We first technically met in pre-K or somewhere thereabouts, at the private school that his family ran. I’m a year older, so we only really meshed during the after hours daycare and maybe during lunch or recess. All I remember of him from that time is freckles and his name. He said he remembers that I was bossy. His sainted mother says that it was probably because I was the oldest after school and had to keep him in line. I say she’s too nice; I was probably just bossy.
I was breaking him in and didn’t even know it.
At the end of my second grade year, I had to say good-bye to School Heaven and start public school in a new town. Boy was that an adjustment. Talk about stomach aches and tears and being friends with only the teacher for a huge chunk of the third grade.
He got to stay in the small town and start public school there. I’m told he didn’t like it, either. Of course, his private school days took place in his backyard, so I’m sure that was like a bucket of cold water in the face.
During the summer of 1999, I was done with two years of Blinn, with two associate degrees and a valedictorian certificate rolled up in the back of my black Chevy Malibu. It had to be a Chevy Malibu, you know, because that’s what Lloyd Dobler drove in Say Anything. Although mine wasn’t blue. Close enough.
It was my first summer of not working since I turned 16, and I was in the midst of transitioning to an apartment with two best friends in College Station to finish up college at Texas A&M University and a new student worker job on campus.
I went to a wedding with my parents that summer. After the ceremony, as I stood in the grass in front of the church in navy blue pumps and pantyhose (!), I saw faces from the past that I recognized immediately. My second grade teacher and the ladies that ran the private school I went to through second grade.
Those last two ladies would soon become my mother-in-law and aunt-in-law.
After a little catching up and “My how you’ve grown up!” exclamations, my mother-in-law started asking me about my plans for the rest of the summer and the fall. I told her about A&M and about starting a job as a student worker in about two weeks.
“Oh! My oldest son is a student worker on campus. Do you remember Brady?”
I think I told her yes, but I really didn’t at that moment. Maybe just the name, but I couldn’t conjure up a face.
Then she asked what office I would be working in, and I told her the Transfer Admissions & Records Office in Heaton Hall. And wouldn’t you know:
“You’re kidding! That’s where Brady works! I’ll have to tell him…that’s wonderful.”
Or something along those lines.
A couple of weeks later, I found myself sitting in an old rolling office chair, surrounded by files and dusty paper applications, talking to a new friend named Maren. She and I had been the only two working for a couple of days, and the rest of the student workers were due to start rolling in any minute.
My roommates and I had gotten ourselves somewhat settled into our apartment. The walls were still bare and the furniture that came with it left something to be desired, but we didn’t care. We’d bought our own groceries and hung our clothes up and planned our first night out, so we were in good shape, obviously.
And one of my roommates realized that she’d accidentally bought Half & Half instead of milk, so there went the cereal for breakfast.
Everything was still new and strange and gut-churning every day.
So back to the office. We’re sitting there chatting and getting to know each other, and Maren is telling me about the other workers that will be squeezed in the 5x5 space with us, when I start to hear it:
All the, “Hey, Brady Becker!” hollering.
“Look who it is!”
“How have you been?”
“This place has been too quiet without you!”
I turned around to have a look-see, and there he was. All blue jeans and a Polo shirt and a grin. Always with that grin. He had a maroon backpack slung over one shoulder with some kind of Ag Department meat tag on it, and his cap was sitting half on and half off his head.
He walked in like he owned the place.
He kinda looked like a nice boy that was also a whole lot of trouble.
I didn’t recognize him from elementary school at all.
He tells me all he remembers from our first encounter was my faded jeans and the pink scarf thing tied in my ponytail.
More to come….