I just finished 7th grade of Catholic School; Paul just graduated from the local public junior high. Let's add two more characters: My sister, who just graduated from Catholic School and will begin freshman year at the local public high school, and my neighbor, who is also graduating from the local junior high with Paul amd will be going to the same high school as my sister. They are my link to Paul. My neighbor kindly invited her friends (Paul included) over to her house to introduce them to my sister. I'm not sure if I met Paul that day, but I know I saw him. He was amazing. Blond hair with a little Beverly-Hills-90210-esque style with his bangs. He was tan and oh-so mature.... you know... as a soon-to-be freshman.
Paul claims we met on the bike path while he was out riding with one of his buddies, and I was out riding with my neighbor. I claim we met at his buddy's baseball game. I'm not sure, but we definitely met in the Summer of '93. I instantly developed a HUGE crush on him. He talked to me and included me while some of my sister's other friends did not. We went to Six Flags Great America as a group... the sun was bright... I got a headache... he let me wear his baseball cap. <Swoon> There was much talk of who liked who that summer. Did you like him, or did you 'like like' him? Hands would touch accidentally, or maybe NOT accidentally? We played Kick-The-Can and Capture-The-Flag and volleyball in our neighbor's yard... all of which included strategicly picked teams. We all went on bike rides; we went to the pool; we played more volleyball. My heart was flipping during most of the summer.
And then..... my family went on vacation during the end of the summer. On the night before we left, Paul called into the local radio station and dedicated a song to me: UB40's "Can't Help Falling In Love." One week later we returned and got together with the group.... but Paul wasn't around. Apparently, he had started hanging out with a new girl and they were... dating.
After a year at separate schools, my crush faded a bit, but I often thought of that Paul Paul Meyer. I started my freshman year and happened to pass him a few times in the hall. Again, he always said "hello" to me and didn't treat me like I was just Katie's Little Sister. Homecoming was coming up and I was not planning on going with anyone special, probably just a group of girls from the Freshman volleyball team. One night, my sister got a phone call from Paul and was talking to him in her room. Obviously, I was standing at her door listening to everything she said. I heard her start talking about Homecoming.... oh my gosh, was he asking her to Homecoming?! That would be terrible. Traitorous. "Oh Paul, You HAVE to go!" "Well, I don't think Betsy has a date yet." NO WAY! "Yeah. You should go with her." HOLY HOMECOMING DATE! "Okay, I'll ask her. I'll call you back."
A few days later, I was getting all dolled up in my Homecoming dress (a strapless dress that my mom sewed straps onto, of course; blue sequins on top, white bubble skirt on the bottom), fluffing my permed hair and making sure I didn't have any food caught in my braces. My sister's group of friends were meeting at our house for pictures before we headed out to a pre-dance dinner. Paul walked in with a bunch of guys looking as handsome as I'd ever seen him. He was wearing a tie (with Mickey Mouse on it) and his barely-there goatee made him look so manly! We took pictures as a group and as couples. As we got into the car to head to dinner he looked at me and said, "You look beautiful." I lost my breath for a moment, then recovered and said, "You do too... uh... I mean... not beautiful, but good. Handsome. You look great." Ugh.
I felt giddy and shaky and worried that my palms were too sweaty.
I made it through dinner without getting pasta on my dress and even solved the Wheel of Fortune puzzle (why was Wheel of Fortune on at a restaurant?! I don't know) by guessing "Chicago Bears" with only the E on the screen. Nice. We headed back to the high school after dinner and I can still remember walking into the gymnasium that night. I had never seen a gym decked out for a dance like that before. It was the same place I had practiced volleyball for six weeks. But that night it seemed truly magical to me... or maybe it was because Paul had grabbed my hand when we started to get jostled around in a big crowd of high school students dressed to the nines. We danced, we talked, we laughed. Then we danced again to a BoyzIIMen song and he kissed me! My first kiss ever. Amazing and completely memorable.
After Homecoming night, we dated for four weeks. When I say "dated" I mean we wrote notes back and forth a few times a day. Met in the hallway after school and kissed a few times before we headed off to football and volleyball practices. He couldn't drive yet, I couldn't drive yet.... I wasn't allowed to hang out with his older friends who could drive... clearly, it wasn't that great of a dating experience and we broke up pretty quickly. But my heart still swooned.
FALL 1994 - SPRING 1997
Through my high school years, I continued to swoon over Paul Paul Meyer. On occassion I thought maybe he liked me again.... then he definitely made it clear he did not 'like like' me.... for a few months, I made it clear that I did not even like him as a friend. The years were filled with normal high school drama. I wrote about him in my diary... I was smitten with him. I was mad at him. I did not care about him. I was friends with him. By his senior and my junior year, we had finally developed a pretty good friendship. I still swooned a tiny bit, but I knew it was better for me not to date him anymore. However, I knew that I would know him for a long time. In his Senior year yearbook, I wrote, "I'll see you in 30 years." For whatever reason, I just knew that I would know Paul Meyer when he was a grown man and we would at least be friends.
SUMMER 1997 - SUMMER 1999
For the next two years, Paul and I kept in touch over email and an occassional phone call. He had headed off to Annapois, MD, for the Naval Academy; I completed high school and headed down to University of Illinios, Chapaign-Urbana. When we were both home for the holidays or summer, we would go out to lunch and catch-up with each other. I had given up on my smitten-ness, and we had grown into good friends.
FALL 1999 - FALL 2000
On a whim and during a moment of "I don't care if these seems completely illogical" I went to a Travel Agent's office (remember those?!) and bought a plane ticket to Baltimore for Labor Day Weekend. I got back to my apartment, called Paul and said, "Guess what?! I just bought a ticket to come out and see you." My intention was that he would introduce me to some of the good-looking Naval Academy guys he knew. Huh. I flew out there, and he met me at the airport.... and all of sudden the smitten feelings came rushing back. Oh my. He had to take me to his sponsor's house and then get back on the Yard since Navy had a football game the next day. We planned to meet-up after the 1st quarter. I stood by the gate that we had previously agreed would be our meeting spot and I looked around at all the matchy-matchy guys in summer white uniforms with their black rain jackets and white covers. Talk about Where's Waldo... except the 'Waldo' I was looking for wasn't wearing a stripey shirt and a stocking cap... he was wearing the same summer whites, black jacket, and white cover. Eventually we found each other and Paul reached for my hand and we fell into step heading out for the tail-gater and his friends. After the game, we walked around the Yard for a little while. If you've never been to the Naval Academy, it is really quite fantastic (maybe not for the Mids who live there, but it is for a "girl friend" visiting for the first time). The buildings are kind of stoic, the water is right there, and the sunset just happened to be beautiful. We walked and talked and he gave me a tour of all the typical sites. And then we sat on a bench and started talking about "us." Remember, Homecoming 1994.... "I felt giddy and shaky and worried that my palms were too sweaty," that's exactly how I felt again. The weekend ended with Paul and I willing to see how a long-distance relationship might work for us. We were pretty realistic that it might not be best for us... given our history... but it felt right and definitely worth a try.
I came back out to Annapolis over Thanksgiving break and then Paul was home for Christmas break. We had our ups and downs and normal challenegs for a long-distance relationship, but by the end of Christmas break, Paul had told me he loved me and I told him I loved him too. From that point on, we spoke on the phone once a week and managed to see eachother every 6 weeks or so. (I booked my flights out to see him during particularly busy flights and volunteered to get bumped, thus earning my next free ticket to Annapolis.) We spent a month together over the summer while Paul was on leave from the Academy and our relationship took a turn from serious to life-changing. We knew we were heading toward an engagement... it was just a matter of time. Paul had a few opprotunities according to my calculations.... 1. Parent's Weekend at the Academy (I was coming out to visit too)in September, 2. His Sprint football game that I was coming out to see in October, 3. The Army/Navy game in December, and lastly, 4. Christmas.
In late fall, after a lack of a proposal, Paul and I had asked our families to meet for breakfast on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. We wanted our families to meet eachother before we committed to joining them together forever. Paul had mentioned that he wanted to ask my dad for permission to marry me so I helpfully told him my schedule over break, emphasizing the time when I would be out of the house and my dad would be home. Paul insisted on hanging out with me at all those times so we split the Thanksgiving holiday between our houses, and I spent a late night at Paul's house on Thanksgiving. Surprisingly, my parents didn't care I was out so late... they must have realized we were getting so serious.
Saturday morning rolled around and I was a nervous wreck having my family and Paul's family meeting over breakfast. I didn't know what to wear... when I picked out a sweater and dress pants, my sister asked, "is that what you're going to wear? Don't you have anything cuter?" Ahhhhhh.... I'm nervous enough... leave my outfit alone. As my family got into our car to head to the restaurant, my mom casually brings the video camera with her. My mom was crazy about video taping things and making our friends watch embarassing figure skating videos. "Mom. You are NOT video taping this meal." My mom just shrugged and said, "Oh, Betsy, relax." I looked at my sister for some back up and she just said, "You know mom. Just let her bring the video camera." Geesh... Katie was surely not helping me out.
We got to the restaurant and we all said polite hellos. Paul looked like he was going to throw up. All through the meal he barely ate his food and was soooo quiet. There was only one thing going on here.... He wanted to break up... His family hated my family.... He is so going to dump me after we eat breakfast. See look... he's backing up out of his chair... oh gosh.... he's going to say something...... "Well, it's been a long time coming," holy cow, he's going to dump me right here in front of my family! "but I'm glad that we are all here together." oh no, he's getting choked up... I'm going to hold his hand under the table and give him some support even though he's breaking up with me... wait...a...minute...... what is that in his hands???? that feels like a small suede box..... I'm not even listening to what he's saying.... he's pushing his chair back! and getting down. on. one. knee!!!!!!! "Betsy, will you marry me?!"
Apparently after our late night together on Thanksgiving, Paul work up early and met with my parents while I was still asleep in bed!!!! What a little stinker. I had no idea it was coming (since I thought he was breaking up with me) because I was waiting for him to ask my dad. My mom got some of it on video and I am so mad I wore such a dumb looking sweater. Turns out my sister ALWAYS has my back.
I obviously said "YES!" and we were married 13 months later on December 29th, 2001.
Today marks TEN years as a married couple. I am often amazed that I married Paul Paul Meyer. I am thankful that we have shared so many memories together, not only as a couple, but as goofy high schoolers. And I am thrilled that I need not worry about what Paul will think of me when I am wrinkly and gray.... he loved me when I had braces and a perm.
Happy Anniversary, Paul!