Ten years ago I lived in a house with friends near campus while I studied psychology. I slept in a tiny room that barely fit a bed, desk, and dresser. I’d recently gotten out of a not-so-serious relationship with a cute boy with tattoos and had gone on a horrible date with a girl. I was having fun dating and was in no hurry to settle down.
On Friendster (a pre-MySpace, pre-Facebook social networking site), I got a message from a guy who lived a few hours away. I wish I could remember exactly what he said, but at the time it was so inconsequential it slipped my mind. He more or less said, “Hey, saw you lived in the area and that we had some things in common. Just looking for friends.”
I thought, “Sure, why not?” and messaged him back. We chatted online for a week or so and in that time we started to flirt a little. He asked for my number and we talked for hours on the phone. Although neither of us were looking for a relationship, it was clear we connected well and the chemistry was off the charts. After a few weeks he asked me out on a date and suggested meeting for coffee. His picture was cute (he kind of reminded me of Heath Ledger and he had on a vest!) and he made me laugh a lot, so I said yes. I figured at the very least it would make for a funny story. I never dreamed about the best case scenario.
When he showed up at the house he was still cute, if less Heath Ledger-ish. He had short, light brown hair and gorgeous blue-green eyes with long, thick lashes. He wore jeans and an orange T-shirt and he smelled great. He sat down in the living room and my roommate/best friend interrogated him. All 110 pounds of her tried to look intimidating as she brandished her knitting needles and asked him pointed questions in case he was an axe murderer.
Once she deemed him safe enough, he and I walked to the coffee shop down the road. It was maybe a little awkward initially; first dates always are, but by the time we found a seat on the patio–him with a mocha latte, me with a chai–that eased. The butterflies in my stomach were from excitement not nerves and I had that fluttery, shaky feeling of infatuation. We talked for hours, covering just about every topic under the sun, and it never got boring.
Long after our drinks were gone, we walked back to the house and went in my room. He sprawled on my bed while I sat in the desk chair and we listened to music and talked more. Eventually, we kissed. He swears I lunged forward and attacked him, I swear it was mutual. To this day we can’t agree who made the first move.
Our first date lasted three days. I fed him leftover homemade blue cheese mac n’ cheese and we cooked together. We took walks in the park and I remember sitting in the gazebo with his head on my lap thinking I’d never felt that way about a guy before. After three days, he headed home. I was going back to my home town and he had to work. Best friend and I went to World Market to get beer for her father for Father’s Day and in the parking lot she said, “Sooo, seems like your date went well.” I laughed and agreed. I said, “There are only two things I don’t like about him. He has crooked teeth and a really annoying laugh.” She agreed, but we both decided that compared to the way he made me feel, they weren’t important.
He and I dated for a few months, initially non-exclusively because I was freaked out by the idea of settling down. Of course, I didn’t actually go out with anyone else, I just liked knowing I had that option. But by the end of the summer we were exclusive, and in September when we went camping he told me he loved me. We were at the picnic table and he stood there, squeezing mustard onto a brat, and looked down at where I was sitting and said, “I think I love you.”
My stellar response? “Thanks. I really like you, but I’m not ready to say that back. I promise I’ll get there though!” *rolls eyes*
That was pretty much the way our relationship went, him forging forward, me holding back. But he was patient and eventually we were on the same page. Oh, and the crooked teeth got fixed once he had dental insurance and the annoying laugh has toned down. Ten years later, here we are, married and living in an old home with three crazy cats.
We’ve been through some rough things together: fire, theft, car accidents, burglary, health issues, the death of family and pets … Through it all the one thing that tells me I made the right choice is that every bad day is better with him in it. Even when I’m mad at him, I am glad he’s there to make me mad. As cliche as it sounds, he’s made me a better person. I’m stronger and more sure of who I am because of him. I’m more, well, me.
We go out to celebrate our wedding anniversary every year–it’ll be 4 years in October–but in some ways I think our first date was more monumental. It’s where it all started. Every day I am grateful I answered that message. That I chose to stick with it and fight past my fears about settling down and growing up. Because while I don’t necessarily believe in soul mates and I think there are many people we can fall in love with, I do believe that maybe there’s one person who is the best fit. And thanks to luck, good timing, and a lot of patience on his part, I found mine.
Happy 10th anniversary, sweetheart. You’re the most patient axe murderer ever!