Grand Prize Winner

McClintock Friends Turned Soul Mates

Submitted By: Sjaak and Virginia Van Der Geest

Our initial thoughts when our first-floor RA introduced us:
(me) - "I wonder if we'll have any classes together?"
(her) - "Oh, he's the cute guy's roommate!"

So, though we didn't get off to the most auspicious start, the intervening 14 and a half years have proved that first impressions aren't necessarily telling. Ginny and I started our freshman year at ASU living two doors apart on the all-freshmen first floor of McClintock Hall. And, while we didn't have any classes together that first semester, we did spend a lot of time together. There was a group of six of us (Ginny and me, her roommate, her suitemate, and my two suitemates) that hung out together, ate lunch and dinner in the MU together, played volleyball in the McClintock quad, and played a lot of late-night card games while avoiding writing papers.

Her suitemate first posed the idea that we should get together romantically in about September, and when we discussed it later, we had to admit that the idea had occurred to each of us beforehand, but that we were each sure the other would just want to remain friends. So after a few weeks of getting to know each other better, I finally worked up the courage to give her a good night kiss. September 29, 1995 - as I said good night and before heading back to my room, I leaned in for a peck on Ginny's lips.  I got more kiss than I bargained for (Ginny had wondered why I hadn't kissed her before, and had gotten kind of impatient). I remember walking (or was it floating?) back to my room a minute later in a daze.  Whew!  Thinking about it now still makes me grin!  We've celebrated September 29th as a mini-anniversary ever since.

So we dated through the end of that first semester, and our feelings for each other grew stronger.  I wasn't shy about telling her that I loved her, but that wasn't something that came easy to Ginny.  One night we walked up A Mountain and sat on the A, looking out over the campus. Ginny told me that she had something she wanted to say, but couldn't.  She picked out the letters, instead, on the back of the ASU-opoly shirt that I was wearing. One letter. Pause. Four letters. Pause. Three letters. Pause. Good enough.

We had an early class together in the spring, located 20 feet from our dorm rooms, and it was an awesome thing to see the girl I loved first thing to start my day. She was always meticulously groomed and beautifully dressed, though the rest of us pretty much rolled out of bed at 7:37 and shuffled into class three minutes later. By the end of the semester, we were spending nearly every free moment together, and talking about what future we might have together. We weren't sure what would happen after we graduated, though, so thought it might be best if we just called it quits at that point, rather than waiting three more years, and making it that much harder to go our separate ways.  So we 'broke up' over the summer. She stayed in Phoenix, and I went back to Albuquerque. We talked on the phone every day, and wrote so many letters and e-mails that our parents laughed at us outright when we talked about having broken up.  She visited me twice and I visited her once during those three months. Needless to say, when we started classes again in August, we were very much back together.

Our third semester at ASU passed very quickly — one class together, all our meals together, volleyball, card games with the gang at Perkins and IHOP at two in the morning, rollerblading around campus at dawn after pulling all-nighters to finish a paper or cram for a test. I was working at Coldstone Creamery on Mill, and Ginny would skate over so that we could have 'dinner' together - two large ice creams to share! We were both still living at McClintock with the same roommates (I had switched after the first semester, when 'the cute guy' pledged a frat, and spent many nights puking just 10 feet from me) and The Secret Garden was a convenient quiet spot to get away for some time, just the two of us. That's not to say that it was all balloons and cuddling, though. A late-night game of rollerblade tag ended badly when my roommate fell, and Ginny tripped over him.  She tore open her chin, and her brother (who also lived in McClintock) had to take her to Tempe St. Luke's. The rest of the gang and I fretted until they got back at 2:30am, Ginny with 7 stitches in her chin. She signed the bloodstain on Forest Walk the next day, and it was still there the last time we looked.

After that third semester, I came back from the winter break a week early to spend Ginny's birthday with her.  That evening, after dinner, I told her that I loved her and wanted to spend the rest of my life with her.  She agreed to marry me. That semester, we presented a jointly written paper to our Micro-Economics class about the Economic Factors involved in Deciding to Get Married.  One section of the paper addressed the comparison of the two people's Cost / Benefit curves with respect to free time, household chores, shared living expenses and the like. "It's important," I said, "to make sure that your curves line up nicely," and winked at Ginny. She blushed, and the class and the professor laughed.

So, after we endured one more summer apart, and enjoyed one last semester as dating Sun Devils, we were married on December 27th, 1997. We moved out of McClintock Hall and into an apartment at McClintock and Broadway.  Our differing schedules (my engineering classes tended to be mid-morning and early afternoon, and her language classes tended to be early morning and later afternoon) meant that we couldn't spend every moment of the day together, but being able to spend all the rest of our time together more than made up for that (despite long walks to class from Lot 59).  Ginny graduated two semesters after we were married with a degree in Spanish, and I finished one semester after that in mechanical engineering. After I graduated, we bought a house in Chandler, where we've lived ever since. We are still very happily married, raising three kids whom we dress in Maroon and Gold whenever possible. We get back on campus as often as we can, catching at least one football game at sun Devil Stadium a year, and the occasional basketball, volleyball or soccer game when time allows.

ASU brought us together, and was the basis of our early life together. Thinking back on our days there never fails to bring a smile to our faces and a warm Sun Devil glow to our hearts!