Today is my favorite anniversary of our history. Our first date! Or as my hubby referred to it: “Le début de la plus magnifique histoire d’amour” which translates to “The beginning of the most beautiful love story”. Seriously no one does the language of love better than the French.
I met my hubby 6 months before our first date. I had just moved from a small town to Atlanta to start a new job for a large international corporation. On the 3rd day I attended an internal conference with attendees from the business units all over the globe. I spotted him on the first day during the opening session and he immediately caught my attention. Definitely not where my focus should have been just starting a new job, but I just couldn’t help it. Over the course of the next few days I spotted him several times and finally on the final day I gathered my courage and introduced myself to him. I learned his name was Philippe Pichette and he lived in Montreal, Quebec. I proceeded to chatter away for the next 5 – 10 minutes but with little response from him. So my deflated ego and I gathered our dignity and walked away.
Six months later there was another conference in Orlando, Florida we were both attending (I know cause I stalked his name on the attendee list). My heart once again did a big jump and pitter-patter but, remembering the previous lack of interest, I tried to keep it under control. Finally, at one of the evening events my colleague and cohort, Shannon, marched me over to him to start a conversation. To my great surprise not only did he remember me, he seemed excited to see me??? That both gave me a bit of optimism and also baffled me a bit.
The next evening the festivities went a little late and I spotted him leaving the event. Fueled by the courage of a few glasses of wine I stopped him so when he walked under the guise of discussing a joint project. For the next 30 minutes I proceeded to babble away on this topic. Most of my family and friends will tell you with a few glasses of wine I can do the equivalent of a Shakespearean monologue without taking a breath (but the topic is usually nowhere near as profound). All I remember after this is him removing my hand from his arm and telling me he really needed to go to bed.
I had an early flight the next morning and when I woke up and ran through the events of the prior evening in my head I inwardly groaned. Clearly I had overstepped…again. On the plane I recounted the previous evening to Shannon and even she agreed that was not a very good sign. Sigh…clearly I am a train wreck when it comes to interacting with this guy. Back at the office I proceeded to write a very professional note of apology. There. Done. Moving on. Or so I thought.
Within an hour he responded and I had to gather my courage before I opened the email. I was practically peeking between my fingers. I had to re-read the email a few times and then call Shannon over for confirmation. Summary: He apologized for leaving so abruptly and that it was only because he had a 7 am presentation. He suggested that next time we have a glass of wine (or two) together. Wait stop…was he flirting with me??? Was this possible after all my faux paux pas??? A few more exchanges ensued before Philippe suggested a first date, but the question was how since distance was clearly part of the equation. Turns out that Philippe has a meeting in chicago the following week and he tentatively suggested to me that I meet him there. Well Chicago is a hop, skip, and a jump from Atlanta. Chicago, here I come!
Side note: During our early conversations the mystery of Philippe’s very different reactions to me between our first and second meeting were solved. Turns out that the combination of my speed of talking, southern accent, and english as his second language he had no clue what I was saying when I introduced myself in Atlanta. After Atlanta, he had emailed me but mistyped by name so I never received it. When I didn’t respond he took it as a brush off. Talk about crossed wires! To this day Shannon still takes credit for our blissful happiness because she forced me to talk to him the second time.
Our First Date – December 7
We arranged to meet at baggage claim and oh my was I nervous! How do I greet him? What should I say? Did I pack the right things? Fortunately with the French greetings are easy! Cheek kisses (they find our American hugs to be bizarre and too invasive of personal space)! Fortunately he want in for the cheek kisses before I could stick my hand out to shake his. Cold and snowy, Chicago gave a perfect romantic backdrop to our adventure! After checking into the hotel, we walked to a restaurant and he held my hand along the say “ so it wouldn’t get cold”. We chatted away at the restaurant and all was going well until I got way too animated and knocked the bottle of wine over onto his designer suit. Seriously??? Mortified. Horrified. How many things could I possibly do wrong with this guy???
Apparently he has a high tolerance level or found me amusing because he kept our date for the next night. As my penance, I took his suit to the cleaner the next day while I adventured around the city and he attended meetings. After delivering to him his good as new suit, he took me to my first hockey game (Blackhawks vs. Dallas Stars). And I got the full experience: beer, hot dogs, and a bloody fight right in-front of us with the glass panel falling into our laps. He explained the details of the game to me but I heard not a word, I was focused on the charming french accent.
After 2 flawed but perfect evenings together it was time to go back to reality. At the time we had no clue what would happen next because there some big, immediate obstacles including working for the same company and distance. But regardless of what did or didn’t happen next, we had that snowy Chicago adventure.
Spoiler Alert: We had several bumps and challenges to work through along the way but we figured it out and still marvel at how it all worked out when so many circumstances were betting against us! Kind of makes you believe in fate…