I’ve never been a sucker for camo or cowboy boots — in fact, I’d always strongly disliked both. But two and a half years ago, at a Caribou Coffee in St. Cloud, I went on a first date with a guy wearing the two. At the same time.
I had met him on Tinder. All I knew about him was that he had played rugby and he wasn’t very good at texting. In fact, he was so bad at carrying a conversation via text that I almost just gave up. But there was a little voice inside me telling me that this boy was different, that he was worth meeting in person.
When I walked into Caribou, I went straight to the bathroom. I was in a cast up to my elbow at this point, due to a rugby injury. I had done my best to look presentable, with the help of my roommate, but I wanted to double check that I didn’t look ridiculous. Content with my appearance, I walked toward the counter and saw him, camo jacket, cowboy boots and all. He looked similar to his Tinder photo, but I wasn’t positive it was him.
So I tentatively reached out from behind and tapped him, asking, “Are you Brandon?” He said yes, he was. Though I didn’t know it then, this boy would be the absolute love of my life.
As we sat and talked that day, the conversation came easily. We talked about school, studying abroad, my sobriety. I was nervous, and when I’m nervous I ramble. So the more accurate description of this date was that I talked and Brandon listened, mostly.
After finishing our drinks, I wasn’t quite ready to end the night. This boy had a hold of my heart already, and I needed more time to figure out where this could go. So, I asked if he wanted to see a movie. He agreed and offered to drive. As I climbed into his pickup and again took in the camo and cowboy boots, I had to laugh a little bit. He was so not my type. Then again, my type hadn’t worked out well in the past.
The movie we saw was Gone Girl, a two and a half hour-long movie based on a book with a twisted plot. Though I watched the movie, I was more aware of my proximity to Brandon the entire time. At one point, one of us reached over and grabbed the other’s hand. His hands were solid, hardworking hands. They were calloused and matched mine in size, and I decided right then that I wanted to hold these hands for awhile. Maybe even forever.
As the movie carried on and on and on, it took everything in me not to lean over and kiss him. I would have, had we not been in a movie theater. I distinctly remember thinking, “I plan on kissing this boy for the foreseeable future, and I refuse to say our first kiss was somewhere as cliche as a movie theater.” So I waited.
And after the movie, once we were back in his pickup, I leaned over and I kissed him. Him being the traditional guy he is, and me being the not traditional girl I am, I caught him completely off guard. His reaction was a bit comical, actually. I tease him about it today.
But as I sat in that pickup and kissed a boy in a camo jacket and cowboy boots, with country music on the radio, I thought, “This is it. This is the beginning of falling in love.”
And it was. Falling in love with Brandon has been different than any other love I’ve experienced. The whole time, I’ve been hyper-aware of it. I’ve paid attention to each moment I fell deeper. I’ve memorized the look on his face the first time he told me he loved me. I’ve willingly given him pieces of me, even the broken ones, trusting him to take care of them, maybe even put them back together.
Falling in love with Brandon has been a daily choice. Some days I do a better job at it than others, and the same goes for him. Luckily those days are usually flip-flopped. This relationship has taught me about timing and patience and gut feelings. It’s taught me about compromise and disagreements and forgiveness. It’s taught me about unconditional love.
But perhaps most surprisingly, it’s taught me to love camo and cowboy boots. In fact, sometimes I even wear them. Just not together, as that would put me over the edge. I’ll leave that to B.