As news of the wedding has spread, several new acquaintances have asked the story. Here’s a slightly abbreviated version for the masses.
In January 2012 he messaged me on Facebook, for the millionth time, that he was in town. Could we have dinner? Drinks? I wrote back and said of course, just let me know when. I had every intention of blowing him off again, finding an excuse NOT to see him, same as I’d done all the other times we’d followed this exact script. He cornered me though – persistent. He’d contacted me Thursday, was leaving Monday. I finally wrote back late Sunday, giving himself (and me) the out – it’s so late, we can just meet up next time. No such luck. He replied immediately, no, it wasn’t too late, he’d wait for me to get to his hotel and we’d go have dinner. I sighed and started getting ready.
You have to understand my reluctance had at once nothing, and everything, to do with him. I was 36, you see … and we’d met in high school, in 1992. I somehow found myself surrounded by the “popular” girls. He’d been a broody loner, much, MUCH smarter than I was. He cared not a bit for the ridiculous social classes in high school, the constant jockeying for position in the absurd heirarchy. He was friends with everyone and needed no one. I saw this and was instantly attracted. He had what I wanted – enough self respect to be above it all. He didn’t NEED social position. I spent my days worried I would lose mine. He was devastatingly good looking. He didn’t dress like everyone else, he never showed up to the thousands of parties that took place in high school. He was well spoken, polite, held doors open and handed out compliments; a gentleman among the boys who would sooner have snapped a girls bra strap than said “You look beautiful today.” Because he was so different, I watched him from afar with admiration and more than a little curiosity. He says he did the same, but because of the crowd I hung out with, he thought I was out of his league and never thought he had a chance. We didn’t run in the same social circles, so outside of our shared classes, we rarely spoke. Then, senior year, he disappeared. The next time I saw him was graduation day. At the time, I couldn’t identify the emotion. All I knew for sure was that my heart was pounding, and my breath was MIA. I ran to him and asked where he’d been this past year. He shrugged and glanced away while coolly tossing out “Oh, I’ve been around.” I nearly swooned. Friends ran up, we went our separate ways, and that was the last time I saw him.
He found me on a social networking site about six years ago, and when I saw his photo I was immediately transported backward umpteen years. Lost my breath, heart was pounding. He’d gotten even better looking over the years. My imagination went into overdrive, wondering what-if? I was a strange mixture of crushed and happy to hear that he’d been married forever, great wife, three kids, great life. I’d wondered about him off and on over the years, and now, well, I knew. I was glad life had been good to him, but it would be a lie to say a quick jealous knife didn’t go through me. We traded abbreviated stories, caught up, stayed in touch. And every time he and his wife came to the tourist town I lived in, he invited me out with them. I couldn’t tell him that while I was happy he was happy, I didn’t necessarily want to go out and bask in his glorious life. So, I made excuses.
What was different about this January dinner invite was that he’d gotten divorced two years prior. His perfect life had been not so perfect behind the scenes, and they’d finally chosen to go their separate ways. It happens. So when I met him for dinner, it was a different scenario than I’d been avoiding all these years. We told our stories; where we’d lived, jobs we’d had. We shared our relationship experiences and laughed about how dating had gotten so hard that we’d both resigned ourselves to being by ourselves, and were happier for it. He wanted something he couldn’t find: a traditional woman who wanted to be a wife, mother, take care of home and not so focused on a career. I wanted what I hadn’t been able to find: a traditional man who respected the old fashioned idea of a nuclear family. Dinner lasted 6 hours, and something big had changed for us both by the time we said goodbye.
We spent the next several months flying to see each other every two weeks, and then he proposed. He’d sent me “on vacation” to visit two girlfriends I hadn’t seen in a long while. They had a spa day planned for us, coincidentally near the town where we went to high school. They convinced me what a cute idea it would be to slightly detour and take some photos at my school and send them to him – ostensibly still at home. My girlfriend and I took some photos, walked around the main building, and there he was, waiting for me. After a very surprised hug, he hit his knee and said “Seventeen years ago, I stood in front of this building and told you I’d been ‘around,’ and then I didn’t see you forever. Now that we’re back together, I want to be ‘around’ you forever. Will you be my wife?”
Of course I said yes, and twenty two years after we met, we’re finally getting married.