In my freshman year at college in Boston (she a nursing student, and I an engineering one) I met a whole bunch of people, one of them being my (then future) wife. I still recall our first meeting, as uneventful as it was. We didn't experience a Thunderbolt, this was not love at first sight for either of us. Hers was one of dozens of friendships that grew during that year of class.
But even now I can see her black patent leather shoes, the white frilly ankle-high socks, black slacks, white turtle-neck and powder-blue knit sweater, and the fake pearl necklace that she was wearing on that day. I can also see the big, ugly purple below-the-knee jacket that she was carrying too. Which is pretty amazing, since I can't see clearly the breakfast that I ate a couple of hours ago. One wonders if I had NOT experienced a Thunderbolt, but it was well below my threshold of perception...food for thought.
One thing about me: I'm nothing if not slow. I don't mean 'slow' as in 'can't run fast' or 'couldn't read until I was 17'. But everything that I do is done slowly, from DIY projects to cooking dinner. I think and think and think and think until I have a fair idea of what needs to be done, then I think a bit about it more, and make decisions typically when they need to be made, and not a moment sooner.
Thus it was that she and I, along with a large group of engineering students, a few nursing students, and the occasional PT student, enjoyed each other's company for over two years while we all collectively became fast friends.
Now, it was clear to me long before those two years were up that I was attracted to her. However, she was at that time involved and engaged (to what I refer to as 'her previous asshole'), and it would be a breach of honor to try to become involved with her in 'that condition'. The second thing that I like to think that I am is honorable, so she was clearly off limits.
But you know the axiom: you don't choose who you fall in love with.
There are dozens of reasons to love her: she's smart, infinitely kind, possessed of a great sense of humor, generous, patient when it counts (and at the same time not patient in certain aspects), adventurous, intrepid, she brings a sack-full of happiness wherever she goes, she's thankful for the least things (good for me, naturally)...the list goes on and on. And she's a pushy broad too.
People other than me have said these things about her (honest, none of these are made up by me):
- She's the sunshine of the facility in which she works.
- She is the yardstick by which some of my friends measure other women (possible partners).
- Everyone needs a little (insert name here) in their lives.
- When you meet her, you instantly feel like you've known her forever.
- She's way, way too good for me (ok, this one's shared only by me and her mother)
- She makes [this place] a better place (the office, the world...depends on who's speaking)
Naturally, lots of other folks knew that we were in love before we ourselves did. Mostly because of her predicament, and also because when you walk into a room, you don't see what your own impact is on folks in that room. So, she was always happy anyway, and not just (or especially) if I happened to be there.
Fast forward to a winter day when I learned that she had broken up with her previous asshole and needed a new one. And there I was! Imagine! The truth of it is that some other person made her aware that I had been interested in her, and it was up to her to make the first move (me being the thumb-sucking coward that I am). Thankfully, and bewilderingly, she did make that move and hauled my ass out of a class to go for a ride and have a conversation about it. Which is to say that she ambushed me.
Early in our romantic relationship, we found ourselves sharing lunch at a Friendly's. Being an omnivorous fellow, and not overly imaginative, Burger and fries was on my menu, and that called for ketchup. One of the many problems with ketchup, however, is that is separates in the bottle and you have to shake it.
My learning on this particular day was to always make sure that the cap is actually screwed onto the ketchup bottle when you shake it. This comes up every so often even now, more than a quarter of a century later. She never got put out by it, but laughed and filed it away with her growing list of things to hold against me...like her stomach.
Now I had known long before this experience that she was a keeper, but this is a pretty good anecdote that relates just that point. Ketchup all over her sweater (and she has always been careful about her cleanliness and whether her clothes "go" with each other and what not) in public, and she just laughed. Perfect, because I know, without a doubt, that Mr. Clumsy here is going to be doing things like that for a long, long time, and how she responds is very important.
We were married 7 years after we met. We debated on where to go for our honeymoon. She wanted a Caribbean cruise, and I wanted to go to Alaska. We compromised and went on a Caribbean cruise. We'll get to Alaska yet.
The best relationships do indeed begin with a firm foundation of friendship.