On August 17, 2003, Brian and I began our adventure together as a dating couple. Before I share with you what exactly happened the night we decided to begin dating, I must first briefly share with you how we got to that point so that the details of that evening will make more sense.
Here is an accelerated version of how exactly we got from September 2001 to August 17, 2003 (Well, as accelerated as you can make it for two jam-packed years of life. Get ready.). Brian and I both began attending UCLA in Fall Quarter of 2001. We had never met at that point. During that quarter, he joined a Christian fraternity called Alpha Gamma Omega (“AGO”, for future reference) and I began my adventure as a member of UCLA’s women’s gymnastics team. In January of 2002, during the first week of Winter Quarter, I broke my foot during my first collegiate meet – 4 of the 5 metatarsals in my left foot – and so was confined to crutches for the entirety of that 10-week quarter. Since my mobility was limited, I spent a lot of time in my dorm, where I discovered that most of my classes had websites where students could create a profile for themselves. Seeing as all of my classes had hundreds of students in them, I began perusing student profiles in hopes of finding someone I knew amidst the sea of names. As I browsed the list of student names for my Intro Sociology class, I came across the profile of a Christian guy who loved sports and the outdoors and who was from Granite Bay, near my hometown of Carmichael (both suburbs of Sacramento). His name was Brian Kiley. This was back in the days of AOL Instant Messenger, so when I saw he had a screen name I figured that, at the very least, I could help pass the time while confined to my dorm room and crutches by striking up conversation with him about Sacramento and Jesus. So, I IM’d him. We chatted for a few minutes, and then again briefly two or three more times over the course of the next week or so. Then we decided to meet up after class one day, just to say hi. It was awkward. I mean, really awkward. Ew. Awkward. So, for the remaining 7 weeks of Winter Quarter, we never said hi to each other again. And same with Spring Quarter. It was that awkward.
Summer came and went, and I began my 2nd year at UCLA by moving into an apartment with three other girls – Janine, Jenny, and Carly. Janine was a UCLA diver and shared a room with me. Jenny was a UCLA swimmer, and she shared a room with Carly, who was not an athlete but was involved with campus life. Can you guess who one of Carly’s good friends was? Yep. Brian Kiley. Carly had become friends with several of the AGO guys during the previous year (And who can blame her? UCLA guys who love Jesus? Amazing!), and so several nights a week, Brian and his roommate, Chris Hall, would come over to our apartment to hang out with Carly. I was intrigued by their conversations, so I joined in every once in a while, but that was pretty much the extent of it.
[Let me indulge you with a juicy side note and say that, after that first night that Brian and I chatted online in January 2002, he told his AGO friends about me, and they emphatically told him he should marry me because I sounded perfect for him! A few months later, Carly told him that she was moving into an apartment with some girls and that, I think one of them is that gymnast girl you were talking about a few months ago! Who says God doesn’t have a sense of humor?]
Okay, so let’s pick up some speed now. Brian and Chris would come over and hang out several nights a week during Fall Quarter of 2002. Brian asked me to AGO’s Date Event in December 2002, and though we still weren’t really the closest of friends, I accepted his invitation. We had a great time, and that was the first moment that I felt we really connected as friends. Over the course of the next two quarters – Winter and Spring 2003 – we became great friends almost by accident. We found ourselves at many of the same events and hanging out with many of the same people. Brian and his friends would come over to our apartment to watch movies, but he and I would always find ourselves sitting on separate couches. By the end of Spring Quarter 2003, I considered Brian to be my best friend from UCLA, and I was starting to wonder if we would ever start dating. Apparently, so did everyone else. Unbeknownst to me, his friends had been bugging him about us getting together and had been trying to help him “win me over” during that six-month stretch of us becoming close friends. I guess I was a little harder to get than they thought. That summer of 2003, he was busy as a camp counselor in Southern California at Forest Home, and I was training at home in Sacramento. Though good-bye was hard before we parted ways that June, we kept in touch sporadically over the next couple of months. We met up in Sacramento late in the summer to drive down to Fresno and join AGO friends for a day of wakeboarding (which is the first time I met his mom, on the doorstep of their house in Granite Bay). I think we both knew that a conversation needed to happen about “us” – it was so obvious – but no one wanted to bring it up.
Okay, now it’s time for the good stuff. You know how we got to August 17, 2003. Now it’s time to find out what exactly happened that night. The following are entries that are (nearly) straight out of my journal from Thursday, August 21st and Friday, August 22nd, 2003. Changes have been made to enhance clarity, but format and narrative are in their original version. Ready? Here it is:
“For our birthdays (my 20th on August 14 and his 21st on August 15), Brian, Janine, Carly, and I all went to Sea World/San Diego for Thursday/Friday. I just knew something would happen by the end of the weekend, it just had to, things couldn’t go on being “normal” between us for much longer. I picked up Brian Thursday morning so we could get Janine from the airport, and he gave me a birthday card. He also asked to take me to dinner that Sunday night for the other part of my gift. So we got Janine, met up with Carly in Long Beach, and all headed to Sea World together. It was a blast with everyone that day. Janine and Carly always made sure to position Brian and I together for seating and such . . . I wasn’t sure to be excited or frustrated by that. But it was still fun.
We all crashed at Carly’s big brother’s apartment that night (the 14th), and then it was Brian’s birthday on Friday morning. I gave him his card and a big birthday hug. We all went to breakfast at a place by the beach, and I bought Brian’s breakfast. We drove back to Long Beach to drop off Carly, then continued to LA. Janine and I did weights at UCLA and then I went to dinner at C&O’s in Venice with Brian and six other AGO guys – Darrell, Adam Sugano, Brian Colmery, Eric, Josh Beck, Drew Park, and then Brian. It was a 35-45 minute wait, so Darrell, Eric, Adam, Brian and I walked out to the beach to watch the waves and the people surfing them. So the five of us are sitting there, and then the other three guys suddenly decide to get up and say they’re gonna go “see how warm the water is.” So Brian and I are left sitting on the beach, watching the sunset together and talking. Neither of us brought it up, but it was just so perfect.
So then we finally got to eat, and it was so much fun. After dinner, most of us went over to Brian Colmery’s new apartment in Santa Monica for a little while. Then back to AGO, where Brian and I sat on the patio outside and talked for a good hour and a half until 12:50am when I had to leave (AGO had a rule: no girls allowed on the patio after 1:00am). During the course of conversation, he asked if we could go to the Cheescake Factory for Sunday’s dinner, so we finalized those plans. He also asked if we could rent “Ace Venture: Pet Detective” because it had come up so much during our day at Sea World. By then, I’m thinking, we’ll definitely talk about “us” the next night, but I don’t know how I’ll bring it up if he doesn’t. Janine and Carly have told me “the ball’s in your court”, so I’m trying to figure out what to do with that.
The next day I did a track workout at 11:00am and he went to Cornerstone for church from 6:00-8:00pm that night. He came home, ate dinner, and then came over to watch the movie. I was thinking about “ball’s in your court”, so after I put the DVD in, instead of sitting on a separate couch like always, I sat on the same couch he was on. We weren’t necessarily next to each other, maybe about a foot of space between us, but it was a change in the right direction from the usual, so it was good. Nothing happened while we were watching the movie, except the DVD got messed up at the end, so not much excitement there.
After the movie, we sat on the couch and talked for about three hours. I have no idea how we talked that much, but we did, and he was over for almost five hours that night. I really wanted to bring “it” up, but it didn’t feel right, even though I wanted to get the awkwardness out of the way so we could just have a blast the next night before he left town on Monday (which is what Carly suggested I do). It seemed like he really wanted to bring “it” up, because we’d have moments of silence that lasted a few minutes – not awkward, just silent – but then the next topic would just be about some random happening, nothing really important or “it.” So he left around 1:00am, with plans to pick me up the next evening at 5:45pm for church and dinner.
So now it’s Sunday. I slept in til about 11:00am, made breakfast, laid out in the sun, and that’s about it. I just really wanted time to pass so we could leave for church. Janine was gone shopping all day, so I didn’t really have anyone to hang out with. I spent almost two hours getting ready – pathetic, I know, but I knew this was going to be the night because he was leaving town the next day, and we couldn’t part ways without “it” coming up.
So he picked me up for church and was dressed pretty nicely – light blue button-up shirt with short sleeves and khaki pants and black dress shoes. We went to church, where Mark Brewer spoke on the book of Mark. We took communion at that service, which was good for me to remember that the focus of my decisions should be on Christ and His love, and not based on the people and their lives.
After church, we drove to the Cheescake Factory to have dinner. We only waited about five minutes, then were seated inside, where it was a little cold. I thought he was going to bring “it” up during dinner, but he didn’t, and I’m glad. A few times, I almost said something to the effect of, “Is there an inevitable conversation we’ve been avoiding?” But I didn’t, and I’m glad I didn’t.
After dinner, we were driving back to Westwood and I asked, “So now what?” to which he replied, “Well, if it’s alright with you, I was thinking maybe we could rent a movie.” I said, “Sure,” so we went to Blockbuster, got “Antwone Fisher”, went to AGO so Brian could change clothes and put his food away, and park Adam Sugano’s car. Then we walked over to my apartment. While he was in his room changing, I called Janine and told her we were coming over to watch a movie, just to give her a heads up.
(This is where it gets good!)
So we came to my apartment, put the movie in, and started watching it. We sat on the same couch together, just like the night before, but a little closer this time. With every movement and adjustment of seated position, we inched closer. Maybe it was only me doing the inching, I’m not sure, but in any case, we got closer. So we’re sitting there, with our inside hands at our sides on the couch, in the “ready to hold hands” position, for at least an hour. There were a few times where I could see him look down at my/our hands, perhaps contemplating whether to reach for it. Well, he didn’t, and I wanted to so badly, because it was almost getting annoying. Our hands were literally sitting a half an inch apart toward the last 15 minutes of the movie. AHHHHHH! I couldn’t stand it!
So the movie ended, and we talked for a few minutes. Now, it was about midnight or a little after, and I had a 9:00am track workout the next morning. So he says he should probably get going, and I say, “Yeah”, and we sit there for like five minutes, not saying anything. I wanted to say something so badly, but I couldn’t do it. He asked me if I was okay, and gave me a little scratch on the head, and I said, “Yeah.” I loved the way that felt and I didn’t want him to leave without “it” having been brought up.
So finally I asked him, “What are you thinking about?” He had this look on his face like he had so much to say, but didn’t want to say any of it, and it would take a while to get it out. He asked, “What do you mean?” I said, “You know, sitting here, not saying anything.”
After another brief moment of silence, I said, “Because it’s probably the same thing I’m thinkg.” Another pause. “And you know it has to come up sometime.” Right away, he said, “Yeah, it has had to come up for quite a while now.”
Another pause. “And honestly,” he said, “I’m petrified to bring it up.” I replied, “I’m scared too.”
He said, “Well, I don’t know how to say this, so I’m just gonna do my best and say everything I’ve been thinking, and then we’ll go from there.” I said, “Sounds good.”
So he started:
Ever since the end of the fall (2002, when we went on that AGO Date Event), I’ve been trying to figure out how I feel about you . . . I was so excited to get to know you, and then we started becoming closer friends, and it was so great because I started to realize what an amazing girl you are. [Keep in mind that there’s a 5-10 second pause between most sentences, as he’s thinking and trying to sort through his thoughts to find the right words.] Then towards the end of Spring Quarter when we spent all that time together, I realized that you really were my best friend. I loved talking to you on the phone for so long when I was at Forest home. Then when we drove down to Fresno, I was sitting there with you in the car, and I’m thinking, I’m sitting here with such an amazing girl. I realized during this summer that I had really come to care about you as more than a friend. But I didn’t want to bring it up or say anything about it because of how good of friends we were. Certainly our friendship would survive if I said something and you didn’t feel the same way, but I just didn’t want to screw things up.
(That’s the nuts and bolts of what he said)
So then he was finished talking and it was my turn to respond.
“Okay, my turn”. I had no idea how to start out for about 10 seconds or so.
The time frame for me was about the same. Towards the end of Spring Quarter (2003) when we were spending so much time together, I loved being with you and hanging out with you so much. [I’m pausing between sentences, trying to make sure I say everything I want to so that it’s complete.] You really became my best friend, and I realized that I didn’t want to spend as much time with anyone as I did with you. I have this weird thing where I don’t miss people. I’ll be with them and love it, but when they leave I don’t miss them. But I found myself missing you when I couldn’t see you for like five days, and that was weird for me, because I wasn’t used to that, and I was like, Okay, what do I do with that? (I’m sure I said some other stuff, but I don’t remember any more before the next part.) Now, the only concern I have is that we are both very, very busy people and it would be tough to work through something like that. But if it’s worth it, and if it’s what God wants, then we’ll be able to make it work.
He said, “I agree we are both really busy people, but out of all the people that could make it work, you and I could make it work.”
I said, “I agree.”
He said, “We just understand each other so well and I think we would work really well together.”
I said, “I think so too.”
He said, “So I would love it if you would be my girlfriend.”
I said, “That sounds so weird.”
He said, “Yeah, I know.”
I looked down, paused for 10 seconds or so, partly because I was scared and couldn’t believe he just said that, and partly because I wasn’t quite sure what next to say. So I said, “Well, I would love it if you would be my boyfriend . . . I can’t believe this is happening, it doesn’t seem real.”
He said, “I know. I’ve played this conversation over in my head so many times, I can’t believe we’re actually having it now . . . So, are we gonna do this?”
I said, “Yes.”
He said, “Okay, well if we’re gonna do this, we need to start if off right.”
There was a pause and I wasn’t quite sure what he was referring to, my first thought was a kiss.
After a moment, he said, “Meaning, you take my hand, and we take this before God. I’ll dial, you hang up?”
I said, “Okay.”
So he prayed. He thanked God for me and prayed for our relationship to remain centered around Christ and to be a good example to those around us.
Then I prayed. I thanked God for Brian and his encouragement and great friendship. I thanked God that we could be completely open and honest with one another, no matter what. I prayed that our relationship would stay centered around God and that our relationship would grow as we each grew closer to Christ and kept Him at the center of it all. I prayed that our relationship would radiate Christ’s example and love to those around us.
After we finished praying, we just gave each other a huge hug as we were sitting there on the couch. After we pulled back from the hug, I just leaned against him, with my head on his shoulder and my hand on his chest. He laid his head on mine and it was so sweet, sitting there with his arm around me. We held hands while I leaned up against him. I measured my hand up to his, and my fingers went right up to the first crease in his, just enough so he couldn’t fold his fingers over mine.
I asked him how he had planned on bringing “it” up before. He said he’d had a couple different ideas, but honestly couldn’t remember what he was going to do.
I asked him what his boys were gonna say when he told them about us. He asked me what my girls were gonna say when I told them about us. We said that both groups would respond with something like, “Duh! It’s about time! We’ve been waiting for you two to get together forever!”
Later, I told him, “I don’t ever want you to be afraid to tell me anything. Don’t feel like you can’t tell me whatever’s going on.”
He said, “Oh, I won’t. Tonight’s probably the most scared I’ll ever be to tell you anything. Same here, I always want you to know what I’m thinking about you. I don’t ever want you to have to try and guess, Is he mad? Is he annoyed with me? And if and when we have problems, we’ll talk about it and get to a solution. I’m going to make it my primary goal to make sure that every night when you go to bed, you know that you’re the only girl for me.”
To this amazingly sweet line, I stupidly responded, “Well, that’s a very good goal.”
At 2:15am, I told him it was time for me to kick him out. We sat for a few moments. He was looking in my eyes, and I kept gradually looking up and down – I have a hard time looking people in the eyes, especially like that. When I finally locked eye contact with him, we leaned in and kissed. It was a little awkward and not the best kiss ever, but it was a start.
We sat together for a few more minutes and then got up from the couch on a count of three. We got about four steps away from it and then stood and hugged for a long time. Then I opened the door and we kissed goodnight. Then he left, and it was about 2:30am.
I wanted to tell Janine all about the night, but she was asleep by then.
And then we get to the end of the journal entries, so let me fill you in from here.
I woke up the next morning for a 9:00am track workout, where I told my friends Jamie Williams and Yvonne Tousek that Brian and I were finally officially dating. Later that morning, I took Brian to the Burbank airport so that he could fly to Oregon for “Hood to Coast”. He came back to LA about a week later.
Over the next few days, I prayed. I felt a little uneasy about everything, but I didn’t know why. Maybe I was just scared of getting hurt, or losing a best friend if things didn’t work out. I prayed for God to help me calm down and take this thing with Brian one day at a time, and not get too ahead of myself so far into the future, thinking about the what-ifs and what-if-nots. I thanked God for the blessings of love and romance and friendships and companionship.
Our story together began nearly a decade ago. It all seems like it started so long ago, and since then we dated for 3 1/2 years, were engaged for 5 months, got married on September 8, 2007, and are now moving forward in our life together.
I hope that this story has been enjoyable for you to read and has inspired or encouraged you in some way. It was a pleasure sharing it with you.
Here we are on the infamous Sea World birthdays trip, August 14, 2003 – 3 days before we started dating. It was my 20th birthday and the next day was Brian’s 21st. See how Carly and Janine made us sit next to each other and then pose for a picture together? They were so sneaky!