15 years ago today, I was working an engineering contract in the cold wastelands of central Illinois, and found myself alone with nobody to have Thanksgiving with.
The high school I graduated from was a private boarding school in Oregon, and as such, my friends are all scattered to the four winds. So, I looked on a map and started cold-calling all of the closest friends I had, asking each if they’d take me in for their festivities. St. Louis, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Chicago, each one said no until finally a good friend of mine from DC named Tara said yes – though she’d be at her grandparents in New Jersey, a solid 850 miles away. So, I left at midnight, drove 15 hours straight, and showed up, jittery from road fatigue, at 3pm at her grandparents house – just in time for Thanksgiving dinner. After some good fun being “that narcoleptic friend Tara invited” after ingesting plenty of turkey, randomly passing out around her grandparents’ house, I offered to drive her home to DC the next day, just because why not.
On the drive, Tara suddenly turns to me with “this great idea” that she’s been discussing with her mom. This “great idea” is hooking me up with some girl named “Kathryn” that she’s good friends with. I remind her that I don’t live in Washington, DC and had no plans to move there. But, in the end, I agree to allow her to invite her over, and devise an elaborate system of winks and nods which will signal her if I find this “Kathryn” attractive or not. Unbeknownst to me, she’s strong-armed Kathryn to come over despite her own protests and devised a similar wink/nod arrangement with her. She comes over, we hang out, we each wink at Tara just to see her reaction, and then Kat goes on her way home.
The next day, I’m in downtown DC, taking a tour of the Founding Church of Scientology and run into Kat again – as she worked there at the time. In saying goodbyes before I get back on the road, I offer to stay in touch via email, and she confesses she doesn’t have email, or even a computer. Well, I know nothing of romance, but THIS I can handle.
I arrange to show up at her parents house a few weeks later, bearing a computer, and set her up with email and chat so we can talk. Kathryn is bewildered, getting this idea that I show up at the houses of people in distress, setting them up with email.
We talk lots more while I’m there about all manner of things. As I was about to leave, she finally ends up breaking it to me that, owing to my ineffective attempts at flirting, she’s just going to have to up and kiss me, and does.
Then, after a visiting her over Christmas, taking a few bike rides, and spending endless hours chatting, I had already decided (unbeknownst to her) that I was going to spend the rest of my life with her.
And the rest, my friends, is history.