Paul and I met during our second year of college at UH in the hallways of our residence hall. I was keying myself into my room as he was making his way to his, and he stopped to introduce himself as my neighbor. Turns out, we were going to be sharing a wall for the next year. Poor guy.
Funny enough, about halfway through our second semester, my roommate started crushing on his roommate—hard. She began to develop a friendship with the boys next door, and we all became friends.
We left for summer and returned to the same residence hall and the same floor, but as fate would have it, we were now TWO doors away from the boys. Our two rooms began doing more things together as a group, and soon enough, Annie and Ernie (our two roommates) began dating. (Side note: they wed in January 2012 and are now expecting a baby boy!)
At that point, I had been in a long-distance relationship with someone else; our break-up was a long time coming, and we ended up going our separate ways. Paul had been single the whole time I knew him and casually dated other girls. I actually thought he’d been dating more girls than he actually was (haha).
I along with my two roommates, Caitlin and Sarah, and Paul and his roommate Byron were sitting around one night in the room, just hanging out and talking. We began talking about our past relationships and started pressing Paul about his. When one of the girls asked whether or not he wanted a girlfriend, he simply replied that he wasn’t looking to pursue a relationship. He explained that he wanted to have the freedom to do whatever he wanted, wherever that would take him. A relationship would just weigh him down. But, he said, if it happened, it happened.
Maybe it was his drive and determination, his clear-mindedness, or the fact he didn’t want a relationship—whatever it was, it attracted me to him.
About a week before Halloween, we all went to the beach at Bellows AFB, my favorite beach on the entire island. Caitlin, Byron, Ernie, and Paul decided to go in the water, but I decided to sunbathe on the sand since I hate being in the ocean (I can’t swim). Paul came and dragged me, literally kicking and screaming, into the water. I clutched onto his body and refused to let him go, lest my feet didn’t touch the ground. Or at least that was my excuse for refusing to let him go ;)
From that day, our friendship began to grow. We obviously knew we liked each other more than just friends, but both of us were a bit hesitant to jump into anything. We knew that the whole dynamic of our friend group would change if things didn’t work out. I wanted to get to know him better, so I would stay to watch TV in his room after everyone would clear out after our routine nightly rounds of Apples to Apples. I’d even sneak over to his room with my books and study on his bed while he worked on his engineering homework. He’d show me pictures on his computer of his family, his recently renovated backyard, and of course, his two Boxers Jack and Molly, which he affectionately called and still calls, “his boy” and “his girl.” He would even come knocking on my wall (yes, wall) asking if I wanted to go to the mini-mart with him for a snack break.
Finally, during a random night watching Tosh.O, I boldly grabbed his hand and leaned my head on his shoulder. If he wasn’t going to make the first move (though he adamantly insists that grabbing his hand is NOT a move), I was. He returned my gesture with a kiss. He asked me what I doing the next day, and I responded, “You mean after I try on engagement rings?” (Annie, our friend Haiya, and I were going to the Wedding Ring Shop to try on rings. Annie’s client from J. Crew who worked at the Wedding Ring Shop had invited her to learn about diamonds and try on engagement rings.) He chuckled and said, “Yes, after you try on engagement rings.” When I told him I had no other plans, he asked, “Well, can I take you out to dinner?”
After leaving his room, I walked two doors down to my own room, excited and jumpy and jittery. I could barely contain my excitement. I could hear the voices of my roommates who were chatting in our common area, and I’d have to say hello to them before going to my bedroom. I knew they’d pick up on my unusual over-happiness and ask questions, and I didn’t want to be put on the spot. So I sat down in the hallway to compose myself.
The next morning Paul texted me to let me know he’d made reservations at a restaurant for 7 pm. “He made reservations!” I told my aunt when I called her to tell her about my date. After that text, I knew this man was a keeper.
to be continued…