I love hearing about how couples met and fell in love. What was their first date like? When did they get engaged? Some stories are funny, sweet, sad, ironic, and all of them are touching. Of course, the story of James and me is my favorite. In my typical type-A, planner personality way, I started worrying about meeting the right fella when I was young. I think the concern began in my teens, that I would love someone who did not love me, or worse, I would never meet anyone that I loved enough to spend my life with. Does it make a lot of sense to worry like that? No, of course not. However, in my immature teen mind, the thought nagged at me that finding the “right person” (you know the one you hear about in movies and books?) would elude me. I would never know what “true” love was, and I would grow old alone. Now, I had a plan B. I had it all figured out- I was going to be a very cool spinster, who traveled the world and was a published author. I would have lots of pets, and I would throw great parties! Oh my gosh, I am belly laughing right now thinking back. Woe is me, I had real concerns! Right up there with world peace, and fixing global warming- I worried about what the future would hold. My young heart wondered what it would be like to fall in love.
I had deep heart-to-heart with my best friends about the categories of infatuation. The type of love that was required for marriage I knew, at least, was in a category by itself. It wasn’t all about being warm and fuzzy, no, I understood even at a very young age, that marriage was a vow and that commitment to the union was the crux of things- not romance. As a person of faith, who came into her adult relationship with God only after marriage, I struggled to trust the Lord with my heart. I desperately wanted to have a deep, loving relationship and marriage and did NOT want to relinquish my white-knuckled control. The thought that life may take me down a different road than the one I envisioned was unacceptable; I wanted to control every aspect of my own future- I KNEW my destiny. I had it all planned.
After college, I wanted to move to Washington D.C. and work on Capitol Hill for a couple of years and then attend the Georgetown School of Foreign Service for a masters degree. After completing my two years abroad after the masters, then I could get married. In reality, I was sitting at a kitchen table eating nachos when in walked my destiny. Foolish young woman that I was, I wasn’t a complete idiot- I recognized James for the gem that he is! It was second semester of senior year of college and I was attending a Super Bowl party at a friend’s house. People from Savannah were invited so I saw a lot of familiar faces. I didn’t dress up, and I probably couldn’t have told you who was playing! I had gone out with friends the night before and I was tired. I wore a sweatshirt and jeans, and no make-up (I still have the sweatshirt). Like I mentioned- I was actually holding the bowl of nachos and eating with them in my lap. James came in with a mutual friend, and we were introduced. I shook his hand over the chips and hot cheese. Clearly, it was an auspicious beginning!
James was equally dressed up- I think he was wearing a hoodie and hadn’t shaved in 6 months. He still doesn’t like to shave! He used to wear glasses before he had Lasik surgery. He couldn’t afford to get them fixed, so they sat a little crooked on the bridge of his nose and they had a piece of tape holding them together. Not kidding. I recognized his name from home. He and I were neighbors growing up, our houses were three doors down from each other. I went and found him watching the game, and I asked if he knew that we had been neighbors- he did not. I sat down, and we started talking. We started talking, and we didn’t stop until he left thirty minutes after the game ended! I’m sure our friends were ready for us to shut up. He was the easiest person in the world to talk to- he had the best laugh, it was deep and bellowing like a young Santa Claus. He said he remembers me fixing him a plate of lowcountry boil for dinner and bringing it back to him. I remember thinking he was one of the nicest people I had ever met.
At half-time of the game, I went into the bathroom with my tiny Nokia cell phone (remember those?) and I called my mom, my sister, and my best friend from high school. I told each of them that I had met the guy I was going to marry. That was it- I just wanted to let them know! Maybe it was something in my voice, or maybe it’s because each of them knew me so well- I’m not the type of person to speak in hyperbole, or grossly exaggerate my feelings for a guy. They took me very seriously! My best friend said, “Ok Amy, I look good in pink!” and a year and a half later, she wore pink in wedding. After the game, we made plans for him to come to our apartment and have dinner later that week with me and my roommates. I remember he wore a blazer, and brought a bottle of wine. I’m not sure who he consulted, but now that I know him so well I can’t believe he dressed up! This is the man who still wears scrubs that he had in medical school, with holes worn in the heels where they have dragged the ground for over a decade.
Our first official date just the two of us was in early March. We talked on the phone some before that, but both of us were really busy. Once we were together- that was it, we were inseparable. I know that drove our roommates and friends nuts! Neither of us had two nickels to rub together. There was no fancy wining and dining; our idea of a date was to go to the grocery store and get the supplies to make sandwiches. We would buy one pastry to split, go back to one of our homes, make a meal and then sit outside on a picnic blanket to eat. We would look up at the sky and just talk and talk. I don’t remember any concerts, fancy restaurants, overnight trips, or jewelry. I do remember our conversations though, and the laughter. We could finish each other’s sentences, but despite my early prediction, I didn’t think we could get married. I had plans, and he was going to medical school.
We made it one week- one- of long distance. I came to visit him after his first week of medical school, and right when I walked through the door he looked at me and blurted out, “We have to get married.” I said something like, “yeah, I know.” And I did know with complete certainty that marrying James was what I was supposed to do. We weren’t supposed to wait for years and then get together after we had met personal goals- we were supposed to grow together, and take on new experiences as a team. I always thought that deciding who to marry would be a little nerve wracking-it’s FOREVER so shouldn’t you be a little nervous? Have doubts? Date for years so you can be sure? I didn’t do any of those things. Deciding to marry James was the easiest decision I ever made. I put that squarely on God’s shoulders- He gave me and James an unreal peace about the whole thing. It felt so natural, like we were extensions of each other.
In typical type A-worry-wort Amy fashion, I kept waiting for doubts, or reasons to be uncertain. Nothing…I prayed “Lord, if this is wrong and I’m not supposed to marry him, I need you to be REALLY clear.” Again, nothing but a sense of calm and peace and certainty. All of my plans to move to D.C. changed. I started marriage with so much joy, excitement and thrill about embracing our future together. I found a way to work in politics where James was in medical school. I worked on political campaigns, and I went back to school to get my masters degree. I didn’t give up any of my dreams, but I got to do them with James by my side. God was so much better to me, than I was to myself. His plans for me included everything I loved to do, and a the kind of work that I enjoyed, plus a soulmate for life. James and I disagree on little, everyday things, but we have always agreed on the big stuff.
From the first time I met him, James has been the easiest person in the world to talk to. He became my best friend pretty quickly, and he still is. We tease about the early years and how we would split a cheap beer from Walmart and make a sandwich for a Saturday night date. I think everyone needs to experience the lean years together- they are character building! We’ve had a wild ride full of ups and downs. Both of us have had serious health issues that were long term. James’s began 3 weeks after we returned from our honeymoon. So, we never got the “honeymoon” phase of early marriage. We dove right in to the “in sickness and in health” part. I could write for hours and hours about our first years together- dating, engagement, and the first years of marriage. It feels like a lifetime ago. There’s no one I’d rather do life with than this guy.