Thursday, February 14, 2013

Getting a Good Workout in There, Eh?

So after being on twitter for almost 5 years and having a blog that is at least somewhat active some of the time (Ha!) for almost 2 years I realized I've still never put up any sort of "Our Story" on how Mike and I became Mike and I.  Time for that to change, and it's perfect timing as well!  Not only is it Valentine's Day, but it's also 9 years ago today that we officially started dating.  Hard to believe we have spent the better part of a decade as a couple, but we have!  And it's been a crazy and wonderful ride.  It's kind of a long story, but that's the way I like it.

The first picture ever taken of us back in 2004
In August of 2002 I left home and headed to St. Lawrence University for my first year of college.  I was nervous and excited at the same time.  Due to being on the volleyball team, I had to be at school early, which was kind of nice, because I got to learn the campus and adjust before being overwhelmed with all the students and classes.  I felt pretty settled by the time I had to go around and meet with my professors and tell them I'd be missing my first day of their class due to travel for a volleyball tournament.

I met with my Intro to Canadian Studies (yes, seriously that class existed and I took it) professor and he informed me that the class would be moving to a different room, and gave me the room number.  Monday morning when I walked into that room I found myself the only one there.  Um, wasn't there supposed to be a class going on?  I had to meet with my professor again to find out where the right room was, and by the time everyone else was attending their third class on Wednesday, I was attending my first.

I headed to class determined to try to find anyone I maybe potentially recognized to sit near when I got there.  That all flew out the window the second I walked through the door.  There, sitting front row in the auditorium where class was held was the hottest guy I had literally ever seen in real life.  You know how you have that fantasy image of what your perfect guy would look like?  This guy was it.  Dark hair and eyes, facial hair (I've always been partial to the rugged scruffy look), tall, athletic body type, great smile.  There was nothing flawed about this guy's looks, at least to me.  I headed straight for a seat a couple of rows behind him and proceeded to stare at the back of his head for the entire class.....and for every class the rest of the semester.

I'd never been struck like that about someone I'd never so much as said hi to before.  And it wasn't really okay because I had a boyfriend back home at the time.  Oops.  Even so, every time I saw him I got that butterfly feeling.  I found I couldn't even make eye contact with him.  I got so nervous just at the sight of him it was ridiculous.  I didn't know this guy at all.  He could have been a total jerk for all I knew, yet he had this really strange and new affect on me.  Again, totally not okay since I had that boyfriend at home.

 Then my crush started speaking up in class.  He answered questions (correctly every time), he entered debates with other classmates (and won every single one of them).  This guy was smart.  Great, not just gorgeous, but seriously intelligent too.  Like I needed that.  Also, I've always been known as having kind of an "off" sense of humor.  While I find the same things everyone else does funny, it's really the intelligent, inappropriate and dick sarcastic comments that get me.  As class went on this guy started cracking jokes.  He'd say something and the entire class would be dead silent in shock, and I'd be struggling to keep in my laughter and not be the only asshole in there cracking up.  Awesome, add hilarious to the mix.

I gushed about this mystery guy named Mike to my friend on a nearly daily basis (way more than I talked about my boyfriend.....oops again) and it was a month into the semester before I finally saw him on campus when I was with her so I could point him out.  As I watched him from our perch at our usual table in the dining hall I felt her slap me hard on the shoulder.  "Rachel!  That's Mike McKenna, the goalie of the hockey team!"

Seriously?  She had to be joking.  That couldn't be real.  You see, my friend knew that I was a big hockey fan.  I've stated before that I attended Adirondack Red Wings (old AHL team) games my entire life.  I chose to watch hockey on TV over other shows on a nightly basis.  My brother played and I went to many of his games.  We were a hockey family.  And as a kid I'd had a fascination with goalies.  On the few occasions that my family showed up early enough to games to watch warmups I'd make my dad take me down to the glass and I would just watch the goalies.  I don't know what it was, but I thought they were awesome.  I mean, what are the odds that in a school of 2200 kids, I pick out the freaking goalie to have a crush on?

Crazy side note: I found out years later that on my school visit during my senior year of high school when I attended a SLU hockey game, Mike was in goal.

Now I knew who he was, and while part of me was excited because he had the same love for the sport I'd grown up loving, part of me was bummed because hockey players don't exactly have the best reputations on the planet.  At the time I never dreamed I'd ever so much as speak to Mike let alone date him, but still that disappointment was there, despite that boyfriend at home I still had.

 Then in October our Intro to Canadian Studies class had a field trip to Ottawa.  Our school was a mere 20 minutes from the border and it took just over an hour to get to Ottawa.  Our day consisted of a trip to Parliament and a museum.  Kind of stalker creepy, but I kept close to Mike while we took the tour before heading inside to observe a session of Parliament.  As we filed in, I literally cut another girl off so I would be the one who was able to sit next to Mike.  He claims I nearly threw her off a balcony jockeying for my spot, but that's a slight exaggeration.  I was so nervous sitting next to him that I ended up having involuntary restless leg, which he definitely noticed.

"Getting a good workout in there, eh?"

Those were his first words to me.  In total panic mode at the fact that Mike had actually spoken to me, mixed with fear that I'd been annoying the shit out of him with my shaking leg I managed to squeak out a high pitched, barely audible "Yeah".  Mortified as all hell, I was relieved when our professor signaled for us to get up and head out to move on to continue our tour.  Once outside we ended up having our very first conversation.....about squirrels.  Seriously.  I can't make this stuff up.  A black squirrel crossed our path, and I'd only ever seen gray ones and said so.  Mike then told me all about the white one he had pictures of that had been in his yard in St. Louis.

I didn't intentionally follow Mike through the museum, but we ended up visiting all the exhibits at the same time and then the group gathered in one spot while we all waited for our professor to finish his tour.  The one guy I knew in class ended up sitting on the bench next to Mike, and upon seeing me standing, shoved aside and told me to sit.....between him and Mike.  I hesitated due to my earlier most embarrassing moment ever, but sat down anyway, which worked out nicely because I was able to join the conversation Mike was having with other classmates.  We agreed on the proper pronunciation of "Aunt" (like the insect), and he called me un-American for not liking Krispy Kremes.  I spent the entire bus ride back to campus grinning at my wonderful day.

Not long after that my boyfriend from home discovered that there was a guy at school I thought was hot, and decided that he'd befriend Mike, because in his mind friends don't steal their friend's girlfriends.  Really dumb move on his part.  He'd talk to Mike through Instant Messenger while I was sitting in the same room, thinking that if I saw the conversations I'd lose my crush on Mike due to the rude and inappropriate things Mike would say.  It went the opposite direction.  Apparently my ex did not understand my sense of humor at all.  Not only did I learn more about Mike, but I found him to be funnier than I expected.  My crush only grew.  Little did I know at the time that Mike only put up with those conversations to learn more about me.

 I ended up transferring out of St. Lawrence to another college after that year, and I thought that was the end of my crush.  I went back to SLU to visit when the team played hated rival Clarkson a year and a half after the first time I saw Mike.  The friends I was visiting were doing a raffle at the game so I got to get in early and we sat in the student section, just the four of us, in the empty building.  I had this weird urge to look across the ice, and just after I did, Mike walked out onto the bench.  It was like part of me knew he was on his way out there.  Turns out Mike didn't go out to the bench before games very often, he just happened to that day.  Our eyes locked immediately, and I knew my crush was not gone.

SLU won the game, and I went out to the bar with my friends hoping to see Mike.  And I did.  And I literally ran away from him when I saw him because because I was so nervous about seeing him again.  Finally my friend chased me down, grabbed me, and pushed me back the other way where Mike was on his way over to me.  We ended up spending the entire night talking.  We talked until the sun came up.  And when I say talked, I honestly mean talked.  Seven straight hours of getting to know each other, and confessing our crushes.

I drove back to my school that morning and promptly called my boyfriend and broke up with him.  Mike and I weren't a couple, and I didn't know if we would be, but it wasn't right to date one person while getting to know another, even if it was all by phone and instant message.  I was willing to take a chance on Mike.  Three weeks of talking daily, and repeatedly throughout the day, on Valentine's Day, Mike and I decided to give it a go.  I transferred back to St. Lawrence the following year (Not just for Mike, but also because I missed everything about SLU and hated everything about where I'd gone to).

We spent my junior year and his senior year together at school, and it was apparent pretty quickly that he was the guy I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.  We did a year of long distance his first year of pro while he was in Vegas and I was finishing my senior year.  It was hard, but we made it through and I moved to St. Louis with him after I graduated in 2006.  We've lived together and haven't spent a hockey season apart since.

Every year as we move on to a new team and get to know new people, we eventually hear the inevitable "It's sickening how perfect you two are for each other."  Last year in Binghamton when the girls threw me a bachelorette party we played a game where they had asked Mike questions, and I then had to answer the questions correctly or take a shot.  I don't know if you know Mike, have met him, or have ever listened to his interviews, but the guy's a talker.  He can't just answer the question, he has to elaborate, go into tiny detail, tell a story in the middle.  Every one of his answers to the questions were full paragraphs.  The girls thought I'd be falling over after the game with all the shots I'd be taking.  I took two shots out of something like 15 questions.  They'd never seen anything like it.

Yep, that's us
It's crazy to think that just over 10 years after that insane crush developed on the hot mystery guy in my Intro to Canadian Studies class we're married with a daughter on the way in just a couple of months.  And I've loved every moment of it.  I still occasionally wake up in the middle of the night after a dream about my crush on Mike in college, still half asleep, and realize that I'm actually with him in real life.  I still get butterflies when I see him again after he's been on the road for a few days.  He still makes me laugh just as hard as he did in the beginning.  I hate when he's gone even just for one night, and when he's gone for more than just a couple, I still cry when he leaves.  He's my best friend and I love him more now than I did when I first fell for him.  I don't know how I got so lucky.

Happy Valentine's Day to everyone out there and Happy 9 years to my husband!

1 comment:

  1. Aww! I'm so happy for you both and your growing family! I've met you and Mike in Lowell and mike is definitely a talker but in a good way :)