Monday, August 8, 2011

The Joke's On Us: A Love Story

This post has been in the works for awhile. On April 1st, Alex from Late Enough asked us for our best Fool's Day pranks. Which prompted a discussion on Twitter where Kris from Pretty All True encouraged me to write about how I've been married only six years but known my husband for 17. And of course, Ali at My Suitcase Full of Tricks joined Life with Baby Donut Rach's link up "So How'd You Meet?" and shared how she and her husband started out going to Homecoming "just as friends."

The story of DH and me and our winding path to marriage is kind of complicated, and I want to do it justice. While I could shorten it enough to fit it into one post, if I'm going to tell it, I may as well tell all of it. So I decided to post it in segments. My first novella, if you will. Enjoy.

(Note: To ease the burden of anonymity on this one, I'm going to alter the names from first initials to pseudonyms. R will be Remington, because I had a huge crush on Pierce Brosnan back in the day. Plus it sounds all soap-opera-y.)

Chapter 1: Timing Is Everything

When I was 17, I was convinced I would die a virgin. I was skinny - no boobs, no butt, knobby knees, shaped like a boy. My crazy, frizzy, big hair had yet to meet a Chi and never stayed soft or styled, no matter how much VO5 or hair spray I used. In the decade when people couldn't get enough sun, my lily white skin was embarrassing. My outgoing personality was overshadowed by my nerdiness - rules were made to be followed, and good grades must be achieved. I had never had a boyfriend. I had never been kissed. If only Drew Barrymore's movie had come out back then, it would have given me hope.

But then I met a boy, we'll call him David, and he was cute and funny and charming, and I fell for him. Like a rock. And the short version of this part of the story is that he fell for me, too. We dated for a year - which in high school, is the equivalent to being married for five and having two kids. Then he broke up with me. I was devastated. It took me forever to get over him. Read - another year. Quid pro quo, what felt like five more in teen-land.

By then I was a freshman at junior college, or as I like to think of it, post-secondary education purgatory: a holding pattern between high school and real college. I couldn't afford to go to the out-of-state university I had set my sights on yet, and I wasn't quite ready to let go and move out of my parents' house anyway. It was just the middle ground I needed at that point in my life.

By the beginning of the second semester, I felt like I had found my rhythm again. I had gotten used to the friends who had left being gone, a new schedule of school and work, and being single. I had finally started to feel content just being me, on my own, spending time with old and new girlfriends, without a desperate need to find another boyfriend. Comfortable with the idea that I would someday find love again, and in no rush to search for it.

One Friday night that February, a friend I'll call Andrea invited me to sleep over. We were lounging on her couch, decked out in sweats, hair in ponytails, wearing our glasses instead of contacts, no makeup on. While flipping through magazines and chatting, the phone rang. It was her friend, Remington.

Andrea had mentioned Remington to me several times in the two years I'd known her. They worked together, and one day when I picked her up after her shift, she gave a hasty introduction in which I tossed out a perfunctory "Hi," and he responded with a nod, and a "How's it goin'." We ran in occasionally overlapping social circles. At a house party when David and I were still dating, David and I had a knock-down, drag-out screaming match in the kitchen, and oddly enough, I remember Remington being there, caught in the corner, only able to sip his drink and pretend not to notice us. Another time, a group including Remington had gone to the Steve Miller Band concert, and I was planning to attend, but got sick and had to miss it.

So that night when Remington called Andrea, I thought nothing of it when he asked us over to his parents' house to watch a movie with him and another of their co-workers, Brad. I even remember a fleeting thought along the lines of, "I look like crap, but who cares? It's just that Remington guy." I expected to spend the majority of my time vegging out watching the movie, and chatting a little with Andrea.

Thinking back, I have no idea what movie was playing that night. Or speaking much to Andrea. I just remember that once Remington and I started chatting, we never stopped. My mom says I came home the next day and told her I thought we could talk to each other forever.

After that night, Remington and I started to spend a lot of time together, though I didn't consider us dating quite yet. I enjoyed his company and could sense he was wanting more than friendship, but I didn't know what I wanted. Part of me wanted to keep it casual; I wasn't ready for romance. But I really liked him.

One evening, we went to Pizza Hut and played a motorcycle video game before going to a movie. Maybe it was the pepperoni talking. Maybe it was the competitor in me. But that night seemed different. I count it as our first date.
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