FAQ Friday ~ The Story of Us
How did you and Hot Jeff meet?
When this question came up I knew it would be the perfect kick off to FAQ Friday. I'm convinced the only thing women like talking about more than how they met their husband is their childrens' birth stories. Ooh, good idea for another Friday.
Travel back with me to May 1997. OJ Simpson had been found guilty in a civil trial and Princess Diana only had a few short months to live. Turn the radio on and you'd hear Mariah Carey, Hanson and Garth Brooks and Ally McBeal was just starting to heat up TV screens everywhere.
I was 20 years old and wondering what to do with my summer besides take summer courses. My dear friend Jami was getting married to her high school sweetheart, Mark, and then going to work at a remote fishing camp in Alaska. I can't remember if I was immediately turned on to the idea or not but regardless, before it was time to head out I had phone interviewed for a job and would be flying out in a few short weeks.
Mark was a summer fishing guide and worked for this camp the year prior. He was going to take his new bride Jami up with him for a summer adventure and she was going to be working in the kitchen with the camp manager's wife, Miranda. Miranda hired me to work in the kitchen with them despite my cooking knowledge being less than desirable.
(A side note on this kitchen: because the island we were on was so remote all of our stoves and ovens were run by a gigantic propane tank. Our electricity was from a generator and all of our food was flown in on a bypass order every 2 weeks. We made almost everything from scratch--it was amazing and gave me a wonderful foundation of cooking and baking knowledge. Miranda was a wonderful, patient teacher and mine and Jami's friendship blossomed and grew during our 3 months on the Togiak River.)
Mark, Jami, Mark's brother, Paul, and I flew to Anchorage where we would meet up with the rest of the small staff flying in from California, Arizona, Oregon and Idaho. It was in Anchorage that Mark introduced me to Jeff. Jeff was special to Mark as they had been roommates the summer prior; they both were returning to the Togiak for their second season.
To this day I can tell you what Jeff was wearing. Faded blue jeans with well-worn brown Danner boots. He had a bright blue Patagonia fleece over his Simms collared shirt and a baseball cap. His short blond hair barely peeked out from underneath the hat and his face was a golden brown from the Oregon sun. He was 27 and living his dream of fishing in Alaska; the last thing on his mind was romance.
The first two weeks of camp life was without any guests. We literally spent 12 hours a day preparing camp; endless cleaning, hauling out debris the river had washed in, baking and freezing. They were exhausting days and I remember going to my cabin the first night by lantern light and wondering if I had made a dreadful mistake. Loneliness flooded my heart and mind and I missed my Mom and heat.
During those first two weeks, to cut down on washing dishes (because our time needed to be spent elsewhere) Jami and I labeled everyone's cups so we could re-use them at meals. Cleverly, Jami would always set my cup next to Jeff's at breakfast, lunch and dinner. I don't recall telling her that I was attracted to his adorable face and his gentle and kind nature but nevertheless she sat us next to each other for every meal for 14 days.
On the second to last day before guests arrived the camp manager asked Jeff to take me out and show me the river. I hadn't been off the island since my arrival and to see the river that all the guides were talking about would be a huge thrill.
We set off early after breakfast and had a wonderful day. For the first time since meeting one another Jeff turned the flirting on. He was shy, soft-spoken, charming and so dreamy. We flirted and fished all day (I actually have a picture of us taken that day--I'll drum it up and try to post it this weekend) and went back to camp tired and totally crushing on each other.
The next day brought a ton of work as it was the last day before guests arrived. There was hardly any time to breathe let alone turn the charm on. As the day wore on and I didn't see much of him I wondered if I had imagined all the flirting the day before. That night after dinner was cleaned up Jeff asked if I wanted to play the board game Sorry. We took it back to my cabin and played for hours. While playing we talked about our families, our upbringings, school, etc. We laughed and joked and lost complete track of time. When one of us finally did look at a watch we realized it was almost dawn; we would need to say goodnight to get a couple hours of sleep before I needed to be in the kitchen for breakfast prep.
I walked Jeff to the door of my 10x10 cabin and said goodnight. He stepped down on to one of the rickety wooden steps and said, "Can I kiss you, freaky girl?" I stood silenced and stunned. "Did you just call me 'freaky girl'?" I finally questioned. He started laughing and looked down at his boots shaking his head, "I said, 'pretty girl'".
Oh, well then if that's what you said...
He's been kissing me ever since.
Turns out I was a little freaky. But he still thinks I'm pretty.