How I met my husband

(First published on Dec. 16, 2008)

Here we go.  I was born in Roanoke, VA.  My mother and
father both basically grew up there and all my grandparents and
extended family lived there.  When I was three months old my family
relocated to Raleigh, NC, where my sister was born and where we lived
until I was about 12 years old.  After 5th grade, my family once again
relocated to the west suburbs of Chicago (where my mother still lives)
so when you ask “where I grew up” I would say suburban Chicago, but my
family is from Virginia.

I went to college at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
I double majored in English and Rhetoric and then went on to get a
Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing.  I hope you can sorta
tell?  RIGHT?!

During the end of my junior year I met John, and the first
time I met him I never thought in a million years we would end up
married.  The story is LONG and SORDID (not really), but when I met him
he was teaching at U of I.  At first I didn’t know that … I thought
he was a graduate student (him being only 26 at the time – and looking
like he was 22 – didn’t help much).  He was auditing a class I was
taking (NOT TEACHING IT, as my mother would like to put it because
according to her it’s much, much more interesting that way.  She also
likes to end that story with “You’d better believe she got an ‘A’ in
THAT class, heh heh heh!”).  Anyway, sometime during the end of the
year we struck up a polite TOTALLY PLATONIC friendship and exchanged
addresses.  I went off to be a camp counselor in Maine (WORST JOB EVER
IN MY LIFE) and he went off to Texas to work in the teaching program he
worked for every summer. 

At some point I was writing postcards to everyone I knew
because a) there was no internet at this stupid, ridiculous, awful
place where I worked; b) I didn’t have a cell phone because I went to
college BEFORE the time when everyone and their brother had a cell
phone OH MY GOSH I AM SO OLD; and c) I was super lonely and was pretty
sure that the guy I was dating at the time (not John, by the way) was
cheating on me while I was away (AND HE WAS).  Anyway I had this big
stack of postcards and I had written one to everyone I could think of
because I was desperate for someone to write back and I had one left. 
I sat there on my top bunk flipping through my address book and there
was John’s name and address.  I thought to myself “What the heck?” and
wrote him a very generic “Hey how are you, it’s beautiful here, hope
you’re doing great in Texas” kind of note, mailed it, and forgot all
about it. 

About a week later there was a huge, fat envelope waiting
for me on my bed.  Inside was a ten-page letter about everything that
was going on in Texas with this guy I kinda knew.  It was water on dry
soil.  I wrote him back a ten-pager of my own about how AWFUL
everything was in Maine, and then he wrote me back AGAIN.  For the rest
of the summer we wrote letters … we basically told each other our
life stories and exchanged song lyrics and poems that had changed our
lives and in the process TOTALLY FELL IN LOVE. 

When I got back to school we planned to meet up and I was
SO nervous to see him again because I totally had feelings for him and
had no idea if he felt the same way about me.  We hung out one night –
basically drove around in his pickup truck – and played each other all
the songs we had written each other about.  And … he asked to hold my
hand.  Goosebumps, people, you have NO IDEA.  The next night we
kissed.  And then basically decided that we couldn’t date because he
worked for the department that I was a student in and even though he
WAS NOT MY TEACHER AND NEVER WAS, that kind of thing was frowned upon
and we were both Christians and wanted to live with integrity.  What
followed was the hardest and craziest and most wonderful year of my
life.  John and I became best friends, fell off the wagon and smooched
many times, cried, talked on the phone for hours on end, fought, drank
gallons of coffee, spent weeks without talking or seeing each other
until we couldn’t stand it anymore, didn’t date other people, and then
FINALLY when I graduated, gave it – legitimate out-in-the-open dating –
a shot.  Two years later we were married.  That was in 2004.

That is honestly the shortest version of the story I can
tell.  Sometimes when people ask “How did you and John meet?” I just
say the standard “Oh, we met in college” thing but really, it’s much
better than that.  🙂

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