Girl Next Door

My second year of college was not going to be what I had imagined. Come to think of it, my first year wasn't really what I had imagined either, but that's another post. The school I was attending had a "rule" which I saw more as a guideline, that first and second year students needed to live on campus. Entering my first year of college I was assigned to an all girls dorm and matched to live with a girl from Fairbault, MN (Which, by the way is pronounced FAIR BOW... I was reminded a time or two). By the end of the first few weeks I had met a small handful of friends and before Christmas break we had talked about plans to room together that next year.

Christmas break came and past and upon my return from home, was informed that I would need to find a new second year roommate. Well crap. I didn't have enough friends on campus to find a new on-campus living arrangement. I ended the year sweating the situation and picturing myself commuting from my parents home everyday.

Fast forward to the end of the summer and my mom and I standing in front of an old pale yellow farmhouse on the corner of 5th Avenue and 6th Street in Moorhead, MN. Over the summer I had met Kari, who would become a good friend and a future bridesmaid of mine and convinced Kayla, a very close high school friend who should have been in our wedding- what was I thinking??!,  to all rent this small two bedroom close to all of our campuses. Looking back at that first walk through, I can't believe I didn't even think to even look at the house next door. Apparently it wasn't at all noticeable that we would be sharing a driveway with whoever lived immediately outside our backdoor. I was just relieved that I had a place to call home when school started in a few weeks and it wasn't a long commute to campus.

Kari, Kayla and I moved in, met the three other girls who would be living in the space on the second floor and started class in late August 2002. Life was good. I walked or biked to class only a few blocks away, I had a fun job with Kayla at her uncle's bridal store and the feeling of independence of living off campus proved to be so much fun.

One seemingly routine afternoon, on one of those bike rides back from class, I came home expecting to find Kayla waiting for me. Much to my surprise she was nowhere to be found. The next set of details are fuzzy so bare with me... 

After being home a few minutes Kayla called me to see if I was back from class, I said yes and asked where she was. She explained that she had been locked out and went next door to meet the neighbors. If you know Kayla you will not be surprised by this. She is friendly, kind, and likes to be face to face. In college she refused to use the bank drive-thru and always insisted on going in to actually be face to face with the teller. She was also our homecoming queen- to know her is to love her. She said that I should really come over there to meet them too. She didn't mention male or female, age, etc just that she was there and that I should come over. So, I headed out the backdoor, crossed our shared driveway, started to approach the back door and that's when I noticed it. The ratty couch on the deck, the old broken (?) patio table, the debris of soda and beer cans... ummmm was my friend actually being held in this house against her will by some strange man? Who lived in this place?!

Now, seeing that I needed to go in and "save" her I headed up to the door and let myself in. Upon opening the door I found myself in the kitchen, which was surprisingly clean. It looked like a typical college house I suppose (the top of the cabinets were lined with a variety of empty liquor bottles (Crown Royale Todd??) and plastic dishes in the sink.

 I heard Kayla's voice call my name from down the short hallway so I followed it and found her sitting on a dark fabric couch in a poorly lit living room with Jenny Jones playing on the television. There she sat, Dr Pepper in hand and big smile on her face as she pointed to the couch adjacent to her's and said, "Hey, this is Kevin."
One of our first pictures together. 

Yep, there he was. A big, football playing sized, dark eyed, baseball cap wearing guy. And I don't mean high school sized football player. He seemed SO tall and his shoulders seemed SO broad. The combination of his sheer presence and confidence were undeniable. We exchanged hellos and who are yous and together they proceeded to tell me the sequence of events that lead Kevin to Kayla's rescue...

When Kayla arrived home from that day's classes, she found herself locked out of the house, having forgotten her keys that day. She sat on our stoop (a cute, covered front porch for those who aren't avid HGTV watchers like myself) and waited for me to get back from classes. As she waited, a homeless/drunk man stumbled into our yard and tried to befriend her. We learned that day about the Dorothy Day house located a block away...I wonder if my parents would have ok'd this house if we'd known...? Again, the details are fuzzy but apparently Kevin appears out of nowhere, long locks blowing in the breeze riding his white steed and whisks her off the stoop and into the safety of his house.

This doesn't seem very likely however knowing Kayla who is now in law enforcement but has never, ever needed any saving, but none the less, he showed up, the guy left and he said she could hang out at his house until I came home.

We returned the invitation to our kind new neighbor and invited him to see our house too. He remembers this as me being on the phone with my mom and being very uninterested in him being there, he also will point out that he thought I was acting standoffish and stuck up because obviously, I was attending the private school and they were all state school kids. This was quite the opposite of how I was feeling. I can very distinctly remember him standing in the doorway between our teeny kitchen and living room (yes, on the phone with my mom) and wearing a hooded sweatshirt with some college name on it and him once again seeming larger than life. It was either his personality or his actual stature, I'm not sure as still today he still seems this way to me.
SO young!

Over the course of the next few days we met his two roommates and the six of us began sharing more and more time together. Playing pranks on each other was a regular occurrence (once waking up to that old couch propped up outside our door) but maybe something even more regular was the appearance of three guys at our doorsteps at 2am after bar close. Kayla  and I were not of legal age and Kari had no interest in that scene so we would happily invite them in to hang out and use our pizza oven any time. They were fun and funny and it was just nice having three guys next door who we could hang out with.

Over the course of what seemed like a loooooonnnngggg time (4-6 weeks, I am not generally patient) Kevin and I spent more time just the two of us talking and less time with the big group at their house and there was always a group at that house! I started to see that Kevin had quite a few "girl friends", Thursday through Sunday you could find one or two or three lady friends hanging around. (There were also handfuls of guys but I could have cared less about that.)


I thought for sure that meant that he liked having all these females around and had no interest in actually dating anyone. Typical.

But, as we spent more time together I started to see that what seemed like your stereotypical college guy phobia of having a serious relationship was more like a genuinely nice guy who was naive to the fact that these women who surrounded him were interested in him. ( He shared with me once that he pictured himself working in the construction industry and being perfectly happy living alone and golfing a lot.)  I figured that if I wanted to date this guy I would have to take matters into my own hands because up until this point I thought I had been pretty obvious about wanting to do so and was getting no response. I mean, how often could I tell him my hands were cold in hopes he would hold them or just happen to be sitting out on the steps when we would get home from class?!

It all came to a head late one night as Kari, Kayla and I sat at Perkins (as all college kids do) with two other very good friends Emily and Lindsay. I explained the situation to them and it was immediately decided that I just needed to march over to his house and tell him how I felt.

We paid our bill, smooshed all five of us into one small car and headed back to our house. There was no turning back now. This was going to be it. Either he was going to laugh in my face or tell me he felt the same way.

I walked across that shared driveway, let myself in once again and walked back to the living room where I had first met him. I asked if I could talk to him in his room and once the door shut I blurted out,

"Kevin, I'm crazy about you."

He started laughing.

And eventually, through some laughter replied, "I like you too."

The rest is history so to say. A few weeks later I decided I was going to marry him. No kidding. By the time we were going to part ways for Christmas break I knew we would get married if I had anything to do with it. He finally gave in and in December of 2004 popped the question and finally returned my invitation and said he was crazy about me too. Here's his proposal...

A year and a half later on July 22, 2006 Kevin planned and executed to a 'T' every last detail of our incredible day and we were married in my small hometown Catholic church. It was a hot (!!!), dry day just like my dad said it would be. We danced, laughed and were surrounded by of our friends and family in the same pavilion that my grandparents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary years before.

The rest of my fairy tale is still being written. So many more posts to make on this wonderful story we are writing. This one though by far is my favorite.


hey I really like this post of yours and happens to remind me of the movie I want Swatch steering Elisha cutberth: The Girl Next Door.

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