August 14, 2009. Charleston, South Carolina. I woke up and went about my day. I went to work. We had beers at the office at 4 PM. Then, I left a few minutes early, because I had a deep tissue massage appointment. Upon leaving the massage appointment, my brother called, and we had the first fight of our lives. Matt and I have never fought, beyond the random beatings that all elder siblings must dole out on younger siblings. On that day in August, Matt and I fought, for real—about an ex-girlfriend of his who was getting in touch with me, via Facebook, to rectify their relationship qualms.
I was angry; he was angry. We basically ended the conversation by hanging up on each other. As I drove home from my massage appointment, I felt terrible. I cried for awhile, and I even bought a pack of cigarettes. Screw the whole drink-water-after-your-massage thing. Screw it. Feeling sleepy already, I chugged an energy drink. I couldn’t afford to be sleepy that night—not only because it was a Friday, but because I had to appear as a guest singer with one of my buddy’s bands. And I didn’t go on stage until 10 PM.
My roommate, Jessy, and I headed down to King Street for dinner. We hit up Mellow Mushroom, and I ate hummus and pita bread. We chatted over a couple beers, and then, we met the rest of our gang at Burn’s Alley, where my other roommate, Hannah, and I decided to play pool. Hannah was dating this guy, Vince. She met him at the beach on Sullivan’s Island one afternoon, and she invited him to Burn’s Alley that night to see me sing. Vince brought his friend, Jake, but I didn’t feel like talking. I didn’t feel like being a flirt. I knew I had to sing, so I was in focus mode.
I got on stage at about 10:15. I sang some Fiona Apple, Norah Jones, and Tracy Chapman. My friends were cheering as I stepped off stage, ready to go outside for the second cigarette of my day. Vince’s buddy, Jake, came with me. I didn’t realize it at the time, but he’d quit smoking a couple months before, and I was feeding his habit. I also didn’t realize it at the time, but when Hannah asked Vince where Jake had gone, he replied, “Jake’s outside, trying to get Sara’s attention.”
The first thing I noticed about Jake? He was hot. The second thing? He was funny. The third thing? I wanted to kiss him. After our smokes, we went back inside and rejoined our group of friends. We were surrounded by people, but for some reason, we only wanted to talk to each other. Within about three hours, I knew the full biography of the guy—the bad and the good. He’d gotten out of the Navy that summer, after nine years of service. He was from nowhere. He’d been an air force brat, so he’d moved every couple years—new schools, new friends. He was in Charleston on vacation, visiting Vince, who had served in the Navy with him.
At 2 AM, our group poured into the alley. We walked toward our cars on King Street. Even though Jake was staying at Vince’s house, Vince demanded I drive Jake home. Jake was cute, so I agreed. Halfway home, Vince texted us, and it was decided: we would go to Waffle House. Even waiting for Vince and Hannah—eating grilled cheese sandwiches—we never ran out of things to talk about. I was too busy laughing to eat my food. I already felt butterflies when our arms would touch, wedged in the yellow booth at Waffle House. I already knew Jake was not just some other guy I met at a bar.
Afterwards, Hannah and I both drove Vince and Jake home to Vince’s house in separate cars. It’s so entertaining, watching two couples that want to kiss, standing at close proximity to each other, trying not to draw attention. Thankfully, after a moment, Hannah and Vince went inside. And Jake kissed me for the first time, while standing next to my dusty 1996 Toyota Camry, in Charleston, SC. He hasn’t stopped kissing me since.
I now realize you never know which day will be the day that will change your life forever. So this one’s for Jake—my love, my best friend, my hero—the man who has made my life inordinately better than I ever knew it could be. To our first year together. And looking forward to so many more.