This is what I remember about Lillian (and also what I feel like embellishing about it), how we met and how we began our relationship. It's hard for me to be sure if my first memory isn't just backwritten from what I learned later or if I really remember meeting her. Early on in my first semester CJAS held the first meeting of the now infamous "Manga Club", though I'm not sure it was called that at first. It began as Charles Chen, master of newsletter layout, giving vague drawing lessons. Read that as: Chuck drawing and other people who couldn't draw mostly watching and imitating poorly. That day, there were some other people who could draw, including Lillian.
Sophomore year is when I began to take actual notice of her. Being the wimp that I was, I opted for the "do almost nothing, risk little and gain less" approach. I tried to sit near her at lunch, manga club and CJAS. I offered her rides home (during the 2 weeks I had a car that year), and even convinced her to play cards with some of my friends a few times.
Then came Valentine's Day. It was to be a lonely Wednesday for some... One of my friends, Marc Aquino, whose girlfriend was away at the time, would not be defeated into a sad night of drinking and crying. So he demanded that I find a date and four of us would have a nice dinner. I wonder if he was contriving to help me make a move. Luckily Lillian's phone number was distributed to me on the CJAS phone list. I called it (I may have even dialed and hung up once). In order to reduce the chances she would hesitate, I told her it was just a friendly meal, and not necessarily a big deal. This is what we call a lie.
On said Wednesday, I brought her a rose, her roommate, Susannah, giggled behind the door as we left. I remember very little of that nervous dinner, I squirmed, Marc was charming, Lillian was quiet and pretty. Some forward movement did come of it as Lillian began to take more notice of me from then. We talked more; I had dinner with her and her roommates a few times. She played with my friends some nights, and we began staying up until quite early just talking. For reasons that are no longer clear we felt we had to do this in random locations around campus instead of one of our rooms. Spring is very cold in Ithaca and I spent much of that time wanting to hold her and be warmed by her closeness but was too shy to do it - especially that one time when we camped out in line for a night to get tickets to the Billy Joel concert. How did I get talked into that? Two shy people should never try to date.
On a Thursday in April we went out for Hot Truck, eating it in the grass on west campus. Then I led her to the suspension bridge. I think we actually arrived around midnight. Now there's a legend that she who refuses a kiss on the bridge at midnight shall die of falling into the gorge, as the bridge will collapse (because of its own shame for not being romantic enough a locale?). So we stared at each other and shyly stepped aside as people came and went passed us. This lasted two hours so that when I said something like: "Well two hours ago you couldn't have refused me a kiss, but now I guess you have a choice" it was neither smooth nor romantic. Luckily it worked anyway, must be my natural beauty.
To shorten an already long story, three years later I proposed to her on the very same spot. I was so excited to get down on one knee and say those words. For most of your life you might think about someday asking the woman of your dreams to marry you, it's very strange to have done it. Strange but, of course, wonderful too - to live in a dream.
(Did I mention that her answer to "will you marry me?" was "I guess"?? Oh all the years of dreams and hopes for my perfect proposal to my one and only dashed to smithereens! So now you women out there, when he drops to one knee like you dreamed he would, try and be enthusiastic and definitely use the word "yes"!)
A kindred spirit, here was a guy who took his hobbies very seriously. One of my earliest Greg memories is sitting next to him in the front row of Goldwin Smith D, watching such classics as Gundam 0080 (War in the Pocket) and Maison Ikkoku, the romantic comedy about an awkward but honest college boy named Godai who falls for a kind but sometimes feisty older* woman named Kyoko. Of course, Greg and I sang along to the openings and closings ("Can't you see that you are sweet, oh let me love you sooooooo!") of the various shows, and I'll bet the people sitting behind us thought we were weirdos. As it turns out, one such person was a kind but sometimes feisty older* woman named Lillian. I don't know if Greg already knew her, but that's surely my earliest Lillian memory.
Over the years, Greg and Lillian (sometimes referred to as Grillian) have been a happy and fun part of our college and post-college experience. I look back nostalgically as I remember Greg and Lillian vs. the world, better known to some of us as FY vs. MB. And who could forget those long nights of anime (too much anime) and gaming (too many games). Lillian was a mean player of Mario Kart 64, and she'd laugh maniacally as she raced past us. Yet, this was the same innocent Lillian who, when playing Gundam RPG, had her character order, of all things, milk upon entering a seedy bar. I don't have time to talk about all the other great times, like the conventions, cosplay, paintball, and road trips... but, "Oh, it's all so dear to me..."
I always enjoyed talking science with Greg, and the ethics of translation with Lillian, but one of my favorite memories is sitting around with Lillian, Greg, HaVoC, and John in Lillian's apartment playing Empire Builder. It was a pretty typical scene, except that I almost died from all the cat hair around. Oh, the price we pay for friendship. ^_^
From my point of view, Greg's one of the lucky ones, in that he found someone who shared and understood his hobbies. Lillian is lucky, too, in that she didn't end up with someone like me or Greg's other friends, since we're kind of weird if you haven't noticed. ^_^ I don't claim to understand it, but together Greg and Lillian have something special going for them, and I'm just glad to be part of this whole story. It's been years since I've seen Greg and Lillian in person (the internet isn't quite the same), and I'm almost starting to forget what Ithaca looks like, so I'm looking forward to the big day (I'm too eager!). Hats off to Greg and Lillian, congratulations, and I'll see you in June!
*not that much older!