25 years ago today, the man who would become my husband sauntered into my life….and never left.
We were 18 and in our first year of college – at different schools, in different states. I was a California girl studying in central New York. He was a Jersey boy studying in Massachusetts. Geographically, there was not much chance we should have ever crossed paths. And yet, on a blustery Friday the 13th in November of 1992, we defied geography.
A friend dragged me to a party that I distinctly remember not wanting to attend. All through college I was a member of the concert choir – and on this specific weekend we were hosting a choir from another college for a combined concert. The party was a sort of meet and greet for the two groups. I can’t remember why I didn’t want to go, but I know I did not want to be there, and I certainly was not expecting anything good (let alone life altering) to come of the evening.
When I walked into the party, I actually noticed him almost immediately. He was cute – and loud, and cocky, and doing his best to try to charm everybody around. Somebody had a deck of cards. I found myself in a card game with this boy and a handful of other people – the boy was funny, and clever, and charming. The game ended, and yet the boy and I continued talking. We talked for hours with an increasingly loud college party happening around us. Somewhere in the middle, there was a kiss. And then more talking. And then he disappeared. He actually walked away and never came back that night. I waited for what seemed like forever, before one of his friends told me not to expect him to return to the party. (I’ll leave out those details, but add up college + party and you can probably take a decent guess at how his night ended.)
Our story could have ended there, but it didn’t.
The next morning at breakfast in the cafeteria, I decided to give him an opportunity to apologize for his disappearing act. I kept trying to catch his eye, but he seemed to be ignoring me. Or so it seemed. His version is that he was looking for the girl he met the night before, but didn’t see her anywhere. And while he was looking he kept seeing this “other girl” smiling at him, but he was ignoring her because he really wanted to talk to the girl he met the night before. I was both girls – I had my hair pulled back on Friday night and down on Saturday morning, apparently that made me look “completely different”. It was only when one of his friends told him that I was actually the girl he was looking for, that he finally came over to talk to me.
That weekend passed – we talked, and laughed, and flirted, and kissed a little more. But on Sunday evening he was back in a car driving the 300 miles to his own college. Our story really could have ended there – who starts a long distance relationship at 18? – but instead of that weekend being the entirety of the story, it was actually the beginning of our epic journey through life.
The thing I love about our origin story, is the foreshadowing of what life would look like over time. The easy (and most would say smartest) thing to do would have been to say “Nice to meet you. Super fun weekend. Maybe we’ll run into each other again sometime.” We didn’t choose the easy thing. We chose the difficult thing – because it was the only way we could choose each other. We chose each other, and we chose to defy the odds together.
This life thing? This marriage thing? This equal partner thing? This parenting thing? None of it is ever always easy. But when we begin and end with choosing to show up for each other, we defy the odds over and over again.
We’ve lived through seasons full of brightness and laughter. We’ve lived through seasons full of darkness and tears. We’ve grown up, grown apart, and fought our way back to one another more times than I can count. From day one, we have agreed to disagree on practically everything – that is everything that is a small thing, and most things are small things. The big thing – the one thing that actually matters – is we choose each other.
It’s been a wild ride. Our 18-year-old selves couldn’t have even imagined what was yet to come. There have been moments I would choose to live differently, there are words I wish I had never said, there have been twists and turns that have left us dizzy and sometimes disoriented. But the one thing I would never, ever change is choosing the hard thing; choosing to live life with that boy by my side. That boy is now a man. He is still as cocky, and loud, and charming, and clever and funny as he was way back when. He is infuriating in so many ways, but he makes me better. We make each other better.
The first 25 years began with a game of cards, in a dorm lounge, in Aurora, NY. The second 25 years are beginning during a family trip to Disney World. There’s no telling where we go from here, but there is no doubt that we will always choose each other.