After blogging for more than five years, I’ve never told the story of how Bob and I met. Today is the day! And it’s not just any day – it’s the ten year anniversary of our wedding. This year also marks our fifteenth year together – I can’t believe how time has flown by!
Grab your coffee and sit back. Also, spoiler alert: we got married and live happily ever after. Haha!
How We Met
Bob and I met four times over the course of several years. Each interaction was only a few minutes every time. Looking back now, fate was definitely telling us we should be together!
In college, Bob and I were both elected to our Greek leadership organizations. For those of you who aren’t familiar, most colleges and universities have governing bodies that represent all sororities and fraternities. One is called Panhellenic Council (sororities) and the other is InterFraternity Council or IFC (fraternities).
I absolutely loved my experience on Panhellenic Council at my university! I had been elected to be the Vice President of Public Relations (shocking, I know) and Head of Rho Gammas (the leaders of sorority recruitment/rush). Bob was elected to IFC’s Vice President of Recruitment at his school, UW-Madison.
Each year, IFC and Panhellenic host a regional leadership conference for all Midwest colleges. When we were undergrads, the conference took place at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare Chicago. In truth, I don’t remember a lot from the conference except for Valpo’s VP of Public Relations for IFC and I skipped all of the PR breakout sessions. Our workshops were horrible. It’s very unlike me not to play by the rules, but after three hours of just doing just ice breakers with our group, we had enough. We were such rebels, haha!
One day after lunch, I headed to the main elevator banks to get something from my hotel room. Upon stepping foot into the elevator, I heard someone excitedly proclaim, “Hi! You go to Valpo?!”
I looked up… and standing in front of me was Bob. At the time, we were wearing name tags with our first, last, and college/university names. He went on, “I’m interviewing at Valpo in a few weeks for an admissions counselor position after graduation!” To this day, I still recall staring blankly back at him and thinking, “ummm, okay?” All I could muster for a response was, “Cool. Good luck with your interview.”
I stepped off the elevator, and never saw him again at the conference (or for another year). Little did I know that at the same time, Bob was scribbling down my name in a notepad.
While at Valpo, I served as an Orientation Assistant (OA) where we helped incoming freshmen with their transition into the university. Every year, we had FOCUS, a two-day experience for incoming students and their parents to get acclimated to campus. I LOVED being an OA – it was the best!
During the first FOCUS weekend of my senior year, I was assigned to a hallway in the Arts & Science building to direct students and parents of where to go next. Upon arriving, I noticed someone standing in the hallway – Bob. He had gotten the job as an Admissions Counselor at Valpo, and he was assigned to the exact same hallway location as me.
For the next 10 minutes, we waited for the students and parents to get done with a session. We sat awkwardly across from one another on sofas and waiting for the doors to open to direct everyone. The cliffs notes of our conversation went something like this…
Jenn: “Looks like you got the job!”
Bob: “Yep! Got the job!”
Jenn: “How are you liking Valpo so far?”
Bob: “Great! I’m still adjusting, but the other counselors have been helpful.”
Jenn: “What did you major in at UW Madison?”
Bob: “International Relations and French.”
Jenn: “Wait…how does that align with an Admissions Counselor role?”
Bob: (smiles and laughs) “It doesn’t.”
Jenn: (wow, he’s got a great smile and laugh) “Haha! Well, I’m sure it’ll be fine. Where did you grow up?”
Without writing out the rest of the convo, we ended up spending the next handful of minutes talking about religion, politics, our families, backgrounds, dreams, fears, etc. You may be thinking, how did you fit that all in into a few minutes?
Well, I call it the best interrogation of my life. I grilled Bob. He was intriguing, honest, articulate, and thoughtful. His answers put me on edge of my seat. I kept thinking to myself, “this guy is amazing. He needs to date one of my friends!”
To be transparent, I was dating someone very seriously at the time. In that hallway, in ten short minutes, Bob laid the groundwork for a tidal wave of emotions in the years to come.
Anyway, after ten minutes, the doors flew open and students and parents started pouring out. Bob and I stood up quickly and took our posts within the hallway. In the sea of people walking, he disappeared shortly thereafter.
I didn’t see Bob on campus again. After that one interaction, I felt breathless. “He needs to date someone else. Anyone else. It can’t be me. It’s not me. Right?” I pushed down the emotions and moved on.
Sweet Home Chicago
More than two years later, I received an email invitation to a housewarming party from one of my best guy friends from college. “Come to a party at our new loft in Chicago,” it said. The invite had a day, time, and the names of the roommates. Three of them were my college friends, and the fourth? Bob. He had ended up connecting with them thanks to a fellow fraternity brother.
Intrigued, I saved the date in my calendar. When the day arrived, I can’t fully recall what happened, but I needed to be somewhere else that evening (i.e. a work event or another party). Regardless, I literally had like 10 minutes to attend the party. Max.
On the night of the event, I headed to Binny’s and picked up a bottle of Fat Bastard wine, and wrote the four roommates a handwritten note saying, “A sommelier once told me you can never pick a bad wine if it has a funny and memorable name. This bottle seemed fitting – congratulations on the new place!”
Upon arriving at the party, I handed the bottle to my best guy friend, Jonathan, who happens to be almost deaf in one ear. While this fact may seem strange to mention, trust me – it’s not! Moments later, I could tell the party was getting rowdy. Very rowdy. The entire loft was PACKED with people playing beer pong, doing shots, and the music was getting much louder. Not exactly my type of atmosphere.
After a few minutes of chatting with Jonathan, I noticed Bob on the other side of the loft. To this day, I remember exactly what he was wearing – a black sweater and jeans with his hair cut really short. The crowd was so large that there was no way to say “hello” to him with enough time to leave for my next destination. Additionally, it had been more than a year since the hallway and two years since the elevator encounter – what if he didn’t remember me?
That’s when I had an idea – ask Jonathan (my best friend) to reintroduce me to Bob! If he didn’t remember me, I wouldn’t look stupid, you know? Therefore, I turned and said, “Will you introduce me to your roommate, Bob?” He didn’t hear me correctly.
A little tipsy and with the music blaring, Jonathan said, “Did you say the bathroom? Do you need to use the bathroom?” I responded, “No, Bob. Will you introduce me to your roommate, Bob?” He still couldn’t hear me and responded, “I can take you downstairs to a better bathroom! Follow me!” And grabbed my hand and led me down the stairs.
I gave up. I caught Bob’s eye across the room and waved. He smiled and waved back. That smile.
I left the party and ran to my next destination. However, the tidal wave started to rise in me. It scared me. Things in my life were wonderful at that time – I loved my job, had a longterm boyfriend, enjoyed my apartment, and had great roommates. He was threatening everything – and I refused to pay attention. Please don’t take my attention.
I didn’t see him again, didn’t visit the loft, and pushed my emotions down yet again. He should date someone else. Maybe he is. He needs to date anyone other than me.
Yep, you read that right – Chipotle. Not exactly the spot you’d imagine the tidal wave finally hitting me, right? But I’m getting ahead of myself…
Many months after the party, I decided to make some changes in life. I broke up with my boyfriend, changed roommates, and started a new role at my agency. Things were different… better.
In that time, I had sent a message to Bob on Facebook to say how much I enjoyed their housewarming party, and how disappointed I was that we didn’t get to chat. I kept the message short, simple, and sweet. After clicking “send,” I thought for sure he’d respond. Sure, time had passed since the party… but he had waved back, right?
He never responded.
Confused, hurt… I thought, Well, I’m just the girl in the elevator, in the hallway, and across the room at a party. He never really SAW me.
One afternoon, I was getting a late lunch at work and decided to head to Chipotle. It was around 2:30 PM, and I was STARVING. Thinking the line would be short and fast, I headed to the closest location in Bucktown.
While standing in line, I felt someone standing behind me and watching my every move. Dude, I’m just ordering medium salsa, give me space. I turned around to say something… and it was Bob.
He smiled. That smile.
With that one look, the tidal wave hit. Without thinking, I blurted out, “I messaged you on Facebook. You never responded.” Bob was with a work colleague at the time, and looked at me confused (but also slightly like, “where is this coming from and is THIS the time we should talk about it)?”
I paid for my Chipotle and started to walk away. Bob left the line and came up to me, “What do you mean you sent a Facebook message? I never saw it, I swear.” Suuurre, I thought (at the time). Knowing Bob 15 years later, I laugh at this Chipotle interaction more than any other. He’s not a liar. I should have believed him right away.
Jenn: “I wrote you to say how much I enjoyed your housewarming party, and I wanted to talk with you but the crowd was crazy.” I went on and told him about the Jonathan interaction (Bob cringed), and how he took me to the bathroom versus bringing me towards him (Bob laughed). That laugh.
Bob: “Oh Jonathan. You know he’s deaf in one ear.”
Jenn: “Yes, of course. Anyway, the point is you never responded.”
Bob: “I would have responded. Trust me, I would have responded. I don’t read Facebook messages. I barely log on.”
Bob: “I wanted to talk to you that evening too. We never seem to have enough time to chat. It’s always an elevator, hallway… Maybe we should change that?”
I left the Chipotle and walked towards my car with a tidal wave of emotion. Upon arriving back to my office, I saw Facebook message notification…. from Bob.
Bob: “I logged on to send you this message as soon as possible. I would have responded a long time ago. Let me make it up to you – would you like to get dinner?”
Jenn: (finally) “Yes.”
The First Date (is it a date?)
A week later, we went to dinner at a French restaurant in the Old Town neighborhood of Chicago. In the months to come, I’d learn he picked the spot since it was the exact distance between his condo and mine (“to make it fair”). Such a Bob move.
Before ordering, I told Bob “I’m not a salad girl,” and proceeded to order… a SALAD. I was worried about talking with him with food in my mouth! Trying to twirl pasta into my mouth wouldn’t be a good look.
We spent hours sitting and talking in-depth about life, past loves, faith, and everything in between. I laughed so hard my face hurt. At that dinner… I knew Bob was the one. Unequivocally.
At the end of the meal, I paid for the bill before he could. Later, Bob said this move confused him because he originally thought, “if she lets me pay, this is a date.” Little did he know at that time – I’m not that type of girl. I can handle myself 🙂 Trust me, he’s fully aware now! Haha!
After paying, he walked me to my car and …. hugged me. Again, at the time, he wasn’t 100% sure if it was a date or not (and he wasn’t sure if I was still dating my college boyfriend). I looked at him after he hugged me and said, “I wish this night would never end.” To which he responded… “Me too. I’ve got to go. My car is at a friend’s place and I need to move it from his garage before I get in trouble.” So we left… separately.
The second date was at the Cubby Bear in Wrigleyville on the night the White Sox won the World Series. Don’t laugh – but he still wasn’t 100% sure if I liked him in that way. He had texted me to meet up there with his roommates/ my roommates. We went.
Sitting at the bar, he ordered me and my roommates drinks, and I sat down next to him determined to make my intentions clear. After sitting down next to him, I cozied up to him and put my hand on top of his at the bar.
We were inseparable after that moment on – we still are. 15 years later, we still laugh at our story. Who knew an elevator bank, hallway, housewarming party, and finally – Chipotle – would lead us on this incredible journey together?
He’s my better half and the best thing that has ever happened to me. Later I’d come to find Bob SAVED the note I wrote from the housewarming party (he put it on the fridge in the loft the morning after the party) and saved the receipt from that Chipotle lunch to mark the date and time (he knew then I was the one).
He had even written my name down in the notebook in the elevator bank so he could find me on campus if he got the job. After asking about me on campus, he heard I had a boyfriend and left me alone. It wasn’t until the hallway at FOCUS when he realized what a miss it was, but made it a point for our paths not to cross.
Fate had a different plan. On our ten year anniversary, I’m forever grateful our paths converged. His smile. That laugh. Everything. He’s my everything.
One of the best compliments we receive from time to time is, “you two make such a great team.” Bob and I have always viewed marriage this way. It’s like us against the world.
I love you, B. Happy ten year anniversary! Cheers to the next wonderful decade of marriage.