Wednesday, October 7, 2009

How I Met "The Ukrainian"

A recent e-mail chain (add info in brackets [])

Me: ...Thank you very, very much for the meals. =D

Him: How was your drive? Did you eat breakfast that I made you [half a peanut butter and apple butter sandwich]? Did you drink hot tea for your minor cold?

Me: The drive was smooth, and yes, I ate the breakfast... yummy. I'll start on the tea soon. =) Oh, and my meeting is now at 1:30, so most likely I'll be seeing you at the same time, same place. =)

Him: Ok, remember to eat lunch [cup of whole grain pasta w/veggies] before you go. You need energy for the gym.

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Gosh, I really like being taken care of, especially when I don't expect it nor ask for it... and especially especially if it comes from an unexpected source. In early April 2007, I had four of my wisdom teeth simultaneously removed from my gums via oral surgery, and not only did my father drive me home in my gaseous stupor, he also picked up my meds and bought me jello! (I looked in my blog Archives for some recount of this time period that was difficult on my training, but I guess it was so difficult that I didn't blog, either!) And yes... I'll never forget that!

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Maybe half a year later, I met "The Ukrainian" at the gym located in our workplace complex. I was 22 at the time, and it was my first semester in graduate school. As far as I was able to discern, this "white dude" was working out on the elliptical and lifting weights for hours. I thought he already had a family, since that was typical of employees at my company, and especially if they had the time to be in the gym instead of living the single life. Me, being a social-phobe, just looked out for him each day to see if I was more hardcore than he was.

And during that quarter, I was. The gym hosted a competition for days attending the gym during the holiday season (verified by swiping employee badges), and I beat him by a few visits. Yes, it was tough for me because of my hectic new school schedule and marathon training that was better suited toward outdoor runs, but the day the results came out, I saw his name directly below mine and felt triumphant that I had beaten him. By the way, my prize for the competition... a free VO2 MAX test.

SIDE NOTE: I'm naturally competitive, even though I try to squelch that since people don't seem to like snarly, competitive people. I mostly like secretly competing with males, since I can do so without feeling like a @#$&#.

Anyway, after about six months of casual chatting in the gym, I invited him to my birthday bowling party WHILE I was running a 12-miler on the treadmill. I'm not sure what was going through my mind except that he was one of my few friends/acquaintances that I saw often during that time.

Two months prior, I had been thinking about asking him to be the subject of an interview I needed to do for my grad school class, but I found another person at the last minute. I still wonder what would have happened if that other person didn't come along, and we would have had some sort of awkward lunchtime interview that might have made him steer clear of me, ha ha.


We went mini-golfing for our first date shortly after that birthday of mine. The girls in my class encouraged me, convincing me that if nothing else, I would get good stories and free meals out of it. The girls and I had all been gearing up for a speed-dating session once school got out in a few weeks, but fortunately, I didn't let go of "The Ukrainian," and here we are nearly a year-and-a-half later! Although times have been rough just for me personally during this time period, he has always been there and have made these one-and-a-half years some of the best I've ever had.

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So back to the topic of care... never did I imagine that one would watch over me as "The Ukrainian" does. He carries my stuff, cooks me dairy- and meat-free meals, cleans up after me when I forget, and gives his unsoliticited but usually appreciated advice on nearly everything. This is obviously in addition to other boyfriend-ly duties, such as valuing my opinions, letting me win petty disagreements, and signing up for practically every race I've run since we started dating. (This was slightly motivated by wanting to keep up with me, but then he just took off and is doing really stellar [1:32 half-marathon & 3:42 marathon PR] -- my competitive side is saying, "Argh!" but I'm proud of him, anyway!)

I'm grateful to have him, and in spite of what other people have or might be thinking, or the unpredictability of the future, at this moment I do believe that he is a very good counterpart for me. Let's face it... I am "unusual," and so is he!

We're celebrating our year+half this weekend, but we really do celebrate every day!

And yes, this entry's title is a spoof of How I Met Your Mother, a TV show on CBS.

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