Also, there is no way this is not going to be a million parts long. There’s just way too many details and way too much to say.
|The night of the infamous cook-off|
We didn’t have much time to chat because the lecture was about to start. I lurked behind a pillar in the back and vigorously fanned myself while inhaling red wine. The lecture was much too long, and so was the Q&A, but at least by the end of it I had cooled down enough to look presentable.
After the lecture I went over to Bart’s group of friends and re-introduced myself. My first impression was that Frank’s tie was too tight, while his was that I was “outgoing and opinionated.” I was in a friendly mood (thanks to the wine?) and was being more than usually outgoing. Neither Frank nor I remembers our first conversation (it was definitely not love at first sight) but Facebook chats from the next day reveal that we argued about “the perfect summer cocktail”—he held out for gin and tonic while I mulled mojitos and sangria. It was at this point that I somehow acquired a reputation among Bart and his friends as a partier—no idea why. Frank and I found out we both liked old movies and history—and loved to cook.
That first conversation must have gone well, because I ended the night strolling arm in arm to the metro station between Bart and Frank. This was not usual behavior for me—historically I was always afflicted with temporary paralysis in the presence of attractive males. But Frank didn’t present an issue for me—not because he wasn’t cute, but for reasons I’ll go into later.
Something was definitely different about this guy, though. The next day I emailed some friends about the cute law student I had met, who was so smart and fun. I described him as “my new best friend” on this blog the night I met him.
The next day Bart messaged Frank and me and a few others so we could all become Facebook friends. Facebook played a huge role in strengthening our friendship as we began to Facebook chat all the day long (thanks, Facebook). I quickly became impressed with Frank, who was really funny and always a gentleman.
A week later Frank and I decided to stage a cook-off at a friend’s apartment. The jury is still out on whether my quesadillas or his fajitas won—mine were tastier but his were healthier—and we'll probably never reach a verdict since we each think our own dish was the best.
That was the night I told Frank that my delicious quesadillas “have earned me marriage proposals.” Silly move, because after that Frank began asking me to marry him every time we saw each other. Flirt. I would put him off with a joke and make up silly conditions in response—“I'll marry you if you lasso me the moon” (shout-out to one of our favorite movies). Neither of us dreamed he would ever ask me to marry him for real.
Confession time: There was a big reason I was unfazed by Frank and his cuteness and flirtatiousness. This is really hard to say so … bear with me. One of my best friends from my previous summer in NYC had just entered a Franciscan convent. It was a huge shock to me when she joined—this girl was like me, sassy and flirty and totally crushing on random boys. Yet when I talked to her about the convent, she was so calm and happy. She was at peace. She was completely in love with entering the convent, and I envied her vocational certainty. Inspired by her example, around this time I began exploring religious life. I had never, ever considered it before—not for a minute—I just liked boys and babies too much. But shortly before I met Frank, I was actually talking with the vocations director of an amazing religious order.
Ironically, nothing has ever helped my dating life as much as exploring religious life. For the first time since before high school, I stopped looking at boys as “potential boyfriends” and instead sought to see them with the eyes of Christ and to treat them with loving compassion. The advice in my letter to single guys is drawn directly from my own experience. And you know what the funny part is? Guys loved it. Instead of being nervous and trying too hard around, I became calm, gentle, and warm, and I really listened to what guys had to say. It had never been easier for me to be around guys than when I was exploring religious life—and guys had never responded so warmly to me. Quite the hilarious situation, but I believe it’s God’s timing that I met Frank at that time. I was ready.
Anyway, so Frank was joke-proposing to me, we were flirting a lot, I thought he was cute but was so not interested. We were both 21. I will leave this story there for now, and pick it up again soon—really soon, I promise. Next installment: Lillian comes to visit … and has a very interesting reaction to this Frank character.