Thursday, January 24, 2013

LOVE AT FIRST DIALOGUE














My husband recently returned from a 2 ½ week visit to his family in Tonga where he enjoyed the beautiful sun, sandy beaches and delicious food. He came home looking very healthy and dark from the sun and it reminded me of when we first met. Because of this, I've decided to reflect on our story a bit more. Besides, my post An Unlikely Union quickly became one of my most viewed posts. I guess because my husband is way cool or something?


I attended a small university in Hawaii for most of my college education during the late 1990s. When I was there, the campus comprised approximately 2200 students with over 70 cultures represented. Imagine that…a student body so few in number yet so diverse! There were bound to be countless misunderstandings and breaking of cultural norms. I, being the natural anthropologically-minded person that I am, had a hay day observing interactions between students. I was in culture heaven. I loved listening to all the different languages spoken and learning to identify each one. I worked at the Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC, probably my favorite job ever) and interacted with tourists from all around the world. At one point I was a tour guide, so I learned all I could about each country represented in the center and thoroughly enjoyed sharing my new-found knowledge with the tour groups. I majored in Inter-Cultural Studies with an emphasis in Anthropology. I was part of the second class at the school earning this degree. I think there were only six of us, the first class only had one student. I loved all my professors in the major and was completely taken in by the subjects they taught. I was a bookworm (I was not a fast reader but I LOVED learning). In some of my classes we were assigned almost 1 book/week to read in addition to the textbook. My co-students thought I was crazy because I read every word of every book. I took notebooks and notebooks full of notes. I studied about 8 hours a day. I didn’t date much and my only reprieve was to go visit my sister and her family who lived in Honolulu (her husband was the quarterback of the university football team).

Soon after I started college in Hawaii, I became good friends with a girl from Samoa. We met while working, making and selling pineapple delights at PCC, and quickly realized our dorm rooms were nearly right next to each other. My friendship with her introduced me to the Samoan culture and I quickly knew who most of the Samoans on campus were. We were opposite in a lot of ways. I was antisocial and shy. She was very outgoing and seemed to know everyone on campus and they knew her, including all the Tongan guys. So I thought I knew who all them were even though most of them didn't know me. Apparently, I did not.

During my final semester in Hawaii, I finally decided to move off campus which was a difficult decision given that most of my friends were international students and had to live on campus. I moved into a house that I shared with 8 other girls. I knew who a few of them were, but I didn’t know any of them well. Within the first week of being back at school after summer break, some Tongan guys had come to visit some of my housemates. Apparently one of the guys was “taken” by me as he watched me out on the lanai, talking to my family on the phone. Can’t you just picture this…so romantic! (Joke…the situation just sounds so corny so I had to throw that in.) After seeing me outside, he tried to get me to come and sit by him to watch a movie with him and a bunch of other people in our living room. I finally relented and sat for about 2 minutes before being bored with the Disney show they were watching and left. He turned to one of my housemates and said, “What did you do? Why did you make her leave?”
Later this guy tried to get another one of my housemates to ask me out for him. I was NOT going to be tricked by the attention I was receiving from this Tongan. I knew better. I thought, “He’s just kidding around and has no intention of really taking me out.” I had lived on this campus for two years by then and and because of my major in anthropology I was always observing cultural norms. I knew that dating norms differed from culture to culture. I had no prior experience dating a Tongan, but many Tongans who already had girlfriends had been really friendly and flirtatious with girls from the mainland (what mainland U.S. is called there). Many Tongan guys had even approached me thinking I was a “new girl” and didn’t know them. The fact was that I was just socially awkward (still am) and a huge nerd (not smart, just weird) and they hadn’t noticed that I’d already lived on campus for a year and a half! Like I said, my Samoan friend was friends with all of them, so I had seen them talking often and knew who most of them were. When I observed many of them not telling girls their real names or ages and some pretending not to have girlfriends when they did, I felt I needed to be cautious. Now, not all Tongan guys did this, but I’d observed enough of a pattern that I decided to do some research.

When my housemate came to me and told me that this guy had asked her to ask me out for him, I told her, “You go tell him that if he comes up with a real plan and asks me out himself, MAYBE I will say yes” to which she obliged. It took him a couple days to build up the courage to come and ask me out. When he arrived he was shaking. He tried to act interested in the Samoan homework I was doing, which I know he had no interest in at all. He asked what I was doing that weekend and I told him, “I’m going to watch my brother-in-law’s football game in town.” He said, “Oh, so you’re not going to be around?” I said, “I will be on Friday, but not on Saturday”. He asked if I would go to a movie with him on Friday night. He assured me that he had a car lined up so we could drive to town and we would double with one of my roommates and his friend. I said, “Sure,” still not fully believing that it would happen.
Over the next few days, I tried to figure out more about this Salesi guy. I went to my Samoan friend who told me, “There are only two Salesis. One is a cheerleader and one used to date _____ (our former co-worker).” To be honest, neither of those sounded like good options to me. I didn’t want to date the ex-boyfriend of someone I had known for two years, and I didn’t want to date a cheerleader because I felt I was too shy. After further investigation, I concluded that it was the Salesi that was _____’s ex-boyfriend. I decided that I could go on the one date since I'd already said yes and then call it good there.

Friday afternoon arrived and I hadn’t heard from Salesi since he asked me out on Tuesday. I made preparations to go hang out with one of my good friends who lived on Laie Point. I was just getting ready to leave with her when Salesi popped in the house. He looked a little concerned, seeing that I was leaving the house. He said, “Are we still going tonight?” I said, “I don’t know, are we?” He said, “Yes, I just gotta go get the car and I’ll be back at 6:30.” Going to the Point was called off and I got ready for the date instead. I still didn’t believe 100% that it was going to happen. 6:30 came around and no Salesi. Shortly after, I received a message from him that his friend needed to keep his car, so he was trying to find another car. The hours started ticking by and still no Salesi. He kept having his friend who was doubling with us call his date, my housemate, and explain that they were still coming.

At 9:00 an embarrassed Salesi arrived. He explained that he couldn’t get a car that we could drive to town. You see, Hawaii is filled with clunker cars that barely run. Many of them do not have current registration and they just get passed around from person to person to get places that are close by. A clunker was the only car Salesi could obtain, so our date would have to remain within a few miles of campus. He asked if we could try the local theater. I thought, “Let’s just get this date over with” and I said, “okay”. We didn’t like the option of the one movie playing there, so we decided to walk on the beach instead. We drove to Sunset Beach and ended up sitting and talking for a couple hours. There was never a dull moment and we conversed with ease. This shocked me. Although it was not love at first sight (for me anyway =), it was definitely a strong liking at first conversing! After all the talking, Salesi asked if he could kiss me. I set aside my annoyance that he asked and said, “Yes”. To kiss on our first date meant that I was REALLY liking this guy. Shortly after, we went to a dance on campus which lasted until 1:30 am. We danced a lot but also ended up spending more time outside sitting on the curb and talking. I couldn’t believe that we weren’t running out of things to say. I think we may have gone to the ever-so-famous Chevron near campus to get a snack after the dance before he brought me home.
That was it...I was a goner. Our relationship had begun. I went to the football game but came home on Sunday. Salesi and I spent nearly all day, every day together for the next few weeks. I’m sure Salesi’s version of our meeting is much different than mine, but I assure you mine is the correct one. After knowing Salesi for 13 ½ years, it is really shocking to me that he actually followed through with this date. I am surprised that he just didn’t show up after the car thing didn’t work out and then avoid me forever after. I guess because it was meant to be that he pushed through a type of situation that he consistently tends to avoid. I’m glad he pushed through any awkwardness he felt and made it to our first date!

9 comments:

  1. This post made me LOL multiple times. I felt like I was there watching it all happen. BTW...the pic of you at the football game totally dates you...Tank top and overalls screams late 1990s!

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    1. Yeah, and I thought I was SO unique! Come to find out later I was a conformer to dress trends.

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  2. I didn't know you kissed on the first date!!!! I guess now I know how the get-engaged-in-3-weeks really works!

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    1. Hey Daniel...don't give away the rest of my story. =) P.S. we didn't get engaged that fast. You're missing a few of the details.

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  3. I love this post. You guys are so cute!! Made me remember my first date with Randy and how quickly I fell in love. Thanks for helping me re-live my own memories. Love ya!!!

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    1. Thanks Nicole! It's crazy because our story began just a couple months after yours. By-the-way, for the first time in years I am enjoying dinner every night thanks to you and your friends.

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  4. Poor Salesi got lumped into the Tongan-clan :) HA. I'm glad that first date worked out, better than planned, and that we get Salesi in the fam!

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    1. There is no other clan that Salesi would want to be part of and no other clan that I would have rather married into. =) I'm glad our date worked out too!

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  5. wow... You remembered events alot bette than I did. You chose a winner. and he worked hard to get you. What a prize! even though the years go on and life gets so hard. it is so important to go back to those innocent times of first loving your spouse. I'm glad things didn't work out for me that night. but I'm glad to reflect. makes me remember when I found my sweetheart. Thanks for the memories.You are a sweetie. I've enjoyed our. friendship overtheyears!

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