I love relationship origin stories, but ours tops them all. Because it’s ours. Because it reminds me of how we got to where we are. Of who we were before the 10 years of marriage and three children and what our daughter calls “the cracks” in our faces.
Our Love Story
In the dark days of winter, I need that reminder.
He was a high school senior, tall and broody, and dripping in Chicago Bulls wear. I was a shy freshman watching him from behind my massive head of tangled hair, and secretly writing our future love story in my diary. We might not have spoken, but I knew we were meant to be.
I was right. But not yet.
Eight years later, we finally became friends.
He was a newspaper reporter working second shift in the same town where I was a college senior. His brooding had flourished into purpose and his passions extended well beyond the Bulls. He inexplicably started a “campaign” (his word, not mine) to befriend me based on our shared hometown.
He brought me newly printed newspapers after his deadline at 1 a.m. (What girl doesn’t want a daily newspaper from a cute guy?) As a thriving college student, I was still up most nights and greeted him happily. He stayed to chat.
We all know the best conversations happen at 1 a.m. when you’re 21. And talking to a man you once crushed on adds a certain element of interest. We sat and talked for hours, about family and friends and politics and the Counting Crows and the meaning of life and everything else that’s exciting when adulting is new.
This is the true foundation of our current life. This is the origin of our children and our home. When we are filled to the brim with the joy of our family and sleepless and anxious and frustrated, this is what made it all possible.
However, our relationship then was 100% platonic. It was simply late-night talking, long emails, instant messages (remember those?), and an occasional pick-up basketball game. There was no romance. Circumstances dictated there could be no romance.
Circumstances changed. We started a romance.
And failed spectacularly.
I suspect we knew that once we committed, 10 years of marriage and three children would follow, and neither of us was ready for that. We self-sabotaged. We stopped talking. I moved away.
There was nothing but crickets for three years. We dated others. I grew up. He grew up. He missed me. I missed him too, but I was far more stubborn.
He wrote me a letter, an actual letter, to try to make sense of what went wrong. I read the letter in my car in the parking lot of my Chicago apartment and cried.
That started two years of phone calls and emails and text messages and overnight drives and life integrations and then I was reading my high school diary excerpts at our wedding.
It’s entirely too easy to forget our story, to believe that we are simply Mom and Dad and nothing more.
But there was an “us” before them.
When we were shiny and bold even without eight cups of coffee.
When discussions of our future inspired and ignited and we welcomed the risks.
When our daily motivation was to get to exactly where we are right now.
The diary-scribbling freshman girl found the romance she’d predicted and willed into reality. It’s deepened immeasurably in the 15 years since it started. But sometimes we all need to remember where we started to fully recognize the magic we have today.