Monday, May 08, 2006

Exhausted memories

After the last ultimate game yesterday, in which I did not play, I went out for dinner with a bunch of my teammates. It's a good group of people and I enjoyed myself despite my exhausted haze.

I talked the ear off of the guy I was sitting next to (he's engaged). I was either completely animated or totally zombie like. I said, "I'm sorry if I've bored you, but tonight I'm either 'on' or 'off.' There's no halfway." He smiled and seemed to understand.

The way I felt last night reminds me of my first regatta at UNC—the Head of the Chattahoochee in Atlanta. It was a very long day. It was cold and windy at the river bank and I was underdressed. One of the varsity women loaned me her brand new sweatshirt so I could keep warm. I rowed in two races that day and by late afternoon, I was wiped out.

I gathered up one passenger, my only friend on the team, Pam, and we headed back to the hotel in my car. Unfortunately, I didn't remember the directions. I thought, "I know it's on Peachtree something street, so when I find that, we'll be fine."

Relying on the recognition of the word "Peachtree" in a street name in Atlanta is a foolish strategy.

I fussed at Pam because she couldn't read the map and I get grumpy when I'm tired. She remained calm. I pulled over to read the map and I finally figured out where we were. We turned around, circled back and were 30 minutes later getting to the hotel than we should have been.

I trucked up to my room, and Pam to hers, and I waited while the four girls I was sharing with took showers. When the last one came out they announced that everyone was leaving for dinner right away. There was no time for me to shower.

I put my hair in a pony tail, rinsed my face, and rushed downstairs to catch the crowd before they left. I was determined to find someone to give Pam and me a ride to the restaurant. I couldn't do anymore driving that day.

I looked around and found the one guy who I knew. Since the men and women didn't practice together and I was never invited to crew parties, I didn't know the guys. I had spoken to this one fellow, Brian a few times. He was friendly and outgoing and had initiated a conversation. I went up to him and asked if he was driving to dinner. He said that his roommate, Fred, was driving and maybe he could take Pam and me. He pointed to Fred.

I marched up to Fred and said, "Do you have room for me and my friend in your car? Are you coming back after dinner?"

Fred looked surprised and said, "What?"

I said, "I need a ride to the restaurant for dinner. Can you take me and my friend?"

"I think so." Fred seemed skeptical.

"I talked to your roommate, Brian, and he said that maybe you could take us."

"Sure, there's not that much room, but I think we can fit you in." He gave me a half smile.

"Are you coming back after dinner?" I asked.


"Some people are going out dancing after dinner and I don't want to do that. We need to come back."

"Oh," he seemed relieved, "I'm not going out so that shouldn't be a problem."

"Ok. Thanks."

I found Pam and dragged her to the car. It was a 2-door Toyota 4x4, and getting into the back seat was challenging. Pam and I squeezed in with Brian and Jeff (another crew guy) sat in the front. We stopped along the way to get gas and Brian bought a pint of milk to drink. Weirdo.

We got to the restaurant (horrifically, it was a Fuddruckers) and I found myself walking next to Jeff. He was a tall, gorgeous, frat-boy type with big brown cow-eyes. We had a short but surprising intelligent conversation, about which I can remember nothing. I couldn't believe he even knew who I was (well, I could, because I'd been the sole novice at a tiny regatta at William and Mary a couple of weeks prior and we'd met then, but still) and that he was actually interested enough to sustain a conversation with me. I looked back to Pam, who was happily talking with Brian, and I continued to focus on Jeff. I didn't think I had a chance with him, and by the next year he'd met his match in a perfect brown-haired (but tough) sorority-type girl, who was rather down to earth and friendly. But that night, he was paying attention to me and I enjoyed it.

Jeff and I walked in together, stood in the line together, but when it was time to sit at the serpentine table arrangement our group had cobbled together, there weren't two spots next to each other and we separated. I found myself sitting next to Fred.

Besides our first meeting, we hadn't spoken much, even during the car ride. I could tell Fred thought I was a little nuts because of the way I'd approached him and demanded a ride.

But there we were, conversations going on all around us, and we couldn't ignore each other. He asked me what year I was in school—a typical conversation starter.

"I'm a first year grad student." I'd given this answer many times to my crewmates and usually it got this response: "oh." And the conversation would stop. If it didn't end there, we would move on to, "What are you studying?" Fred asked that next.

"Sociology." I answered. If we got this far, it was ALWAYS the end of the conversation—at least on this topic.

Instead, Fred asked, "What kind of sociology?"

That was novel. I said, "Demography."

Fred perked up. "Really? What kind of demography?" Wow. That was a completely unexpected response from someone on crew. And we were off to the races.

And that is how I met my North Carolina boyfriend (Fred grew up in North Carolina).

I was about as obsessed with demography then as I am with rowing now and I talked about it for a good long while, answering the many questions Fred asked. Later, we stayed up late in the hotel and even took a dip in the hot tub together (fully clothed!).

We didn't start dating (romantically) right away because I still had a boyfriend in Seattle, but we did start going on platonic dates the very next week. Within about a month, and after a lot of tortured soul searching, I broke up with the Seattle boyfriend and started dating Fred exclusively.

Dating and rowing all in one story! Aren't you proud of me?

Grateful for: a real life meet-cute.

Drop me a line.

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