I Fell in Love With My Husband at Souplantation

I've been dating my husband for eight years.  I love it.  I don't have to worry about not liking him and figuring out a way to get him to stop calling me. I don't have to worry about doing something stupid and being embarrassed or whether or not he likes me.   I don't have to wonder if we will kiss at the end of the night, or if I should go to bed with him.  The best thing about dating your own husband is that it's a sure thing.  You know exactly what you are getting, yet sometimes he surprises you and you already know the date is going to be great just because you are with him.  Dating for singles?  Not so much.  I look back on my dating days with a mixture of fondness and aversion. Yes, it was fun sometimes.  The free dinners, the flirtation, the anticipation; but it was also exhausting and annoying.  I was a late bloomer and spent a ridiculously long time in my very first relationship.  I was only part of the dating world for exactly three years of my life.  It was plenty.
Date #4 and our first picture together:  April 12, 2008
Back in the old days before Tinder and Snap Chat, when online dating was still a brave new frontier I met my husband the old fashioned way.  A blind date.  It was raining that night.  I waited under an overhang of the convention center, until I saw his silver SUV pull up to the Marriott hotel and made a mad dash to his car huddled under my umbrella so as not to ruin my professionally done hair and airbrush make-up.  I had just finished a modeling gig so the first time he laid eyes on me, I was the hottest version of myself.

I opened the door and jumped in.  "Hello."  And I found myself sitting next to a man with a boat load of crap in the back of his SUV who would later become my husband.  He had just returned to California after three months in Arizona.  We made a quick decision to go to T.G.I. Friday's downtown because it was close.  We both ordered dinner salads.  We laughed.  He checked out my butt when I got up to go to the bathroom.  I didn't find that out until later, but I was hoping because I knew I looked good that night, and who doesn't want to be admired?  After the check came, he dropped me off where I'd parked my car.

They say first impressions are everything and I agree.   The one and done thing was not new to me.  There were guys I would go on one dinner date with and know that I didn't want to ever see them again.  It didn't even have to be anything major. If I wasn't as attracted to him in person as I was to his online profile, or if he was geographically undesirable, there was a good chance it wasn't going to work.  If the conversation was forced, or I just wasn't that interested for whatever reasons, it probably wasn't going to work.  I was quick to judge, but I had a heart.  I felt guilty having him treat me a second time for no reason.  I was living alone, and working part-time while modeling part time.  I didn't have the desire to spend time and money or burn through gas for just anyone.  It just wasn't that serious.  If I wasn't feeling it, your calls would be ignored, and there would not be a second date.

I wasn't so sure about a second date with MJ, but it wasn't a hard no.  I also wasn't that sure about an all day date, but he called and I said yes.  He planned everything.  There was go cart racing, pizza eating, kite flying and an almost movie.  We held hands briefly in Walmart.  It was great.  He was great, but it was a long day, and the homebody in me was ready to go home.  I liked him, but I didn't know if I liked him, liked him.  I wasn't ready to commit to three more hours, or a third date.  We sat in the parking lot of the movie theater and talked for an hour instead, and then he took me home.  It was the sweetest, and funnest date I'd ever been on, and yet still, I wasn't sold.

I distinctly remember telling my parents that I didn't feel like going on that third date.

It was my Birthday, and they had taken me to Outback Steakhouse for dinner.  "I don't know mom.  I think I just want to go home after work.  It will be such a long day."

He was cute; and I genuinely laughed when I was with him like I had not done with anyone else, but I was sort of just dating to date.  I really didn't care all that much about having a boyfriend.  I'd been through a lot, was still going through a lot, and felt like damaged goods; better off alone.  It was a Wednesday.  April 2nd to be exact.  I stopped at Walmart to get some grocery shopping done, because there was time to kill between work and our second date which was to be a basketball game and dinner.  Recreational Basketball; and he was playing.  I sat in the bleachers and watched him run up and down the court with a bunch of other guys in their twenties and thirties.  I don't remember if they won or lost.  I wonder if he does?  Afterwards we went straight to Souplantation, because it was close.  It was actually a step down from T.G.I. Friday if anything.  Him in his basketball gear, and me in whatever it was I wore to work that day, minus the glamour shot look.

Precisely nine days after Souplantation I was in my car on a Friday night driving 1 1/2 hours and almost 100 miles to his house.  I actually wasn't supposed to go up there until the next day, but I'd packed a bag before meeting up with my girlfriends secretly hoping that when I called he would say yes.  Little did I know that his apartment was a mess and the second he hung up with me, he scrambled around his apartment in a mad dash to clean up.
Date #384 something...I lost count (2016)
Needless to say, that third date went exceedingly well, and to this day I can't really explain why.  It was just Souplantation.  There are so many things that can go wrong on those first few dates, but also so much that can go right. He could have been turned off my my heavy make-up  on the first date, or disappointed by my lack thereof on the second.  I could have thought it weird that he ordered a salad, or offended that he would invite me to Souplantation in his sweaty gym clothes.  I could have bailed on that third date because I was tired.  I never called him during those early days.  He could have sensed my reluctance and backed off.  I could have listened to that voice in my head telling me I didn't deserve a man so kind.  He could have given up when I tried to run.  I could have sent him to the place where most men who dated me at that time ended up.  Away.  But I didn't.  Because I fell in love with him at Souplantation, and thank goodness because I would have missed out on so much.  I didn't know it was happening at the time, but we talked and talked in between helpings from the buffet, and something shifted.  Not only did I want to see this guy again.  I needed to.

The fourth date was a romantic gondola ride through the canals of Long Beach while we sipped wine and nibbled from an antipasto platter.  It was BYOB, and we searched and searched for a liquor store to buy the wine.  He carried me on his back for a few blocks when my feet got tired, and we laughed in relief when we made it to the boat on time.  It was our fanciest date yet, but from the beginning none of that mattered.  I didn't care if date night was eating chicken and rice bowls with beer and watching movies at home or making homemade Mexican pizza from one of his recipe books.  I didn't care how much money I spent driving to Orange County every weekend.  I had an SUV.  I couldn't afford it, but I did it anyway.  I didn't care how early I had to get up on Monday morning to get to work, if it meant I could stay an extra night.  It didn't bother me anymore that he was four years younger than me.  I was no longer dating just to date.  This man had stolen my heart, and there was nothing I could do about it.

He was hooked on day one (baby, you know its true).  It took me eighteen days from blind date to smitten, and my only regret is that instead of just sitting back and enjoying the ride, I tried to push him away.  We've traveled Europe, Hawaii times three, dined on rooftops, danced on cruise ships, and eaten $100 steaks, but I fell in love with him at Souplantation, and it doesn't get any better than that.

Writing Class

When MJ told me he was going to work out of the country for a year I was very upset.  Time is precious and a year is a long time.  We've done it before, so I knew we could do it again if we had to, but I didn't want to.  My next thought was how am I going to fill my time?  What am I going to do to pass the time on my own for an entire year without him?

I'm kind of obsessed with my husband.  I do things separately from him, not only because I know it's not healthy to be joined at the hip, but also because I do want to.  If he's gonna be at home, I want to be home.  If he's not at home, I'm glad he's out doing fun things and enjoying life, but I miss him.  If I go to bed, I want him to go to bed too, and if I'm up I want him to be up too.  Creepy?  Maybe, but I can't help it. He's not like me.  He likes to be with me, but not the way I need to be with him, and that's fine.  This works because I don't take it personally if he doesn't miss me during the two hours I'm out running errands, and I give him his space. Sometimes he does have to tell me to back up off him, especially right after he shaves, and he's just so cute.  Heart eye emoji.  I have to remind myself that I'm not his blanket, I'm his wife! I'm not here to smother him, and I think we have a pretty nice balance of togetherness and space.

He is a welcome distraction.  My favorite distraction, but a distraction nonetheless through no fault of his own, so when I found out he was leaving I did something I've always wanted to do.  I enrolled in a writing class at a community college.  Monday nights from 7:00-9:55pm from mid January through May is a big time commitment.  I did two semesters of two classes per semester a few years ago, and it kicked my butt.  I don't know how full time workers/students do it, but I hoped this would be different because it's only one class and it's something I'm truly passionate about.  I was right.  I love it.  My teacher Tammy is a real live author. She has eleven published books, an agent, an editor and everything.  I value her insight so much, because she's successfully done it herself.  The assigned texts are two really helpful books on writing and a short fiction novel that I would be interested in reading anyway.   I'm learning a lot from her lectures, and we do group work shopping afterwards.  Not my favorite part, because it is hard for me to share my writing, but it's good for me, and I know I need to do it.  Monday's are so long, Tuesday morning comes way too fast, but being passionate about the class makes it worthwhile.

Some of you know I'm writing a novel.  Well, I guess you could say I wrote it.  It was done, until I fell down the rabbit hole of editing, which never seemed to end.  When that was done, I walked away from it unsure of what my next step would be, if anything.  Then I decided to to sign up for a writing class, and editing mode has transitioned back to writing mode.  I'm learning all of these fun things about premise, inciting incident, and plot structure.  All of these elements are key factors in novel writing and things that readers want to see.  Some I had, others I didn't, and still others were there, but not fully formed.  Taking a hard look at my novel through the  technical lens of what a story is supposed to have has been really eye opening.  It's inspired me to make a lot of changes, and I've even come up with a title.  I'd been using a working title I didn't like, but I finally have one that feels right.  The changes I've made led to a lot of edits, which led to having new material to write.  I am grateful not to be at ground zero, but I had a really hard time motivating myself to create new words.  My novel is done! Why am I still messing with this thing?   

Perhaps it would have been a good idea to take the writing class before I got the bright idea to write a novel, but sometimes the timing on things don't make all the sense in the world. I wanted to write a novel, so I wrote one.  If I had waited until I'd taken a proper writing class, who knows if or when it would have ever gotten written.  The flip side of that is, I've probably done a lot of extra work, and spent a lot more time on it because I went into it blindly.  I just started writing.  I didn't even have an outline, and here I am five years later still hammering away at it.  The thing is though, that I don't really care.  Sure, I would like closure on this novel, but maybe it's just meant to be a fun hobby.  I love writing for the sake of writing and I'm not doing it just to get published.  I mean, it would be nice, and it has been really hard at times, but I can honestly say I have enjoyed the entire process so far.  All the hours spent searching for words that won't come, finding the story, cutting and pasting, adding, and moving things around has been so much fun.   I think that's how I win no matter what happens in the end.  I love what I'm doing, and sometimes that's enough.

My husband did not leave, although there is still a possibility that he will.  I'm so annoyed at how they played with my emotions, but something good did come out of it.  He's still here and I'm in writing class. I'd like to think I would have done it anyway, at some point, but it was the push I needed to quit beating around the bush.

Bouncing Around

My birthday fell on a work holiday, so I guess you could say my birthday is a national holiday.  Regional?  Local?  Okay, not quite, but it sure was nice to have a long weekend, and get my birthday off without having to use up a precious vacation day.  It was our so called Spring Break, but I'll take what I can get.  I don't need a lot of hoopla on my Birthday. These days it is 100% about not going to work that day, and doing things I like with people I love.  That's  it.  This year, what I wanted to do most was bounce around, not only from place to place, but literally.  Bounce. 
I also love movies, so we started the day out there.  Gotta love those cheapo matinee prices.  We saw The Revenant for $6.50.  Loved the movie.  I can see why it's been in the theater for so long.  We knew there would be no crowd and we wouldn't have to worry about seating so we showed up after the marathon of previews which was great.  After that we bounced over to Target, because I have been eyeing their active wear for a while.  Normally, I am so distracted by all the cute clothes that I don't make it, but this time I went directly to the active wear section and picked out two cute tops.
A video posted by Cece (@mahoganydrive) on

Maybe it's weird to want to go to a trampoline park for your birthday at my age, but I don't care. That is what I wanted to do, so that it what we did, and it was so much fun.  I think I enjoyed it as much as, if not more than any ten year old kid in the place.  During the first few minutes, I was laughing so hard, I could barely stop.  It felt so good to feel my body flying through the air again.  I used to be able to do back flips with my eyes closed.  Well, that was then, and this is  now.  I was scared at first.  I started with a front tuck and didn't kill myself, so I did a few more of those and then went for the back tuck.  Once I knew I could still do it without landing on my head, it all came back to me and the gymnast in me came out to play.  I did tuck after tuck in a row, and it felt so good to flip again.  I did back handsprings, straddle jumps, seat bounces, and swivel hips.  I taught MJ this fun move we used to do as kids where you time your bounce with someone else to launch them into the air.  I kind of regretted that later! MJ ate it on a front tuck, but his full twist was not too shabby.

We weren't sure how much jump time to buy.  Two hours?  Ninety minutes? One hour was plenty!  We were sweaty and exhausted after 50 minutes, and it was absolutely my favorite workout of the week.  I burned 350 calories, had a blast and my knees didn't hate me afterwards.  I'm on a real exercise kick right now and if I'm off work, you can bet I'm going to wake up and exercise before 12pm.  I didn't want to wake up and exercise that day.  I wanted to spend my time doing other things, but I got in my exercise anyway.  We went to Rockin Jump, but there are about four different trampoline parks in San Diego.  I want to try them all.  
I also love dining out, so we bounced on over to Bo-Beau Kitchen + Garden in La Mesa for dinner.  It's a favorite restaurant for both of us.  The roasted brussel sprouts there are amazing, but we had to save room for burgers so most of them were boxed up. The burgers are big and juicy and so full of flavor.  I miss wine! I haven't been drinking it as much as I used to so I really enjoyed that glass of wine, and it was a great end to a perfect day.  And you know what I just realized?  Not once was the word cake ever mentioned!  I didn't think about it.  I didn't want it, and nothing was missing without it. Cake was so five years ago. I've moved onto trampoline. 

There isn't a thing about the day that bothered me, and getting to spend it with MJ made it so special.  I wish every day could be like that.  No cooking.  No cleaning.  No errands.  Just fun.  It was perfect, perfect, perfect, and I couldn't ask for anything more for my Birthday.