Back in 1988, I was a junior at UC San Diego when I got word that the university was seeking student reps for an advisory board overseeing the creation of a student center. I interviewed for a position and was accepted.
At my first committee meeting, I sat at a table in the boardroom, and there, sitting across from me, was a very cute guy with curly dark hair and some amazing dimples. His name was Andrew. Week after week, as we discussed construction permits, vendors, color schemes and more, my eyes would drift in his direction.
After doing this for the better part of the school year, I decided to be bold. I built up the courage to tell a mutual friend that I was attracted to him and asked her to “plant the seed” to see if he might feel the same way about me. It was close to summer, so what did I have to lose? If he wasn’t interested, I’d have the whole summer to get over it.
A few days later the phone rang, and it was Andrew! After a brief but flirtatious conversation, we decided to get together over the upcoming break. We were both from Los Angeles. (He lived in Tarzana, and I lived in Mar Vista.) The plan — my plan, that is — was to make him dinner at my house, where we could sit outside in the yard, chat, soak up the sun and get to know each other better. I felt perfectly comfortable with this plan. We weren’t strangers, after all, and I loved to cook. What could go wrong? A lot, apparently. Andrew seemed uncomfortable throughout the evening. And when my younger brother showed up unexpectedly with his girlfriend, our party for two became a party for four.
The rest of the summer went by, and I never heard back from him. I had been “ghosted” before the term was even invented. I felt rejected, confused and embarrassed. How was I going to face this guy at our weekly board meetings when classes started again in the fall?
September arrived, and student center activities resumed. Andrew never explained, apologized or even acknowledged that we’d ever had a date. It was eating at me, so I reached out to our mutual friend again to ask, “What’s up with that guy? Was the date really that horrible?”
She set off on her mission.
That night, my phone rang, and it was Andrew! We chatted, with no mention of the failed first date. He asked me out, and I said yes. I still had no idea what was going on with him. But I’d decided he was worth another try. This time, we went on a “normal” college date. Andrew took me to the Corvette Diner near downtown San Diego. We sat in the ’50s-style booths, enjoying the retro decor and the music blasting from the jukebox, and opened our menus. Things were going well, I thought, when Andrew suddenly excused himself from the table to make a phone call.
When he returned a few minutes later, he told me he had forgotten he had something very important to take care of and needed to end the date.
WHAT?! What was wrong with this guy?!
I was so shocked that I didn’t know what to do or say. He drove me home, dropped me off, and that was the end of that. When I saw him at board meetings and around campus afterward, no mention of the dates was ever made. It was as if it all had never happened. There was one memento of that time, however. Andrew and I were photographed standing near each other at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new UCSD student center in 1989. After that, we graduated and went our separate ways.
Nearly 30 years later, in the winter of 2018, divorced and recently out of a long relationship, I found myself on a dating app. I came across a profile that caught my eye. His name was Andrew. His profile mentioned he had gone to UCSD as well. It was only after I sent him a “like” that I began to realize he looked vaguely familiar. Could it be the very same guy from all those years ago?
He messaged me back quickly, and within 45 minutes, we were chatting on the phone. I could tell from the sound of his voice that it was definitely the same Andrew I’d known in college. But he didn’t seem to make the connection to our past encounters. He asked me out for that Friday night, and I accepted. I was excited and curious yet fearful.
We met at a small, intimate Italian restaurant, rain pouring down outside. From the moment I walked in, there was a connection and sparks flew. Midway through dinner, the topic worked its way around to our time at the university. The date was going so well, I just had to tell him who I was. “Were you on the university center board at UCSD?” I asked. “Yes.” he responded.
“Well, so was I.”
“You’re Laura from the board?! I can’t believe it,” he said as a huge smile broke across his face in recognition. Later, he added, “Boy, did I like you! I talked about you constantly to my roommate.”
Although I was flattered, the new, confident me could not resist pointing out that he had a funny way of showing it back then.
“We went out twice, and you blew me off … twice,” I teased.
Looking embarrassed, Andrew explained that in college he was very shy and insecure. He had liked me but lacked the confidence to follow through. As I had suspected, our first date had put too much pressure on him. As for date No. 2? Andrew didn’t even remember it, but he apologized profusely.
He blamed it on being an awkward, inexperienced college kid. “I was an idiot,” he said. I couldn’t argue with that. “That’s OK,” I responded. “You can make it up to me now.”
And he did.
We talked for hours that night and closed down the restaurant. We ran through the rain to a coffee shop down the street to continue the date — and closed that place down too. At the end of the night, we made plans for our next date, and he kissed me goodnight. We’ve been together ever since.
One year ago, on Oct. 24, 2020, we were married in Ojai. It was in the middle of the pandemic, of course, so we had an intimate ceremony and reception with family and close friends. Our respective adult children packed a pair of scissors and a wide red ribbon so that we could re-create that photo of us as students standing near each other on the opening day of the UCSD student center.
We have these two photos side by side on our bedroom dresser.
Our story proves that life is indeed a journey, and you never know what’s just around the corner.
L.A. Affairs chronicles the search for romantic love in all its glorious expressions in the L.A. area, and we want to hear your true story. We pay $300 for a published essay. Email [email protected]. You can find submission guidelines here. You can find past columns here.