In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “That’s Amore” which asks us to Think of your longest relationship: describe how your love has changed over time, did you go from the giddiness of infatuation, to mad passion, to deep respect, esteem, and friendship? Tell us about your love story.
I met the man who was to become my husband when we were both in high school, but we didn’t date back then. We met when I had a free period and decided to crash my best friend’s class; she sat in the rear corner of the room, so I plunked myself down on the floor next to her and just hung out. After that J – who sat next to my friend in that class – started referring to me as “K’s weird friend who sits on the floor”. I later found out that I’d sparked an interest that day, but at the time I was just beginning to date F, who was actually J’s friend, so he never approached me about it.
At this point I really didn’t know J at all and had hardly even spoken two sentences to him, but humorously enough I was actually writing about him on a regular basis. It was at this time that K and I were having a blast writing our “The Day the Earth Blew Up” collaboration, and at one point K added her classmate J as a regular character. So, strange as it may seem, before I ever really knew anything about J I was torturing him as the comic relief in an ongoing series of ridiculously outrageous mini-stories.
Of course, since I was dating his friend, J and I eventually began to cross paths on a regular basis, but the truth was that we didn’t really get along particularly well. You must realize that this was high school – a time for hormones, self-importance, and constant overreactions to meaningless crap – and as such I thought he was the ass who was stealing time I could be spending with my boyfriend, and he thought I was the bitch girlfriend who was too clingy (spoiler alert: he was actually right about that one). It took quite a while for us to warm up to each other enough to at least be able to hang out in a congenial manner, but by the time high school graduation came about we were fairly decent friends.
F and I both went to the local college, while J moved to the mainland for his higher education (I make it sound like he was far away, but honestly it was about a three hour drive). During those first couple of years of college he and I would occasionally chat online (back when MSN Messenger was still a thing that people actually used), and humorously enough he would often talk to me about girl stuff. We had kind of a strange relationship then that I couldn’t really define, but we were definitely pals.
Eventually, F broke up with me, and I won’t sugarcoat it: I pretty much imploded. We’d been together for almost five years and I was naive enough to think at the time that we were definitely going to be together forever. I went through a pretty rough patch in which I basically didn’t know what to do with myself because so much of my identity had become “F’s girlfriend”. It was around this time that J decided to leave the school he’d gone to because his program just wasn’t meshing for him, so he came home and we started hanging out. Usually it was with one or two other friends, but sometimes it would just be us, and one day after we’d watched a movie at his house he asked me, “What would you say if I asked you out for dinner sometime?” Owing to the fact that my brain is generally three steps behind the rest of my body, I responded with a non-committal, “I’d say sure,” without, in fact, realizing that he was actually talking about a date. He managed to catch the complete lack of understanding on my face and added, “Like, on a date,” to which I stupidly blinked and smiled and said, “Oh, yeah, sure!”
So a few days later, J and I went on our first real date, to the local Chinese place. It went well, as I do recall, and afterwards he presented me with our generation’s version of a mixed tape – a burned CD – and we had our first kiss. It was a little odd, because I’d known this guy for so long now and it had never occurred to me until he suggested dinner that there could be something more than friendship there, but the kiss was nice, and suddenly this whole new world opened up. We went on a number more dates, some of them straight out of a cheesy romance movie. Once we took a walk down by the beach, and J had brought candles in his back pocket with the intention of creating a romantic atmosphere, but he sat on them and they broke and then he couldn’t get them to stand up right. It was so cute I almost died. It wasn’t long after that that he told me he loved me for the first time and I, of course, reciprocated.
By this point we were about 22 years old. J had decided to attend the same college I was at after realizing that my program sounded pretty interesting. He, of course, was not in my classes, but we had similar schedules. Soon enough we had moved in together, along with two of my best friends, into a little house about a 10 minute drive from the college. We were there for several months, but rooming with the other two didn’t really work out and eventually J and I moved out and into a basement apartment nearby, where we stayed until I finished college. Remind me to tell you about those two places sometime. They were doozies.
About six months after I graduated (during which I managed not to throw myself off a roof while working at a call center), I got a call for the paper mill. I got the job and had to move about a two hour drive away. At the time J still had the rest of the year of school left, so things got a little frustrating. I moved into a duplex in the mill town, and he stayed behind. But he didn’t stay in that apartment for long. An encounter with some night-owl rats spurred him into packing up all our stuff, shipping it to the mill town with me, and moving (temporarily) back in with his parents. I would drive down to visit every weekend, even in the dead of winter when the snow was so bad that it gave my parents heart attacks.
Eventually J was finally able to move back in with me, which was a big thing for my psyche because all those weekdays without him had been super difficult and lonely. Long before he eventually got a job at the mill as well, J worked at a different terrible call center, and somehow, with the crappy pay they gave him, he managed to save up enough money to buy a ring. On Christmas Day, my parents left the house early so that we could have our moment, and J presented me with an enormous box about 6 feet long, 3 feet wide, and 2 feet deep. I had no idea what it could possibly be, so of course I was surprised when there was a second, smaller box inside. And then another box inside that, and another box inside that. It took me a good ten minutes to make it all the way to the center of the present, which turned out to be an envelope stuffed with warranty papers from Charm. When I turned to J in confusion, there he was, on one knee, holding the most beautiful engagement ring I could have hoped for.
We got married in July of 2009. It was a beautiful outdoor ceremony on one of the only days that summer that wasn’t a monsoon. In the middle of the ceremony my best friend’s father played guitar and sang, and afterward we got a lot of comments about how cute we had looked leaning close and talking during that song. Everyone thought it was just so adorable and an excellent example of how close we were, since many marrying couples just stand and remain silent during these parts of the ceremony. J and I got a huge kick out of this because if everyone had known what we had been talking about (that he was still nursing a bit of a hangover and I was high on allergy meds because of a sudden attack that morning) they wouldn’t have found it nearly as cute. (But it really was an excellent example of how close we were.)
For years now J had been my best friend, and that certainly didn’t change. We did pretty much everything together, we liked the same shows, we had a lot of the same ideals… We could snuggle up on the couch and play video games all night or binge-watch an entire show and be perfectly content, and we’re still like that to this day. But it wasn’t long before we decided to take everything a step further. Soon after getting married we hunted down and purchased the house that became our home, and very shortly after securing that domicile we decided to start trying for a baby. It didn’t take long! By the following April we were letting our families know that a little bun was on the way. J surprised me by being super-protective of me and my health during the pregnancy; he wouldn’t let me have any caffeine, even though a pregnant lady is usually allowed a cup of coffee a day, because he didn’t want to take any chances. That always made me chuckle.
And then, one day, it was time to go. It was a long, hard labor, but J was with me through it all, and when our little baby girl finally arrived in this world I saw a light in his eyes that I can’t even describe. It wasn’t the kind of light he’d had when telling me he loved me for the first time, or when he’d proposed, or when he’d said “I Do”. It was similar, but different. It was a new kind of true love. I’m sure I had a similar light in my eyes, because we’d both just been introduced to the piece that made us complete, the piece that truly joined us together forever.
We’ve been married for six years now, and our daughter’s fifth birthday will be coming up in a few months, and I’m still as happy today as I was the first time J and I kissed. There have been ups and downs for sure – anyone who tells you that they’ve had none are dirty liars – but that’s all part of the journey. We’ve gotten more mature (in some ways) and more responsible (in some ways), but we’re still the same playful people who fell in love and enjoy cuddling up to a good (or bad) movie or a multiplayer video game. I love J with all my heart, and although I may occasionally get snippy or frustrated with him, I do honestly believe that he’s the best husband and father a woman could hope for.
Cheers, babe. You had me from, “Like, on a date.”