Twelve years and around two months ago, I met the boy who would become my husband. In all honestly, I don't remember our first meeting -- it was at a back-to-school picnic my Junior year of college, and he was my then-boyfriend's roommate's friend. My boyfriend spotted him in the crown and invited him to sit with us. The Boy claims he was attracted to me immediately, but at the time, I was so giddy with joy on my first day back on campus after a 1.5-year stint as a live-in nanny that I didn't really register his presence.
Soon, though, we became friends. That year, my boyfriend was living in one of the largest dorm rooms on campus, and the room was a natural hangout for our little circle of friends, of which The Boy quickly became a member. He was smart and funny, and tried hard to project just the slightest air of danger -- he was famous on campus for the black trench coat he wore at nearly all times (this was 1995, years before Columbine gave that particular garment its sinister connotations), and he often attended parties being led around on a leash by a goth friend of ours. He managed to give the impression that he sent all of his nights partying, and all of his days sleeping off the nights, and also that he was kind of a slut.
My own image at the time could not have been more different. I was the goody-goody. I didn't drink, and my boyfriend was the only guy I'd ever kissed. I'd had to drop out of school halfway through my freshman year, and had spent the ensuing time working as hard as I could to get back into school and to secure myself a place to live. I'd finally moved back on campus, because I'd managed to win a spot as an R.A. in the dorms. Due to the time I'd spent as a nanny, I barely ever swore. I hadn't ever even smelled pot until a university security officer burned some during R.A. training so we'd recognize it if we smelled it in the dorms.
In contrast to his image, The Boy was incredibly easy to talk to. He was also a good student, he ran the campus computer labs (this being the dark ages before most students had their own computers and dorm-room internet connections), and he clearly both liked and respected his parents (to me, still in the midst of a years-long estrangement from my own parents, this seemed both wonderful and impossible). And his bad-boy image was just a front -- I remember laughing in disbelief one night when he confessed that not only was he a virgin, but that he'd run a bible-study group back in high school.
So, we were friends. At the time, it didn't occur to me that we'd ever be anything else. Then, about three weeks after I'd met The Boy, I broke up with my boyfriend. (For the record, the breakup had nothing at all to do with The Boy). In the month following the breakup, we both went through a lot of changes. I'd started breaking out of my shell a little bit; a change largely characterized by a newfound liking for wine coolers and a (completely hypothetical) new willingness to engage in empty hookups. In the meantime, let's just say the boy was starting to live up to his reputation, as far as girls were concerned. And, unbeknownst to each other, each of us had started falling, hard, for the other.
By Halloween that year, both of us were in full-on crush mode. Though we were both too shy and too uncertain to admit anything outright, all of our mutual friends (with the exception of my ex) saw where things were heading. I told my best friend how much I liked The Boy. He told another friend that he was planning to ask me out at some point. We both kept talking, and flirting, and growing closer to each other.
The first time The Boy and I almost kissed, we were watching The Clockwork Orange. We'd both had a little to drink-- enough that we had the cover of alcohol to explain what we both intended to do, but not so much that we didn't know full well what was going on. We were sitting together on a friend's futon, and as the movie went on, we stated leaning on each other. When some of the more graphic bits came on, The Boy reached over and covered my eyes. And slowly, so slowly, our heads inched closer and closer together. Finally, we turned, and our lips were breaths away from touching.
And that's when out friends hauled us apart, and dragged us out of opposite doors of the house. While my friend K took me to the back deck to lecture me on how destructive random hookups were and how rebound relationships were even worse, our other friend D took The Boy to the front porch to tell him that I was sweet and innocent and that he shouldn't take advantage of my mildly inebriated state.
That little incident sent us scurrying back to our respective corners. We continued to hang out and we continued to like each other, but we didn't take any steps towards dating for another few weeks. We parted for Thanksgiving break that year as friends.
Twelve years ago today, we returned from Thanksgiving break. It was a Sunday, and campus was still pretty empty. K and I picked The Boy at the train station, and later, we all danced to Life in a Nutshell in the parking lot outside of K's house. The Boy volunteered to help me with some stuff back at my dorm, and, hours later, reluctant to part ways, we decided to take a walk around campus. We ended up at the Japanese gardens behind the school's admissions building; a place that students seldom visited. We sat there for what seemed like hours, talking and searching the sky for shooting stars. As the evening grew colder we huddled down under our winter coats, and somehow the Boy's arm slipped around my shoulders. I looked up and him, and he leaned down and kissed me.
Ah, that kiss. To this day, the thought of it sends shivers down my spine. After a moment, he pulled back, and one of us (I honestly cannot remember which) said "I don't want this to be just a hookup." The other one of us agreed, and that was it. We were together, and have been ever since.
In the twelve years since that kiss, The Boy and I have been through a lot together. I'm so glad that he's the person who's been by my side for all of the ups and downs of that time. I still find him easier to talk to than anyone else I've ever known, and I have never tired of spending time with him. I do find it hard to believe that it's been over a decade since that first kiss, since my heart still jumps when I see him, just like it did all those years ago.
So, here's to the next dozen years (and the several dozen after them, I hope). There is nobody in the world I'd rather spend them with.