Wednesday, February 24, 2010


How I Met My Husband

The first time I met my husband was some time in 1986. He and I are not sure whether it was during summer vacation or Christmas vacation or some random weekend. I was with my friend driving around downtown Portland. That was what we used to do to entertain ourselves those nights before we were old enough to go to bars. We’d cruise around, looking for interesting people, playing music loudly in the car.

We were home visiting from college. We attended the University of Oregon in Eugene, about 100 miles south of Portland. Ironically, he wasn't from Portland and neither was his roommate. He isn't even sure why he was in the city that night.

That night, my friend, Kierstin and I were cruising along and looked over and saw two cute guys waving at us. We rolled down the window and recklessly talked to them between cars. One of them kept saying, “you were in my calculus class.” He was really cute; I am not sure how I missed him. We all decided to go to a nearby park to hang out. They were older, college seniors, and had some beer with them. We all sat on a picnic table, drank some beer and hung out.

Apparently, the cute one was in my calculus class. He described the class I had the previous term. Yes, I had been in that class. He even described a sun dress that I had. I wasn’t sure if I should be flattered or creeped out. I chose to be flattered. He had the bluest eyes I had ever seen. They were a nice contrast to his dark hair. The dimples in his cheeks when he smiled were the clincher. He was just my type.

For reasons neither of us can recall, he never got my phone number. I am not even sure I found out his last name. There was no kiss. It seemed to be just a night hanging out with two cute guys. No real connection was made.

Early the next year, I attended a party at the fraternity next to my sorority. The SAEs were known as partying guys and my sorority sisters really didn't like them much. We didn't have a lot of functions with them because we thought they were a bit crude, but there were some politics involved in the Greek society on campus, so you had to make nice with your neighbors. It was at that party, dubbed the “Hello Neighbor” function that I met him… again.

This time he asked me out. There was definitely some chemistry there. Honestly, however, I don’t even remember if we kissed. In fact I don’t remember our first kiss. I remember the kiss that counted, but that comes later.

Our first date was nothing earth-shattering. He took me to a movie that he wanted to see. To this day, he is embarrassed at his choice of movie for our first date: We joke about it. We saw Oliver Stone’s Platoon. I don’t even remember if we had dinner. The only reason I remember the movie is because years later I found the ticket stubs.

He and I dated, on and off, for the next four or five months. It was never really serious. We went to several house dances with each other. I liked him a lot, but never felt like I was in the “girlfriend zone.” He called when he wanted to call and I found myself waiting by the phone more than I liked. We never exchanged intimate thoughts and I found out years later, that he was dating other girls. I knew that he had had serious girlfriends in the past. But it was clear he didn't want that kind of relationship with me. He was a twenty-one year old college senior who didn't want to get tied down and I was the silly nineteen year old girl with a big crush.

Our relationship wasn’t even serious enough for him to invite me to his graduation. He graduated and moved to Portland. I saw him once or twice over that summer of 1987, but I went back to Eugene in the fall and finished my last two years of school. We never broke up. We weren’t committed enough or emotionally involved enough to break up. We just lost touch.

He always was the “one that got away.” He was good looking, charming and smart. Too bad he didn’t know how to treat a girl. I used to fantasize about running into him. When I would go home to Portland for weekends or vacations, I would keep a thought in the back of my mind of running into him in one of the hot spots in the city. The closest I came was running into his roommate one night. He told me that Ken was getting married. Well… that was that.


In 2001, I was an executive at a casino in Topeka, Kansas. My friend, Michele, invited me to go with her to Brazil on vacation and stay with her family. We would be in Rio de Janeiro during Carnival, something I had always wanted to do. We found a few friends to go with us and headed off to Brazil for a trip of a lifetime in late February.

On our second full day, we were rested from our LONG red-eye. We were ready to enjoy the celebrations of Carnival. It was the Saturday before Fat Tuesday, when the entire city was teeming with people. There was such a festive air all around. We were meeting Michele’s cousins in Copacabana Beach at a restaurant/bar right on the beach.

There were thousands of people. We were ready for a fun night. We were all dressed to dance. I wore an outfit that I would never wear in the United States. It was a form-fitting skirt and a cropped halter. It was vacation clothing. I had been working out a lot before that and decided to flaunt what I had in a city where nobody knew me (except my close friends, of course).

As we were walking to the outdoor restaurant, we passed a very crowded nightclub. Hundreds of people were milling around outside. As I glanced through the crowd, I. saw. him. It was my old college crush, Ken, standing with a group of guys. My heart stopped for a moment. We made quick eye contact and I quickly looked away. No. It couldn't be him. “I know that guy,” I said to my friends, “we dated in college.” “No way!” they all said, “we are in a different country, on a different continent, in a different hemisphere! It's impossible!” “You’re right,” I replied, walking with them to meet the rest of our party.

As we were sitting at our table, I kept wondering if that was really Ken. “What if it was him?” I wondered aloud. My buddy, Josh, looked at me as if to say, “duh.” “Lisa, what if you see this guy at some reunion someday and ask him if he was in Rio in 2001 and he says, ‘yeah… why didn't you come over and say hi?’ GO TALK TO HIM.” The insecurities of my nineteen–year-old self came flooding back to me. What if he didn't remember me? But then I remembered that I was a fabulous single woman in her thirties with a successful career and loads of friends. It would be his loss if he didn't remember me, right?

I grabbed Michele, a native Brazilian, to go with me. If these guys were Brazilian and only spoke Portuguese, I would feel twice as stupid. With Michele there, at least I had an interpreter. I walked up to the group of guys (Ken’s back was to me). “Excuse me… are you guys Americans?” I began. He turned right around. “Did you go to University of Oregon?” I asked him. “LISA!!” He smiled broadly. Damn, there were those dimples. “I didn't recognize you until you talked,” he said. It turns out that when he first saw me walking by he had a flicker of recognition, but thought maybe I was someone famous.If you look at the pictures above and the pictures from 2001, I looked completely different.

We invited him and his friends to join us at our table. We all shared drinks and food and had a great time. It turned out that they were down in Brazil for a guy’s trip. Ken had just broken off an engagement and his friends wanted to show him a fun time (I didn't know about the engagement until later). The marriage his former roommate had told me about years before lasted less than a year. We all moved from the restaurant to the beach, where there was music and dancing. We all danced on the beach until close to dawn. We exchanged numbers where we were staying with promises to have lunch. There was no kiss, no indication that there might be a spark there.

On the cab ride back to where we were staying, my friend, Shelly, said to me, “Lisa, you are going to MARRY him!” “No. I don’t think so. He was a bit of a jerk in college and doesn't really do commitment,” I said to her. I didn't want to get my hopes up for anything romantic with him.

We didn't get together for lunch until a few days later. It was the guys’ last day in Brazil. We had nearly two weeks left on our vacation. Shelly, came with me to lunch as did Ken’s friend Lance (who my kids now call Uncle Lance). We enjoyed a great lunch at a churrascaria (Brazilian barbecue) and then went and sat on the beach for a bit.

Shelly lives near Lake Tahoe. We all talked about going skiing and staying at her house. We even went so far to set a date a month or so away. I didn't think the trip would actually happen (it did) since people talk about things like that all the time, especially while on vacation. He wrote my e-mail address on a Brazilian real (money). We still have that bill today.

He had to get back to his hotel to grab his suitcase to head to the airport. At this point, I was disappointed that he hadn't made any move to kiss me. As we hit the intersection where we needed to part ways, I decided to do something completely out of character. I knew that I had one chance and I really had nothing to lose. I may never see him again. Before I crossed the intersection to leave him, I said goodbye and suddenly gave him a quick kiss. I never make the first move. But I was on vacation and, for some reason, I really liked him. All those unresolved feelings from college came back to me. I needed to somehow let him know that I was interested.

It wasn't a particularly romantic kiss. It was quick and could have been with anyone. But, I found out later, that kiss made all the difference in the world. Ken was worried that I held it against him how coldly he treated me in college. Had I not kissed him that afternoon, he may not have initiated contact back home. My bold move to give him a quick, unexpected kiss on the lips changed the course of our lives forever.


Scott Dunlap said...

Fortune favors the bold!

Thanks for sharing this great story. So bizarre that your stars kept crossing.

It was neat to read this story since it parallels much of my own. I met my wife at the University of Oregon in 1989, who decided I might be okay to date after I planted a risky kiss one fateful night. We got married, moved to Portland, and have reminisced a few times about those crazy SAE parties.

Good luck on your first 50k! It's going to be great. Remember, fortune favors the bold...


stephanie joy said...

oh my word... lisa!!!! i seriously LOVE reading this story! i love all the details and everything. i want to hear more! it's like an exciting novel or book, a love story. so amazing and so romantic and total destiny. i need more of the story... how was it when you got back to the states?

(seriously got shivers reading your story!!!!!)

Tattoos and Teething Rings said...

That is so amazing! Thank you for sharing and playing along!

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