So last night, as I was trying to fall asleep, I started thinking about my love story with Matt. Our 5 year anniversary is coming up in August. I have now known (and had a crush on) Matt since 2006! We have so many sweet memories of the “early days” that we often talk about, but I find myself forgetting little details. So…I am going to share it here.
Matt is one year older than me, and we met at Harrison High School on the swim team my sophomore and his junior year of high school. My first impression of him as the new kid was that he was very cute, and a bit stuck up. Rumors had been floating that he had a girlfriend back where he came from and that made me a bit wary of him. He was also very quiet, which I took as arrogant. I admired him from afar but focused on my more attainable crushes (gosh, hormones really are rampant in teenage girls). It wasn’t until his senior and my junior year that we began talking.
Matt used to swim on a year-round team and would not practice with Harrison’s swim team, only participate in the meets. I didn’t see him often until November, after he got in a car accident and could not keep up at his old practices due to a knee injury. He started coming to our regular practices and swam in the lane next to me. All the girls on my team loved him. I began to realize that he was not arrogant, just a bit shy. I remember my friend Kaitlyn telling me that he had asked about me a few times and mentioned that he liked my smile. I was ecstatic and began thinking that we had a chance. During our practices, I would go so far as to try and sync my flip turns to be the same time as his and always made sure that I had the best form (so lame).
In December, our team had an overnight meet in Tennessee. I remember sitting close to Matt on the bus and being very jealous as he sat with my friend Kaitlyn, sharing headphones, and laughing at Dane Cook’s album (good Lord, I hope our taste has matured). Kaitlyn was just a good friend to him, and even got us all to go out to Waffle House together, although Matt and I were too shy to make much progress.
In February, our team had our very last swim meet (Matt’s very last high school meet, ever). It was supposed to be a fun meet, Senior Appreciation Night, and silly relays. I had been hearing about Matt dating another girl on our team and was very upset. But lo and behold, Matt and I ended up doing a silly relay together (along with my sister) and I thought that he seemed interested in me! Hope again!
At the same meet, a year later! (Matt wasn’t ready…I’m ALWAYS ready 😉
Later that night, after all the races were over, a big group of us on the team decided to go out for Mexican food. It was Matt’s birthday and we were going to celebrate. We arrived at the restaurant and found that there was a long wait to seat a group as big as ours. The girl that Matt was supposedly dating turned to Matt and asked if he’d rather go to a different restaurant. Matt said he did but that he had driven his friend and his friend wanted Mexican. Then Matt turned to me and said, “Emily, could you drive Colby (his friend) home?” I was devastated. I really had thought that Matt was interested in me, and here he was, pawning off his friend so that he could go eat with another girl. That was probably the most upsetting moment I had ever had in my dramatic teenage years.
Matt and “the other girl” ended up staying with us at the Mexican restaurant. He sat by me and I remember him asking me if I was a vegetarian after I ordered the Veggie Quesadilla (I wasn’t…the things the mind decides to remember…). After we left that night, I was still stung with the feeling of unrequited love. I focused on my other crush, once again, and tried to forget about Matt.
Matt at his birthday dinner with the team.
I ended up finding out that Matt’s date with “the other girl” did not go so well. My heart soared! A few weeks after the Mexican restaurant incident, we had our swim team banquet. I was named team captain for the next year. The day after the banquet, I woke up to my dad telling me that our beloved dog had been hit by a car. Cody died that morning and I went to school in tears (attendance policies are very unforgiving if you skip school because your dog died). I remember avoiding Matt’s glance in the hallway that day (we always shyly smiled at each other in between 2nd and 3rd period) because I did not want him to see me looking so upset and with no makeup on. He ended up finding me in the hallway after lunch and came up to me and said, “Captain.” He did a cute little hand salute. It was such a sweet and bold gesture (for him) that I was actually able to smile.
The rest of the school year went by and our only interaction was the sweet little waves and smiles in the hallway. I made promises to myself every morning that I would just go up to him and ask him out. It never happened, and when the seniors had their last day, I was very upset. I didn’t even want summer to start because I thought I would never see him again.
The fates shined upon us and Matt ended up swimming for my friend’s summer league swim team that was my summer swim team’s rival (my friend and I were the coaches of our respective teams). He would be at our first meet! I was so excited to know that I would be seeing him again. The night of the meet, Matt ended up breaking his heel doing a flip turn in my neighborhood pool. I used my lifeguard skills and wrapped his foot. We flirted shamelessly the entire night, so much so, that I neglected my coaching and swimming duties! My team ended up losing by 3 points (practically nothing in the swimming world), but I couldn’t be upset because it had been such a fun night. Both teams ended up going to Brusters’ afterwards to celebrate. This is where I think I broke Matt’s little heart…
I had a very good guy friend growing up and he happened to be on my swim team. This friend was an obnoxious flirt and loved messing with me. While we were at Brusters’, Matt thought that this friend of mine, and I, were dating. Matt left Brusters’ a little abruptly and I was heartbroken once again, not knowing how Matt had interpreted things! Our one shot was gone and this time I knew we would never see each other again.
The stars aligned and on our last swim meet, which happened to be my 17th birthday (June 25), both teams (mine and Matt’s) ended up at Brusters’ again! This time, I was bound and determined to make something happen. I bravely gave Matt my number and we talked about going to see a movie together.
A few weeks later, Matt texted me (this was still in the time when text messages cost $0.30) to ask a question (the icebreaker). I was on vacation with my family and he had asked if I was going to be at a swim meet…I wasn’t. Luckily, he found the courage to ask me out to the movies once I got home from my vacation. We went and saw “Don’t Mess with the Zohan” and I remember agonizing about what to wear. The movie was terrible and I was so rigid throughout the entire thing that I barely remember the plot. After the movie, he walked me to my car and hugged me. We made plans for a second date. Our second date was at my house and we ordered pizza and watched “Superbad”. He ended up staying at my house until 2 AM. I was too polite to ask him to leave and he was too polite to excuse himself. I remember talking in my living room and just staring at the clock, as the time flew by. I felt so grown up having a boy over so late, even though we sat a good 6 inches apart. He finally left and I was just glowing.
The next morning I woke up to a Facebook message (Facebook was very young, Matt didn’t even have one) from one of Matt’s friends saying that “Matt was missing.” The message said that Matt’s parents had called his friend asking for Matt (Matt had told his parent’s that he was going to that friends house, being too embarrassed to tell the truth). The friend said he had never heard from Matt and Matt’s parents had called every police station and hospital in the area. My lovely sister replied to the group message saying that Matt had been at our house until 2 AM. What a good impression. Matt was safe and his parents were furious and now everyone knew that we were dating.
We went on exactly 8 dates before Matt plucked up the courage to kiss me. I remember thinking that maybe we were just friends. I decided to plan a date that was a little more romantic than just dinner and movies. I asked Matt if he wanted to go to the lake on my family’s jet-ski, just us two. It took him a day to respond. I was in agony thinking that I had been too forward. Finally, he responded, apologizing for the delay, as he had been sick.
We went to the lake on a very hot summer day (after I had painstakingly shaved my legs and tried to apply “natural” makeup). As we were idling out to the open water, me in the driver’s seat, I told Matt that he should hold on. He asked, “To what?” I groaned internally and thought that this boy was going to make this difficult. I shouted over the motor, “To me!” He grabbed my lifejacket as lightly as possible as I jammed the throttle. We had a great day tooling around the lake and laughing.
When the sun got too low in the sky, we packed up and headed back to my house. We watched Talladega Nights in my basement and Matt FINALLY put his arm around me! Yes, that is how slow he moved. (He tells me now that instead of watching the movie he would watch the clock and say in his head, “Okay, at 11:18, you will put your arm around her shoulders.”) Right as the movie ended, all of the power went out. I mean everything, including the street lights all around our neighborhood. It was pitch black. We stood up (him never taking his arm from around me), and made our way upstairs to find a flashlight. He decided that he better go home and check on his family since the power was out. We walked out in the pitch black night to his car. He hugged me for about 20 minutes. And finally…(cue the harps) …WE KISSED. Our first kiss was so sweet and I’m so glad we did not rush into it. It was perfect.
After that first kiss, we became that disgusting couple that nobody wanted to be around. The floodgates had opened and we were shameless teenagers in love. I remember going to Braves games and him putting his hand in my jeans pocket (he would NEVER do that now). I cannot remember a happier time in my life. Matt eventually had to leave for college and it was very hard to say goodbye. Luckily, we saw each other nearly every other weekend. Our long distance relationship made the time we spent together so special. I don’t think we had our first fight for about a year.
I am so lucky to have Matt and even though our relationship has many ups and downs, I am thankful to have such sweet memories to think about when I need a little reminding of how perfect he is.