It was 20th November 2007. That's the one date we definitely had our first proper meeting. As we shared mutual friends, we think we may have come across each another a couple of times before that in the common areas between the Law and Social Science departments of the University of Ibadan where we both studied. But it was definitely nothing concrete and no more than a 5-10 minute interaction.
The 20th of November was not a special day or anything. I only remember the date because it was three days to my birthday. My roommate and I were waiting outside our student accommodation at Annes Hostel, on Barth road for a cab to get to get us to the University main gate. We were heading for a Tuesday service at the Catholic Church in Bodija - a posh area of Ibadan. It was one of those when cabs just seemed non-existent and so when my roommate's and I's mutual friend Ned - pulled up in his tomato red Mercedez Benz 190 and offered us a ride we accepted! Ned (who would go on to become the best man at our wedding) had Tee driving behind him and somehow managed to convince him that we should all attend the church service that Tuesday.
I rode with Tee, while my friend rode with Ned. I don't remember us talking much during the drive - and I only remember him wearing an Arsenal jersey and a pair of blue jeans.
During the mass, we didn't speak much - but we most likely shook hands during the compulsory 'sign of peace' to one another where the congregation shake one another and say 'Peace be with you'. I also noticed him genuflect in reverence right before leaving the building.
It was on the way back to the University that something worthwhile happened. I must mention that Tee was in no way eager to drop us back on campus. Understandably, he lived a good 40 minutes away and had to get back home. Thankfully, Ned bullied him and he agreed to do the drive back.
Again, I rode with him and we got stopped by some policemen - they asked for his driver's license which he showed them. After a brief glance at it, the officer appeared to return the license via the rolled down car window. From where I sat, I thought it missed the opening narrowly and dropped on the road. Tee thought it dropped inside the car - on the floor mat and he said will confirm when we got to our destination
I just wondered why he could not pull up and check once and for all. Of course we arrived, and the license was not in the car! Tee was so upset, and I had to convince him to go back to Bodija to check. He would not drive without a license, and refused to call Ned (still slightly upset at their disagreement over driving the distressed ladies) to drive him. I called Ned who took us back to Bodija. During the drive, I just kept re-assuring him that he would find it and I even said a prayer!
Long story short, we found the license on the floor in the middle of Bodija - it was bent but not broken.
Back on campus, Tee was clearly intrigued by me. I think he says he was surprised that I was wiling to go assist in finding the license. So, he asked for my number. Although I typically hardly gave my number out, on this occasion I gave out the eleven digits ending with 6753.
The First Date
Three days later and 9 years ago to this day, we had our first date. I was pretty excited - not necessarily because of the date, but I didn't really have major birthday plans and it was something to do. In the preceding three days since our meeting, our evening conversations in had been pretty decent - even if slightly too lengthy (made possible by free telephone calls offered by network operators). He still doesn't believe me when I say I took the phone off my ears during some midnight conversations because I didn't want to be too rude by letting him know he was talking for quite a bit.
Well back to the date. As usual, I had a birthday outfit. Pink tank top and black jeans. My hair was perfectly laid as I literally just stepped out from a retouch session in the salon, before getting into the car. He says he fell in love with my hair on that day and till date has probably never seen my hair so shiny and bouncy. I also recall borrowing my friend's (Belle) pair of slippers - because it looked better with my outfit.
The date was pretty good. Unlike some first date horror stories, the only 'disaster' was in my opinion, the need for a pair of socks. Such that when my roommates asked me it went I shrugged my shoulders and said "Good, but I think he he should have worn a pair of socks with his shoes". On the other hand, he probably thought I could have eaten my chicken with a bit more decorum. But how do you do justice to chicken wings via a fork and a knife?
We talked about a lot of things and we pretty much had to be chased out of the restaurant. We talked about our academics - and he was very surprised when I mentioned I was on course to get a first class degree. We talked about Careers & Money; We talked about Faith and moral beliefs. We talked about Family. We talked about Food and Travel.
I don't recall us talking about ethnicity and the fact that we were from different ethnic groups in Nigeria. That didn't seem so material.
People have mentioned that we may have been pretty liberal about that because we met in an academic environment.
Possibly, Or maybe not. Maybe it just shouldn't be THAT important
The Nine Year Catch up
I didn't have any special plans in mind to mark nine years of our meting and our first date. I only wanted us to take some dressed up professional photos. Hoping to start that as a tradition, and like last year use them for our Christmas cards. It was interesting how someone wasn't too keen initially. I literally had to cajole him... and then on shoot day he totally got into it - perhaps even more than I did. I thought it'll be good to share the photos with you.
Nine years and 10 birthdays later, I also thought it'll be a good idea to have a first-date-like chat on some of the things we spoke about. Sitting by a fountain somewhere in AbuDhabi, we talked and laughed (and disagreed). Here's a snippet of our conversation:
On Faith & Prayer
- T: Faith was fundamental. I like the fact that we share the same faith. We could totally do more in prayer!
- K: I think it's so cool how rather than shake hands during the 'Sign of Peace' we always hug each other. It's something I saw a few couples adopt and I love it. Even if we're upset at each other we always hug. Yes yes, to being more intentional about prayer.
On Travel & Memories
- T: I want to travel more and see more places with you. I wish we could have all the pictures and I didn't have to delete any.
- K: Our past memories are forever priceless. I wish I had a video of every single moment we've spent together. Looking forward to the future though - and see why we should take more photo-shoots. Haha.
- T: I think of you, I think Lawyer. It was initially weird when you started blogging. But I guess there can be a balance as you love both and do them well.
- K: So so impressed you pursued your passion to teach students as a career. I see all the behind the scenes hard work you put into it. I couldn't be prouder and you make me change my perception of teachers and lecturers. But your reward should be here on earth as well!
- T: What else is there to say about money? Wish we had a never ending trust fund and didn't have to bother about it.
- K: You're really lucky you have me. Because your money habits aren't the best. But it works out. While I can be too calculating, you're like "Babe, YOLO"
On Food & Fitness
- T: You've bought into the fitfam industry now we have to eat healthy. But you make the best Jollof rice ever, so please don't consider a healthier alternative.
- K: Your cooking skills aren't too bad you know! You make the best eggs, and noodles! Its interesting how you've now got a tolerance for peppery foods. And you're so lucky you don't add crazy weight - see why i need to work extra hard at fitfam. Lest I look 20 years older than you.
On relationship advice
- T: Patience. More Patience. Some more patience.
- K: I think being friends is really key. Everyday won't be a date night and roses kind of day. So friendship + being able to communicate.
Rest of the Photos
I wanted to write this out before the memory gets fuzzy and as a way of remembering our journey and not having to repeat the same story to my kids and grand kids over and over. I'll probably just send them a blog link. Lol. As it is a kind of personal experience piece, I've got no questions to ask you readers. But if you have any thoughts, you know i'll love to hear!
On a lighter note, I guess I've now had professional makeup done 5 times ever. See this post for more details. To maximise the makeup and photography services we also had a quick change of outfits - for a Christmas related theme. But guess who forgot the Christmas props? Yes me. I'll hopefully share those photos later.
ps: Do I sound older? Because this is the first post I'm writing as a 28 year old. Time to update the about page!
pps: The EastMeetsWest bit is where I try to share my experience being married to someone from a different culture in Nigeria. Will probably extend it to not just cultural related pieces but to marriage as a whole.