This Might Get Me Hurt

Beth and I this past New Year's Eve.

This being St. Valentine’s Day, I feel entitled to blog about my relationship with this girl I like. I’ve referred to Beth in many prior posts as “my girlfriend.” We’ve been together for about two years and four months now, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that she’s generally repulsed by over-the-top romantics. That’s not my intent here, but for those of who celebrate today as Singles Awareness Day, the following may make you nauseous. The same goes for you, Beth. I’m sorry, but I had to:

Beth and I went to Minnesota State University, Mankato, a school of about 15,000 students on a rather compact campus. The first time I saw her was in a photo in our student newspaper, The Reporter, where I was editor-in-chief. The story was something pertaining to freshmen. I was a junior. We printed dozens of photos of students each issue, but this girl with the big eyes, dimple and easy smile caught my attention.

It worked out that I would see this girl from the photo on campus all the time, going to and from classes. I was a hermit most of that year, holed up in the newspaper office, but I still made it to basketball games where I would see her all dressed up, making social rounds the whole game, never quite finding a seat. I would always give whoever I was with the nudge, point her out, say “That’s the one I’ve been telling you about.” (I told a lot of people about Beth.)

The first time we officially met was February 2, 2007. Beth was out for her friend Katie’s 21st birthday party. We ran into each other at one of the local bars. I’d had enough alcohol to man up and introduce myself, but before I could, Katie intercepted me, explained it was her 21st b-day, said she loved what I wrote and insisted I buy her a birthday shot. I obliged, and just after that, I met Beth. Briefly. We may have shaken hands. We did pose for a photo:

(Left to right) Katie, alongside myself and Beth on the night we first met.

This wasn’t where our story began, I guess, but rather our Facebook friendship which would later on prove vital.

In the meantime, if I saw Beth around campus or at the bars, I kept it cool, casual. I was a bouncer at South Street Saloon shortly thereafter, so we would speak briefly as I sat on my stool while checking IDs. We were still strangers, you could say.

Nothing really happened between us for months until I was going home to Sioux Falls in October for no apparent reason. When I got home, I found Beth had sent me a message on Facebook. She was going to Sioux Falls, too, for the weekend. The message included her phone number and an invitation to call if I’d planned on going out. Even if I hadn’t planned on going out, now I had a reason.

I don’t remember calling her, but I know I did. We set up a time and place to meet. I know that little.

We chose Rookie’s, a new sports bar in town, and I went with my college roommate, Dan. He was the perfect wingman because he’d heard me ramble on ad nauseum for a few years about this girl he just had to see. I had taken down a half bottle of Hpnotiq before going out, just to kill the nerves. Beth showed up at Rookie’s about an hour after I did. She was with a big group of people sitting at a corner booth. I remember coming over with a round of shots, giving myself the in to interrupt this table of stranger who probably knew me as “the guy who likes Beth.”

They were right.

We didn’t really talk much at Rookie’s and we were actually split up at different bars most of the night. But after closing time, we met back at her friend’s house. Her friends had retired for the night (not by choice), but Beth and I chose to sit outside on the front steps. She’d put Joss Stone on the stereo and I remember being impressed by this. I sipped the rest of my Hpnotiq and she drank cans of Busch Light. We just talked. For hours. And I think we both knew we liked each other, but we needed to learn more. I can’t tell you a lick of what we actually talked about. I was too busy falling in love.

We wrapped our conversation about around 6 a.m., as the sun started to creep up. There was no grand farewell or anything like that. But it worked out we would text or talk or hang out every day thereafter and we’ve been doing the same ever since. We talked for a good four hours, but I knew Beth was everything I hoped she was within the first few minutes.

So, my apologies to those of you who now have to Google “how to clean vomit from keyboard.” It’s St. Valentine’s Day, so I had to write about my girlfriend. No, I wanted to write about my girlfriend. And since there’s nothing left to lose at this point, I want you to know I love you because you still love me even though I blog.