A Non-Traditional Love Story: Falling in Love in Fazolis

In September of 2015 I was living in a studio apartment. My ex was staying with me, but not contributing to rent, bills or groceries. My life was in a spiral of chaos.

 

I was going to school full-time and working three jobs. I started each morning nannying at 5:30 a.m., I went to class, then to my second job as security for a non-profit and last reported to delivery drive until four in the morning for Jimmy Johns.

 

I had a limited social life, no time for sleep, my grades were rapidly dropping and I was still poor. I had no WiFi and no money to even consider it.

 

Each day my ex, (we’ll call her 'L') and I would cross the street to Fazolis. We would order a medium soda. The cups had scratch offs and we always won either a spaghetti entrée or an Italian ice. If we sat in there we would get free breadsticks. We’d set up shop with our laptops and phones, hooked to the free WiFi. I would fill my cup with peach Sprite Zero. 'L,' often got a water cup and filled it with soda or bought a second scratch off cup for better chances at dinner.

 

Over time we learned this was the cheapest way to eat and get WiFi. Each time we went, which was almost daily at this point, we spotted one of the workers, Dan. He was attractive and 'L' and I were competitive. We would joke, “I bet he’ll give me extra bread sticks this time.” Or, “I bet I’m more of his type.” We smiled our best smiles but he never seemed to notice. I felt 'L' was in it for the competition, but I wanted to know more about the mysterious breadstick boy.

 

'L' saw that they were hiring and applied for the job. She started work within the week.

 

One night as I was heading out to my own job she texted me, “Can you drop off a few bucks so I can get gas.” I rolled my eyes and crossed the street with hands full of coins. I was dressed in my work uniform; a Jimmy Johns t-shirt and hat, jeans and my favorite cheetah combat boots. I wasn’t expecting to see hot spaghetti man Dan but he stood at the register right next to 'L.' I smiled at him as I flicked coins across the counter. They scattered across the floor. As 'L' bent down to get them I gathered my courage. I smiled again and left for work. I faked my most confident walk out of the store and didn’t look back. I texted and told 'L' to give me Dan’s number. The same night Dan texted me. We talked without discomfort and I spent the whole night at work in a ~new love~ haze.

 

We went on our first date that week. I picked him up at his dorm early in the evening. I had a night off from being a delivery girl. 'L' was driving, sure she would make the perfect chaperone.

 

I knew how strange it was to take my ex-girlfriend/current roommate on my first date but it seemed casual enough and I figured the spaghetti man should know what kind of wild world he was entering.

 

We went to a hookah bar. Another girl that 'L' and I had both dated showed up. (We’ll call her 'La.' Her name starts with an L too... it doesn’t make this storytelling easier.)

 

I looked at Dan. He claims he didn’t understand all the overlaps in that night until later on. 'La’s' new boy showed up. (We’ll call him 'E.') He walked in, surely looking for another table. Nope. He sat down right there, next to me. So there I was with my date, my ex who lived with me, my ex and my ex’s ex who didn’t live with me, and my ex and ex’s ex’s new boy who also didn’t live with me. The whole situation was complicated and hilarious.

 

It went smoothly for the rest of the night. Well, as smoothly as my life tends to go. We went to Cookout for everyone to grab a snack before splitting ways. There was plenty of tension between L, La, and E. Dan and I observed like flies on the wall. This is the first moment I recall understanding how absurd my life had become. At some point, E’s new girl showed up too. The love web got more tangled.

 

Dan, 'L,' and I ended up at my apartment later where we stayed for an hour or so. Dan invited me back to his dorm to meet some of his friends. I’d need to drop him off anyways. I agreed and we went down that way. He introduced me to his friend 'A.' She was funny and their dynamic was refreshing. It was confusingly normal and I loved the change from the previous hours.

 

I stayed until five in the morning when it was time for me to leave for my job. He walked me to my car and gave me a hug. I was surprised he didn’t kiss me, but didn’t think much of it. As I drove away I knew that I’d just had the best date of my life. I texted my best friend, sure she wasn’t awake. “I just had a non-disaster date. Praise the lord!! This guy is so cool.” I called my mom. She was used to hearing my strange stories and even worse date retellings. “I just went on a 10-hour date and it was ACTUALLY GOOD.”

 

“You’re going to marry him.” My mom said, sure of it. There was not a hint of sarcasm in her voice. Maybe it was one of those things that mom's just know. “Mom, it’s one date. Chill!” I rebuted. There was a part of me thinking she could be right. How ridiculous, one date and marriage is already an option. I wondered if spotting my spaghetti man was what love at first sight felt like.

 

After our first date, for whatever reason, he stuck around. Our second date, we spent in his dorm room. We stayed up all night talking and fell asleep in his twin sized dorm bed cuddling. He didn’t kiss me that night either. On my way out in the morning I found a familiar courage. “Are you going to kiss me or what?” I’d already stayed the night with him, it seemed obvious this was the next move. We both laughed as we kissed at the end of his hall. It was the most memorable first kiss of my life.

 

We were inseparable for two months until we decided to make our relationship official. Fast forward three and a half years, two apartments together, an engagement, plenty of hardships and so much laughter. I am more in love with my spaghetti boy than ever. The only love I can picture more powerful is what I will feel with our weird little spaghetti children one day.

 

I am lucky to have a partner that knows how to support me, understands that life sometimes (and most times) is chaotic, and stuck around for ten hours and several years after a completely unconventional yet wonderful first date.

 

I still get butterflies. I still hope I am his type. I still love breadsticks, peach Sprite Zero, and free WiFi. Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone who has someone they can love in a similar way.

 

Happy Valentines Day to anyone who is their own spaghetti man. If you’re feeling like you may never find your person, know that love pops up in mysterious ways and only sometimes carrying free breadsticks. I know now that love at first sight is similar to salivating when you see your food coming out.

 

Today, enjoy yourself, your partners, and friends. Give everyone a little extra love. However, the moral of this story is the part I urge you to remember: Fazolis has free breadsticks and WiFi.