It was October. The weather was just starting to cool off, and I was a month into my new job as a 411 operator with Verizon. I was on my break, and when I walked into the lunch room, it was empty except for one guy. He had light hair, an earring in his left ear, and was wearing a leather jacket. He was sitting at a table, staring at the TV, which had the movie “Interview with the Vampire” playing on it. I didn’t want to interrupt while he was watching the movie, but he was so cute, I couldn’t resist the urge to talk to him. So I said something about liking the movie, he agreed, I said the book was even better, he nodded in agreement (I would later find out that he’d never read the book at all and was just going along with what I was saying). Cute guy had to leave, he was new and in training, so I smiled and said goodbye to him.
I found out that cute guy’s name was Paul and he had recently come to California from the Seattle area. We’d run into each other from time to time on the floor of the call center while we looked for workstations, or in the break room. Then one chilly night, Paul and I got off work at the same time and walked out to the parking lot together. He’d just gotten a new car and offered to show it to me. It turned out to be a really great luxury sedan, with more features than I’d known a car could have. It was late so he had me climb in and drove me across the large parking lot to my own car. We sat there for awhile, getting warm and talking. I really, really liked him. I felt so comfortable with him, like I could tell him anything. When I climbed out of his warm car and into my own cold one, I wondered if there was more to that than just a nice guy showing off his new car.
Time passed. One beautiful, warm spring day, I left the office after the first half of my split shift (back then I worked four hours in the morning, had a several-hours-long break, then went back for the last four hours of my shift). Paul was leaving at the same time as I was, and we walked to the parking lot together, talking. He was so smart, so funny, so interesting to talk to. Before I knew it I was due back at work. I’d stood in the parking lot talking with Paul for the entire break in my split shift. Later, when I saw him in the office, I could tell that the sunburn he’d acquired while standing in the parking lot matched my own. A few people raised their eyebrows at us, since it was apparent we’d been together that afternoon.
Spring moved into summer, and the weather went from warm to scorching hot. One day when I was off but Paul had to work, I dropped by the office to give him a bag of chocolate (Hershey’s Treasures, the caramel ones). Another night, I was bored at home so I dropped by work to see if I could catch him on break. He teased me a little for voluntarily being at work, but he ended up asking me out to dinner. I didn’t hesitate to say yes.
Our first date was on August 20, 2004. Paul was off that day but I had to work. I wore a black and white wrap shirt, black slacks, and black sandals. I spent time that morning getting ready and was bouncing off the walls with excitement all day.
Finally work was over and I went out to the parking lot, where Paul was waiting in his car. He wore an orange button-down shirt and looked amazing. He took me to the Roadhouse for steaks, which was far nicer than anyplace I’d been taken on a date before. Maybe I was easily impressed, but he accomplished impressing me nicely. Dinner was great and I had a blast with him. After we ate, I invited him back to my apartment to meet Angel, my spoiled Siamese cat. He played with her and petted her, which delighted her. I watched them play, grinning, knowing that this guy was someone very special.
It’s been eight years since that first date. Paul and I have since been through some of the best and worst times of our lives together, and at times I wondered whether we’d make it together. Always, we found our way back to one another, and today our relationship is fantastic and I love him to pieces. I can’t imagine my life without him.