Linking up with Grace, link-up genius. I am a sucker for love stories and I somehow suckered Chris into being okay with ours joining the fun. I apologize in advance ... you are about to see what Chris experiences every day when he gets home from work; I am never sparse with details so warm up your eyes.
So when our future grandchildren ask us how we met, will I choose to say, "Facebook," or, "Between the Buns?" A phenomenon that spurred over-sharing or a sports bar with a cheeky name. Both sound like gold mines for future husbands, no?
Back in the summer of 2007, I had just graduated from high school so I did what incoming freshman did upon receiving their official nd.edu email; I linked it to my Facebook account so I could join my college Facebook network. Facebook stalking escalated as more and more people joined the Class of 2011 group, and awkward, excited messages and wall posts were exchanged: "Hope to meet you on campus!" and "Can't wait to get up there!" Okay, I was too shy to initiate any of that, but I did reply to messages of the sort with many exclamation points.
One day I received an email that, "Chris Harrington has requested you as a friend." In the typical fashion of my generation, I promptly went through all of his profile pictures, and then called my sister over to the computer demanding that she looked at the guy who just friend requested me by whispering, "Look how hot this guy is!" From my Facebook perusing, I could tell that he was a looker. And he seemed to be from a big family, which caught my eye. However, I also found out that he was a senior so that made me furrow my eyebrows a little bit. "Why would this hot senior guy need to friend freshman girls?" Then I saw that he had a girlfriend. Robbing the cradle while in a relationship? Two strikes. I also saw that a few other freshman girls had written their excited to come to campus declarations on his wall. The fish were swarming. I was not going to follow suit although to be honest before I found out that he was in a relationship, I was tempted for a hot second even though that is something I normally would never ever do.
Chris' facebook photo when he friended me
The next day I received an invitation from him to join the Notre Dame rugby club facebook group, and I saw that a lot of other freshman were invited as well. I realized that he had only friended me in order to invite me to the group to gain support for the rugby club so I gave him back those strikes and went on with my day (which means spent some more time discovering people I would meet on campus).
Eventually the end of August came, and I moved to the my favorite campus in all of the land. I started working at the 24 hour restaurant attached to the back of the dining hall and across from my dorm. It turns out that Chris lived in the dorm next to it so occasionally he would come in. I remember the few times that he came in when I was the cashier, and I wondered if he recognized me from the book of faces. I sure recognized him, but never said anything, of course. It's funny because now I realize that Chris' first words to me ever were probably, "Hi, can I have a pesto pizza please?"
Right before finals, my best friend, Laura, started talking with Sean, a freshman on the rugby team and he took her to the rugby formal. After Christmas break, she and Sean started dating so she went to more rugby parties and would normally spend some time talking to Chris. Or Chris Harrington as we always called him. Chris Harrington, the captain of the rugby team. When she would tell me about the parties, somehow we would always talk about their conversations. We were fascinated, I guess. He was the oldest of ten (!!!), grew up in England, was a biology major, had a fireplace in his dorm room which was Brady Quinn's old dorm room, was the best conversationalist and was in a serious long distance relationship with a girl from Mexico. We thought it was so serious that he was going to be engaged soon.
(Spoiler alert: little did we know, his relationship had actually been on the rocks for a long time. He is just a gentleman and didn't talk ill of his relationship).
After one party, Laura told me that she talked to Chris for a while and he confidently shared that he was a virgin by choice.
What. The captain of the rugby team was a virgin?! And by choice? And from England? And had blond hair and blue eyes? My Mr. Perfect existed, but not only had I only had pizza exchanges with him, he was off the market and presumably soon-to-be off the market for good. And so, I had other crushes. I was already pining after one blond Brit so why add another unattainable blond Brit to the list?
On February 2, 2008, Sean invited Laura, Ashley and me to come to Between the Buns, a local sports bar, to watch a Six Nations rugby match with some of his rugby friends. I, sadly, did not have any other plans so I was game even though I wasn't in a very good mood. We were the first group there. I remember being a little nervous when I saw Chris Harrington walk in. Of course, I was a pro at acting like I had no clue who a person was even though we were facebook friends; I think every freshman has that mastered. He sat down on the other side of the table and two to the left from me. I remember thinking that his girlfriend was a very lucky girl. Chris teases me now because I can remember that his friend was wearing a gray sweater, but I can't remember what Chris was wearing. I knew he was off limits! I do remember what he ordered (a black and bleu burger), and what I ordered (cheesy garlic bread ... and it was really good) so I think that is pretty remarkable about where my priorities lie.
He was so nice that night and tried to make sure we knew what was happening during the game. I remember being a teensy bit (a lot) proud when he asked what was going to happen after the ball went out and I correctly took a stab in the dark and said that the players were going to be lifted up and the ball thrown at them. Thank goodness I randomly watched a girls' rugby match once when visiting my brother at school.
The next Friday, Laura mentioned that there was going to be a rugby party, and we should all come. I remember passing Chris in the drinks section of South Dining Hall. He had just come from rugby practice, had a cut-off t-shirt on and was muddy (ha! oh the details I remember). He remembered my name, and he said hi to me first, and asked if I was coming with Laura to the party. I remember being floored that he remembered my name and even more floored that I could tell that he wasn't talking to me because he was interested in me. He was just a genuinely nice guy. Silly girl side note: I mentioned to Laura when I sat down that I saw him and asked if she had seen, "Chris Harrington's arms!?"
We went to the party, which was actually my first off-campus party because I'm lame, and I saw him there, but only for a bit. It was "court" night so a lot of the guys were serving out their sentences for various accusations. Chris had to wear a huge, ill-fitting, green polo I think because he always dressed so well? The other sentences being carried out were quite hilarious. I only talked to Chris for a bit. To be honest, I spent most of the night talking to his friend that wore the gray sweater at Between the Buns.
We were really adventurous with our clothing colors
This scene sans the XXXL polo repeated a few more times at various rugby parties. I went on a couple dates with the other guy. After quite a bad night in the beginning of April, I was at another rugby party. That party was a turning point. I somehow spend the whole night sitting on the couch next to Chris Harrington and talked and talked and talked. It was our first real conversation. He motivated me to officially change my major to something that I enjoy amidst near naked men dancing on the coffee table. And I will say it again ... he was just so genuinely kind; he had no interest in me.
A couple weeks later, my parents and sister surprised me and visited during the Blue-Gold football game. I remember taking my sister to a party that night, but then having to leave and being disappointed that she didn't get a chance to meet Chris. I saw he and his friend pull into the parking lot right as our cab pulled out.
The next day, I was walking around campus after giving a friend from home a campus tour. I was on my way back to my dorm when I saw Chris sitting on a blanket in front of South. He called me over. We proceeded to talk for two hours just sitting there on the quad until some of my friends walked by and then we all talked for another hour or so. I couldn't even believe that it had been three hours when we got up to go.
The three of us hung out a few times over the course of the next week. I don't think any of the times were planned. We would literally just run into him. One night, the three of us were sitting outside Reckers, and we made him promise that he would invite both of us to his wedding (another silly girl sidenote: we had no idea I would be the bride and Laura would be a bridesmaid, but he kept his promise! A man of his word). Then on Friday, I had returned from a team project in Chicago, and Laura said that I should go to the baseball game with them. Ashley came along, too (but her earring didn't...remember Ash?).
We were sitting in the stands at the game when the rugby team doctor came over to talk to Chris, and they were talking about rugby events. Laura, Ashley and I overheard Chris mention that the rugby formal was next week. Laura nudged me and whispered, "He is probably going to ask you!" I promptly dismissed that idea. He had an uber serious girlfriend! And why would he ask me?? I knew that it wouldn't cross his mind. Right after the words left my mouth that he wouldn't, I realized that I was already crushed that he wasn't going to ask me. That was the very first moment that I realized I liked Chris Harrington.
It was so foreign to me. There had never been a pass of flirting; we had never even been alone other than the one time we talked on South Quad, and even then there were people stopping by all the time.
Laura and I didn't see him at all over the weekend, and I definitely noted that. On Monday, the day before the last day of class, Ashley and I had just left CoMo, the study lounge with free coffee, and I was precariously trying to walk down South Quad without the too full and lidless coffee burning my hand. I had a short paper to write that night, and I hadn't started so it was going to be a long night. I looked up and saw Chris Harrington walking on the diagonal sidewalk. Hand burned. He was wearing a green hoodie. Or it was a green t-shirt over a hoodie. There definitely was a hood, and there definitely was green, and I definitely was way too excited to see him.
As luck would have it, he was going to the student center just like us. He had to drop off some paperwork for the rugby club, and Ashley and I were going there to study which means we were going to pretend like we were studying until we realized that we actually couldn't study in there. When we arrived, he went up to drop off the paperwork, and Ashley and I plopped down on some chairs. He came back, Ashley went somewhere, and I over exuberantly asked him how his day was going.
Katrina: Soooo, how was your day?!
Chris: Um, it actually was pretty bad.
Katrina: Oh, I'm sorry.
Katrina: Ummm, do you want to talk about it?
Chris: Not really.
Chris: Well, I broke up with my girlfriend today.
I'm not going to tell you whether or not my ears saw a grin surpass their width before I was able to recover and look sympathetic.
To be continued. Of course.