BY MAGGIE REIMHERR
I think it’s safe to say Derek and I started dating in an...untraditional way. The storybooks want you to believe it goes like this: boy meets girl, boy falls for girl, boy pursues girl, girl returns boy’s affections, they get married, and they live happily ever after.
Storybooks are wrong. It was 2013 people! And I was a 2013 woman.
I was a junior, and Derek was a senior at the University of Georgia. We were in a communications class together, and he caught my eye for two reasons:
He had stickers on his laptop for the church I went to and the Christian fraternity at UGA.
He was wearing a wristband from Passion, a yearly conference for 18-25 year old Christians.
These things signified to me that we were destined to meet. He loves Jesus; I love Jesus. Let’s love Jesus together forever. These are really normal thoughts to have the first time you notice someone, right?
Disclaimer: I used to be pretty shy. I’ve outgrown it now, but at the time I took weeks deciding how to approach Derek. Suddenly, it came to me in a stroke of pure, awkward brilliance. I just blurted out one day before class, “You went to Passion??! I went to Passion!!!” I spastically held up my own wristband as proof, and we started talking. Nailed it.
The next time we spoke was the following week before a test. Derek asked to borrow a pencil. He watched as I fetched one from a backpack pocket…which was bursting with *feminine hygiene products*. I was horrified. Out of the kindness of his heart, Derek pretended that he hadn’t seen. He totally had. And from that day forward, we were class buddies. Can’t spell bonding without tampons!
One day after class, Derek noticed that we always left in the same direction, so he said, “You’re walking with me today.” This was my first introduction to “Cool Guy Derek.” Cool Guy Derek was just being casually flirty. Awkward Girl Maggie swooned over his simple request. We started walking together after class twice a week, and those walks became the highlight of my week.
I started mulling over the idea of asking Derek to my sorority formal, but I I didn’t have his phone number. Opportunity soon struck. A few weeks later, he Facebook messaged me something about class and I oh so smoothly typed, “I have to log off but you can text me your question!” and sent along my phone number. He texted me. Number procured, straight killin’ it.
On a Friday night, I sent him a text asking if he would be my date to formal. I promptly threw my phone across the room and took the longest shower of my life to avoid checking my phone obsessively. But of course he replied (hours later), yes.
Plans were made. I bought a new dress. Here’s a photo of me getting ready. I mean, who can say that they have a mirror pic taken before their first date with their husband? I can.
Formal was our very first date. Liquid courage was flowing. The formal was at the nearby Botanical Garden, and after the dinner portion of the evening, Derek and I went on a walk through the gardens. We laughed about the weird plant names on informational plaques as we walked - pure romance. At one point, Derek tried to steer me onward after looking at some of the plant signage. It seemed like he was turning me around to face him, so I thought, “This is my moment.” I spun 180 degrees and planted a kiss right on his lips. He was surprised, but he was into it. He totally kissed me back. Then we kissed a bunch more times throughout the evening, even when friends were watching.
After no communication from him for 2 days, I confronted him via a “Thanks for being my date!” text. Actually, that’s a lie. A sorority sister’s boyfriend sent him a text him from my phone that was edited and proofread by 4 sets of eyes before it got sent (#millennials, amirite?).
All I got back was a one sentence reply that just thanked me for taking him. I was mad now. I texted back, “Are we going to talk about Friday night?” He called me and said he thought I was attractive but wasn’t “into me.” Definition of a backhanded compliment much? Oh well, you win some you lose some.
24 hours later, Derek texted me, “I know this might sound weird, but I can’t stop thinking about you. Would you want to hang out sometime this week?”
🎵Hot then you’re cold, yes then you’re no🎵
...But who am I to turn away a date?
So we went on a little date. We strung up hammocks and talked for at least 3 hours. We got serious after that, and we’ve been serious ever since.
To say our relationship was touch and go in the beginning is an understatement. But we’ve kept on pursuing each other ever since. Storybooks are wrong, ladies. You don’t have to wait around for your man - go get him yourself!
Our love story is no fairytale, but I like it better that way. The awkwardness and the missteps of our beginning reflect life: the best things aren’t wrapped up in a nice package with a pretty bow. The best things are real and imperfect.
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