#339 Before.

The day before I knew Ben was December 6, 2004. It was unseasonably warm that day, and I missed the way the heater smelled when it kicked on in our dorm.
I was a sophomore at Jones. I was 19 years old.
My yearbook headshot in 2004.

I loved Damien Rice and Modest Mouse. I drank a Holiday Spice Pepsi every morning before class. I had very short hair, like Drew Barrymore’s, because I fancied myself a free spirited sort of gal. I was kind of dating a nice guy I worked with in the pharmacy at the hospital whom we will call Charlie. I was the design editor of the yearbook and in concert choir. I went to my parents’ house every Wednesday and Friday, and I worked part time at Bath & Body Works for the discounts. I lived in Wayne Hall (the new dorms), and I was majoring in graphic design.

Ben was 21 years old and lived in a very old, grey house on campus. He had majored in everything, but decided on none of them. He was in every club and organization, he was loved by everyone who met him and had a group of friends that followed him wherever he went. We first met (briefly, at McDonald’s actually) in May 2004, and I loved watching him from a distance and our occasional “hello” exchanges on campus. I secretly admired him and I wanted so much to be his friend, to be important to him like some of the girls that we were mutually friends with. He was the center of attention no matter where he went, and I kept a cool distance anytime we would speak—I didn’t want him to think I cared for him one way or the other.
He rode through a car wash like this and the photo made its way to the dean’s office where it stayed on a bulletin board for over a year. It was kind of legendary at Jones.
Always, always, the life of the party.
On that day, we didn’t know we would someday be married—sharing a last name and a queen size bed. The not knowing is what makes this story special—any love story for that matter. The day before you met The One, they were just someone with their own life, their own separate story, and a plan that did not include you. And then… everything changes.