Whenever we get to the part of our love story when Jeff and I went on our first date, people always ask the question, if everything was so awkward up to this point, how on earth did you end up together?
There’s two things you need to know in order to understand the story of our first date. First, Jeff and I went to college at Point Loma Nazarene University, a small private Christian school located on the beautiful sunset cliffs in San Diego. This school has the most beautiful campus of any school on the planet. It’s literally built on huge red cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Most classrooms, dorm rooms, parking lots, offices, walkways, and garbage cans on the narrow seaside campus has an epic ocean view that stretches on for miles. However, the school’s small ocean front property means two things. One, that the campus is secluded back into the family-friendly Point Loma neighborhood in San Diego, a quiet, mostly residential area away from the bustling downtown urban environment that is central San Diego. And two, that parking is in short supply at the university and freshman aren’t allowed to have cars.
So in order to get off the campus and into the city, we freshman had to either ride the off-campus shuttle that went to the local grocery store, Target, and Starbucks (you know, the college essentials), or find an older man with a car.
I had been at school for three months at this part of our love story, and I had been on a few dates with other guys by this time. Freshman guys. Guys that had to borrow their older friends’ cars in order to take me to Jamba Juice. Swoon.
On the night of my first date with Jeff, I was waiting nervously outside of my dorm building wearing – according to Jeff’s instructions earlier that afternoon – the cutest outfit I could muster with a knee-length denim skirt and a light pink long sleeve button up sweater with leather sandals (oh yeah, hot librarian fashion in full effect). At 8:00pm sharp, Jeff pulled up in a dark, greenish-black Ford Mustang. Jeff doesn’t know this, but my first boyfriend in high school was really into cars and had a thing against Mustangs, so I had learned to judge any guy driving a Mustang… But I had a decision to make – to judge the fact that he had a Mustang, or relish in the fact that this guy was driving his own car. I decided to go with the latter and hopped in with all of the librarian cuteness I could muster.
‘Take me to the city, San Diego Boy,’ I thought. ‘This Idaho girl needs to get out.’
I didn’t know where we were going on this first date of ours. Keep in mind that I had never been past the local grocery store on the corner much less seen anything of the city. I’m also not sure if Jeff took that fact into consideration when he decided on the plans for the date, but planned or not, it was brilliant. We drove to downtown San Diego and boarded a ferry that would take us across the water to Coronado, an adorable island in the middle of the San Diego Harbor across from downtown. The 20 minute ferry ride across the water passes by the bright, glowing nighttime skyline of downtown San Diego, and Jeff brought me out to the front of the ferry boat where we could gaze at the towering skyscrapers floating by us on shore.
This Idaho girl had never seen such a thing before. San Diego doesn’t have a particularly large downtown, and much of the city’s character lies in it’s beach communities that run up the coastline so its not like people think of a crazy iconic cityscape when they think of this town, including myself. But the way the tall buildings rose up out of the water that night, towering above us like a big cushy welcome blanket that wrapped us up in its twinkling city lights captured every romantic cell in my body.
Cue the music for a song and dance montage people, because this is the part of the story where the wide eyed farm girl comes to the big city. I felt like I should be spinning through revolving doors, throwing my arms wide and letting my hair fall free as I skipped up a busy escalator with stars in my eyes and a suitcase in my hand ready to take on the world with a catchy chorus and a click of my red sparkly heels.
I was falling in love fast. Hook, line, and sinker. But I was only falling in love with the city in front of me. Not the boy that stood next me and kept stealing glances my way and would quickly turn when I sent a smile in his direction.
And then Jeff finally asked me a question. It was about my family. And where I was from. And then what I liked to do. I don’t remember what we talked about. Not a thing. All of it has escaped my memory. The only thing I remember is that below that sparkling cityscape, through dinner on the water, a walk around Coronado, and another ferry ride back across the harbor, we talked.
And we didn’t stop talking until he brought me back to the car and the most awkward moment of our entire love story happened and ruined it all. But there’s so much more to tell before that, so I’ll leave you until next time.
City girl out.
(To be continued… This is just one part of the story of how Jeff and I fell in love. You can read the entire series, or start at the beginning here.)