First Date

During Erika’s celebration, so many people had so many great things to say about her. It was really incredible to hear every speaker talk about the Erika that they knew. When it came to my turn, I didn’t want to reiterate any part of that, so I talked briefly about the Erika I knew.

I recently watched the movie Good Will Hunting with Robin Williams and Matt Damon. I watched it because I knew of clips and that I thought sounded similar to my experience with Erika and I wanted to know the full context. Yes, it was just a few weeks ago that I watched the 1997 movie for the first time in its entirety. I learned that those clips were spot on to my experience, so I included them. I only used these first two during her celebration, but I talked about the third, and I’m including it here. Here’s the first one:

I never believed in soulmates or that there was one person for me. I never believed two people could really mesh together so closely. Then I met Erika. Then I got to know Erika. Then I learned, just how close we were. I’m not someone who truly trusts people very easily, I’m not someone that opens up to people. I fully trusted Erika. I was totally vulnerable with her. There were so many things we’d talk about and be able to say “You’re the only person in the world that I can say this to.” She was my angel put here for me, because she did rescue me. One half-joking phrase that we’d sometimes use for each other was “You’re a little bit of a disaster right now, aren’t you?” and when she and I met, I was definitely a bit of a disaster. She patiently helped me through that and showed that I could trust her through anything and was always there for me.

I think people can relate to this one:

I really love this clip because it is about the imperfections. There were times when Erika would be in some mood and she’d ask me “Am I being annoying right now?” and I’d say no. She’d respond, “Well, I’m annoying to myself right now.” and then look at me like she wasn’t convinced with my answer. I knew at that moment, I’d have to say something, so I told her “No, you’re not annoying, these are your ‘cute quirks.'” Because they weren’t annoying to me. Annoying is way too strong of a word. They really were little quirks about her, and those quirks were what made her Erika and among the many things I loved about her.

We also had this hanging in our house and something we’d remind each other:

This last clip is one that I only described. So if you haven’t seen the movie, here it is. Just a warning, they use some bad language in here.

This clip sets the context for our first date.

In late 2013, I was coming out of a divorce from a few months prior, so I had weekly appointments with a therapist. Those were helpful. Among the topics during my therapy appointments was dating. I’d been dating one person (not Erika) and while my therapist thought it was too soon, she was ok with it as long as it didn’t seem unhealthy for me. Eventually I realized the relationship wasn’t good for me, so it ended. I went to my weekly appointment and told my therapist. She was relieved. Now I could simply focus on me and getting myself mentally healthy again.

Fast forward one week, to my next appointment. I told my therapist there’s someone else. Someone I want to go on a date with. My therapist let out an exasperated “Nooooooooo!!!” and I just said “I know, I understand and I even agree, but trust me, she’s different. She is the one. This one is special.” And of course, this was Erika.

I finally asked Erika on a date with just the two of us. We were headed to a now-closed steak place on Federal Hill in Providence. The date would be on November 12, 2013, a Tuesday. But then fate intervened. The day before our first date, I was working in Boston. I’d just started at that company about three months prior. It was Veterans Day, and not many were in the office. Erika just so happened to have a job interview in Boston that day as well. She and I were text chatting through the morning. After her interview, she went to lunch with her mother, who also worked in Boston. I noticed that the Bruins had a 1 pm game that day, so I messaged Erika, “The Bruins are playing at 1.” She immediately replied “Let’s go!” As soon as I figured out she was serious, I quickly and quietly left the office, got on the subway over to the Garden, bought a couple tickets and met her at the Bobby Orr statue. We watched the entire game without either one of us ever leaving our seats. The best first date and one we’d refer to often.

After the game, I had to go back to work. I took the subway, quietly and quickly went back to my desk, as if nothing had happened. But, being Veterans Day, not many were around and no one had noticed that I was gone. I don’t know what I would have done if someone had noticed, but I’d like to think that I would have said “I had to see about a girl.” Because I just knew. She was the one. She was special.

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