The Tale of how Chris and M met

on 08 September 2009

So, this is a shout out to Parking at Home who requested this story and also just had the most delicious baby boy. Pop over there and tell her how adorable he is!

I thought it would be fun to do a bit of He said-She said with this story since Chris and I see the same events very differently. Now, some of you were there (ahem, Sarah, Sarah, Ginny and Krista) so feel free to chime in, in the comments. (I know that Sarah B. would like you all to know that she called this one from the beginning! She helped me move in to my apartment in Athens and after helping me unload she found Chris and told him that she had just met the woman who would be his wife. Way to go, Sarah! Also, thank you! I am continually amazed at her intuition--she shouldn't be doubted. Ever. And I'm serious.)

Now, the short story is that we met through church. It's not a very interesting story for two very odd people, but there it is. Let's see if the details will make it a bit more compelling. Before we begin, you should know that when I left Seattle, my parents were only half-joking when they said I was one failed relationship short of 32 cats.

She Said: It was hot. HOT HOT HOT. 80 degrees at 7am HOT. And I am not a hot-weather girl, as you all know. And as such, I had no hot-weather clothes. Jeans, t-shirts, long sleeved t-shirts, some awesome oxford shirts with lovely all cotton sweater vests, and jackets and coats and scarves and dansko clogs and soft cushy socks and I'm getting carried away with myself. My point is that, moving from Seattle, all of my cute clothes were for Fall or WINTER. NOT for summer. NOT for hot-weather. So, just know ahead of time that I was already NOT very cute. My hair was even curlier than it had been in Seattle (it would slowly inflate as the day progressed until it was like a giant red life-preserver around my wee little face), and the sour look on my face didn't help at all. It took me about 2 weeks of classes to really understand how little this program was going to help me academically. (I had gone to a VERY good school for undergrad and UGA is just NOT a very good school academically--at least not for my program.)

I had been involved in the LDS institute program in Seattle, in classes and in choir. So it was only natural for me to be involved in the program in Athens, in classes and in choir. The classes didn't last as long as they should have (I got a bit bogged down with some of my classes, which had the audacity to be held at ridiculous times (5-8pm Wednesday night anyone? Is there anyone who would willingly choose 3 hours of literary theory? or Shakespeare? Apparently, because I was not the only lunatic in class, but I digress), but I stayed in choir for a good long time. Partly, because it just made me SAD. The choir in the Seattle institute averages around 100 people. ONE HUNDRED. The choir in Athens averaged around 12. TWELVE. And it made me SAD. So I kept going to choir. But I have looked beyond the mark of this story...let me go back a bit.

I had been up to see my lovely Sister in Durham for Labor Day weekend. She listened to me gripe about how hot it was, about how easy my dumb classes were, about how frustrated I was, and she advised me to buckle down (no matter how easy the work might be) and to get some PLANTS. Plants. Because it's good to have something to take care of. Which I agree with. But the problem is, I kill plants. I can't keep plants alive to SAVE myself. But I'm pretty good with cats, so I translated the theory into reality and decided to just get another cat! (This is where Agnes comes to live with me, but I've already told that story.) I had picked her out but she was underweight so I couldn't bring her home right away. I remember I had gone out to the shelter that day to see if I could bring her home and I convinced them that she would gain weight at home more so than at the shelter and they let me take her home. So I had brought her home and set her up and then headed out to choir.

I was having a bit of a day, so I was in my favorite jeans, my favorite UW long-sleeved t-shirt (go HUSKIES!) and my chuck taylors. I was advertising my I-Hate-it-Here with glasses, no make-up and a generally sour attitude. I parked my behind in a metal folding chair next to my friend Loretta and we sat gabbing in the way that only single women over a certain age can gab.

Now before we proceed with the story, you should know a couple of things. 1) I have an excellent sense of direction. 2) I can read a map like it's a Dick and Jane book. And 3) that I HAD made an effort to attend some social functions. Not many, but a few. 4) in Athens, as in the majority of the South, the street names CHANGE names. Sometimes just once, sometimes several times. So that when you're driving you can never turn off of the road you are traveling on and yet, drive on 3-4 differently NAMED roads. It's MADNESS.

So, this was the middle of the week some time, I don't remember what day, but Ginny had had a birthday Karaoke party and there had been a back to school get together at the branch president's house. BOTH of which I missed because I was LOST. ME. LOST. Totally. Driving around for over an hour trying to find places only to NOT find places and returning home to my sad apartment to eat cheese and crackers with my CATS. (I was the epitome of the modern Spinster, y'all.)

Now the story begins.

Chris was in choir. I was in choir. Chris was sitting in my general vicinity but not rightnext to me. He had made some sort of saucy comment to Loretta and Loretta being Loretta, she just laughed, while ME, in my errant sauciness turned and made an equally sassy comment back to him. And he stopped. And I stopped. And he just sort of looked at me like he had never seen me before. And I looked at him like I had maybe met him once but couldn't place him. At this point he asked why I hadn't been at Ginny's karaoke night or the back to school function and I said that I had TRIED but gotten lost--I may have mumbled under my breath because then he looks at me and with a smarmy look on his face said, "Well. You don't go to ANYTHING, do you?" You have to understand how this sounded to ME, the girl who can read MAPS, the girl who drove across the country BY MYSELF, the girl with the great sense of direction, the girl who had TRIED and FAILED miserably to find my way to a couple of get togethers and then given up entirely.

He Said: I remember starting the semester in question with the attitude of "I'm tired of playing the boy/girl games and am giving up on women". I remember Sarah B. (W. at the time) telling me that she had just met my future wife (or at least a girl who would be perfect for me i.e. crazy, smart, beautiful, sassy, and not like anyone I had met before). I remember Chuck Taylors. I remember gorgeous curly red hair. I remember asking why she never went to anything. And I remember getting a very agitated response. I don't remember smarmy comments that set this relationship in motion.

And then choir continued.

The next Sunday at Church, I was sitting in the very back (as usual) and Chris came and sat down next to me. He was the clerk at the time, and I was...just me. I was fidgeting and he was working on membership records and he turned to me and said, "So. We should hang out some time." And I said, "Yeah, ok. You're the records clerk, you've got my number." And I left to go to class. (smooth, I know.) Anyway, he NEVER called.

He Said: I have no memory of this conversation. It sounds like something I would say though. I remember walking briskly (practically jogging) to the parking lot after church one Sunday in order to talk to this intriguing woman.

(Now I know that, that's just not Chris' style. He'd rather find you in person than make an awkward phone call--it's just how he is. Whereas, I would rather have the awkwardness over the phone where no one can see me blush and fidget and pace and then be cute in person.)

The next week at choir, my friend Loretta had brought me a smoothie because I had been under the weather (my allergies have soared to new heights upon moving back to the South, and at the time I had yet to rein them in), and Chris asked if I'd like to get a smoothie and hang out some time, so I said, sure...maybe we could try to find some stars and go star-gazing (in Washington the air is really clear and you can go star-gazing almost anywhere, summers in the South are muggier and the air just seems thicker, so it's harder to see the stars, especially in summer). We met up and ended up driving around since I had confessed to him my inability to find my way anywhere. We drove and we talked. Well, he talked mostly, because I don't talk about things until I'm asked...generally speaking.

We ended up walking around south campus and finding this great little park area that Chris liked to frequent and we just chatted...about life and family mostly. Then he took me back to my car and I went home.

He Said: I still don't know why M decided to go for that first outing. But I'm glad. I remember leaving an activity at the institute and driving around to go look at the stars. Which are perfectly visible when there aren't trees around or light pollution. I remember going to the Botanical gardens, parking, jumping the fence, getting a few feet into the main driveway before getting a guilty conscience and turning around. I talked a lot. M said little. I hoped that in my telling stories something would spark and she would tell a related story of her own. She didn't.

Now, here is where Sarah comes in to play.

Sarah and Layne (who, at the time, were NOT married with 3 gorgeous children) decided to host a movie night--now, I'm inclined to think it was really just Sarah who decided to host the movie night, but Layne being Layne went along with it. (Am I right?) Anyway, they decided to host a movie night and among other people they invited Moi and they invited Chris. And Chris decided to pick me up. So he did, and we went to Sarah's and we watched Knight's Tale, which I had seen before, and Chris got pretty close to holding my hand but I don't think he did, but in truth I can't really remember now.

Anyway, the point of this bit of the story is that he drove me home and he wanted to see my apartment and I couldn't figure out why, because I had NO furniture (I mean NONE) and I'm not a cute decorator kind of girl, it's just books. Everywhere. And then the cats. But I try to keep the neurotic in check when I'm around other people so I said, sure. Come on up.

You have to imagine a plain, nondescript apartment on the second floor. An abysmal smelling stairwell. In this plain, nondescript apartment there are boxes of books, turned on their sides to allow access to the books within them. There is NO furniture, only a cat post. In my bedroom there is a small twin bed, a dresser and a nightstand. And at this point in the story, there were still 2 big duffel bags full of clothes open but not unpacked (I hadn't really decided to stay at this point).

Enter the apartment, I gave him an abbreviated tour, and we sat down on the floor and just started to chat. Agnes came over and checked him out--she headbutted him, she only ever does that with him. And we chatted and we chatted and we chatted. And that's all we did. We didn't hold hands. We didn't smooch (that came WEEKS later, Dad, don't worry). We just talked. And we ended up talking until dawn. He finally got up to leave and I gave him a hug and closed the door and I just knew.

I knew that this would either end very, very badly. Or it would never end at all.

He Said: The all night chat. That night was a fun night. Agnes did a great job of keeping my belly warm. She cuddled up on me and stayed there most of the night. Which is a good thing. Leike and I did not get along so very well. In the safety of her own apartment, M started to tell some stories. I still did most of the talking. She listened.

We started dating, but flew low under the radar. We didn't want to be the subject of gossip, so most people didn't even know we were dating until right before we got engaged. We spent the majority of our time together. I am a morning-ish person (my attention span is best from about 7am until 2pm after which it takes a nose-dive) but Chris is an afternoon kind of guy, so while all of my classes were in the morning, most of his were in the afternoon. I would head out to my classes, meet up with him on campus for lunch, we would head back to his apartment and I would settle down to homework while he would be getting ready to go to classes. I would either head back to campus with him to continue working in the library (that's how I came to be on the 7th floor of the library during a tornado) or else I would just hang out in his apartment and work on homework while he was in classes.

And that's what we did. That's how we dated. I think in all the time that we dated we went to one movie together (a midnight showing of Return of the King in ATLANTA--yeah, that was dumb). I can't actually remember if we ever went out to dinner...I remember making dinner for him one night. Mostly, it was lunches. On the easy-class days, we would have a nap after lunch. I think at one point he took me to a Georgia football game. I have no idea who we played, but I think it was a homecoming game because there were cheerleaders there in their 70s--in their ORIGINAL uniforms. It was a bit disturbing for one who didn't grow up in a football tradition.

He Said: That football game was great! M doesn't like large crowds, drunkards, or football but went to a location that had all of that at once. The lunches are some of my fondest memories of UGA. Indian lunch buffet and a nap afterwards.

To this day, though, if we're given time off, what we choose is lunch and a nap. It's the epitome of comfort and affection in Burnstopia.


Whimsy said...

This is so sweet - and also FASCINATING. Because I only heard bits and pieces at the time... over the phone and in postcards sent back to Seattle.

I'm so glad you guys are together.

Katrina said...

So fun to hear this story! I've been curious how Burnstopia came to be.

Bird said...

I love the she said/he said format. We also love a good nap in the afternoon.