32 years ago, today, my other half was born. The eight weeks that I had to live on this planet without him were some of the hardest of my life. I hear I cried the whole time.
Since today is BJ's birthday, and since I haven't told this story yet, I thought it was a good time to tell you the story of how we met and fell in love.
We met in sixth grade, when we were 11 years old. Actually, we both briefly went to the same sitter, and there is a chance that we met there even earlier (incidentally, neither of us liked that sitter, but that's another story). But the first time we remember knowing each other was in sixth grade. Fortunately, for the sake of a cute story, we didn't start dating right away. I mean, how creepy would that be, to be married to someone I'd been dating since before puberty?
But we knew each other. He was a nice boy, if quiet and shy (introverted is probably a more accurate term). I had a perm. I also sang an embarrassing song called "Howling at the Moon" in the school play. He still remembers the words. Whenever I start getting too big for my britches, he can hum it and remind me that underneath it all I'm still a total dork.
In high school, I dated a good friend of his, John Paul, and the three of us were all on the debate team (you can just see the shining, neon "L" in the middle of my forehead, right?). Since BJ's a gentleman, and I had dated his friend, I was off-limits (even though I found out later that he had a crush on me! And when I found that out I slugged him in the shoulder and said, "Do you have any idea how much CRAP you could have saved me from, with all the idiots I dated before you, if you had said something?!" but that, too, is another story that I probably won't share on ye ol' blog for all posterity).
Time passed. We graduated from high school. He went to the black and gold school, I went to the cream and crimson one. In 1997 my little brother graduated from high school and had an open house. Since John Paul was a good friend, still, he was invited. He stayed a while, and we chatted. "What are you doing later?" I said. Our hometown isn't known for its surfeit of activities for young people. "BJ Lastname and I are going somewhere, probably a movie."
"I've got plans with Barb. Why don't we all go out together and make it look like we have dates?" So, we made plans to meet after Barb got off work.
John Paul left, and I went inside. "Where's JP?" my mom asked. John Paul had always been a particular favorite of hers. "He had to go, but we're going to meet up later with Barb and BJ Lastname."
Mom started cracking up. She was laughing so hard, I thought she was having a stroke. When she finally caught her breath and wiped the tears from her eyes, she told me that BJ's mom was getting remarried.
"Ohhh kaaayyy..." I said, not seeing the punchline.
It turned out that Mom was BJ's mom's wedding coordinator, and that BJ, the smart ass, had come into Mom's office and said, "So, I'm thinking about getting married."
"Great!" Mom said. "When?"
"Well, first I have to find a girl..." (rim shot)
Mom, however, did not catch the fact that he was joking, and started waxing poetic about the virtues of her single oldest daughter (me). Virtues including, "She's a cheap date." No, I only wish I was making that up.
BJ finally convinced her that he was kidding, and went on about the business of being measured for his tux, and left, shaking his head and muttering to himself about not joking around with crazy women in the future.
So, Mom thinks it's fate that he and I are going out that evening. "Mom?! BJ? I've known him since like forever. I'm not going to let you set me up with BJ!! What were you thinking, pimping me like that, and why is this the first I've heard about it? What if I'd run into him? His dad was my physics teacher for God's sake, how weird would that be???" I was a wee bit hysterical when I was 21. Mom assured me that she had done me a favor by trying to set me up with him. "He is so cute!" she gushed (yes, I said gushed!), and he's a rocket scientist!
"Whatever, Mom, he's still in school."
"Well, he's going to be!"
I was thoroughly annoyed, but I wasn't going to let that stand in the way of a fun night out.
I picked Barb up from work and we drove to the cafe where we'd arranged to meet the guys. I am not exaggerating in the least when I tell you that the moment I laid eyes on him, I knew that we were going to get married. The whole universe contracted and expanded, and all I could see was him. He was standing toward the back, laughing. He has the best laugh. I could see what my mom had seen, as though I was looking at him for the first time and not through the lens of having known him for 10 years.
The apple doesn't fall far from the tree, and just like good ol' Mom, I'm quick on my feet. I walked straight up to him, smiled, gave him a hug and said, "So, I hear we're engaged..."
And the rest, as they say, is history.
It amazes me every day that he loves me, even though he knew me when I had The Perm. Even though he saw me sing "Howling at the Moon." Even though he was a witness to all the awkwardness of middle school and high school (and believe me, I didn't pass through those awkward years lightly, by any stretch of the imagination). Even though I'm a cheap date. Even though my mom takes all the credit. He loves me.
I love you, honey. Happy Birthday!