Monday, December 31, 2007

The birds and the bees.

Last night, Nathaniel and I saw one of our best friends from college. Kevin and Nathaniel went way back to high school, where they became steadfast friends. Each guy was into his own goofy stuff, but they bonded over gaming, had personalities that "clicked", were both interested in joining NROTC at Wisconsin (Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps), and their friendship steadily grew.

The first two years of college, Nathaniel and Kevin shared an apartment - and their friendship survived. Kevin was a bit crazy about his DVD collection and gaming figures that he hand-painted, while Nathaniel was a bit of a slob, who "forgot" to pick up after himself. Nathaniel's room smelled so bad during Spring Break 2000, that Kevin and the two other roommates confronted him about it. Nathaniel swore that it wasn't him, that he hadn't forgotten any perishable items, but the smell persisted.

A few days later, a body was discovered in the apartment directly below Nate and Kevin's. (Natural causes, but the guy's roommate didn't know as he had been gone over Spring Break). The stench had alerted authorities, and Nate was let off the hook - sort of. No, he couldn't help it that a Body was discovered on the floor directly under his room, but he could certainly do his dishes.

After two years of living together in college, Nathaniel got a different room mate and Kevin moved into an apartment on his own. But the friendship held strong, and continually grew. That's about the time (Fall 2000) that I met Kevin. I had just started dating Nathaniel (we met Sept 6, 2000 in Soviet History and had our first date September 8 - we've been together ever since... very romantic), and it was clear even to me - the new girlfriend - the the two were great pals. Kevin and I were friends immediately; I wanted to make a good impression and was really really nervous, but Kevin was great. He was really nice, put my nerves at ease, and I was stuck wondering why this great guy didn't have a long line of women clambering after him.

Kevin is as smart - intelligent - as he is handsome (in a slightly geeky sort of way, which I find oh-so attractive. Think Clark Kent with glasses), and a genuinely really nice guy. Yes, he collects DVDs, loves complicated electrical equipment (he's got a degree in computer science), paints his own gaming figures, and enjoys gaming. A few quirks: but the "right" woman/girl would be lucky to get a guy like him.

Over the next two years, I had the pleasure of becoming friends with Kevin. Nate and I house sat for his ferret (Virgil, a wonderful little guy who loved glasses cases, a squeaky banana toy, and who could sip coke from a straw), and we would get together and "shoot the breeze". Kevin was usually in the middle of dating a "crazy" girl - so Nathaniel and I were updated on the antics of Kevin's various girlfriends.

Nathaniel explained to me that Kevin's girlfriends were all a little crazy, all a little nuts, and that he just plain sucked at choosing women. He would meet a girl, become convinced that she was the next best thing to peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, only to get his heart broken when he realized she was psycho.

Not psycho in a "ha ha ha" - you're funny! kind of way. No, one girl friend was a stalker, another was "dating" several other guys at the same time, another was in NROTC with Kevin and Nate and a control freak who organized every bit of his life. (That was the time when Nate and I rarely saw Kevin, as he was with this other girl and her posse most of the time). Some girls liked Kevin, but insisted on changing him - either they didn't like his intricately painted figures (he had thousands), or they hated his gaming and would try to break him of his habit (which he so loved). One after another, these women were all the same: a bit crazy, bad for him, or wouldn't accept him for the wonderful person he was.
None of them deserved Kevin. And Kevin was a little sad, because he so wanted to meet someone to share his life with. He was such a great guy, but just couldn't find "the one."

Kevin soon graduated, while Nate (who was a year younger) had an additional year. Me, being the youngest of the bunch had two more to go. But despite the fact that Kevin was commissioned in the Navy and moved onto a new life in Seattle and then Virginia Beach, we stayed in touch. Kevin always called on my birthday to wish me a happy birthday, and would call and check up on me whenever Nate was deployed. The two of us exchanged emails and have stayed in touch throughout the years. When Kevin deployed, I would send as much email as possible, making sure he was okay and letting him know that the two of us were always there fore him. When both were stateside, Nathaniel and Kevin would talk on the phone, conversations that lasted hours and made them reminisce about the "good old times."

Nate and I would hear about various women in his life, but nothing too serious. And then the conversation would return to old memories, new gadgets and technology, Navy stuff, and the topics that I would be clueless to - because Kevin would say something and Nathaniel would say something else, and then they would laugh. Some random reference to years past that I didn't get, because I hadn't been along for that long.

A few weeks ago, Kevin emailed me and Nathaniel, and mentioned he would be in Waukesha around Christmas. The two of us jumped on the opportunity to see our old friend, and immediately set up a time and date to get together. And then Kevin mentioned that his girlfriend, Lauren, would be there also.

Nathaniel and I had heard a little bit about Lauren, but hadn't met her as of yet. Kevin and Lauren met last January (January 11), and have been dating ever since. Which was pretty impressive, as Kevin's current job has him living and working out of Singapore (a top sales rep for the SE Asia Region for Abbot Corp). It was a tremendous opportunity when he was offered the job - and as he had no reason to stay stateside, he decided to "go for it." It was during his training for the Singapore job that he met Lauren.

Lauren is a very talented singer, who is in the process of recording her third album. She and Kevin met after one of her performances: Kevin asked her out (which he never does), and Lauren accepted (which she never does). The first night, they talked for 3 hours - the conversation flowed, and they vowed to see each other the next night. And they've been together ever since.

Lauren lives out of Dallas, and Kevin is stationed out of Singapore: the two don't get to see each other all that often, but their connection is strong, and the love they share is apparent on even the most basic of levels.

Last night, Nathaniel and I finally met Lauren. Kevin had announced that he was going to marry her - and after last night, there is little doubt in our minds that this will in fact come to pass.

I won't bore you with the details, however, for the first time since I've known Kevin (7 years now), I saw him head over heels in love. We didn't discuss gaming, we didn't discuss cool electronic gadgets, we didn't hash over "the old times": Kevin talked about how much he loved Lauren, how lucky he was, how wonderful they were. All while she was sitting right next to him, and saying how much she loved him. It made my heart melt the way they looked at each other, it made me happy to see how much in-love Kevin was.

I knew it would happen at some point, and feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to meet the love of Kevin's life. She's not crazy (certifiably crazy, crazy-in-love - yes), she loves him for who he is, accepts him - technology and painted figures and gaming and all - just as he is. She's beautiful, and he's obviously smitten by her. He joked that one day she'll wake up and realize him for who he really is.

Obviously she has - and she loves him for who he is.

It was a beautiful thing to behold, and I wish them all the love and luck in the world. I felt lucky to see my friend so obviously smitten, and to see the same love returned.

So here's to Keven and Lauren - love to you both! I look forward to hearing about all of your future adventures.

And now, I feel like I'm really getting old. Friends from high school and college are falling in love, speaking of marriage... while others are having kids or trying to have kids. It makes me appreciate the special times that I've had with Nathaniel, the love that we share, the life we lead.

And I'm especially lucky that I sat next to him on September 6, 2000 in Soviet History. Who would have thought that the fall of the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc would have resulted in my meeting the love of my life? Just goes to show - it can happen anywhere, and at any time. So try to look your best, if possible...


Pedergraham said...

ha ha the last paragraph! I will save that for when my daughter is in college...and tell her the reason that she should not cut class is that she might miss out on sitting next to the man of her dreams! Hope that everything works out for Kevin and Lauren.

Ashley said...

Hey - happy New Year! Are racing Gulf Coast this year? I'm thinking about signing up.. but, always prefer to have a friend if I'm going to travel. Let me know.