Twelve years ago today, I began dating the love of my life. We were high-schoolers. I was 15, he was 16. And we were madly in love, almost from the start.
I've known Patrick for most of my life. For much of my childhood, he was the 'weird kid' who lived down the street from my cousins. Once we hit middle school, I knew him as the Nerd Standard - the kid that all other nerds (myself included) were compared to. You could be half as nerdy as Patrick, or almost as nerdy. No one was ever more nerdy. I have to admit, he intrigued me, even then.
Cue high school. End of my freshman year. I auditioned for "A Midsummer Night's Dream", and was cast as Puck. Patrick was Egeus. We began talking during down-times of rehearsals, and we became fast friends. He was quiet, and yet unafraid to be loud when the occasion called for it. We could talk on any subject, at length. He was always polite. And funny. I loved spending time with him.
But I was young, and not at all certain what any of that meant.
Enter Ruth, a dear friend, with a sweet disposition, and a penchant for falling for all the wrong guys. She always liked the Bad Boys, the guys who were going to treat her like garbage. So, when she expressed an interest in Patrick, I did what any good friend would do: I talked him into asking her out.
Needless to say, that didn't work out. They dated for less than a month before both came to the conclusion that they were entirely wrong for one another. But their brief experiment was important, because it brought the beginning of something very important: Breakfast. Each morning, when the bus had dropped us off, the three of us would eat breakfast together in the cafeteria. It was the promise of breakfast with Patrick and Ruth that got me out of bed in the morning.
The school year came to an end, and summer began. Patrick called a few times, and we talked for as long as our respective parents could bear the loss of their phone lines. Before we knew it, the first day of school had arrived again. I was still riding the bus, (Ruth had moved on to another school) and arrived nice and early, so I headed to the cafeteria.
Where Patrick was waiting for me. I noticed for the first time how incredibly adorable he was. And then shook off that feeling, so I could greet him without being awkward.
We ate breakfast together every morning after that, and it quickly became my favorite time of day. Sometime late in the fall, we were talking one morning, and I looked up at him. The sun was shining directly behind him, making him glow just a little, and he had just said something to make me laugh, his own smile lighting up his face.
I realized in that moment that I loved him. And had for awhile.
Still, I was scared, and I wasn't about to push him, or make him uncomfortable. I was afraid that I was going to tip this delicate balance, and our breakfasts together would stop. I couldn't bare the thought of it, so I kept quiet, hoping that he felt the same way about me.
January 19, 1999. Just after breakfast. On the way out the door, he pulled me close, and whispered in my ear, "Will you be my girlfriend?" The butterflies that my heart had become threatened to beat their way out of my chest via my throat, as I replied, simply, "Yes."