I remember having crushes on boys since somewhere around the sixth grade when I thought I wanted to marry a boy named Andy from church. He was kind and had this sandy-brown wavy hair and soft brown eyes. If you could find my old diary, stories of Andy and my dreamy thoughts about him would fill many of the pages.
I dated a few guys through high school and had one very serious relationship in college with a young man who was showy, funny, and used to make all sorts of grand gestures, like climbing the outside of a building to bring flowers and a poem he wrote to my window.
When I moved to California for graduate school, I ended up settling in Manhattan Beach after spending some months in the Pasadena area. My mixed-breed dog and I rented a back house behind a couple. The husband was a dog trainer and I don’t think he ever was too impressed with my precious dog. She was well-behaved, but she chose when and how to listen off leash.
I made friends with a few women my age (in our early 20s) and we all used to hang out on the beach with other young adults, playing volleyball, barbecuing, or skating on the strand. One day in mid-December (which is warm and sunny in southern California), I was moving into my own apartment. I had asked a few friends to help me load up the U-Haul. They gathered some other friends, including this guy named Jon Scott who grew up in the beach cities and was three years older than me. Jon was a surfer-skateboarder who worked at a local car dealership. He was reserved, but kind, and even though he had never met me, he showed up to help me move.
After my move, Jon and I kept bumping into one another at events where our friends hung out. Sometimes a group of us would go out to eat at a local restaurant especially this one called Cafe Fifties. Jon always ordered the soup and salad, and whenever we sat near one another, we ended up in our own little bubble, talking to one another and pretty much ignoring the rest of the group.
At one point, Jon dated a friend of mine. They went on two dates. On the second date, he told her he was no longer interested in dating her. He said,”I’m looking for something long-term. I know we aren’t going to be that for one another, so I’m just letting you know I don’t think we should go out anymore.” My friend was very high-profile and had a personality larger than life. After that night with Jon, she and I and another friend were laying out at the beach and she said, “Jon Scott doesn’t break up with me. I break up with Jon Scott.” He was such an unassuming person. She couldn’t believe he had called it off with her.
One day, Jon and I were going to go with two other friends to a dance at a community center in Hermosa Beach. We were meeting our friends at this restaurant called The Kettle and then the four of us were going to drive over to the dance. Little did we know that these two friends were secretly dating. They never showed up to dinner because they were in the middle of their first fight. Jon got a text from the guy saying they weren’t going to make it. Jon turned to me and asked if I still wanted to stay and eat and then go to the dance. I said yes.
We ate and talked and I never felt uncomfortable or at a lack as to what to talk about. Jon always put me at ease. We went to the dance in Jon’s car and when we got there a bunch of other friends were already there. Throughout the night we danced in groups and some guys would occasionally ask me to dance or girls would ask Jon to dance.
When it came time for Jon to drive me home, I realized I had been jealous when other girls were dancing with Jon. I wanted to talk to him about my feelings, but I was so afraid to mess up our friendship. I had been in some disastrous relationships in the past and I was gun shy about romance in general. What I had in my friendship with Jon felt simultaneously precious and precarious.
We got in the car and I said, “I think I want to talk to you about something, but I’m not sure.” Jon said, “You should.” It was almost like he knew what I was thinking, but had the same fears I did. I said, “No. It’s okay,” letting my fear override these new feelings of attraction. “I think we should talk about it,” Jon said. That sentence led me to be a bit bolder and I said, “What if we talk about this and it messes up our friendship?” Jon answered, “What if we don’t give this a shot and we’re meant to be.”
Jon is not a naturally bold person. He’s careful, thoughtful, and somewhat methodical. I’m the one who takes emotional risks, loves adventure, and tends to take a carpe diem approach to life. Aside from his daring lifestyle in sports like surfing, skiing, cycling and skateboarding, Jon would be considered the antitheses of a risk-taker. But, there he was laying it all on the line.
When we got to where my car was parked, Jon and I sat in his car talking about what it would look like to try to date one another. I had been going on casual dates with guys from our friend group and other acquaintances when they asked me out. Nothing serious, just going out to movies or a meal. Jon asked me not to date anyone else while we were seeing where things would lead between us. Talk about a BOLD MOVE, right? He said he didn’t want to compete with anyone and he wanted us to give this a fair shot. Usually being exclusive comes after weeks or months of dating, but Jon wanted to cordon off our time together so we could really see if there were something there.
After our talk, Jon gave me my first kiss, sitting in his car, dropping me off at my car on a night when I thought I’d be going out with friends and it turned out I was beginning a romantic relationship with the man who would become my forever.
Within two months of dating, I knew Jon would be the man I married. I didn’t tell him that, but I was sure.
Still, I was in graduate school. And when I graduated with my Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy, I was burnt out and then my job took off. I had a two hour daily commute in LA traffic and long hours as a manager in a health care facility.
Fitting wedding planning into the hub-bub of my life seemed like too much. Jon vaguely asked about getting married and I graciously, but clearly put him off.
I know! Don’t ask me why, except I was burnt out and overextended.
It took three years after my graduation for Jon to muster the courage to ask me officially if I would marry him. He did it in a funny way too. I had been visiting a friend in Cambria (a town up the Central Coast) one weekend.
When I returned home Jon said, “What do you think of Labor Day weekend?”
I said, “I like it?”
“I mean for a wedding,” he said.
“A wedding?” I asked.
“Yeah. I was thinking it would be easier for your family from out of town to come to a wedding over a long weekend.”
“Are we getting married?” I asked.
“Not yet,” he said. “I’m just thinking. I’ll ask you properly later.”
“Well, I really like Labor Day,” I told him. HINT HINT.
That was in July. I didn’t think I was going to pull off a two-month planning session, but I finally wanted to be married and in order to plan a wedding, all I needed was Jon’s proposal. August passed. September too. Every time we went out to eat, or took a special walk along the beach, I thought, “This is it,” or “Is this it?”
Spoiler alert: No. It wasn’t.
But, in October, one morning, Jon took me to a breakfast at the Portofino Hotel overlooking the Harbor and then he drove me to this spot where the cliffs block the southern view of the rest of the ocean. As we stood on the beach, Jon said, “I used to come here as a boy, and I always wondered what was around the other side of those cliffs. And just like we can’t see around those cliffs, we don’t know what our future holds. But, whatever it holds, I want to go through it with you. Will you marry me?”
I said yes. And we spent the next ten months planning a wedding at the San Pedro Yacht Club with a honeymoon up the Northern Coast of California.
To this day, our friendship undergirds our marriage. We’ve been stretched thin, tested, tried, and almost given up at times. Ultimately, we’ve hung in together and our friendship has held fast even when our romance dimmed like embers in a fire that has nearly burnt out. The flames always rekindle, but the friendship remains when nothing else does.
Jon makes me laugh like no one else can — almost daily. He’s funny when he isn’t trying to be, thoughtful beyond words, and he puts up with my highs and lows and all my extreme opinions and quirkiness.
I found my match, my friend who turned into my lover.
And that’s our true friends to lovers story.