This guy and I have been married for the big ten as of August 17th. We’ve reached the point where he’s been in my life longer than not, and in honor of our 17 years together, I thought I’d write about how we met.
In 1999, we went to the same public boarding school – him from the coast and me from the County, mixed with a bunch of wild and too-smart-for-their-own-good teenagers in the middle of northern Maine.
Tim was incredibly shy and quiet, even more than he is now, and he blended into the background (which is funny, since he’s 6’4″ and built like a football player). I distinctly remember saying “Hi” as we passed in the hall, and the look he gave me reminded me of that scene in Inside Out where alarms are sounding and the kid’s emotions are flailing all over the the place because a girl looked at him.
Anyway, we had a few classes together, but I didn’t notice Tim until we had a night class in our second semester. He was cute, and he usually held the door for me on our way to the dorms after class. It took me the better part of two months to work up the nerve to talk to him.
(And when I say “talk to him”, I mean I pinged him on ICQ with a group message to a bunch of other students on Valentine’s Day with a generic “Happy Valentine’s Day” message. He wasn’t the only shy one.)
Amazingly enough, he took the bait. At the time, he was kinda interested a friend of mine, but the feeling wasn’t mutual. We talked mostly on ICQ, with the occasional “hello” in class, and eventually we started hanging out in person.
We weren’t really a couple, though. There was a lot of back and forth, a lot of working up the courage to ask the right questions. He was hesitant because he’d be going to college in the fall, and it seemed fruitless to start a relationship when we only had a few weeks to get to know each other. At some point, I got tired of the will-we-won’t-we game and decided to move on.
A month or so passed, and then on prom night he messaged me again, to tell me he regretted that he hadn’t asked me to prom, that I’d looked beautiful in my dress, and that he missed me. He was so genuine and sweet, so we started talking again.
On a Friday night shortly thereafter, he called me on the phone (from the lounge in his dorm wing), and we talked non-stop for six hours (and now you know how I got my internet handle!) Despite his soft-spoken nature, he was easy to talk to, and we never ran out of things to say. When we finally hung up at midnight, it was clear we were smitten.
That was the call that seemed to solidify us as A Couple, and in that short span of time, he went from hesitant about our future to full-on, head-over-heels in love, and I followed him down.
He’d tell me he was going to marry me; I’d tell him he was crazy, and that back-and-forth continued for seven years, until I finally (and happily) relented.
When I think about all the things that could have broken us up in those first years — a year and a half of long distance, sharing tiny, crummy apartments in college, family tensions, school and work stress — I continue to be amazed that two kids from opposite ends of the state who had no clue what they were doing stuck together and made it.
We’ve faced everything together, and thankfully something in our personalities made us grow together rather than apart. I couldn’t name it (luck? good humor? work? love? a combination?), but I know that since we’ve been together, I’ve always felt at home.
There are a lot of challenges ahead in the next ten years. Teenagers! Middle age! Ongoing mental health drama! But we’ll be in it together, whatever comes.