A story of love

Feb 15 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

As promised, here's the story of how my (awesome) boyfriend/cheerleader/inspiration of 6 years (and counting!) and I met.

Mr. 30-and-almost-a-PhD and I met in high school. We were in different schools, and met at a national honor society meeting/competition in the spring of 1999. We were both seniors and had been accepted to the same college. Different faculties, same school. I'd become a biology major and he'd be a poli sci one. We were both passionate about our respective disciplines and (as far as I can tell) college was an awesome time for both.

I was a huge nerd ... have always been. He's always been a bit of a nerd, scoring 4.0 all through college, his master's and some of his semesters in the PhD. We met and thought that each other was nice (and cute, OMG he's the cutest thing ever). We also had a bunch of friends in common, so it wasn't uncommon to coincide at student centre or in between classes. During the high school competition, my friends and I did somewhat poorly, but he did great and even got a prize. My friends and I went over to congratulate him and hug him and it was a wonderfully funny memory which we both treasure.

Since I was a huge nerd, I didn't want to be distracted by love and stuff, so during the first two years of college I only dated casually and never went all serious with anyone. Honey did have a girlfriend (or two, or possibly three, I can't remember) and I remember that I'd look at him (and check him out, oh yes I did) and say hi, but nothing more. I was a "good conservative girl" that would never, ever ask a guy out, let alone cross the line with a guy that was going steady with someone else.

Eventually I started dating a former biology classmate and by the time hon and I graduated we were both in steady relationships. On graduation day honey got an important award at school. Somehow, even though I was dating someone else at the time, him having the award made me feel close, familiar, like it also belonged to me. I remember looking over where he was sitting when our names were called on stage and trying to say hi (I'm not sure he noticed me ... turns out he was really sick, and was tired and recovering ... poor thing). A few weeks before graduation we'd crossed paths in one of the halls at school and exchanged phone numbers. We were both going to grad school in neighbouring states. We though it'd be cool to keep in touch.

I failed to mention earlier that we used to be ICQ buddies, and joked that when we turned 30, if we were alone, we'd get married.

Back to the story. So, we both moved to our respective grad programs and occasionally he'd call to say hi and see how things were going. I kinda looked forward to his calls and was always upbeat when we finished talking. We were still dating our college partners. Eventually we both broke up with them. A few months after our respective breakups I was on the phone with one of my college BFFs and she was sitting in a big group of people at school. She passed around the phone for our mutual friends to say hi and one of the was hon! He'd left grad school, gone back home and was on campus that day. We talked briefly, mentioning that we were single, nothing more, nothing less.

About a year after that I was feeling lonely, sad and pathetic. I'd been single for a bit over a year. I was near my quarter life crisis and though grad school was going OK I missed having a boyfriend. I picked the my phone and decided to call a guy, any guy I could get a hold of, just so I could hear a male voice on the line. As I was looking around I stumbled on honey's number ... then thought, "hmmm, we haven't spoken in a while, I wonder how he's doing?" For all I knew he could have changed his number. I certainly had changed mine and he could be with a new girlfriend.

I made the call and he picked up! Later on I found that honey doesn't pick up calls from strange numbers. Mine had changed, but his cell used to show the area the call was coming from, and when he saw the state, he faintly remembered knowing someone there. Maktub.

We had a nice conversation. Hon was friendly, and his voice was as warm as I remembered.  We talked and talked, probably for about 3 hours that night. We talked about our respective break ups, updated each other on what had been going on since the previous year and had a nice conversation. Hon told me he'd started a master's program he was excited about (the program he'd chosen for his PhD was not what he was expecting, so he did the sensible thing and withdrew before going any further ... I was shocked by this because to me he'd never been a quitter, and here was my nerdy superstar, my academic idol falling from grace ... he quickly regained that status after we started dating and he shared his journey of discovery, something that still amazes me) and mentioned he was "shopping" for another school to start his PhD in (originally he wanted to do film, then switched programs in his master's and re-discovered his passion for his current field). That night, right then and there he mentioned that a) he was single (yay!!! but no, originally there weren't any romantic expectations, as far as I can remember; hon, correct me if I'm wrong), b) was going to the northeast to check out a couple of schools, and c) didn't want to go alone, but his best friend was busy or something, and he wondered out loud if I wanted to take a few days off from school and be his traveling partner. I told him I'd ask my boss if it was OK, and would let him know, but it was quite possible I'd be able to travel with him.

Now, I wasn't the kind of person who'd just go with a guy on a multi-state trip (possibly date?) on a whim... miraculously I took the chance! After talking to the boss it was done, August of 2005, our multi-city tour of the North East was happening.

Hon and I talked on the phone (or Messenger) every night from then on. We'd flirt and make plans on where to go, which places to check out etc. But as the trip approached I became apprehensive. I wasn't sure what to think, I mean, we liked each other. But a year earlier my heart had been crushed by my college boyfriend, and I wanted to keep my expectations low, in case things fizzled when we came face to face.

Off we went in August to see schools and see how we got along. Honey had (and still does) the most loving eyes I've ever seen. We hugged and talked and on our way we went. But, I became a total bitch within minutes. For reasons I still don't understand, I put this wall between us, and no matter how loving and kind honey was to me, I was a total bitch. Our visit to a school in the first city was good, he got to meet people in the program and got the info he was looking for. We had time to go sightseeing, so we went to a couple of museums, had dinner, and took photos. At some point I remember honey asking about my wall, and my attitude ... and I didn't know what to tell him.

Eventually we headed out to the second city in our trip. We took the train and in it I started thinking about the stupid wall I was putting between us. Here was this genuinely loving person, treating me like a queen, while I was being totally insane about it and barely even talking to him! Why was I so afraid of him? Was it fear of being hurt? He hadn't even made a move! WTF was wrong with me?

In that train ride I started thinking about those times in the past where good guys had approached me and treated me with warmth, care and patience. And I always went with the asshole that appeared to be more "interesting" ... only to have my heart broken (and seeing them marry one of my college best friends ... classy). I think honey fell asleep at some point and that's when it hit me, I didn't want to be hurt anymore, I was avoiding him because I wanted to avoid the possibility of being hurt. I was dreading the pang in my stomach, the pain in my heart and the racing thoughts that come with a broken heart. But we weren't even dating! And here I was getting all worked up about something that hadn't even happened (hon can attest to this, I do with everything, you should have seen me when I got the job offer last week, I didn't sleep for days).

As we got to the new city I started tearing down the wall and becoming my usual crazy, nerdy self. We walked around the city, drove to a nearby port town and had a wonderful time. And little by little I let him in. I shared with him stories about my life and dreams, and he paid attention to it all. He was not only loving, but hanging from every word I was saying, and wanting more.

When we made it back to the first city on our trip we were inseparable and it broke our hearts when we had to say goodbye. We'd found a companion, a best friend, a travel partner in the other, and we now had to let go to back to our regular lives. I had to go back to my lab, he had to go back to his MA classes. We swore to never lose contact, and to see each other again.

He kept his word, he came to see me two months after. A month before that he'd asked me to be his girlfriend. And I said yes.

Since then, we've moved many times, within my grad school city, his grad school city, and of course, to the Great White North. We've traveled, lived together, lived apart, been sick, healthy, crazy, mad, happy and pissed. We can count with one hand how many times we haven't spoken on the phone (or in person) in these 6 years .... there would be a few fingers left. We've fought hard, and loved harder. And we've been through a lot of stress and wonderful, relaxing times.

I don't know what awaits us, but I'm excited, as long as it is with him. I hope to go back home soon, so we can be together once again, and never, ever be apart. This year is his defense, finally ... and I can't wait for it!

So, I ask you, how did you meet your significant other?

6 responses so far

  • fusilier says:

    At a bar, a month before classes started in the fall.

    It was NOT a "bar," it was a "club." There was a live band and a dance floor!

    It was $.25/beer night, and you could buy 3.2% alcohol beer in Ohio if you were 18. It was a bar.

    ...a club!


    We danced a few dances, and discovered we both enjoyed reading SF and fantasy - spent 2 hours in the parking lot sharing our favorite authors - not that anyone else believed us.

    We got engaged 2-3 months later and got married two years later - it was important that she graduate.

    That was 42 years ago - we've got kids your age!


    James 2:24

  • 27andaphd says:

    Ahahaha, love it! It was a bar, a club, a bar, a cluuuub!!!!

    How sweet! Thanks for reading a sharing. What an amazing story 🙂

  • Liz says:

    Great story, thanks for sharing! I really identified with the issue of putting up a wall when the nice guy came along because I was so worried about being vulnerable (still working on this a little bit actually).

    I've been enjoying your posts on leaving the postdoc and finding your current job. I am curious how your relationship, and location of your significant other factored into decision making on where you considered looking for work?

  • 27andaphd says:

    Hi Liz, thanks for your comment and for visiting. Your comment gave me an idea and I was thinking of using it as inspiration for tomorrow's post. Check out the blog tomorrow for my answer 🙂

  • Erin says:

    I've been enjoying your posts! I'm currently feeling massively uncertain of what I want to do once I (hopefully) get my PhD, and so it's especially nice to read about others' journeys.

    I've only been dating my significant other for 6 months now, and we met at graduate school. We're in different fields but have lots of mutual friends, so we had multiple brief interactions involving bus rides, keg stands, and delicious tamales. We eventually connected over bike riding, and it's been an adventure ever since.

    • 27andaphd says:

      Awww, thanks Erin! Best of luck with the final stages of your PhD journey. It will be a bit crazy, but try to enjoy every bit of it. It goes so fast! Thanks for sharing your love story. Hon and I found out we had a few friends in common, though not many brief interactions. How cool you guys connected via a cool activity. All the best and thanks for you sweet words 🙂