|A few days after I met Frank|
Should I start with the glorious two weeks I spent at Princeton four years ago? I went to the local Starbucks while I was there—the same Starbucks where Frank was working full-time for the summer. We have no way of knowing if we ever met; we don’t remember. I like to tell my girl friends that you really never know; your Starbucks barista could be your future husband—mine was!
Should I start with the conference in Annapolis the following summer, when I first decided to pursue a journalism job in DC? I met Bart at that conference—Frank’s good friend, who introduced us that fateful July 21st.
Should I start with the Immaculate Conception novena I prayed my senior year of college, in December 2010? I wanted to meet my future husband before I graduated (feel free to judge, I don’t know what I was thinking). But a whole year passed, and the following December I was still single.
There’s an argument to be made for each of those beginnings. But the truth is, our story begins on July 21. And it begins with a bike.
I had moved to Washington, DC, a month after graduating from college, for a one-year journalism fellowship. I arrived with two suitcases and exactly one friend in the city. That first summer was exhilarating—and terrifying. I was lonely and mostly friendless, trying to build an entire social network from scratch.
Because I am possibly the world’s biggest extrovert, I began emailing and Facebook messaging every random acquaintance I could think of to see if they wanted to hang out. I went to a pool party with a high school friend’s cousin; I watched the midnight premiere of the last Harry Potter movie with a group of Presbyterian friends-of-friends I’ve never seen since; I watched the Fourth of July fireworks on the National Mall with my roommate-of-two-weeks and her grad school friends. And when Bart from that one summer conference invited me on Facebook to a lecture/happy hour called “Conservatism on Tap,” I said “Yes” right away.
Conservatism on Tap started at 7, and I would be leaving work at 5. What to do with the two hours in between? I did need to return some dresser knobs I'd bought from Anthropologie. And really, I just wanted an excuse to visit Anthro. That store has always been my favorite.
The nearest Anthropologie was two miles away, in Georgetown. But no matter. I had recently heard of Capital Bikeshare, a program that let anyone in DC rent a bike for $5. A brilliant plan formed in my head. I would bike to Anthropologie, return my dresser knobs, and bike back just in time for the lecture.
“Do you even know how to ride a bike?” was my dad’s response when I told him this story recently. Truth be told, I hadn’t ridden a bike in years. I was also brand-new to the city with no clue where I was going. On the scale of one to brilliant plans, that bike ride was a negative ten.
Oh, I made it to Anthropologie alright, and I made it back. But I also fell off the bike three times, accidentally ran into two people, and had to ask for directions over and over. Worst of all, I got embarrassingly hot and sweaty; DC is a humid swamp in the summer, and I got so lost that I was peddling my guts out to make it back on time.
I strolled into the happy hour that night looking about as awful as I could look. My hair was plastered to my forehead, my blouse was streaming with sweat and my face was tomato-red. I ran to the bathroom and frantically splashed cold water in an effort to improve the situation. But there was no help for it. I was going to have to walk into that swanky DC happy hour looking like I’d just left a hot yoga class.
If you had told me at that moment that I was seconds away from meeting my future husband, I would have laughed in your face.