Neither Tom nor I remember the actual first time we met. But it was definitely close to the beginning of our freshman year at Pitt (University of Pittsburgh), 2003. We both got involved with the Newman Center - the Catholic group - on campus, and quickly became part of the same wide circle of friends. I do remember my early impressions of Tom (which still hold true today): that he was a goofy, fun-loving, laidback guy, and extremely friendly. The kind of person who can have a conversation with anyone. I, in the meantime, was a shy, dorky, never been-on-a-date-before gal. Within the members of the Newman Club, various little friend groups formed. I spent most of my time with a a select few people, and only really interacted with Tom at larger group settings.
|some of my close friends. I'm second from the right.|
|Tom on the right. Totally not dating material, I thought.|
I don't have many pictures from this time, because I didn't yet have one of the all-the-rage fancy new "digital cameras", and you know...you actually cared about conserving your film back then.
|The ONLY picture of us both together from freshman year, after the March for Life (I'm in blue coat, and he's behind me (pretending to be?) on the phone)|
I think sometime during this year, Tom may have broken up with his high-school girlfriend (who I met once, by the way, and she was very sweet). I'm not even certain, because it didn't register with me. I still had hopeless crushes on a handful of other guys. Tom still had no interest in me in that way. In fact, if memory serves, this was the year he decided to take a one-year "dating fast" (before FOCUS made it cool) after ending his relationship.
Not much to report about this year. I started to gain a better appreciation for Tom's goofiness. He used to like to dress up and call attention to himself.
|yes, that's his real hair|
|he showed up to a fancy dinner event in a bowler hat, and I had to get some pictures|
|10 people up a tree - Tom's idea|
|Tom standing behind me, in the blue shirt|
|I love this one, because he was messing up the shot and my best friend Elise is yelling at him|
|Friends burying me in the snow|
I have this theory that it takes me two years of knowing someone/being in a certain social group before I can truly open up and stop feeling shy. This was the year I finally hit my stride, and turned into somewhat of a social butterfly (at least amongst the Newman Center members).
|Just look at me holding the attention of four men!|
This was a big year in many ways, but it definitely brought Tom and I closer as well.
I remember the first time I saw him that year, after four months of summer break. I was working the NC booth at the activities fair, and he sauntered over wearing a blue-striped dress shirt. I thought he looked quite handsome. I asked him why he was all dressed up, and he said just because. I advised him that he dress that way more often.
I had my first real boyfriend near the beginning of the year. It didn't last long. Tom was the first to find out when we broke up (because he asked me right after it happened, "how's <guy's name>?") and tried to cheer me up.
Tom lived in a house with a bunch of other guys (most of whom also hung out around the NC and who all eventually became friends). He began inviting me to some of their little spontaneous late-night parties. They would start around 10:00. They'd serve a few jugs of the cheapest red wine (Inglenook Burgundy), make an enormous pot of spaghetti, and make one little jar of sauce. Everytime. No one ever got enough sauce. But they'd play jazz music, and we'd talk and have a great time.
For Halloween they had a big party, the infamous "Vino Halloweeno." Everyone was asked to dress as a mafia member. Tom was going around, getting people to pose for fun photos. He got a lot of great shots of guys in fedoras holding fake guns. I was essentially the only female there (or at least the only one who dressed as requested), so he had me pose for all the femme fatale-type ones.
|I think Tom actually has this one hung up in his office now|
When he turned 21 in November, he invited all his over-21 friends out to a jazz club. When I showed up in a blue-purple velvet dress, he looked me up and down (perhaps already somewhat tipsy) and said, "You, young lady, are dressed to kill tonight." Tom had always been something of a flirt. But until that year, he'd never bothered to flirt with me. I liked the attention. But when I occasionally paused to ask myself if I "liked him, liked him" the answer was always no.
|Just enjoying the company of a good friend.|
This is turning into a saga! I'll try to be back soon with the rest. Part 2 Part 3