Unfortunately (as this story is repeated whenever someone asks, "So, how did you meet?"), John and I "met" on opposite sides of a glass window, separated by a buffet line of trays, and a pan full of shredded cheese. As much as I would like to deny that I ever worked for the University Student Union serving beans, it has forever become a part of "Our Story." I think John's first words to me were, "Huevos Rancheros." I'm not even sure he included a "please." And our first conversation ended there.
The next time we spoke was in another Mexican restaurant, following a church event. Thankfully this time, I was a fellow consumer. We were sitting next to each other at a long wooden table full of college students. "You gonna eat that?" he said, when he noticed an uneaten taco on my plate. I replied, "No, help yourself." I thought a few more things (like, "really?"), but the outloud version of our second conversation ended there.
The conversation that changed our lives, occurred several months later. After a heated church group discussion in which I dissented from the rest of the crowd, he escorted me home and we continued to consider the same topic. Soon, the conversation turned more personal and we hardly noticed our feet walking as we wound our way through campus to get to my dorm. We arrived too quickly at the entrance, so we lingered on the concrete entryway for several hours. Earlier that day we were mere acquaintances, but our relationship status quickly changed, and as the evening progressed we were sharing our closely guarded secrets and hurts. This conversation continues today.
Two years later, we were married. Since that night out on the steps, we have celebrated many Valentine's Days together: some in happiness; some in tension; some in fancy restaurants; some at home; some in joy; some in sadness. One was spent at Shakey's Pizza in Pasadena, California surrounded by skee ball, video games, and children who were not our own...but that is a long story.
We always do something for Valentine's Day, to thank each other for that third conversation under a Tucson moon. Tomorrow night we will continue it, in the first restaurant willing to take us without a reservation (if we can find one). Maybe Mexican. Grandma will be watching the boys.
Happy Valentine's Day!