Mike and me in South Dakota
July 2011Fifteen years ago today, back in 1996, Mike and I had our very first date. Mike and I had met on Labor Day of that year and had been getting to know each other in the context of a big group of friends. We'd sit with that group at dinner in our University's cafeteria each evening, but then always eventually find ourselves alone on a park bench underneath the large trees on the beautiful campus grounds, just talking and talking and talking. That's one thing I remember about our relationship-- having a conversation was just very natural and easy. After several weeks of hanging out like this, Mike finally worked up the nerve to ask me out on an official date, and of course, I said yes.
September 22, 1996 was a Sunday. The plan was for Mike to pick me up that afternoon at my parents' house in Oklahoma City. We were going to go to Lake Hefner to fly a kite, then go to Chili's for dinner. On the way to the lake, we stopped by Wal-Mart to buy a kite, but couldn't find a single one in the store. So we had to go with Plan B-- just go to the lake and talk. It was there, sitting on the shore of the lake as the late afternoon sun hovered low on the horizon, that we began to share our hearts. We talked about our families, our hopes for the future, our careers, our passions. We talked about bands we liked or didn't like, concerts we'd been to or hoped to go to. We talked about our hobbies, interests, and our personality quirks. I just remember that when it was time to go to dinner, I felt like a already really knew this person, but yet there was a whole lot more I wanted to know.
Before we headed to the restaurant, Mike asked if I would like to stop by his Granny's house to meet her. At the time, Mike's grandmother also lived in Oklahoma City, and I thought it would be fun to swing by. I remember walking into the living room of her beautiful home and she greeted me like I was already part of the family. She had a precious smile, and I loved her instantly. We sat and chatted with her for a bit, then I noticed an old framed family photograph hanging on her wall. Mike walked with me over to it and watched me gaze at the picture of Mike's parents, his brother and cute little baby Mike (Mike's sister wasn't born yet in this particular pic!). It was the first time I saw that Mike was adopted. He casually mentioned, "You can see that I look a little different." My reply was simply, "Yep." And that was it. I think he was relieved to get that out in the open, and that it wasn't a big deal at all.
Dinner that night proceeded just like our day at the lake-- easy, free-flowing conversation. It really was a wonderful evening. Later, we followed each other back to our small college town about 45 minutes away from the big city. And from this point on, we were a couple. Fifteen years later, I still enjoy going out on dates with Mike, and I don't think that will ever change.