How We Met: The Benefits of Overreacting

Well, after that very flattering kick in the behind from Grace, I was a leeetle overzealous and wrote an extremely long post that covered only four days. After coming to my senses and realizing that no one except for me would want that much detail, I spent the last few days copy editing that behemoth of an overshare into something a bit more respectable. A bit. So, here we go. 

Part I

After that not-so-smooth (and embarrassing!) smile coverup, I somehow recovered and proceeded to feign normal human emotions by not expressing joy over Chris' break-up. Upon his departure, I whirled around to face Ashley with saucers for eyes and incredulously relayed the news that Chris Harrington had broken up with his girlfriend. I texted Laura and then went to the bathroom because, well I had drank a lot of coffee that day. When I came back, I had already missed a call from Laura. When we finally did manage to connect, I suspect that I was babbling incoherently in shock.

Let me tell you a bit about my best friend, Laura. She is the kindest soul in the world who seriously finds beauty in everything ... even the perma-cloud that hovers over South Bend for the majority of the year.  She is good. I don't mean she is good at something; I mean she is a personification of good. And she is not sneaky and definitely not conniving. So what follows was a complete and utter surprise... and I can't even help her out by blaming liquid courage or runner's high.

Laura bumped into Chris at the dining hall and told him that she was sorry to hear about his break-up and that she had prayed a rosary for them already. That was followed with this statement: "So are you interested in Katrina?" 

facepalm-wallpaper

Palm to face over here still realizing the forward nature of it all, but eternally grateful because she had just sent the ball that would soon be his old ball and chain rolling (without my knowledge!!). Chris was taken aback, replied no not at all, and told her that he was in no way ready to be interested in anyone else.

But the seed had been planted. He knew that he was graduating in two weeks and then who knew where he would be after that? Once the fact that I liked him had been revealed, he had a limited amount of time to get to know me although he wasn't ready to be in a relationship. I guess he thought I was an okay person.

Laura and I had our normal Monday night shift at Reckers, which I had mentioned to Chris if he wanted to visit after we got off of work. Lo and behold, 10pm came around, and there he was. I don't remember who all was there, but we all sat in the corner across from the smoothie counter. I was venting about how it was going to be a really long night and how I was nervous to write my paper (which was an easy paper...and this is just an example of how nervous I get before I have to write something. I work it all up in my head that it has to be perfect, and nothing is scarier than a blank canvas/paper/word screen. This also happens when I click "New Post" in Blogger. Why I attempt to keep a blog, I do not know). Things left off with Chris mentioning that he was looking forward to watching the Manchester United game on Wednesday with a few of his friends and that I was welcome to watch as well. Cool. Okay, more than cool.

I might have gotten an hour of sleep that night, but don't worry, Mom and Dad, I got an A! I went to my last classes of the year, and then returned home to my dorm room. I sat down at my laptop and there was a message from Chris Harrington! The Manchester United game was today, not tomorrow! I walked (fine, you caught me ... I run-walked) over to Dillon, knocked on room 109, and Chris opened the door. I'll never forget how cute he looked in his blue-green polo that made his eyes just pop. Weak at the knees and everything, but I couldn't even think about him being interested in me. He had told Laura that he wasn't, after all.

Chris' friends all seemed to have only two things to talk about that day: the game and what was an uncomfortable point for me: the rugby formal. Casper (that is his nickname, his parents didn't bestow him with a ghostly name) walked in and started watching the game. At one point, he asked who Chris was taking to the rugby formal. I hoped that Chris didn't see my ears perk up, and I focused on the game I was only vaguely interested in. Attempt #1 to unknowingly embarrass and torture Katrina. A little bit later, Liedl stopped in. Talk, talk talk, "Hey Chris, so who are you taking to the rugby formal? Attempt #2. Both times Chris brushed off the questions. My phone received a text, and I checked it. A friend from my dorm had just texted me, "Hey Katrina, are you going to the rugby formal?" The world was out to make me feel anxious and tortured, and it was succeeding.

I ignored the text and thought I would reply later. The game ended, and his roommate asked if Chris was going to the dining hall. I was so shocked and confused and happy at the same time when Chris turned to me and asked when I wanted to go to the dining hall. He wanted to continue to hang out? He assumed we were going to dinner? I don't think Chris thought any special about it. It was just dinner at the dining hall with other people, but to me ... whoa. I had to pick something up at my dorm so we walked that way first and, of course, ran into the friend who had texted me.

"Katrina, are you going to the rugby formal?" Attempt #3. I tried to not turn beet red and to not hesitate at all so it didn't seem like I was expecting an invite from Chris Harrington. "No, I'm not," I replied and tried to change the subject hoping that Chris had miraculously zoned out for those ten seconds.

The next day seemed to be Chris Harrington day as I saw him multiple times. I was waiting outside the dining hall for Ashley when he walked out carrying a grab-n-go bag. He looked so handsome in his corduroy blazer and ... he gave me a hug when he saw me. My first hug from Chris Harrington!  Then that night for dinner was best friend dinner. Laura and I came up with the not cheesy idea that the two of us should go to Chipotle with Chris and his best friend, Chris. I borrowed Ashley's Rav-4, and we picked up the guys at Main Circle.

Dinner was so fun. Chris paid for Laura and me! A gentleman.

I had to work at 8 so we had to rush back so I could change. Once I was at work, Chris and Chris came to grab Ashley's keys from me because they had forgotten something in the car. I was working with Buddha (a nickname once again) who also was on the rugby team. Buddha was working pizzas which is to the left of the cash register, which is where I was working. The Chris' came back, and started talking to Buddha and me. Buddha loudly asked Chris Harrington, "Hey, who are you taking to the formal?"

Oh. My. Goodness. Attempt #4 in two days to unknowingly embarrass me! I was so mortified I didn't even hear what Chris replied to Buddha.

THEN Chris Harrington came over from the pizza area to the cash register which was about two steps, but seemed longer to me and asked me to go to the rugby formal with him.

Silent squeals all around.

(And I'm still squealing five years later). 

Of course, I said yes, and I'm 75% sure I managed to control the giddy twirling on the inside. Once they left, and it was super slow, I ducked into the bathroom and texted Laura that Chris Harrington had asked me to the formal!

Laura came to start our 10-12 shift, and I highly doubt we talked about anything else but deciphering what this meant. He had just broken up with his girlfriend! He had said he wasn't interested! I was still convinced that he saw us as only friends in the future, but I was now gone. Gone, gone, gone.

Our managers offered Laura and I a deal: if we came back and worked from 2am-4am, then we wouldn't have to work any final shifts at all. Cloud Nine offers a whole lot of adrenaline so I was all set to do it. We made this insane plan that Laura and I were going to go to the Grotto as we did every week after our shift ended at midnight, I would go home and change and go to a party with my roommates very quickly and then I would come back and visit Chris in CoMo because he was writing his last paper ever and then we would work from 2-4am.

I would have been extremely annoyed with me if I were my friends. I kept insisting that we were only going to the party for 20 minutes. Cringe. I deeply apologize, roomies!  Luckily for me, the party ended up being awkward and a bust so we maybe stayed for ten minutes. Plenty of time for me to visit Chris for five minutes in CoMo with Laura. I was wearing some weird outfit that I thought was sooo cute...gold heels, yellow shorts and this multi-pastel-colored pajama nightgown that I had belted and thought could pass as a going out top. I have no clue what I was thinking. Laura and I returned to work and were so slap happy after that we were rolling around in the hallway of McGlinn completely sober saying that our beer had the word "root" before it. We are really cool people, as you can tell.

The next day was the rugby formal. My friend and I just happened to be in the dining hall at the same time as the rugby team for dinner. They were all muddy from practice, as usual. They were all sitting in the back of the right-right section, and my friends and I were in the front of the same section. Chris came over to my table to tell me about when he was going to pick me up and ... he asked for my phone number. After the he closed his phone, said bye and left our table, the whole rugby team in the back starting whooping, hollering and whistling.

When I was getting ready, I was nervous about what to wear. It had to be perfect. I remember telling Ashley and Laura that this was different. I didn't want to look hot. I wanted to look beautiful for him. I can't really describe it, but maybe you understand. I quickly tacked up the chest area of a seersucker dress I hadn't worn yet. He came to pick me up, and he happily took a bunch of photos with me (unlike now...ahem, Chris Harrington, hint, hint).

We walked to Main Circle where the rugby guys were waiting to bring those of us without cars to the formal. It was slightly drizzling, and Chris kept offering his suit jacket for me to wear. We got to Main Circle, and the only spot left was in the trunk of Donnie's SUV. I thought it was so fun and "so college", but Chris kept saying things like, "I'm sorry we are riding to the dance in the back of  car with smelly rugby stuff." Like I cared. I was going to a formal with Chris Harrington.

The formal was terribly fun at the legendary Oak Hill apartments that led to a broken beer pong table and all. We danced a bit, and while we were dancing, Chris told me that I looked very pretty.

Now I feel like I need to make it clear that even though Chris had asked me to the formal, I was still uncertain of his feelings, or if he even had any feelings for me at all.  I was the silly girl who was interpreting every move, and every move was contradicting the previous one, or so I made it seem in my head.  Chris had told me when he picked me up that I looked very pretty.

It was the best thing to hear, but I thought that I didn't know what that meant.

So when he told me that I looked pretty a second time, I was completely lost in the maze of confusion I had insanely created in my head. I started asking, "What do you mean?" "You said I look pretty?" "What do you mean??"

Side note: Chris always teases me now about how I overreacted over what was merely a polite thing you say to your date

...

You said I look pretty! We need to talk.

Yikes, sane girl over here, folks.

So Chris suggested that we go outside to get some fresh air, but we didn't make it past the stairs because we kept running into people to talk to. Then they did the speeches about the seniors including a stellar one about Chris Harrington. The girl who had texted me if I was going, nudged me and said, "Wow! Look at who you came with!"

Chris and I started dancing again, but not for long. He suggested again that we go outside to talk. That is how I found myself on the deck standing across from Chris Harrington. It is so hard to describe what it looked like to me so bear with me: it was kind of like Serendipity when the man and woman are finally on the ice rink together at the end of the movie. It's night time, the lighting is just right so it seems like both are glowing and they just know. Are you following me? Now switch out the perfectly falling snow and romantic background music for some red Solo cups and sounds of drunken debauchery wafting from inside and you have the scene on the deck. It was perfect, hollers and all.

I hope at least one person followed that Serendipity-college-party mash up. The concept should be coming to theatres soon.

I think Chris could tell that I was nervous and too shy to start saying what we both knew. He started talking, and I felt so alive. I wanted to soak up every detail. He let me know that he wasn't ready for a relationship yet, but he knew that he thought I was too good of a person to not get to know better. (blush. Maybe the whole love is blind thing had already clouded over his relationship vision).  He didn't know where he was going to be after the next year, but he did know that in spite of that, he wanted to get to know me. When he continued with the fact that he liked me, I think my whole body smiled. I didn't care if he saw my ears perk up. Somehow, I was able to pull off some ventriloquy and told him through a permanent and probably scary beam of a smile that I felt the same way. I liked him.

Since you already know that I was tip-toeing on the line of crazy with my gold sandals that night, let me be fully honest and possibly make you think I was already on the crazy side. I knew I was going to marry him. I just knew.  Not only did I feel awakened because of my feelings for him; I truly admired him, crooked nose and all. I was never, ever confident that I would be able to find the right guy. A guy who would be Catholic, want a big family, be okay with waiting, and still make me laugh, brighten my day with just a glance and all of that mushy gushy stuff.  But, there he was: strong in what really mattered, and strong in what didn't. He was strong in his faith and family values and able to make my twitterpated heart sing when we weren't even dating. He was blond, blue-eyed, athletic and could pull off a British accent. 

(I think I'm going to have to really work on explaining how I just knew in order to do it justice, but for now, this will do or else I will never ever click, "publish" and I will forever be stuck as a girl who smiles when people break up).

After we walked back inside hand in hand, I grabbed my phone from the bench near the kitchen and put my wild and crazy premonition into the very official writing of 2008; I texted my little sister, "I found the one." 

Is there a Stereotypical Like-struck Girl Anonymous organization out there? Although I guess the whole blogging about it concept takes away the anonymous aspect ...

The first photo after we talked on the deck. Beaming.

After the formal ended around 3, we ventured back to school and stayed up the whole night walking around campus. Laura and her roommates had invited the rest of the girls in our section to watch the sunrise on South Quad that next morning so Chris and I decided there was no point in going to sleep when we would get up in a couple of hours anyway. We met the girls in the middle of South Quad, and we didn't even care that we couldn't even see the sunrise because of the cloudy sky. All of us went to the dining hall after, and Chris made the best first impression on some of my friends by getting a piece of his omelet stuck in his throat, trying to drink it down with water and then just spewing water + omelet everywhere. Nothing says nice to meet you like letting people see your breakfast. 

Later that afternoon, I was IMing with my brother, and, I don't know, the guilty-little-sister complex got me telling him all about the guy that I liked. This is what I chose to tell him: that he was the captain of the rugby team (hmm...rugby doesn't exactly have the best reputation), he was an Army ROTC dropout (my brother was in his third year at the Naval Academy), he grew up in England, (my brother is quite the patriot), and that he was a senior (we all know what people think when they hear a senior is interested in a freshman). I would say that I did a pretty good job of making him seem like a guy my brother would approve of, wouldn't you? Needless to say, Peter was not happy and might have issued a few typical big brother threats. 

We had seven days left together before we would be forced into long distance communication for who knows how long. His pending graduation really catapulted us into discussing the future and whether it would be our future. During one discussion on a bench near Old College, Chris was skirting around the concept of what my view of us was, and I felt a surge of confidence and blurted out, "If you are asking if I see you as my future husband, then yes." Surprisingly, I didn't scare him away. And even though I saw him as that and knew he was the one, we agreed to continue to get to know each other over the summer before we officially started dating and all that jazz. 

Chris had a lighter finals schedule than I did so once he was finished with his, he offered to help me study. I still have the flashcards that he made for me complete with funny little notes written in the corners. After finals were over, Chris took me on our first date. I asked him what I should wear, he replied, "Smart casual," and then I asked what "smart casual" meant. Newsflash: you don't live in England anymore, Master Harrington.

Smart casual.

The next day was move out day for me. Chris was supposed to come to my dorm room to help me finish packing, and we were going to wait for my dad to come pick me up. I got a phone call from my brother telling me that campus looked really nice that day. Oh shoot. Chris, the kind of English, ROTC dropout, senior rugger was on his way to my dorm and my big brother had surprised me and was there!! Luckily, the meeting went smoothly. 

Rogue bra strap in 3, 2, 1 ...

At the end of the day, Chris gave me a hug (two things here: we were waiting to kiss until we were dating, and Chris was super scared that my dad saw that he accidentally exposed my bra strap while doing so. Scandal) and closed the door after me. I rode away with the playlist on the old iPod Chris had given me playing in my ear sad, happy, hopeful, in like, waiting for that kiss and not knowing how high a phone bill could reach ... but I was about to find out that summer. 

And so I stretched part II from four days to twelve days. I'll try to pack more efficiently in the

next and last memory box blog post