January 15, 2008

History: The Way We Met/The First Year

I've decided to blog about some of the things in the past for a couple of reasons. One is that sometimes it is just nice to think back to special times. Another is to have a place for Abby to find it later in life, in case she wants to throw a surprise Anniversary Party (hint, hint older-Abby).

Part One of the series: The summer we met, and the first year we knew each other.

Anny and I met at Camp Glenkirk, which is unfortunately no longer a camp. (Stupid Urban Sprawl.) I was coming back as a Camp Counselor for the third summer and she had signed on to lead games and the low ropes course.

Since I had been working there for several summers, I kind of had my friends lined up, but you can bet that I am always looking to hang out with cool new folks.

We started off staff training the way we would start every group of campers off in the past, and probably how they still do it, playing a name game. Always start with a name-and-favorite-____ type of game. My name is Rob and my favorite pizza combination is ham and pineapple.

Next we moved on to a team-building but still getting-to-know-you game. This "game" was to line up by birthday. Easy enough, right? Yeah, we had just met each other. Oh yeah, the other rule was that you could not talk. It's actually brilliant. Leaders emerge to decide which end is January and which is December. Lots of flashing numbers with your hands. It always takes longer than you think, and often someone is out of order because they were not actually paying attention.

As Anny and I share the same DATE of birth, we thought it would hilarious if she jumped on my back and shared our spot in line. Yeah, real funny, but it certainly broke the ice. Anny typically hung out with the older side of the staff while I always made sure to spend time with just about everyone on staff, so I saw her daily, but on weekends hanging out was rare. She would go to parties, I would stay at camp and be "helpful" with the kids that were there for ten days instead of the regular five.

Most summer camp staff are in college. Most of the folks at CG were in good colleges, certainly not close to Northern Virginia where the camp is. Anny was teaching full time and I was at a local community college. We were "leftover" from the group.

I got a call one day saying that she needed to get away, and since she didn't know many people, I would have to do. (exaggerated, but only slightly.) Actually, Anny had plans for the evening, but needed to kill time during the day and had heard great things about the Inner Harbor in Baltimore. I thought it would be a nice way to spend a Saturday afternoon, so I said sure.

We went up to Baltimore and caught the Maryland Science Center for an Imax movie and had lunch. On our way into one of the destinations Anny got a call on her cell phone canceling her evening plans. Good for me, bad for her. We decided to catch dinner and a movie. If we call this our "first date" it was probably not a good movie choice: Stigmata. (Dinner at TGIFriday's, which is where my brother and his wife had their first date. Cool!)

At the end of the evening we just sat and talked. Catching up on family, friends and life. When we headed back to my house we were greeted with a wagging tail that was not present before I left. While I was out, my Aunt Pam got a puppy! What better way to cap off a non-date-date than with a brand new puppy? Okay, so it was a bit strange to have a dog in the house, but we love her dearly even today.

We hung out a lot from that point on, even had a standing non-date-date on Thursday's for Killians, ice cream and ER. For our (shared) birthday, my family made two cakes, one for her and one for me. (It was my 21st!) That was a fun evening, but since it was actually a week before my birthday and I refuse to break the law, I refrained. Okay, so it was because my family, church friends, work friends, and friend friends were all there and it was a little awkward.

Throughout the spring we began to get really close, but were still on the friends plane. Our friendship was so close that when someone asked if Anny wanted to go see a concert, she checked with me first. I considered that pre-dating, if not full on dating. She did not ever think of it as such. That was the spring that Vertical Horizon's popular song "Everything You Want" was released. Yes, you remember correctly, it was about the fact that you could keep looking, but the perfect mate is me. She missed that too.

Anny had decided to take a job in Tennessee because she was fed up with the bureaucracy of the school system she worked for. I was devastated at the idea, but knew that she should do what's best for her. Friends come and go, always have, always will. Anny was still around for the summer, and we would be working side by side as trip leaders and if something happened, so be it. If not, that was okay too.

Staff training came and went, but she was in and out of that because of her teaching job. Once she was on site and we were around each other more and more, something clicked in her head. On a river trip she had an ah-ha moment. Out Loud. She yelled "EMPATHY" on the side of the Shenandoah river. I was too focused on other stuff to really get what she was trying to say.

I was decidedly in love with Anny at this point. I knew I wanted to marry her right then. Honestly, I know it sounds dorky, but it's true. At a bonfire one night we were talking and she used some metaphor about people leaving but returning and making them stronger - or something like that. That night was so clear and quiet. It was perfect.

The next night I offered to take her out to dinner. Not a handful of staff, just the two of us. We had done this before many times, but this time was different. We both got into our nice clothes and headed to Copeland's. Something was different about Anny. What was it. Oh yeah, I could not remember ever having seen her in makeup! At one point she pulled a lipstick box out of her purse and I actually said "what is that?!" It was just not something I was accustomed to seeing her wear.

When we got back to camp it was late, but we had not yet seen the season finale of ER, aka "our show" at that point in our life. Everyone else knew not to bother us. Now comes the really cheesy part.

We were talking after the show about the summer and us and her job in the fall. I finally just said "do you want to be my girlfriend?" (wow, what a dork. I know, I know.) It was my way of putting everything out there: Yes would mean great things; No would mean an awkward six weeks to close out the summer.

She said "yes."

I like this idea of capturing our history. I capture my kidney history mostly so that I can refer to it. I love our story and love to think about it. It makes me appreciate where we are a little more every time. Other things I want to capture are Our Proposal and Our Wedding. I'm sure there are other important things, and I will rely on Anny to help me decide what those are.


  1. Rob asked me to write my version of this story, but instead I will just comment on his. Our first "date" was just dinner and a movie (Yes, Stigmata), and I ended the evening with a terrible headache. The inner harbor was another time. And it was actually our friend Michael who first suggested to me that Rob and I were dating and it was with Michael that I discussed what might happen to my friendship with Rob if we became "more than friends." But above all, I love being married to my best friend.

  2. I'll always think it was funny that many of us knew you were dating before the two of you knew it ;-)

  3. I loved reading your story! I'm so glad that I was around for those two summers...we all knew it was going to happen:) I have tears in my eyes...no one will know over here how much you all mean to me and I really don't like it that we can't hang out...but one day we just might have to make a trip over there...one day:)

  4. And I love your story together.