Back in my college days, if you were a guy, you had to get past me to get to my sister. I was Rosemary Clooney straight out of White Christmas: “Lord, help the mister who comes between me and my sister!” Whenever my sister had a love interest, I made sure to research him well to make sure he was worthy of her affection.
My sister and Rob were both English majors at our college and shared the same circle of friends. When she divulged romantic interest in Rob, I scoped him out with the prowess of a private eye. I stalked Rob online, watched for him on the sidewalk between classes. I finagled my way into sitting with his friends at lunch in the cafeteria to observe him up close. After extensive research I told her, “He’s not your type.” Her love interests moved elsewhere, and I never considered Rob might be my kind of guy.
A few years later, after I graduated and moved back home to work, my sister called me from college to say that Rob would be coming to a wedding I was attending a few weeks hence. A group of our college friends were coming east for a friend’s big day, and my sister thought I should keep an eye out. Of course, my interest was piqued. I worked two jobs, and my life could use a little excitement. An evening with old college friends sounded perfect. And I’d finally get to meet Rob without my Sherlock Holmes persona. Legitimately. I couldn’t wait.
Of all the days that are special to me, May 18 is my absolute favorite. 19 years ago today, I met Rob at that wedding. We met in the church stairwell, sat together at the ceremony and talked all evening at the reception’s singles table. I have no idea who took this blurry picture of us that night. I wish I could thank them. I look at it and remember every moment. The excitement. The awkwardness. The feeling of coming home. The sense that something big and beautiful was happening right before my eyes. I adored Rob from the start.
When he returned to college that weekend, Rob emailed my sister. He told her he’d met me at the wedding and wanted to share the title of a song we’d talked about. Could she forward his message along to me? The tables now turned, my sister looked out for me. She clicked send, and the rest is history. My sister used to joke with Rob that she was the first Band girl who fell in love with him. I’m proud to say I was the last.
Every May 18, I used to remind Rob what day it was. (God love him, he was never very good at remembering special dates.) He’d smile and say, “I fell in love with you when I met you on the stairs.” Today, I’m thankful for the marriage of the friends who brought us together all those years ago and for the sister who liked him first. 19 years later, I’m still head over heels for the college guy with the green eyes and ringlet curls who chose me to be his girl. I wish he were here so I could tell him.