Pooh Bear

*I envision this being told by a woman, but you can imagine whatever you want.

I was the hopeless romantic who dreamed of meeting my high school sweetheart… in high school… and we’d get married and have two boys and a girl.

Well, that didn’t happen.

Then, only for my freshman year, the hopeless romantic in me thought I’d meet my forever life partner in college, but that dream died during the second semester of my first year.

At that point, I decided to become the crazy and lonely elderly lady people would be scared of because I owned too many reptiles.

Never did I think I would go into my third year of college and meet the love of my life.

Kory Alexander Winston is his name.

The first time I ran into Kory, I accidentally hit him with the girls’ bathroom door and knocked a giant cupcake out of his hands. While I ferociously rubbed the icing that got on his shoes, he stared at me without saying a single word. I sputtered out a quick apology before speed walking away and silently praying I would never run into him again.

Well, as my luck would have it, that didn’t happen.

The second time I saw Kory, he was the one to run into me. They were having some sort of event outside of our student center, and by the looks of it, all the organizations were trying to persuade people to join by offering free candy– the nasty candy. I speed walk by those things like they’re the plague; after the first two years of being in college, I’ve learned that once you give them your information, they don’t stop contacting you.

I don’t exactly know where Kory was coming from. I just know one moment I’m walking while slow jamming to a song by FINNEAS, and the next moment, I’m covered in hot nacho cheese. I react inaudibly and simply stare at my shirt in disbelief; I’m not attached to material things, but I do hate being the center of attention, especially during an embarrassing moment. Needless to say, I wanted to melt into the ground because of all the stares I was receiving.

Then I looked up, and there he was– Kory Alexander Winston. I looked into his surprisingly beautiful green-brown eyes, and for five seconds, the urge to punch him went away. Then I started feeling the burn from the hot cheese, and the punching urge returned. “What the heck dude?” I incredulously said without breaking eye contact. He walked closer to me, and the closer he got, the more I realized how tall he was compared to me. He wasn’t a giant or anything like that, but I still had to slightly lift my head to maintain eye contact with him. The brawniness of his build made him even more intimidating, but I tried not to let it show.

“I am so sorry,” he sincerely apologized with his abnormally deep voice, “do you need me to help you clean it up…”
I think he wanted my name. “Ellain.”
“Just Ellain,” I said with a surprising sternness, “and no I got it. Please move; this cheese is burning me.”
He was about to step out of the way but stopped before saying, “Well, I’m sorry about your shirt Ellain. If you need anything, I’m Kory. Kory Winston, in case you change your mind and decide to find me in the student directory because you need my help.”
“Trust me, I won’t,” I said before nudging past him, getting some cheese on his stupid red shirt, and silently jogging to my apartment, which, fortunately, is right behind campus.

The more I saw Kory around campus that fall, I began to realize he didn’t wear anything but red shirts. I wasn’t intentionally seeking him out; he just all of a sudden happened to be appearing everywhere I went. Most of the time, I would see him, stare for a bit (because there’s nothing wrong with appreciating a good body), and look away before he caught me staring. Unfortunately, one day, I wasn’t quick enough.

Kory and I made eye contact, and I looked away immediately. Then I turned to look back at him to make sure he wasn’t still looking at me. Not only was he still looking at me, but he was still looking at me as he made his way to the table I was sitting at outside of the library. I grabbed my stuff immediately and tried to speed walk away; it was a little difficult with the wind blowing my hair in every direction, trying to blind me with my own DNA. Before I could take one step away from the table I was occupying, Kory was in front of me. There was a weird, starry gaze in his eyes; I don’t really know how to explain it, but it looked like his eyes were shining, even though they probably weren’t.

Kory seemed a little out of breath as he stood in front of me and weirdly stared into my eyes. It made me feel both uncomfortable and comfortable; the whole ordeal was just really– you guessed it– weird. “Why am I just now finding you?” he whispered as he reached to put one of my annoying stray hairs behind my ear.
I jerked away immediately, thrown off by his straightforward gesture. “You were looking for me?” I asked with both confusion and curiosity evident in my voice. I’m normally a very confused person (about pretty much everything), but I had never been more confused than in that moment.
“Do you believe in love at first sight?” he asked.
That was the very last thing I was expecting to come out of his mouth. “I don’t know. I guess not.”
“Remember when you accidentally hit me with the bathroom door, and I dropped my cupcake?”
How could I forget? I thought to myself. I had no idea where this conversation was going. “Yeah…”

Kory laughed at my confusion, but I didn’t find anything funny; my brain was hurting from the conversation we were having. “Well,” he exhaled; I think he was trying to calm himself, “in that moment, I found the love of my life.”
I looked around to make sure he was talking to the right person. “Me?” I asked, pointing to myself. At this point, I wasn’t sure if I was dreaming or someone was pulling a prank; my last two brain cells consisted of pure confusion.
Kory chuckled again. “Yeah.” I didn’t speak, so he explained further. “I’m a big believer of love at first sight. I’ve always thought that when I find the person meant for me, even when there’s not a conversation shared upon initial meeting, like us, I would know who she is. When I saw you emerge from behind the bathroom door, I knew immediately. Then I accidentally spilled my nacho cheese on you, and though I feel bad about it, I don’t regret it because I got to see you again. Even though you didn’t look me up in the directory, after I got your name, I looked you up in the school directory. There’s only one Ellain at this school, and that’s you. I didn’t think I’d see you again.”

It was a lot to process. I’m sure I stood there for at least ten minutes trying to think through how to respond to Kory, and the only response I came up with was “Well, I don’t believe in love at first sight.”
“No?” Kory said with a beautiful smile. Yep, his smile was gorgeous, even with his slight overbite and the tiny, barely noticeable, gap between his two front teeth.
“No. I don’t think you can find the love of your life that fast. It’s impossible.”
He let out another small laugh. “Well, let me prove it to you.”
“Excuse me?”
“Let me prove to you that it’s possible to find the love of your life in an instant.” Everything about his statement didn’t make sense to me. Before I could formulate a response that didn’t make me sound stupid, he said, “we’ll be in touch.” Then he walked away, and the only thing going through my mind as he walked away was How?

To my surprise, Kory followed through. With the email he found in the school directory, Kory contacted me later that night, and we talked every day after that. For weeks, we strictly stuck to emailing. Then we progressed to text messaging and eventually voice calls. Four months had passed before we went on our first date, and it was amazing. As I reminisce and write this with my perfect husband by my side, I smile, thinking about the moment Kory found out I was a Puerto Rican who couldn’t speak any Spanish. When he asked me about it, I remember saying, “Yeah. I’m kind of a disappointment to my parents. Choosing to learn Mandarin instead of Spanish in high school didn’t exactly float their boat either. All I know is pendejo and whatever I learn from old episodes of Dora.” I still know that Mandarin. Kory is half Mongolian and can fluently speak the language; he was more than torn up about the fact that my American born self does not know my native language. At one point in our relationship, he tried to get me to download Duolingo to learn Spanish.

At another point in our relationship, I gave Kory the nickname “Pooh Bear.” After being with each other for about eight months, Kory let me see his apartment for the first time. He led me to his bedroom (don’t worry, we didn’t do the dirty; though we both weren’t virgins when we got together, we decided to remain celibate until we got married) and showed me his “red collection,” which is the nickname he gave all of the red shirts he owns. Literally every single shirt he has is red; it doesn’t matter if it’s an athletic shirt, dress shirt, t-shirt– it’s red. I’m sure you can guess that red was one of the main colors in our July wedding. Anyway, upon seeing his “red collection” for the first time, my mind immediately went to Winnie the Pooh, one of my favorite characters from when I was a child, and that was the day I gave Kory the nickname “Pooh Bear.” He was a little iffy about it at first, but he quickly grew around to loving it as much as he loves me.

Besides the consistent red shirt, I found out Kory shared more qualities with Winnie the Pooh, like his wisdom, loving nature, and optimism. I remember being so devastated when I found out I can’t have kids; it felt like my world was being torn a part, but Kory was right there with his kindness and optimism to talk me off the ledge. He even bought me a pet turtle to make me feel better. Now that I’m writing this out, Kory is also just as humble as Winnie the Pooh (is it weird to be comparing my husband to a fictional stuffed bear? I don’t know). Kory proved me wrong about finding the love of your life instantly (I can now say I’m a believer in love at first sight), and the only time he’s ever boastfully brought it up was during our wedding vows. He never boasts about me being wrong, which is one of the maaany reasons I love him.

That list is about the size of an encyclopedia, so I’m not going to get into it right now.

As I’m wrapping up this story with Kory lounging by me on our couch (he is giving me the best neck massage; God, I love this man), he just whispered in my ear, “I’ll always be your Pooh Bear.”

To me, that’s the perfect way to end this (he just said I shouldn’t include this part, but I am).


2 thoughts on “Pooh Bear

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