When people ask me how I met my husband, I always pause for a moment before I say something like, "We met in college." While this is true, it's more complicated than that. Technically we met when I was in college. He, as a 25-year-old English professor (yes! I know! He is a freaking genius!), was auditing a writing class I was taking my junior year of college. His friend was teaching the class, and John told him that he would not sit in on the class unless his friend gave no indication to anyone that he was a teacher. He would do the work and participate in the class as a student.
I'm sorry, but when this walks into a college classroom half-full of 20-year-old girls? There is no chance of being incognito:
Soon rumors were swirling (ok it was mostly between my friend Vanessa and me). He was a grad student! Someone had him as a teacher! For something!
But mostly something was bothering me. There was something about this guy's voice. There was something about his hands. Yes, of course, he was attractive … but there was something nagging at me about him. Did I know him from somewhere? Maybe I had passed him by in the hallway in the English building and was just seeing him again? I dismissed it. I pushed it away. I listened as he read his stories out loud in class and tried not to look at him. I had a boyfriend, after all. And this guy? He never gave me a second look anyway.
I could not deny that I was connecting with his writing. Somewhere near the middle of the semester I wrote a story that meant something to me. Our teacher, Mike, was (and is still, I'm sure) a very loud, brash, embarrassing sort of guy. I could hang with that, but there was something about this story I was just not ready to share with him, nor the rest of the workshop. This guy John seemed like a nice guy. His comments on a few of my earlier pieces had been helpful. We all knew by now that he was a teacher. I was looking for someone to help me with an independent study the following year and thought maybe he would take me.
So I passed him a story after class one day in the hallway and asked if he'd read it and give me some feedback. He shouldered his backpack and held the papers in his hand. We scheduled coffee at the shop up the street to talk it over in a few days.
And that, as they say, was that (for me). It was during that coffee that I totally, head over heels, fell in love with him. That was eleven years ago. For a year we were friends who could not keep their hands off each other. Then there was a year of dating that was just crazy ups and downs. Then there was a second year of dating that was a kind of heaven on earth. And then we got engaged and got married, eight years ago today. And it has only taken me that long to finally realize what it was that was happening the first few times I met him: it was recognition. Something inside of me was leaping out, unbeknowst to me, exclaiming that this was him. It was not love at first sight or even lust at first sight. It was pure, unadulterated, soul-jumping.
One day when my children ask me, "How did you know Dad was the one?" I will have an answer. I will tell them to wait for the one who makes their soul jump. Not just one who makes their heart race or their loins burn, not just their best friend or a person who is a "great match." I will beg them to not give up on finding their person. To hold out hope for that one to whom they are inexplicably connected, for that person that they seem to recognize even though they've never met before. I will tell them that God will put that person in their way. He will keep putting that person in their way, so don't screw it up. Don't try to go around them or go the other way, even if it's hard. Even if the timing is wrong. Even if it makes no sense at all. If you've found that person, you know what that is. You know how hard it is to describe but you know exactly what I mean.
And it is real. And it is worth fighting for every day.
So Happy 8th Anniversary to my Johnny. I have always loved you. And I always will.