Kristen and I met on a blind date when we were 18 years old. As Kristen likes to point out, it was memorable for her but not-so-much for me as I didn’t even recognize her the next day in the dining hall.
For me, it wasn’t that the date was insignificant at all. We had a really great time! But I had a lot on my mind, too. We were college freshmen and it was just a couple weeks before finals. Besides taking a full load of classes I was holding down 2 part-time jobs so I could stay in school and, of course, I was pretty involved in dorm life. Neither one of us were super into dating anyone at the time. I’d dated a lot and was kind of over the Moody scene, and Kristen had never been on a date at all. (She was vice-president of Maidens to the Millennium, a group of women whom are all happily married now!)
Kristen and I fell in love over the next few weeks and the summer after that. Lots of walks, getting lost on the L, lots of long distance phone calls, and some random scary trips to meet family.
26 months later we got married and have lived happily, ever after.
We’re 36 years old now. That was literally half a lifetime ago.
Kristen and I are still on that blind date.
Most nights these days we take our third child, Jackson (19 months) and Stoney (our dog) for an evening walk. As the afternoon heat gives way to the evening ocean breezes we walk, talk, flirt, and stroll. If we’re honest its about presence with one another more than anything else. And all these years later going for a walk with Kristen is just as fun as it was the very first time I met her, when we walked from Moody, down Chicago Avenue to Michigan Avenue… and later down Michigan Avenue to the river, cutting over to Clark to have a coffee in the lobby of a fancy hotel.
If we’re honest, while our bodies and feet are walking all over Rolando our minds and memories are remembering long walks along the lake as far north and as far south as we could go, Sunday strolls all over the near north neighborhoods that started before dinner and had us running back to make curfew, Saturday dates walking down to Grant Park or through Lincoln Park, and all of the dreams we shared while pushing Megan in a stroller all over Oak Park and River Forest about what the next phase of life would be like after college.
So, for the pessimists, blind dates aren’t all bad. Sometimes they lead you on a million miles of walks with your forever best friend.