Love lesson

"When they get married, people don't always realize how much work marriage is," Tamrin Navarro says. "It's hard work, but it's the best kind of work there is. You have to put time and effort into making your relationship solid." (Andrew A. Nelles, Photo for Chicago Tribune / June 14, 2013)

Sometimes it takes a phone call goodbye to realize that it's the last thing you want to say.

Dan Navarro and Tamrin Roscoe met at a party while they were students at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston in 2001.

"I thought he was cute," says Tamrin, now 30. "But I was told that Dan had a girlfriend, so I decided he was off-limits."

"And I thought she was good-looking," says Dan, also 30. "But I was in a relationship, so we just talked every so often at parties or at the dining hall in my dorm. That was the extent of our interaction."

Then, a year later, Tamrin transferred to Harper College in Palatine and moved home to live with her parents in Mount Prospect. The distance between them was another obstacle to a relationship.

"Every once in a while I thought about Dan, and thought, 'Oh, he's nice,' but didn't think I'd ever see him again," Tamrin says. "I wasn't dating anyone; I was focusing on my studies."

A year passed. In 2003, Tamrin transferred back to EIU. She ran into Dan her first night back, walking with friends to a party and past the house that Dan was renting with friends. He was on the porch.

"I saw a group of people walking down the street," he recalls, "and as the group got closer, Tamrin and I recognized each other and had a short conversation along the lines of, 'How have you been, let's keep in touch,' and I gave her my phone number."

"I hadn't seen Dan in over a year, and I was so excited to see him," Tamrin recalls.

Still no spark. Looking back, they can't explain why.

"Neither of us was dating anyone else, and we saw each other periodically," Tamrin says, "but it never occurred to either one of us to pursue a relationship with one another."

In January 2004, Tamrin planned to transfer back to Harper. This time, though, she knew she would not be returning to Eastern (she would finish her degree in journalism at Roosevelt University).

She was aware, however, that she was leaving campus with a heavier heart than the previous time: Her feelings for Dan were slowly dawning on her. So she called and left him a voice message, informing him she wasn't coming back to EIU.

"I realized that this might be the last time that I would have the opportunity to talk to Dan," Tamrin says. "My picking up the phone and calling him was a way to let him know that I was thinking of him."

Dan was surprised when he heard her message. "It had been some time since we had spoken," he says, "but hearing her voice brought back memories of when we had met previously at a party on campus."

He called her back. "We started talking, it was a very comfortable conversation, and we found a lot to talk about."

So much so that it led to more phone calls and, eventually a first date when Dan, whose family lives in Darien, returned home for Easter break.

"I pulled up to her parents' house in my '91 Chevy Beretta and was so nervous I locked my keys inside of my car," Dan says, with a laugh. "And (I) didn't have an extra set of keys with me. I didn't say anything to Tamrin; we just took her car to Chili's."

(Tamrin's dad, with the help of AAA, got the car unlocked.)

After that first date, their relationship got a tad more serious, but it took another phone call to accelerate the pace. This time, it was Dan who took the initiative.