Our story isn’t a typical love story. In fact, we tease that we’ve done everything backwards. But I love that our story is completely unique and absolutely Us. If you don’t know, Joe is the Director of IT for his company. One of his co-workers is married to a girl that I work with. When we were having some computer issues, she asked Joe if he wouldn’t mind coming to trouble-shoot. Joe, being a giver, agreed to see what he could do. So, the first time I met him was about 6 years ago. But he was “just the IT guy” and it never went further than that and I never thought of him as anything else. I did love that he was a talker. He’d come in to the office and he’d tell stories of his kids or a ride he went on and he always asked about everyone else…how they were doing and offered advice when given permission to do so. He was easy to talk to and was always happy and smiling. There was something about the contentment I always saw in him that was intriguing. Then, one day I read a poem he had written about riding a motorcycle. It was so descriptive and it totally put me on the road with him. I wrote him and said, “I’ve never wanted to ride a motorcycle before. That poem just may change my mind.” He wrote back and said, “you should see some of the other things I’ve written.” I spent the next couple of nights reading his poems. He is a romantic and a believer in true love that lasts. After reading a poem called, “My Forever-after Princess” I told him, “whoever she is, she’s a lucky girl.” He said, “oh, there isn’t anyone right now. But I’ll find her.” I didn’t believe him. I was cynical. I had been unhappy for so long, I didn’t even want to watch a sappy movie because I didn’t believe “true love” existed. But slowly, he’s shown me by example that the past is the past and that it only has the power over us that we give it. He’s shown me that I can choose to be cynical about past experiences and let it affect the possible happiness to be had in the future, or I can learn from it and let it make the future even more sweet. I’ve realized that without the experiences of the past, I wouldn’t appreciate Joe as much as I do. And I choose happiness.
So now, the notorious motorcycle ride – I was having a bad day at work. It was a dreary Thursday outside and all I wanted to do is find a warm blanket somewhere and settle in to my happy place. For whatever reason, I texted Joe that it was a bad day. He said that his wasn’t great either and asked me what I usually do when I have a bad day. My answer? “Beer.” I was being facetious but I was surprised when the response was, “then let’s go get a beer.” I didn’t know what to do. “It isn’t a date, is it?” I wondered. “No, it’s ‘just Joe.’ It couldn’t be a date. I don’t think about him that way and he doesn’t think that way about me either. He’s just being a nice guy like he always is.” So we met at O’Donnell’s in Everett and we sat there, me drinking my Pendleton and him, his Irish Car Bomb. In fact, we sat there all night and talked like we were old friends. He was too easy to talk to. I was opening up about things I hadn’t talked about with anyone, especially to someone I hardly knew and he made it not weird. I was being sassy and he was laughing at my jokes. WHO WAS THIS GUY??!!?? They were closing up when we left. We walked out to the parking lot and he asked, “want to go for a ride?” Let’s see…it’s cold, it’s wet, I don’t have ANY riding gear and it’s MIDNIGHT. Umm…Of Course I want to go for a ride! So, he got me all geared up. (Gee…that wasn’t planned…an extra helmet AND riding pants in his saddle bags? Go figure). Then he gave me the “passenger 101” for motorcycle safety and we jumped on. I wasn’t graceful AT ALL getting on, by the way. Have you ever worn motorcycle pants? Ya, not built for comfort. And I settled in like he had told me. I’ll admit, I was squeezing him so hard, I’m sure he could hardly breathe. But he didn’t let on that he was secretly shaking his head at me. In fact, he patted my hand to comfort me. At that moment, the first butterflies began. And in my head, I was screaming, “WHAT!? Nooooo!
Butterflies? Really? It’s Just Joe! Stop being a stupid girl, Nichole!” He was nervous too, though, as evidenced by him missing the driveway and driving right over the curb. Graceful, Joe. Hehehe.
The ride was fantastic and terrifying at the same time. I couldn’t believe the difference of experiencing the road without the cage. The smells are what I remember most. It may have been that we were riding down through Snohomish Valley but seriously, I was amazed at what you could see, smell and hear from the back of that powerful machine. Then, he tried to kill me. On the straight away, he got up to 100 miles per hour. Sorry Dad, you weren’t supposed to know that part. It was exhilarating and frightening. But he pulled over afterward just to check on me. “You okay?” I think all I could do was shake my head at him. I don’t remember the rest of the ride. But I do remember getting back to the restaurant and not being cold. I should have been cold but I wasn’t. I was just smiling. I pulled off all the gear and stood there looking up at him and then, who knows what came over me but I reached up and kissed him. He acted like it was the most natural thing in the world. We finally got into the car where we sat and talked and I heard the notorious cupcake story. At the end of the night, I asked, “WHO are you?” and he said, “I’m just Joe.” And I said, no, you’re Awesome Joe. And his nickname was born. He’s still AJ to me. I love that he’s humble but he really is terrific and he did our first “date-not-date” right.
Since that time, I’ve been truly blessed by what he has brought to our relationship. He understands that a true love relationship is a circle. It is a constant pursuit of the other person. In so doing, each has their needs met. He loves me so completely that all I want to do is love him back. I want to “one-up” him because he does such a great job of making me feel like I’m his first priority and I want him to understand his importance to me and that he is my first choice, too. I have learned sacrifice, forgiveness, tenderness and how to let go by his example. I have learned to be comfortable in my own skin and that there is freedom in being who God created me to be. He is my biggest fan and I am his. He is my best friend, my knight in shining armor and I am his sprinkles.
Now for the real story… She is a beautiful woman and I am a dumb luck kind of guy. The end.