"Hope is what led me here today--with a story that could only happen here in America. Hope is the bedrock of our nation; the belief that our destiny will not be written for us, but by us; by all those men and women who are not content to settle for the world as it is; who have the courage to make the world as it should be." -- Barack Obama
Julia and I met for the first time in Florence, South Carolina in January 2008. Coming straight from a hard-fought loss in the New Hampshire primary that we both participated in (I worked in field, Julia in political), we were both thoroughly exhausted as we arrived separately to the supporter housing we were to share with two other staff for the last 10 days of the SC primary.
By the time Julia arrived with her two massive suitcases, I was already there and helping the hosts grill some steaks out on the grill. Seeing her struggling to carry the two suitcases up the stairs (each was at least 2/3 her size), I quickly moved to give her a hand which she gladly accepted. Without much time to talk before dinner, I finished helping her bring her stuff in and went back to grilling. (Julia: At least I didn't carry my clothes in trash bags like certain other people!)
Dinner that night was truly one of those only-in-South-Carolina nights, but little did I know how much it would lead to later. Anyway, apparently it is a tradition in southern households that you cook whatever your best meat dish is anytime you have guests over for the first time. As the family we were staying with were wealthy white lawyers, this meant that they had splurged on $40 prime rib steaks for each of us and the meal basically consisted of meat, potatoes, and some other vegetable, maybe corn. By the time we sat down to eat, we all had at least a 1lb medium rare steak sitting in front of us and most of us were eager to dig in. (Matt says "medium rare"... but it was still actively bleeding.)
Halfway through my steak, I look over at Julia who has eaten most of her vegetables and some of her potatoes and not much else. At about the same time, our host looks over and asks if she is feeling okay since she hasn't touched her steak yet. After learning that she is a vegetarian our host and hostess just pause in shock and stare at her. After several moments of silence our host stands up, picks up her plate, and grudgingly declares that he'll throw her steak back on the grill for a little longer. When she thanks him but explains that she still doesn't eat meat, regardless of how well it is cooked, he asks her if she would rather have some chicken, since that 'barely tastes like meat.' This continues through several other meat options before he finally gives up and a short time after we all retired to bed. (I think Matt just wants to marry me so he can always eat my leftovers.)
If nothing else, that table conversation helped set up some interesting conversations over the next few days and a short time later we began dating. To make up for the first meal (or lack thereof for her) that we ate together that first night, I took her to the best restaurant in the entire area (just ask her) on our first date and the rest is history. (No comment.)