There's Something About Mike

A while ago Sadie asked me how I knew that Mike was "the one". I gave her some kind of an answer but I don't remember exactly what I even said. It got me thinking that as our 26th wedding anniversary approaches on May 18, I thought I might share our story.

Our engagement photo: 1984

I was only 17 when I met Mike. He was a returning sophomore at CMU and I was an incoming freshman. He worked at the front desk in our dorm, was a bass trumpet player in the CMU Marching Band, and was also the cutest boy I had ever seen. I was sheltered, scared, homesick and very studious. He says he remembers it differently, he noticed my tan legs, white "short" shorts, and smile the first day I got there. I noticed him when he was introduced as part of the front desk staff at a meeting in our dorm's lobby the first weekend I arrived. Intrigued, I asked about him, and the mean girl of a roommate that I had at the time, told me to stay away from him. (Apparently he had a reputation of being quite the ladies man. To this day he objects to that...and insists he was just being friendly and checking out his options.)

Needless to say, I didn't listen to her.

Since Mike and I lived on the same floor of the dorm, only a couple doors down from each other, we saw each other a lot in the hallway. I learned just the right time to walk out of my room to be seen when he was on his way back to his room from marching band practice. And somehow I always managed to get my mail (yes we used to get real letters in the mail from home) whenever he was working at the front desk. What a coincidence, right? Hee hee.

I was the type of girl who did not do well "dating" around. I was perfectly content to remain single, if it meant I didn't have to go through the awkwardness of a date where I knew I just wasn't that into the guy. Or if I didn't think there were possibilities that it could end up as more. Even knowing that Mike had the "bad boy" reputation, and I could see for myself that he flirted with girls from other floors, there was still something about him.

A couple weeks after we first met, I had my first official college drink with my "room brothers" and ended up drunk. It was a co-ed dorm so, "room brothers/room sisters", were the RA's way of helping us connect and meet new friends in the dorm. It was on a Thursday night and I went to a party in their room. I only had one drink (of  Southern Comfort I think), and as a result, I got drunk. It wasn't the "tipsy", I've-had-a-little-too-much kind of drunk. More like the OMG-I-am-going to-throw-up-all-night-long-kind of drunk. Yes, I was that much of a lightweight. I didn't drink at all before college.

How is it then that MIke was the one who sat next to me in the dark, all night helping me to and from the bathroom, listening to my incoherent apologies, wiping my mouth, smelling my incredibly gross bad breath and who knows what else? I'm not sure the answer to that exactly. Maybe it was because I asked him to?

Maybe because he is just that kind of guy.

For the record he wasn't anywhere near me when I had that drink, either. The reason he came to assist me is because I, in my drunken state, asked for him. Yep, I asked one of my roomates, not the mean girl, to go get him once I realized I was in trouble and would not be able to go on the dorm hayride. I guess I somehow sensed that he would take care of me, and he did.

I figure that is when, deep down, I knew he was something special. Who would do that for someone they barely knew, and maybe a better question is why would he do that?

A couple weeks into "hanging out" after that incident, I gave him an ultimatum. Either choose me, or not me at all. Ballsy of me, I know. Living in the same dorm, it was pretty hard to watch him cultivate relationships with other girls, and very hard not to feel hurt when I saw it. While it might have been ballsy of me to issue that ultimatum, it was also kind of dumb... he, of course, didn't choose me. I like to say he dumped me, but that is not accurate because we weren't even really together. Unless you count flirting in the hallway, sitting at the same table for dinner, making multiple trips to the grocery store and Wendy's, as "together". It was more like we were buddies who hung out, laughed together, and flirted, until that hot kiss in the closet at the toga party. Pretty sure I had never felt more beautiful than at that moment. And I would have to say that sealed the deal for me.

I could almost count the number of guys that I'd ever dated, let alone kissed, on one hand, before that toga party kiss. So, even thinking that I wanted to date him, exclusively, was a giant indication that he was special to me. How ridiculous of me to even ask him to only date me at that point! But I did it. I think because I was well on my way to knowing he was the one I wanted.

The guy I dated soon after Mike and I "broke up", was his friend. He also lived in our dorm, on another floor. While my choice of this guy was not because he was Mike's friend, it did occur to me we'd be seen together, and maybe, just maybe...I wanted Mike to be a little jealous. Of what he'd let go, of the possibilities...

I think I also knew that Mike was "the one" because something always brought me back to him. Even during the six months I dated his friend, there was still a connection between us. At holiday breaks or weekends when I went home, I always stopped by his room to say goodbye. I was really comfortable around him, and confident he saw me for who I really was, without wanting to change me.

To finish our story, I broke up with this other guy over the summer, Mike and I ran into each other at the CMU bookstore the next fall. We ended up having a class together and this time, while I was a little leery of him, he was in full on pursuit of me. He flirted with me like crazy and we started hanging out again as friends. It wasn't until sometime around Christmas that we officially got together as a couple realizing that this time, on both sides, there was more than friendship, there was love. And the rest my friends, is history.

I'm sure the answer to Sadie's question is different for everyone.

But how, specifically, did I know? I knew for these reasons:

  • because I was able to be "me" when I was with him.
  • because of the way he looked at me.  Like I was all that. He still has the sexiest eyes on the planet.
  • because he put me first.
  • because he made me laugh.
  • because he made me want to be a better person. 
  • because he had a strong ethical code that mirrored mine.
  • because he won over my sisters the first time he met them. My youngest sister was only 5 when they met.
  • because I had let him go and somehow, he'd returned to me. This time, he was mine for keeps.
  • because he made me feel safe. Like together we could do anything.

But I'm thinking the fact that I didn't question if he was the one, once we both chose to be together, is my real answer.

You just know.

May 18, 1985
Mr. & Mrs.

Happy 26th Anniversary, my love. It is so much fun growing old with you! I hope that Sadie and everyone else out there looking for the "one", finds what we did, and then just knows.