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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Our First Valentine's Day

Totally meant to post this yesterday, but then got distracted by more important things. Oh well!

This could go one of two ways, really.  Today is Ben and my first Valentine's as a married couple so in that sense it's a first....but the reason this time of year is really special to me is because it reminds me of our first Valentine's Day together.

Ben and I started dating right before Valentine's Day - and by "right before" I actually mean right before.  Like a couple of days before.  And by "started dating" I actually mean, we finally admitted that we were totally in love with each other after several months of skirting around the issue and pretending like it was no big deal and we were just super close friends (which we were, and still are).

Basically, for those of you who don't know us IRL, Ben and I have been friends since we were 18.  We met in our freshman dorm and had a few classes together.  In addition to being part the same close-knit group of friends, we were good friends independently.  We watched baseball together, exchanged young adult lit books, analyzed Harry Potter, and left ridiculous things in each other's on-campus mailboxes.  Giving Ben a hug and saying goodbye was what finally made me cry on Graduation/moving out day.  In college, the idea that Ben might like me as more than a friend never even occurred to me.  Because I am an idiot.

Just friendz!!
After graduation I moved to the bay area for a few months.  Shortly after I returned to Minneapolis, Ben took off for a two-year teaching stint at a boarding school in north India.  We kept in touch the whole time over the phone, email and g-chat, and had long and often hilarious conversations.  He and I both went through some personal rough patches during those three years, but despite being many thousands of miles apart we always had each other to lean on.

At some point while all of this was going on, I had dinner with my friend Rachel.  Well, I probably had dinner with Rachel multiple times, but one particular dinner stands out in the context of this story.  We were just chatting away, enjoying our meals when out of nowhere Rachel goes "BTW how come you and Ben never dated?"  It was honestly the first time this had occurred to me, but I couldn't think of a good answer.  I started reading back through our emails and letters, wondering if I'd missed some obvious hints of his feelings towards me (I had), and thinking that maybe there was really something there.

When Ben moved back to Minneapolis in June 2008, we started spending a LOT of time together.  We had regular viewings of LOST and Ken Burns' Baseball, both of which usually involved freshly-baked cookies and long conversations.  The more we hung out just the two of us, the more I began to realize just what an amazing guy he was.  By October I knew I was falling in love with him, but wasn't sure what to do about it.  There were several complicating factors, including the fact that he was my best friend.  If I made a move and turned out to be wrong about his feelings towards me, I risked losing him completely.

Finally, around the first week of February 2009 (yes, it actually took us that long.  I realize this is ridiculous), I became pretty convinced that my feelings were reciprocated.  Ben was dog-sitting for his aunt and uncle and invited me over for dinner and a LOST/movie marathon.  He cooked an amazing dinner for me, poured a ton of wine, and we stayed up into the wee hours watching movies, and then talking after the movie supply ran out.  Eventually I decided that it was probably late, and I should be getting home.  I thought it was maybe 2 or 3am, but quickly realized that it was actually 6am.

As I was leaving, we shared a hug that turned into a longer hug....and then it just started to linger wayyyy too long, and it really seemed like one of us should say something. Instead I eloquently blurted out: "umkgottagobye!" and ran to my car.  Classy.

I still remember that as one of the best nights of my life.

We had another Ken Burns night planned a few days later.  At this point I figured we had reached the point of no return and the whole "I'm in love with you" thing just needed to be addressed.  We had stayed up all night talking.  He wined and dined me, and looked into my eyes several times in a way that went far beyond friendship.  We had an awkward lingering hug.  To not say something at this point would have been just silly.

Waiting for Ben to come over that night was one of the most nerve-wracking hours of my life.  I made a batch of cookies, and then another batch.  I paced around the apartment, probably talking to myself.  I had a scotch.  I ate a few cookies.  I debated having another scotc, but decided on more cookies instead. I paced some more.

When he finally showed up, the scotch had at least taken the edge off and I was able to converse in a somewhat normal manner.  We talked about our days, ate a few more cookies and poured some wine, and then sat down to watch Ken Burns.

This next part, I'm not sure whether I should be to embarrased to post...but here goes.  If you needed more proof that I am a ridiculous sap, look no further.

I was just watching the documentary, drinking my wine and loving life until we reached the point where Ty Cobb passes away.  If you're not familiar with Ty Cobb, he was a shortstop for the Tigers in the early 20th century.  He was an amazing and hugely influential ball player, but he was also kind of a racist asshat.  Shortly before his death, Cobb said (in front of a backdrop of sepia-toned photos and old-timey nostalgic music that only Ken Burns can provide) that if he could do it all over again, he wished he would have had more friends.

I was GONE.  I started tearing up almost immediately, and Ben quickly leaned over to give me a hug.  It was another longgggg hug...and then we pulled apart and looked at each other.  And then he kissed me. 

And that is how Ben and I started dating.  Because I felt bad for racist, friendless Ty Cobb. 
True story.

Valentine's day was a few days after that, and surprisingly neither of us felt awkward about immediately planning to spend the day together.  It just seemed obvious.  Ben had a part-time bartending gig at the time, and he Valentine's.  So, he made me lunch in the afternoon, and then came back later (around 11pm) for ice cream and a movie night.  I remember how nervous he was as he threw beer-marinated chicken on the grill for our lunch, and how sweet it seemed to me.  I remember waiting anxiously for him to come over that night, not even caring that I had to get up early the next morning for choir - I just wanted to see him.

So, this was supposed to be a story about our first Valentine's, but it ended up being basically the whole story of how we started dating.  Oops!

Hope you all have (had) a lovely day!


  1. What a sweet story, Kristina! Loved reading about how you and your man got together. Sounds like one for the history books, complete with the ridiculous Ty Cobb anecdote! :-)

  2. Aww thank you! I'm glad you appreciate the ridiculous baseball story :)

  3. aww how lovely! and who better to fall in love with than your best friend, right? Happy anniversary

  4. :) So incredibly happy for the two of you. I think you probably would have found your way to each other without my help, but I'm glad I said something anyway! You are both super peeps and I miss you!!


    1. I'll see you SO SOON though! Just a few weeks!!!


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