I've always been a perfectionist to a ridiculous extent. Think of the kid who gets the highest grade in the class or is friends with literally everyone — that's me. I'm constantly being humbled and reminded of my imperfections, especially within my relationship with Vagner. Our first date started off on a sweet note, but it ended in disaster! We're able to laugh about it today, but we actually learned a lot from that hot mess of a date.
Backstory: Vagner was my on-again, off-again crush for two years before we even had a first date, so our first date was less of an introduction and more of us finally confirming what I'd always suspected: that we belonged together. He called my parents and asked what they thought about us dating beforehand because he knew they didn't trust him (see the on-again, off-again part) and I built it up. I picked him up from his parents' house because he didn't have a car, and we had a lovely dinner in South Tampa and walked on Bayshore Boulevard. Vagner picked a random bench, sat me down, held my hand and said, "Ayana Gabrielle Stewart, will you be my girlfriend?" (His first attempt was, "Hey, we should give this a shot for real" and I rebuffed it because I knew I might be telling my kids the story one day. Totally rational and cool of me, right?) I took out my digital camera— a Canon Rebel T3 I lugged everywhere — and captured the moment. This is usually where I end the story, but unfortunately, there's more.
After I texted my mom and college roommates to let them know we were finally an exclusive couple, we decided to go to Starbucks to celebrate. We drank frappuccinos like the 18-year-old kids we were and updated our Facebook relationship statuses (cue a million people saying, "FINALLY!") HERE'S WHERE IT GETS GOOD.
We get to my car and I put the key in the ignition to take Vagner home. MY CAR WON'T START. At this point, it's 11 p.m., and I'm freaking out. Here's the kicker: I knew my parents had a roadside service plan but had zero idea whether it was AAA or Allstate, and they were in Louisville for a church conference. They both sleep with their phones on silent, and I knew they wouldn't be awake. We didn't have the hotel name, so I began the painful process of calling up every hotel in the Louisville area.
I'm easily stressed out, but this is one of the few scenarios where my stress seemed warranted. I had no idea what was wrong with my car and no way to pay for a tow truck, so I needed their help. I was hitting dead ends and we were standing outside of a now-closed Starbucks trying to figure out what to do. I was getting snippy with Vagner (my boyfriend of two whole hours!) and he finally turns to me and says, "Why don't you just calm down?" Listen, I'm loud, but I rarely actually get loud when I'm angry. But poor Vagner struck the wrong chord, and I responded by yelling, "DON'T EVER TELL ME TO CALM DOWN AGAIN." Vagner was not happy. Woof. It's a miracle we didn't just call it off right there.
Clearly, we ended up alright in the end. But that night in the Starbucks parking lot taught me a few lessons that have come in handy in the seven years since.
- Things rarely go according to plan, and that's okay. Life would be boring if they did.
- Even if you're angry, think twice before yelling, especially on a first date. WOULD NOT RECOMMEND.
- Picture-perfect stories are boring. Our love story has been filled with awkward situations and silly misunderstandings, and that's what makes it ours!
I have a post about authenticity on social media in the pipeline, but I hope this serves as a reminder that no one has a magical love story without any conflict. Don't believe the hype on Instagram — we're all imperfect, I promise!