was thinking! I had classes all day followed by shifts at the tutor center as well as the gym I worked at. Which put my day's end at around 10:30 PM. I thought about our "date" all day, wondering what we were going to do since he hadn't told me. While finishing up my shift at the gym I noticed a rose resting on the windshield of my Ford Explorer, my heart jumped and I felt flutters in my tummy. I texted Benji and said, 'Thanks for the rose you cheeseball!' He then denies putting anything on my car. I am left feeling confused. He tells me that we're going hot tubbing at a nearby mountain resort. And no, I have no idea why I agreed to this either!!! He picks me up wearing a leather jacket. Such an improvement from the ratty middle school sweatshirt. I hand him the mix cd I made as a gift and he hands me a giant heart shaped box of chocolates. I say thanks and hold the box in my lap as he pops the cd into the car's stereo. After about 10 minutes of him glancing at me and the candy he finally says, "I've given you all of your gifts, but you haven't gotten all of them yet," What? He encourages me to open the heart shaped box, so I do. It is wrapped in red tinted cellophane. Inside is a cd. It's a Guster album, Ganging Up On The Sun. I had briefly mentioned trying to find their cd with no luck, at our Safeway meeting. Yes, go ahead, sigh! A very sweet and thoughtful gift. Benji does confess to the rose on the car incident and we end the evening very late and very giddy.
Stay tuned for the next part of our adventure: the Valentine's Party.
Oh and just to keep in interesting
here is a photo of Benji around that time:
And here is one of me: