It's been sixteen years since we first became a couple, and now this year we celebrate our tenth year of marriage. I've told her multiple times before she's the best thing to ever happen to me, and I've meant it every time. We've had our share of disagreements, hardships, and struggles; but we always persevere together. It's been quite a ride, and I wouldn't change a moment of it for anything. So now, in what has probably become my M.O. of misguided displays of affection, I present to you and the world the story of us.
How we met
Truth be told, we probably met years earlier as she was in the same Girl Scout Troop as my sister, and our mothers were both leaders. So during that time our paths probably crossed indirectly, but we'll forego what neither of us really remember and fast-forward a decade or so. When I first started at the local eatery known as "King's Family Restaurant" I was but a lonely bus boy clearing tables and washing dishes. A year later I had graduated to the kitchen, and a year after that I was the supervisor of the overnight shift every Friday and Saturday night.
It was around that time that she began working as a hostess and cashier until such time she was old enough to become a waitress. She stayed mostly to the weekend mornings with the occasional afternoon shift. I, being the night-owl that I am, stayed on late afternoons and overnights. As such we rarely saw each other there, except briefly in passing; until I started working Sunday mornings in an effort to get some more free time during the week.
The First Date
Now believe it or not kids, but around the turn of the century cell phones were not as ubiquitous as they are now. However, the traditional form of oral communication be it face-to-face or via corded phone was still overrated. Thankfully, though still in its infancy, the internet did offer another option known as AIM, or AOL Instant Messenger. It was on in that program, on a rather large (as compared to today's standards) home PC that our love started to blossom. After some playful flirting, and a not-so-subtle hint on her part (something along the lines of "you won't ask me out"), a date was made; lunch at a local steakhouse where she insisted we pay separately. Of course I wouldn't listen, and paid for the entire check.
The Moment I Realized
After lunch, we started a playful little game of her trying to give me cash for lunch and me giving it back that lasted throughout the parking lot. Well, everything was light and friendly until I tried to win the game and found something... unexpected. I slid the money into her pocket and jumped in my car. Before I could get it started and put into gear, she found the money and threw it in my open sunroof. So to try and give it back, I rolled down my window, leaned out, beckoned her to come over, and executed my plan of giving her a small kiss goodbye while again slipping the money into her purse. While I was able to pull that part off, the part she never knew (and probably still won't if she doesn't read this) is that that is the precise moment I learned she was my one and only. As sappy and played out as it sounds, that first kiss was all it took to for me to fall in love.
I spent the next couple weeks trying to fight it. She would ask if we were a couple, and I would deny it simply because I didn't want to date another coworker. Even though I enjoyed spending time with her, and we went out constantly, I tried and tried to fight what was so obvious. But like always, I'm the last one to pick up on everything. When I finally gave in and conceded the fact that we were a couple, the rest, as they say, was history. Sure there have been hiccups and disagreements, and there will probably be many more (a vast majority of which will undoubtedly be my fault), but I can no longer deny the fact that this woman is the best thing to ever happen to me.
The Last Minute
A short 5 years later I finally fully gave in and decided this was the woman I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. I quickly devised a plan to pop the question at the beach while we were on vacation with my family; but in my classic fashion I did everything last minute, and it came back to bite me. Ordered the ring, which was scheduled to take 4-6 weeks to come in and we left in just under 6 weeks. But the store offered to work with me, that if it arrived too late I could have it over-nighted to another store closer to where I was free of charge. Then I waited until the night before we left to finally build up the courage and tell her parents my plan. Her dad, who had just got in from a night out with his brother who was in from out of town. Needless to say, he was slightly less than 100% lucid and other than being a little annoyed at my timing took the news in good spirits. Beach came, and no ring. Spent every day calling and asking, and apparently it was lost in shipping. So the last day, I sucked it up and decided to go without the ring. We went for a walk on the beach to collect shells, and opportunity struck when she asked me to hold everything we collected and turned her back for a moment. She turned around to see the shells on the ground, but me on one knee, taking her hand, and the rest you can probably guess.
After she said yes, I told her I did have a ring, I just didn't HAVE her ring, and told her the whole story. So the entire ride home was spent with her on the phone to friends and family telling them the news. The night we returned we went to a party with her family, and they jokingly asked if we picked a date. We grabbed a calendar and started looking, deciding to wait at least a year for he to finish school and get settled into the job that was waiting for her. My one request was for fall or winter, as I did not want to be stuck in a full tux in the summer heat. So we randomly picked the last Saturday of October, and the date was set. It seemed like fate when I found out that was the anniversary date of my paternal grandparents.
One Final Annecdote
A year of planning went by quickly, and that day went by even faster, but this one thing will always stand out in my mind about the ceremony. At the very beginning, with the guys lined up at the front and the ladies starting to come down the aisle, I realized I could see the next bridesmaid coming out of the ready area and lining up before her turn started. I decided, literally on the spot, that I didn't want to see my bride-to-be until her music hit and she started walking so I diverted my eyes down to the floor. The moment came when I heard her music start to play on the church organ and the sound of everyone in the church standing. I looked up and saw, a bunch of people standing and leaning in the aisle to get pictures blocking my view. So it took a few extra steps until I could see the most beautiful site I had seen in life a that point. I say to that point, because every day I wake up next to her she raises the bar that much more. And even if she doesn't read this, I love you baby!