With the original Hallmark Holiday that is the celebration of all that is mushy, sappy and romantic just around the corner I thought I would share the story of how my wife and I met and how our relationship unfolded (like the pedals of a rose).
Alright, enough of the melodrama.
It was 1988. I was living in a sterile, high-rise dormitory in college and had the hots for a rather lovely young co-ed (not my to-be wife) I met in one of my classes whom I had taken to a couple of dorm parties and who I went out clubbing with a few times. She lived in a different dorm. An older building with a lot of character and close-knit residents. It was an upperclassman dorm so the people there were, allegedly, more mature but were at least better behaved than the freshmen and sophomores I was encountering in my dorm. Like a puppy dog, I moved to the other dorm to be closer to her, using the excuse of a couple of people I knew living there.
On the first night I ran into one of those friends who I had gone to high school with. Being the new kid on the block I was planning to just chill in my room but he asked if I wanted to go to a birthday party. I was a little hesitant to invite myself but he assured me it would not be a problem. I would later find out that he was 100% right. The environment and fellowship in that place was like no other. Everybody knew everybody else and those who caused turmoil were shunned so, overall, it was friendly.
We got to the party, which turned out to be for the roommate of the person who I would marry, and I started to meet some of the other residents. I was mildly smitten with one of them (again, not my to-be wife) and tried to get to know her a little better than the others. She was, surprise, another friend of my to-be wife. We talked, had cake, and the evening ended up being rather pleasurable. As for the girl I was drooling over, I learned she had a boyfriend that also lived in the dorm so, while I was still drooling I was doing it from a distance albeit closer than before.
The next day I ran into the girl from the party and her friend, my to-be wife (MTBW), and they asked if I wanted to go watch a movie with them. MTBW had a VCR of her own in her room - a rarity in those days - and they had rented a tape. I had nothing better to do and wanted to spend some time getting to know other girl better so I went with them and watched a movie.
From that point MTBW and I would run into each other from time to time and in very short order we left a gathering (I think it was Sunday night Star Trek) at a similar time and she was climbing the stairs in front of me as I was exchanging smalltalk with another friend. I had gotten to know her a bit better so, trying to compliment her, I called her a stud muffin. She took offense. I was surprised. Where I come from that was a compliment. To this day she still says I insulted her.
Do you remember that I said everybody knew everybody? This also meant that the social circles intersected a lot and I often saw MTBW around the dorm and at dorm functions. Every once in a while I would run into her and she and others were going to a movie or making a run to the store or something similar and she would ask if I wanted to join them. She didn't care either way, she was just being nice because she knew I didn't have a car and she did.
We got to know each other a little better and would often sit with each other in the cafeteria at lunch. This was nothing special either since the residents often stuck together. Of course, one of her friends saw something between us and made every effort to get us both in the same place at the same time as often as possible.
As even more time went on we moved ever closer to the major dorm party of the year, The Luau. At the Luau, a big, off-campus beer bash/dance (there was a beer truck with built-in taps), I spent a lot of time trying to get closer to the girl for whom I had originally relocated (hot co-ed). I danced (and drank) with her most of the evening but she ended up leaving the party with some other friends a little while before I did. Shortly after that, MTBW came up and said to me, "I don't think it's fair that you've spent the whole night dancing with [her]." So she and I danced, including a slow dance at the end of which I kissed her. It wasn't anything deep and romantic, it just happened.
The next evening, I attended another, private party with hot co-ed. Like with many young females I had drooled over at the time, the party fizzled since we were not there as a couple but I was only invited as a friend. It was still fun but I bailed relatively early in the evening.
As I was walking back to the dorm I heard the honk of a horn and MTBW and her friend (girl from the birthday party) pulled into a nearby parking lot. They motioned me over and asked if I wanted a ride back to the dorm. I hopped in and we went on our way. After a short time, MTBW said, "Do you realize you kissed me last night?" To which I replied, "Do you realize I fully intended to kiss you last night?"
From there we started hanging around each other a lot more and doing things together a lot more. We hadn't ever gone out on a "date" so it was fun when people would ask how long we'd been dating and we could actually say we weren't dating. We had such an active circle of friends that we just never ended up going anywhere by ourselves on a "date." (our first "date" is a story for another time)
I remember going to the airport with MTBW to drop off a friend (the one who was trying to get us together) who was flying out to go somewhere. I went along because it was something to do and that kept MTBW from having to drive back by herself. Somewhere in between the time the friend left and the friend came back (we picked her up, too), our relationship changed. As we were walking through the airport to meet our friend we were holding hands. Our friend was happy to see this. She had been working on each of us moving one toward the other for months. She said something like, "this is new," followed shortly, I think, by, "it's about time."
I can't say we lived happily ever after. I broke up with her a while later because A) I was stupid, B) I was confused by a couple of sirens who had entered into my life and C) I was scared of the commitment. The breakup didn't last long and I decided she was the one. She didn't have any plans of ever getting married so I spent some time working on her. On April 15, 1989 I proposed to her. I got down on one knee and everything. On May 12, 1990 we were married.
We've had some bumps in the road. We almost divorced once - odd story, that. And life has taken its toll from time to time. But through it all we've celebrated our highs and seen each other at our most vulnerable and didn't get scared away. Sometimes it feels like our marriage is a comfort zone but it's not the kind that you try to move out of.