If you wanna know the truth, Jake and I met purely by chance. And it almost didn’t happen. Per Exodus I, you know we met at Burn’s Alley and we ended up at Waffle House, but that’s not really how this started. This started with my roommate, Hannah.
Hannah is a volleyball player. She’s built for the sport—tall, lean, and muscular—and she’s damn good at it. We were on the beach at Sullivan’s Island one hotter-than-hell day in August, and this blond guy walked up and asked if anyone wanted to play volleyball. Hannah said “YES!” I said, “I’d rather just lay here.” So Hannah met Vince; Vince was Jake’s best friend.Now, despite the fact that Jake was also playing volleyball at the beach that day, I didn’t meet him for another week, and that was at Burn’s Alley. We did have fun that night, and he did get my number. Then, he didn’t call for awhile and I was kind of disappointed, because I’d had fun with the guy. I shrugged it off, though, because if it wasn’t meant to be, it wasn’t meant to be. Then, since Hannah was dating Vince at the time, I came to learn that Jake was only here on vacation, and he didn’t want to get involved with some chick named Sara because he didn’t want to end up hurting some chick named Sara. So be it.
But he did call. And well, I’m moving to Arizona with him on February 25th. HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?
First, lemme explain Jake’s “vacation.” He’d just gotten out of the navy in July, and for the rest of the summer, all he wanted was fun. He came down to Charleston to visit Vince (a fellow US Navy dude), and after Charleston, Jake planned to go on a road trip across the country to visit other friends and family. We went on our first date about three weeks after he got to South Carolina. He never left. He stayed at Vince’s house. He slept on an inflatable mattress, and he wore the clothes that he’d brought in his suitcase. For five months.
There were several times when I (being a flakey female) requested additional information. When Jake started applying for jobs outside of South Carolina, I wanted to know, “Well, what am I supposed to do?” <sob, sob> to which Jake would respond, “We’ll just see what happens. Things will happen the way they’re supposed to.” When Jake came home for Christmas, my friends wanted to know, “Well, if you get a job in Illinois/North Carolina/BFE, what are you going to do with Sara?” to which he responded (smart ass comments that decorum prevents me from posting here). And yet, through all the questions, we knew. We had an understanding that God had a plan and was taking care of stuff.
So when Jake got the job in Arizona, we looked at each other and asked, “Is this the plan? Is this how it’s supposed to work out?” With little hesitation, Jake took the job. With no hesitation, he asked me to move with him. And with a resounding “YES!” I agreed to move to Phoenix, just like Hannah had agreed to play volleyball all those months ago.
I love Jake; Jake loves me. I have never doubted him, and I’m pretty sure he puts a lot of faith in our relationship. And it almost never happened. Hannah takes credit for Jake and me. I let her keep the credit, because she certainly did have a lot to do with it at the beginning, and this credit makes her smile.
However, there’s a part of me that believes Jake and I would have met regardless of volleyball. We could have met before, in fact. When I was at Ohio University, Jake dated a girl that went to Ohio University. She lived on Union, three blocks from my apartment on Court Street. Two years later, Jake attended a wedding in downtown Toledo, Ohio—my hometown—back in the days when I used to go out downtown all the time. And yet, it was far from both of our homes, in Charleston, South Carolina, when we finally met. And fell stupid for each other.
I know it’s Valentine’s Day. Couples everywhere are squeezing into packed restaurants and sharing heart-shaped chocolates. Singles everywhere are doing shots, smoking cigarettes, and screaming “F@#% Valentine’s Day!” No matter where you fit in this mix, we all know what today is about: LOVE.
I don’t know much about love in the philosophical sense. I know how much I love Jake. I know that, after thirty years, my parents still make kissy faces at each other, and I know that my married friends like to say, “When love is right, it’s easy.” But like I said, I’m not a philosopher. I will tell you this: it was a long road, getting to Jake—through Athens, Toledo, and finally Charleston. Through years of terrible relationships and men who liked to let me down. But I found him. Finally. On his vacation that never stopped.
The week before he headed to Arizona to find us a house, he told me: “I think the reason I came to Charleston was to meet you and take you with me.” You know, babe, I think you’re right.
Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone.