Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Day 30 of Why I Love My Wife

For those who aren't on Facebook, ever day for the last 29 days, I've given a reason for why I love my wife. This is actually for 7/17/14.

When I first met Christy, I knew she was way out of my league. I was right, but not for the reasons I thought at the time.

Through an odd set of circumstances, I ended up going to Houghton College in Western New York. Christy and I were in the same freshman introduction group and at the start of the year, before classes started, we were gathered together on the large green lawn at the center of campus and asked to introduce ourselves. I was looking for a few friends with geeky interests similar to my own. This was just a random gathering of people, though, so I wasn’t expecting much.

I forget what she was wearing – my memory says a dress – but regardless she was dressed up more than most in the group, and way more than me. Not that this was hard. Then, as now, I basically had two modes of dress: casual, and what I wear in the shower. At any rate, she was put together. At my school, if a girl showed up at a fairly informal social event with a dress on, wearing makeup, that was a statement, and usually meant that this was a Serious Person.

We all sat down together and gave our names and an interesting fact about ourselves. Mine was, I’m sure, passionately dorky, but Christy said that she was a cheerleader from a private school in New Hampshire, and lived in a log cabin. That was, as far as I could tell, the end of what I needed to know about this girl.

Cheerleader? I’d been on the high school quiz and debates teams, played in jazz band and senior high band, been president of the student council and the D&D club. I lettered in athletics, though – by managing two girls’ sports teams, scorekeeping for basketball and volunteering at fundraisers and banquets. I was a geek, a nerd and a dork. A cheerleader would want nothing to do with me. This I knew.

A private school in New Hampshire? New Hampshire was where Hollywood types had cabins and stuff, it wasn’t where actual people came from. And private schools? I know of two private schools in New Hampshire, and their annual tuition was more than my parents’ mortgage.

And the log cabin thing? I was a city kid – that was just weird.

Once classes started, I didn’t see Christy much. My high school credits from Canada took care of most of my freshman courseload, and we were in very different majors. Still, it was a small campus and we have a friend or two in common, which is why we were at the same table in the dining hall when one of our tablemates had a seizure.

Christy and a friend chased the ambulance while we all waited back on campus. They came back, but said our friend would need to be monitored for 24 hours straight. We went back to his apartment and each took a four hour shift. In the morning, I bumped into Christy in the hall as I made for the  bathroom. She’d just woken up, and hadn’t had the chance to take off her make-up the night before. Her contacts were out and she wore glasses that made her eyes look like pinpricks.

But I thought of what she’d done for our friend, without a thought for her own benefit, and how her face showed no flush of pride as I’m sure mine did. She was just tired. She’d done it because it needed to be done, and she could do it. I said what I was thinking: “Hello, beautiful.”

Now, it must be understood that we were kinda-sorta in relationships with other people at this point, as I recall it. I was dating an on-and-off high school flame, she was dating a Hispanic guitar player named Manuel who would frequently serenade her with music.

As is the way of such things, though, these relationships imploded within a week of each other. Despite the time we’d spent together, we were really just acquaintances, though. I still mispronounced her last name, and she still sometimes said, “Hey,” when she saw me and occasionally called me “Tim.”

Several friends said that we should spend more time together, but the two of laughed it off – we certainly weren’t going to be someone’s “rebound relationship.” We laughed it off pretty much every lunch and dinner where we sat next to each other more and more often, and all the times we hung out in the campus center or down at the snack shop. We made fun of the very notion of dating again as we sat elbow to elbow, making friends change seats if we had to.

I think she knew first. When I got to the dining hall, I’d see her craning her neck to look for me, and I understand I did the same although I don’t recall doing so. One night when we ended up setting across from each other in a snack shop booth rather than next to each other, she said it was all right because, “Now people will think we’re dating,” and winked.

I went back home for a weekend and realized on Saturday that the reason I felt miserable was that I didn’t have her around. I vowed that when I got back on campus, I’d make a move.

Opportunity knocked shortly – there was a movie showing on campus, Casper, and thought I’d ask her out. I confessed my nerves to my roommate, Erich, who admitted with some confusion that he was reasonably certain we were already dating.

The movie was pretty awful. The walk afterward was not.

I don’t know how we ended up holding hands. I’m iffy on how my arm ended up around her waist. I’m foggy on how we ended up facing each other in the moonlight, looking into each other’s eyes. I don’t even remember what I said, exactly, except that it was something to do with deciding that we were actually now dating, officially a “couple.”

This is the part where I’m supposed to say, “and I’ve never regretted it,” but it’s been eighteen years together and there’s no point in being that deluded. There have been moments. Doctor’s appointments, phone calls from the bank, letter from “friends,” moments that make me ask, “Is it worth it?” But every time that happens, every single time, I look at her and see those same eyes I looked into eighteen years ago and realize that it is worth it. Always. Because of her.

The best years of my life are the ones that’ve been twined with hers. I have a hard time remembering a life before her, and I don’t want to think of one without her. Happy anniversary, dear.

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