Monday, July 16, 2007

eight years, this day

1. The story of how you met.

When I was in Green Bay these past few weeks, my mother told the story of how she met my father. She told of how a friend of hers called, saying these two boys wanted a tour of Boston and her friend told her I get the tall one (so obviously not my father). I was so surprised--this whole time I'd been telling a myth, that my parents met on a blind date, and that my mother was actually a fill in for a girl that got sick. Had I imagined this? Or was this a story that my father told?

The Fiance and I have a complicated, tangled story that isn't as interesting as a blind date, or even a tour of the Boston swan boats and hidden literary places. But here it is:

I was a freshmen in college, attending a local school for a year before I transferred, hoping to stay closer to the person I was dating at the time. We broke up in the fall, a very tumultuous break up with much melodrama, and the breakup had the added downfall of coming the day after my nineteenth birthday. I was living at home, and as well all know, this wasn't entirely the best idea given how often clashes occur. I was going to move out with Mandy, but she bailed on the last minute, and in her stead, she offered a guy who worked at a store in the mall across the way from her--a guy I barely knew, but had spoken with a few times and he was in the same situation--desperate to get out of his parents' home.

I moved in with Bill in March, unhappy that I'd even stayed back a year, wishing I had gone ahead to the college I'd wanted to attend (Iowa) and not allowed a relationship (that ended) to keep me in town. Through Bill, I met all kinds of crazy people, people that will come to our wedding, people that will stand up next to us, people we love a great deal. And a few months after moving in with Bill, I met The Fiance (who went to high school with Bill). He wasn't supposed to be in Green Bay either; instead, he was supposed to stay in Duluth, where he was going to college, where he'd promised to live with the guy who is now his best man (Mike bought a house in town and The Fiance had even gone house hunting with him), where he'd signed up for summer courses. He hasn't been clear about why, and as far as I know, he's not really sure, but, in his words, he "freaked out" and decided to transfer schools (this only lasted a semester and he eventually returned to Duluth). But his coming home that summer was necessary for us to meet, to fall in love. Without my lingering, without Mandy's backing out, without The Fiance's impulse to come home, we'd have never crossed paths.

I was dating someone else at the time, someone in the "complete loser" category--not so smart, did a lot of drugs, a person who cared about me but wanted to know what we'd do when I did go away to college, and I could only evade his questions. And this boy would come over, and The Fiance confessed to how he was jealous, which means he must have noticed me before I realized it, and I do remember one night when he came to our apartment and I was technologically intelligent in showing him how to hook his computer up through the VCR so we could watch a pirated version of The Matrix. (Little did he know, I'm a techno-moron. What a disappointment.) Steve was there that night, the guy I was dating, and I sat holding his hand. I remember The Fiance that night too, such a contrast to the guy I was dating.

Since it wasn't asked, I'll go ahead and tell this: there was one night that summer, I believe it was in June, when The Fiance and I somehow became linked. I don't know if it was purposeful on his part or not, but we ended up talking all night, stumbling around the place we fondly called Wiggins (where some of those favorite people lived, in a duplex on Wiggins Way, and now they live in California and we're lucky enough that they'll attend our wedding), taking shots of tequila and drinking out of a beer someone ashed into, watching the sun rise. The Fiance invited me to dinner with our friends Jeff and Lani (Jeff will be one of our groomsmen), but then he slept through the date, after I sat dressed up, waiting in the apartment, our friends drifting in and out. I remember everyone shocked at The Fiance being so bold as to ask me out--he's terribly shy, and I hope they thought it was sweet. Bill did threaten me a little, telling me that if I broke The Fiance's heart, he'd be pretty angry. I'm proud to say I didn't, and I hope I never do; his heart is so precious to me.

2. How long have you been together?

Eight years ago today we had our first date. My longest relationship before that was nearly-two years; his longest before me was three weeks. It was in high school, and they only kissed. I like to tease him about that.

3. Do you have a song?

Nope, so it's been hard trying to figure out that first dance song. At first, I thought Etta James' "At Last" would be good, since I was so patient waiting for him to ask me (I think Kelly and he might differ on the "patient" part!), but we wanted to go with something a little less popular as a first dance song. I think we're going with "Be Here Now" by Mason Jennings. A little more rocky to dance to, but definitely fits us and I think the attitude we need to have going into this relationship. There's another song ("Forever my Friend" by Ray LaMontagne) that has the lyrics "Forever my love, forever my friend," but it isn't danceable, unless you consider pathetic bouncing a dance style, which he might. :) I tried to convince him that it was our song, but he was having none of it. I guess you can't just decide these things. There are songs that make me think of our earlier days, like Dave Matthews' "Two Step," which brings me right back to that summer.

4. Five traits that are different from yours in personality and how they compliment me (or vice versa).

This is a pretty challenging one...

- The Fiance likes to mull things over; I am impulsive. We balance each other out, and thus far, we've managed some of the biggest purchases (house, reception location, etc.) without any major scuffle. Of course, some decisions have taken longer then I'd like, but those decisions... well, he's worth it.
- Going into our relationship, The Fiance was much more patient then I was. He rubbed off on me; I managed to survive two years of teaching high school thus far. I think that's a strong indicator that I am more patient. :)
- This isn't personality as much as it's interests, but he is a math/science nerd, and I am a languages/arts nerd, which makes for new conversation, and we'll see how those interests develop in our offspring.
- I think the way we've dealt with our puppies is reflective on how we will be different in dealing with children. He is more ready to give Zephyr a chance then I am, but I've fortunately convinced him Z is not just yet trustworthy (hey, we've all seen the evidence). I'm more inclined to be nervous about things; he's more inclined to allow for risks. So if we have boys, I'll just have to squeeze my eyes shut as they fling themselves off strange structures and hope he knows what he's doing. :)
- He's more disciplined then I am. This is a trait I'm fairly jealous of... He can stay on task for a very long time at something, which I think frustrates him when I don't do as well; he has a very let's-get-this-done attitude, especially with daunting tasks, like moving. I want to rest and not overwhelm myself. It's good, though, because things get done. He's my motivator sometimes.

5. What is the sweetest thing he has ever done for you?

There are so many I could list, so many little things, so many things that are big and wonderful and logical--the night he stayed up with me after my sister's accident (how he drove me to the hospital at six in the morning because I was so freaked out); the night he stayed up playing Gauntlet with me, trying to help me fall back to sleep after a drunk slammed into my parents' minivan and totaled it; (so much to do with nights and cars) but the big one is this:

When I lived in a studio apartment just blocks away from the university, my phone went out. This was before cell phones were the norm, so I had to walk down to a convenience store to call it in and fell asleep, unhappy I couldn't have my nightly long distance phone call to The Fiance or at least send an email (good ol' dial up connection). It was something like seven or so in the morning when a knock came at my door... I stumbled around, trying to find my bathrobe (I slept naked, after all) and opened the door, finding The Fiance, bloodshot eyes, staring back at me. He had driven the five and a half hours from Milwaukee to Minneapolis, leaving at two in the morning after he hadn't been able to get a hold of me by phone. He was worried about me; I pulled him into bed and we slept until well past noon.

We're big into little surprises, big romantic gestures, but mostly, good time together. We love traveling, discovering, exploring together. And he makes my heart melt all messy gooey all over the place.

6. Do you compliment each other in ways of handling stress? Does he calm down when you stress out and vice versa? Or do you both wig out and wind each other up?

What a very important and very amusing question! :) I say this because, as I drove home last night, I was speaking to him on my phone and had to get off the phone with him because he was irritating me. No one can push my buttons like The Fiance can. No one quite knows my buttons like he does.

But no one can wrap me in comfort like he can either. He's so perfect and wonderful when I need him to be; he pushes buttons generally when I'm being ridiculous. I was stressing out because I was tired of making decisions (a symptom I am assuming many brides are accustomed to--I hope I'm not alone?) and said I was done, that I would do whatever anyone else wanted. We can go to Winona the Sunday I return from North Carolina, if that is what everyone wants to do. My bridesmaids can wear flip flops, if they want to. I don't care! And I think I was getting a little tantrum-ish because he asked if I was stomping my feet as I was saying these things. :)

Well, yes, sure I was.

But he's often good about stressful situations, as long as I'm not off my rocker about it. I called him while I was in Green Bay after my mother and I had a particularly unpleasant moment, and he was so good about it, but I also wasn't a nutty hyena as I was telling him what had happened. He listened (didn't try to solve it!) and told jokes (the most perfect and hilarious kind, making fun of the situation, threatening to put yellow and orange and navy buttons on a dress for me) and was generally the exact kind of person you'd want to tell about a crazy moment you had with your family.

When he's stressed, he's not as splayed out as I can be. He's very quiet about it and just says, "I'm stressed. I need to work on this." Very matter of fact. And I try to be as good as I can, without dancing about, wanting too much attention.

7. What is his favorite thing about you?

Um, that I change the bedsheets once in a while and I put up with that weird clicking noise he makes when he sleeps?

I can't really answer this one without asking him, but he tells me that he's proud of me, and that makes me feel very warm inside. I think he's pleased that I'm decent at my vocation and I know he likes that I'm creative. I think he didn't expect that I'd be as wacky as I am, but that's part of my charm.

8. If you could possess one of his traits as your own, which would it be and why?

Ah, one wonderful thing about a partnership, I believe, is admiration. I really do think The Fiance is one of the finest human beings, and I know I'm biased, but I also know many of my girl friends would agree that I will end up with an incredible person, a very, very good person to be with. I could just crawl into his big ol' heart and play house, it's so welcoming and huge.

There are two things, and I hope that's not cheating too much:

#1: His patience. I know he gets frustrated and annoyed, but he's also able to not let things get to him, which is something I wish were true about me. I get distracted, like a little raccoon (or one of my students with ADD), or, if it's not working fast enough, I give up. He's got this great work ethic and this giving nature that will keep him at something for a long time. And his patience leads to his generosity, and it's all just very, very lovely.

#2: His humility. He's a very brilliant person, I think, but he's quiet humble about it. And I really admire that. He's also quite the talented musician, and again, very humble and modest. If I feel like I've been doing a good job teaching, I sometimes say, "Hey, I think I'm not too bad of a teacher." Or if I write a poem that I'm proud of, my chest might get all puffy. I like to drag him to the computer to see the pictures I've taken that miraculously worked out. Heck, I've got this blog to tout that kind of stuff.

9. Also, do you ever get "sick of each other" and how do you handle it?

I actually don't get sick of him, and though we appreciate the small breaks we get with the changes in geography, I don't think we'd be restless if we didn't have them. We don't see each other as much as I think we'd like, and when we are home, we often are both working, so we are in the same room, but concentrating at our tasks at hand. I'll let you know if I do get sick of him though. :) We have a pretty subtle and quiet relationship most of the time.

10. First date.

When we first met, he started a job at a gas station for the summer that gave him a ten at night 'till six in the morning shift, so I started writing him letters, sometimes enclosing books, sometimes music. He wrote back, and there was one night when he called me and asked breathlessly, "Can I take you out to dinner some time?" I can't imagine the courage he had to muster to ask this question.

We went to Z Harvest, which is a lovely little restaurant in Green Bay, and then for a walk along the river. He said he had to go to Milwaukee to sign a lease for an apartment and invited me to come along. So our date was in two cities, and we watched Othello at a friend's place and sat on the balcony looking up at the stars. I think we both got something like two hours of sleep, snoozing on a friend's sofa, and I felt so self conscious sleeping in front of him just as we started dating. The next morning, the realtor asked us if we were dating, and we apparently both turned pink. The following day, I went on a cruise to Hawaii with my parents for a week and wrote him things every day, missing him, and humming along the volcanic paths, falling asleep to a CD he made me of songs he'd written.

11. First kiss.

I wish I could definitively say I remember when this was, but I'm pretty sure it was a few weeks after that first date... we were lounging around at my apartment and he leaned in and there it was, so sweet, so gentle.

12. First time one of you said "I love you."

It was him, which is funny, because he was the one to take the longest on all the other decisions. It was in that first month, and I don't think I said it back, not just yet, but it wasn't long after. We were pretty crazy about each other from the start.

13. When did you "know"?

When we walked into the house we bought, I tingled. My body felt it, I knew. This was the house I wanted to turn into a home with him.

When I met The Fiance, and we began to bond, I knew. It was before our first date, even, and maybe it wasn't that I knew we'd eventually marry (though I think that was pretty clear in the first few months, that if I didn't marry him one day, if he'd have me, I would be a fool), but I did know that no matter what, I wanted him to be a part of my life. My whole life.

14. How do you think your life will change once you are his wife?

I'm not sure. Our lives feel pretty married as it is, what with the house and the pets and the finances and all. I can't wait to call him my "husband" though! And I am looking forward to raising a family with him and growing old with him. I think he's the perfect partner for me, and I'm so lucky.

15. How is life different where you grew up then where you live with your fiance?

The environment at my parents' house is very different from the environment we have here. I think the focus is different and the conversational style is different too. The Fiance and I are fairly laid back, very comfortable, and we try to resolve issues in a low key way. I think, growing up in Green Bay, there was a lot of yelling, and that doesn't happen here. I'm not saying one way is better; it's just a different way of expressing. I'm happier when it's quieter, when we can talk things out, and when we get upset, we generally just cool off and deal with it when we're a little less nutty. That's the main difference--the way anger and irritation are dealt with. And I think, in turn, the way love is dealt with is different, too.

16. Where does he hide those muscles in his skinny body?

Heck if I know. He has terrible eating habits. And when I say this, I don't mean, he doesn't eat enough vegetables each day; I mean, he often doesn't eat any vegetables all week, or fruit, and he can come home and announce that all he has eaten thus far was a Snickers bar and too much Pepsi. (Twitch, twitch.) Then he'll have a burger or pizza for dinner and a couple of beers, the little turd. He also doesn't work out. But he is uncannily strong, indeed. And there's not a lot of fat. Maybe all that clicking and typing is a work out for the arms, but if that were true, all this blogging would make me much stronger then I am, so who knows? What a turkey.

17. How did he ask?

One year ago today: We went to visit his sister in New Jersey and mine in New York City (now moved to Austin). We were in the city on the hottest of days, sweat tricking down to every crevice, and after surviving the heat of the boat trip over, we settled beneath an elm tree just next to the Statue of Liberty. We had pretzels and lemon ice and I leaned back against him. He covered my eyes with his palms and said he lied about getting me an anniversary present. When he pulled his hands away, there was the ring and he whispered, "Will you marry me?" Such a quiet proposal in such a dramatic place (and yes, I recognize the irony of our location).

Thanks for the questions, all! This was fun. :) (And goodness, a prize to you if you read this whole thing! Perhaps I'll bake you a German Chocolate cake!)


lizardek said...

That was fun, and I loved your answer to my question. Shall I leave my address for where to send the chocolate cake because I read the whole thing, I did! :D

EWH said...

I also read the whole thing; I would be happy to come pick UP the cake, however, so I win :-)

(Fun for you to reflect on your relationship at such an important time. Happy Anniversay (again), and have a good time on your vacation.)

eireann said...


michelle said...

Aw! Reading that made my eyes water :) I'm very very happy for you! I also can't wait to get to know this man (and you) more! :)

I think I'll have to pass on the German Chocolate Cake - although it did look heavenly. I need to eat better :)

Oh - Happy 8 Year Anniversary! :)