Nearly thirteen years ago, on the first day of my junior year of high school, I walked into first period late. Not only had I had gotten lost on the way to class, but I had also gotten lost on the way to school. I was a new kid...a transfer from a big public school to a much smaller private school...and I was not happy to be there. I sat in the front row and wished with all my heart that I was miles away, back with my old friends at my old school. A sideways glance at the guy next to me brought some consolation: he was super cute. Baseball hat, a great summer tan, and the most amazing blue eyes I had ever seen. Maybe, just maybe, this school wouldn't be too awful.
I discover that cute Soccer Boy with baseball hat is also in my American History class. Sits two desks behind me. Fast forward two weeks: my new friend Melissa and I are killing time in Algebra class, discussing dating prospects. I casually bring up Soccer Boy...is he dating anyone? Melissa laughs. "He doesn't date. He only plays sports. I'd forget about him." And so I do.
We occasionally chat in class, but I've found myself a boyfriend and so Soccer Boy with amazing blue eyes becomes just a guy in my class. He's quiet, but nice. He gets good grades, and takes advanced classes in math, science and French. Ooh la la. After soccer season is over, he morphs into Basketball Boy, the star point guard. Four months later he's Baseball Boy helping lead the team to the state finals...yep, he's one of those three sport guys, all varsity teams no less.
But I have my boyfriend, and Soccer Boy has his sports. We don't exactly run with the same crowd, and my loud boisterous personality is no match for his quiet intensity. Plus, Soccer Boy's friends all hate me because I ratted them out for cheating on an exam for first period. Not because I had any moral qualms against cheating mind you, but because I knew I was going to fail the test and figured they should too. Needless to say, the future for us didn't look bright.
Fast forward to our senior year. My friend is dating Soccer Boy's BFF (not involved in the cheating fiasco), and so the four of us start hanging out. I still have a boyfriend, but he's down in California at college, and well...I'm not. Soccer season ends and basketball begins and Soccer Boy and I go out -- just the two of us -- to see 'The Crucible.' I don't remember anything about it because I was too busy wishing he would hold my hand. He didn't.
My family isn't keen on the new guy. "We liked the other boyfriend," they moaned. I asked my brother the artist why he doesn't like Soccer Boy. He said, "Because he plays sports." Likewise Soccer Boy's brother isn't too fond of me. "You should be dating a cheerleader," he advises. We ignore them all.
The Boy gets an athletic scholarship to college, and I figure his college choice is as good as any so come fall we find ourselves in College Writing class together. We're so low key about our relationship, my friends are surprised when I tell them in the middle of the year that we've been dating a year. "A year?! Didn't you just meet him?" Evidently there was some unwritten rule that we ought have been making out in the dorm lounges so that everyone knew we were an item.
We keep dating, we break it off for 24 hours, feel miserable without each other, weeping, and more weeping, and then back together. Another year passes. He becomes more extroverted, I start to mellow out. I realize that if I could be any person in the world, I'd still be me, in love with him. When did I wake up and think, I want to be an "us" for the rest of my life? I don't know. No defining moment. No fireworks in the sky. Just all the little moments of the day that made me happy.
At the crazy young age of 20, we get engaged. At the time of course it seemed like we had been dating forever. Three whole years. Our parents are concerned. We have a year left of college. We don't have jobs. Or a place to live. But who worries about such things at 20? I had a wedding to plan. Most people feel nothing but relief when their wedding is over; however, I was not one of those people. The whole event is glorious and fun and full of music. For me, at 21, there is no such thing as too much attention. We invite everyone. And on July 26, 1997, we hold all 700 of them captive for 1 1/2 hours in the sweltering heat. Eventually, after the dancing (the first wedding at the Baptist church to have dancing!) we drive off into the sunset. We're so in love we think nothing can go wrong.
And we were right.
We got grants to pay for our college tuition, found a place to live rent free, got jobs teaching together, and had more money than we knew what to do with. We paid off the school loans, bought a car, started a retirement fund, travelled the world, bought a house, got a dog, and fell more in love every day. Certainly we weren't perfect. We had moments of selfishness, of frustration, and stress. But we knew that no mistake was bigger than our love. We were in it for the long haul no matter what. Forever.
Forever would seem like a long time if I weren't so darn happy. I realized how lucky I am when on our honeymoon to Maine I looked out across the shore and saw Jason standing next to a lighthouse. I knew that no matter how big the waves of life got, no matter how cold and dreary I felt, no matter how lonesome the big world might feel, he would always be there. He would get me through it, get me back home, light up my life. Through the rough job, through the weeks of migraines, through the post-partum depression, through the loneliness of being a stay-at-home mom. It's never been so bad that I couldn't look at him and know I won't ever get lost. I never regretted sitting next to Soccer Boy that first day of school. It was only the first of some of the best decisions I ever made.
Let the seasons turn.
Let the petals fall
and the leaves drop.
Let the weightless earth
spin beneath us,
and start it all again.
What does Time matter
when you know
that Love is forever?