I met my husband in the fall of 1995, just two short months in to my senior year of high school. He was friends with a guy my friend was dating. Normally the rest of this post would be somewhat brief and contain the phrase, “…and they lived happily ever after…” – but that wasn’t the case for us. We didn’t exactly hit it off. He was loud and goofy, I was quiet and moody. We had a brief exchange of “hi” and I don’t think I saw him again for months.
Fast forward to the spring of 1996. I was one of the leads in my high school’s spring musical. My friend was still dating the same guy and he had offered to do the stage makeup for our show (he was attending The Art Institute of Pittsburgh for Industrial Design which included makeup and special effects). He brought friends, including that loud, goofy guy that I met at his apartment in the fall. We remembered each other and probably grunted some greeting; we were young and attitude-filled. He was 19, I was 17. Over the course of the next few weeks, we ended up spending a lot of time together and what I saw under that loud, goofy facade was a smart, compassionate person who had an amazing sense of humor and quick wit. From outward appearances, I didn’t think we’d have much in common, but much to my surprise we enjoyed a lot of the same things, mainly movies and most importantly, the same genre of movies…horror. I’m not sure what he saw in me other than extremely over-sized black clothing and layers upon layers of black eye-liner. We started dating a few weeks after the close of the musical. I took him to my prom. And here we are 21 years later.
I chose this date, May 12, to publish this post because it is my dear, dear husband’s birthday but it also marks the start of our relationship. May 12, 1996 (to be exact) was the first time we ever hung out, just the two of us. Most of our “dates” prior to this occasion were the typical high school group outings to the movies or the mall, or for us city kids, walking around downtown and spending hours in Eide’s. On our first, real date, we hung out at his apartment on Merrimac St. in Mt. Washington, we watched The Brain that Wouldn’t Die, and ate the worst garlic toast of all time. He toasted white bread and smothered it in butter, then dumped an unreasonable amount of garlic powder on. It is still one of my favorite dates we’ve ever had. At one point, he turned to me and asked, “Does this make me your boyfriend?” It’s was so sickeningly sweet, but at 17 and 19 respectively, I guess that’s how it should be. When things are stressful I still think back to those days (and this date, in particular) and it always brings a smile to my face.
As you can imagine, we’ve been through a lot in 21 years. College graduations, job gains, job losses, periods of hopelessness and periods of joy. We’ve had soaring highs and what felt like soul-crushing lows – lows that we weren’t sure we could ever recover from, but we did, as we always do.
We were kids when we started dating. The thought of ever having the “do you want kids?” conversation never entered either of our minds. When I was younger, I was not a fan of children. I was not the girl cooing at babies in stores or who willingly listened to stories about other people’s kids (I’m still not). For a long time, I thought maybe I didn’t want kids. And my husband never really addressed it either. He was much more of a fan of children than I was. He seemed so much more natural around them. He’d often talk to kids when we were out and about, if he saw a kid drop something, he’d help or pick it up for them. I was always stunned by this and thought, “He’s going to make a great dad someday” then I’d recoil in horror that I was even thinking about our fictional children.
How could I have known, 21 years ago, that my husband was going to be a supportive, caring, kind, and firm parent? I couldn’t have known, but I sure got lucky.
We were together nearly 16 years (married for 8) when our son was born. I feel so lucky that we had what felt like an entire lifetime together before becoming a trio. We had some of our most financially unstable times, together, just the two of us. During these “broker than broke” times we also had an unbelievable amount of fun. While I wouldn’t want to go back to the daily struggles we faced, it is a time in our marriage that despite adversity, I remember fondly.
Selfishly, I’m glad we didn’t have to share that with anyone. That is a life and a memory that belongs only to us – along with so many other things in our long and complicated history before our son was born. I love that we have years and years of memories that don’t include our son.
Because we had been married for quite some time we’d often get the “when are you having kids? Why don’t you have any kids?” questions. Here’s some unsolicited advice – STOP ASKING PEOPLE THAT. It’s none of your business. Shut up. Got it?
Anyway, we’d usually reply to these rude intrusions with a sarcastic comment or shrug. The truth (for me) is, I didn’t know if I could be a good mom. I wasn’t sure that I was compassionate or unselfish enough to be a parent. My husband knew, completely, that he could do it. Still, we never felt the pressing need/desire to have children. We’d joke and talk about it. We’d make up ridiculous names for our imaginary children. We’d talk about how different our lives would be because of it. We both took the stance that our life was awesome the way it was, but it could be awesome if we had a kid too. This shift happened, organically, one day. The thought of having a kid no longer made my stomach drop, instead it made my stomach flutter with excitement at the possibility.
As we’d done so many times before, we embarked on a new journey together.…I found out I was pregnant on July 4, 2011. Our new partner in crime was born February 23, 2012.
Although Mother’s Day is in just a few short days and society tells me that this week is about me, this is an ode to my high school prom date who’s turned out to be a phenomenal husband and inspiring father. I couldn’t be the mother I am with out his love and support.
Happy Birthday, happy anniversary of your horrible garlic toast, happy everything, love. Thank you for accepting and often matching (and exceeding) my weirdness. Thank you for being such a strong and caring role model for our son. Thank you for always stepping up and stepping in, even when I don’t know or think I need support. Thank you for the last 21 years. Simply put, thank you for you.