He picked me up in an old Ford Bronco. It’s cool to think about now, but at the time, “doesn’t drive a truck” was on my Boyfriend Wish List. It had been my experience that an unsavory attitude came along with guys that drove trucks and I was looking to avoid that. Before any truck owners chime in, I have since owned a Land Cruise and currently drive a 4Runner. Back then, I was driving a Ford Taurus, so I wasn’t exactly in a position to judge anyone else’s choice of vehicle.
I can still see the big smile he had when I opened the door. The porch light was glowing on his face and I remember thinking he looked like the Man in the Moon. He was wearing glasses and looked adorably nerdy. We walked out to the street and I saw the Bronco. I winced inside for a moment, but thought then I decided to count the jet he flew as his main mode of transportation. It was a minor concession, I thought. But it was how quickly I threw that “rule” out that I think about now.
It was the first in a long line of concessions that would happen over the years.
We had dinner at Karl Strauss Brewing Company’s newest restaurant in Carlsbad. Craft beer had only been around for about ten years in San Diego, and brewery/restaurants were still quite the novelty. We sat at a tiny two-top on the far side of the place. The place was packed and loud, as usual, but we had no problem talking over the noise while we got to know each other.
He told me about his flying while I hid my fingernails. I have a terrible pattern of biting my nails during stressful periods in my life. You know there’s little to no chaos in my life when my nails grow and I paint them in bright, beautiful colors. But just a week before that date, the engine in my car had blown and I was having a hard time trying to figure out what to do. So while Larry told me more about how he took his savings and learned to fly, I awkwardly folded my hands in on each other, hiding the evidence of my gross little habit.
We hid a lot of habits from each other, didn’t we, Larry?
We clicked from the moment we met. I was 29. He was 38. We weren’t kids, but we were immediately goofy for each other as though we were still in high school. I loved his smile and the stories about the places he’d flown. Those stories eventually got old and I saw the smile less and less. But back then, it was all new and I was falling hard for him… about as hard as he was falling for me. So hard that he bought me a new engine for my car. I paid him back a couple of months later, but still. Who does that for someone they just met?
I remembered all of this today on the way to church. I was driving with our daughter past the airport he used to fly out of when we came up behind an old Ford Bronco.
“Your dad used to drive one of those when we first met.”
And then I told her about the night he picked me up for our first date.