I didn't spend enough time on the range to warrant going home, but the end of the season paired with a missed call from a fellow area code 319 number provided enough motivation to walk off the course. My heart rocked when he called again on my way to the car.
"Hello?" Ugh...you just sounded like your mom...
"Hi...is Anne there?" Great, now he thinks you sound like your mom, too!
"This is she," I said, half laughing at his question, half beating myself up for how Mom-like I continued to sound.
"Oh, yeah. Hi. This is Nate. Uh...I was thinking it might be nice to grab coffee with you sometime, get to know each other a little better. Would you want to go?
"Yeah! Uh...that would be great." I don't drink coffee, but he doesn't need to know that yet...right?
"How about Saturday? I'll pick you up at 8?"
"Perfect. See you then."
I flipped my phone shut, dropped it in the passenger seat, and began nervously laughing in an empty car. Did that really just happen?
I dashed into Stegenga Hall and thankfully found a friend in the computer lab. I burst in with a wild look on my face, which of course prompted several questions from her. I pushed my back to the wall, let myself slide to the floor, and recounted our conversation to Rachael.
"I mean, that's a date, right Rach? Like a real date?"
She rolled her eyes, smiled and said, "Sounds like it to me!"
I spent most of Saturday afternoon fruitlessly attempting to finish something before allowing myself to start getting ready. While typical girls have a natural knack at beautifying, I do not. But I spent quite a bit of time trying to emulate them. Lindsey came by my room at supper time and suggested we go to Quizno's, to which I happily agreed. I didn't bother going beyond getting dressed and drying my hair, as I wasn't planning on seeing anyone besides Lindsey.
We chatted during the 3-minute drive and continued our conversation on the walk to the restaurant. I stopped mid-sentence in the doorway causing Lindsey to run into me. Directly ahead of me sat Nate, his back to me, his hathead revealing his afternoon activity. He sat at a table with five guys, including his boss/mentor and his best friend. I'm pretty sure I started sweating. Nate smiled but looked about as shocked/sick as I felt. Brandon and Ryan both looked giddy.
I attempted to save face by briefly stopping long enough to look each guy in the eye and say hi. I then walked briskly to the counter to order and not mess anything else up. Lindsey thought this was all hilarious but graciously sat at a table where I could keep my back to the boys' group.
A few minutes before 8 pm, there was a knock on my door. I looked at the mirror one last time, (making sure I looked sufficiently cute while looking like I hadn't tried too hard) and opened the door. He smiled shyly, wearing a button up shirt under a green-brown sweater that mimicked his hazel eyes. Enter: heart beating like a crazy person.
He opened the passenger door of his white Ford Taurus for me, and we drove to De Koffiehoek making nervous small talk. As we got in line at the coffee shop, I glanced at the menu, quickly spun around and said, "So...I don't drink coffee." So smooth.
We sat down at an out-of-the-way table, Nate with coffee, me with a smoothie. He confidently pulled out a deck of cards and explained the game he had planned.
"I thought we'd play Go Fish. Do you know how to play?" he said.
"Ok...of course I know how to play," I said, wondering where this was going.
"Great, but this game is special. Every time you have to go fish, you have to ask the other person a question. Sound good?"
We started with questions like "What's your favorite color?" but soon began easily trading favorite things and the stories behind them. I think I officially stole his heart when he asked, "If you could play any golf course in the world, which would it be?" and I answered, "Hmm...probably St. Andrew's? But Augusta National is close behind."
We finally reached the end of the game of Go Fish, and I made a comment about starting another game. He smiled and said, "Sure." But he continued putting the cards back into the box. I sat there slightly confused until he launched into the speech he had obviously been rehearsing.
"Anne, I've really enjoyed spending time with you tonight. If it's ok with you, I'd like to start intentionally getting to know you better."
I tried to absorb his words and see if they meant what I thought and didn't realize he was waiting for an answer from me.
"Um, yes. That sounds good."
"Great! I thought, if things went well here, that maybe we could go back to Coly and play games with Brandon and Kelly. Has it gone well? Would you want to go?"
I didn't know Nate well, but I had seen enough on campus to know that going to play games with Brandon and Kelly was Nate's Northwestern equivalent to meeting the parents. I wasn't sure if I was up to that challenge, but I was intrigued enough to give it a try!
We made the short drive back to Coly and I entered the Coly RD apartment for the first of many times. As we walked in, Brandon and Kelly were quickly gathering blankets and tools and definitely didn't look like they were about to sit down for a game night. Nate looked panicked. Brandon and Kelly were smirking.
"It's nice to meet you, Anne," said Kelly.
"Sorry we have to run, buddy," said Brandon. "Tasha has a flat tire near Hawarden, so we need to go help her out. We'll see if we can get back in time to play a few games!"
I didn't mind the level playing field, but Nate took a little while to get his groove back. He showed me a few of his favorite games from their collection. We started with Pass the Pigs, which I won, then progressed to Ubongo, a tangram game sort of like Tetras. I am not spatially-minded in the least, but I am quite competitive. Let's just say, Nate won this game convincingly, and I may or may not have thrown a game card across the room.
Thankfully Nate was up for trying another game. We settled on Doodle Dice, which turned into an epic siege. After covering their coffee table with cards, I finally pulled off the win and recovered some of the dignity I lost during Ubongo.
He walked me back to my room, both of us short on words but smiling. We said goodnight without a hug or handshake, but my goodness, Nate was smiling. I closed my door, and wondered what it all meant. I had a great time, but I was fully convinced that was our first and only date. No guy that wonderful would hang around with me, right?
Nate's Addendum: That night I told my roommate Jeff, "I think I just went on my first date with my wife."
* * *
I'll start my full gratitude posts tomorrow.
Tonight I'm thankful for our story and for a great man with whom to keep writing.