I love to hear how people met, what circumstances brought two strangers together to form a couple. Those stories are endearing, and every couple has one, yet they’re often not dramatic or ironic, so they go untold. I think our story is like that in some ways. Certainly, I have much more dramatic stories that I tell, often to shock and awe. But the story of Us, is precious and important, and today it celebrates a big birthday.
Jim and I met at McDonald’s – two teenagers beginning a summer of closing down the store, night after night. We didn’t become a couple until fifteen months after we met. We simply got to know each other.
We started dating on Sept. 28, 1992. On this day, Oct. 14, 1992, twenty years ago, I went with him to his parents’ house after work and never went home. The next day, Oct. 15, we waited until his mom had left the house, and then we found an apartment. We moved out. It was bang – wizz fast, but we never looked back.
At eighteen, my worldly possession didn’t even fill the back of Jim’s dad’s pickup. We loaded them up, brought them to a dumpy little apartment with dated appliances and a pitted vinyl floor. Suddenly, we were grown ups. But we weren’t. We stayed up way too late, ate junk food like we were teenagers, because we were teenagers, and we had so much fun. We had no money but an abundance of time, and we spent our time like the young kids we were.
Six months later we were engaged. Almost two years after becoming a couple, we got married. Those years from 1991 to the middle of 1995 were so easy. I did have a horrible burn at work that was unpleasant, but the rest of it was just a calm spring, the beginning of everything. Then my dad found out about his cancer. Then he died. Then, Mary, my best friend, died. Then my Grandma died, then September 11th happened, then infertility dragged on, then the elation of pregnancy was popped by the most horrible diagnosis of our baby. Then, well that’s all in the book. . . but things are so much better now.
It seems like a very long stretch of our relationship was “in bad times,” but we bought our first house, finished school, traveled the world (though not together). In spite of all of that we suffered, we still laughed, and loved, and lived a life, a real life, not a sorrow soaked existence, but a life of survival and celebration of the love that got us through. So, here we are twenty years older and wiser, truly grown up.
I have been accused of being “deep” on more than one occasion, once from a doe eyed woman whose nickname was Bambi. The irony was magical. I confess, I am deep like the Marianna Trench, and it can make the superficial and shallow almost unbearable. Jim has depth, but he has so much light, and he laughs and jokes. He is the effervescence, the bubbles of air and light that make their way to my depths and restore my humanity. He loves that I’m deep, but he keeps me from being dark. An I’m an anchor, that helps him find a center. We serve each other well, we are a good match. And we have twenty years of evidence to that fact.