Saturday, September 8, 2012

While We Weren't Looking

     As Danielle and I approach the first anniversary of our wedding, our thing in September, I can't help but be reflective about the twists and turns and multiple awkward moments that brought us together in the first place.  Although we've been married only a year, we've been a couple for eight years, so we've got a bit of journeying behind us.  In honor of this year's milestone, I'd like to devote a few posts to the story of how we met, got together, fell in love... you know, all that sappy stuff.  Of course, the story is about us, so there is still plenty of nerdy hilarity to be recounted along the way.  This is not, after all, the Hallmark Channel.

     To begin with, I was never terribly boy-crazy as an adolescent and teen.  This makes much more sense in hindsight.  My crushes centered around long-haired boys who played acoustic guitar and talked about their feelings.  In other words,  male lesbians.  In an effort to impress them, I took up guitar and began writing my own songs.  What I lacked in boobs, I tried to make up in rhyme.  I spent hours curled up on my bed writing songs and short stories and figuring out how to move my fingers quickly from an E major chord to a B7.  I moved on to playing bar chords.  I sang in coffeehouses and joined songwriter circles.  Still, my standing Friday night date was watching rented movies at home with my parents.  I went on zero dates in high school and attended the prom stag.  While a guy friend did send me flowers one Valentine's Day, I spoiled any chance of romance by giving him a thank-you note the next day.  However, even though boobs inevitably trumped rhyme and I remained single, I was happy. 
     Danielle's teenage years followed a similar pattern.  Her family moved across the country in the middle of her high school career, so she ended up performing in two different high school productions of Pippin.  She was also an active member of her high school choirs and served as a peer support volunteer.  She describes her high school self as "an athletic supporter."    She and her friends "cheered for the soccer team.  But we weren't cheerleaders.  We even made signs."  This recollection was followed by a gasp, an "Oh God!", and the admonition, "Please don't make me look like a dork."  (That's why I added in the part about me sending a thank-you note for the flowers.)

     College life was no different for us.  Danielle was an Orientation Assistant and Peer Mentor and worked with the soccer team.  I wrote a little for the school newspaper, volunteered as a tutor, and worked for the campus programming board.  Both of us were very involved in the campus community and got to meet a lot of interesting, fun people.  Our cumulative date tally for college? Zero.

     Danielle was a senior my freshman year of college, and we never crossed paths that year.  However, her college advisor messed up her class schedule, resulting in an extra fall semester for Danielle.  It was this semester that Danielle joined the programming board.  During the board retreat, we discovered that we both love banana baby food and that we had never been kissed.  We became instant friends.  While we weren't inseparable initially- She had her life, and I had mine- we moved easily into deep conversation any time we were together.  When the time came for her to graduate that December, I remember feeling terribly sad that I would not likely get to see her anymore.  As a graduation/Christmas gift, I gave her a glass slipper ornament to remind her that she would one day find her happy ever after.  I did not see or hear from her for three months.

     That March, I entered the school talent show.  Guess who showed up on the judges panel?  Danielle!  I was so thrilled to see her.  At some point that evening, we must have reconnected and exchanged phone numbers or something.  All I remember is that we began to spend more time together.  We would see each other once every other week.  Every other week became once a week, and once a week turned into hanging out pretty much every night.  There were times when I would come back to my dorm after spending hours talking with Danielle at our local coffeehouse and I would feel that giddy, heady feeling of falling in love.  But I was a good Southern girl, so it did not even dawn on me that having a relationship with Danielle was a path I could take.  Yet, our non-courtship courtship continued.  We used to drive around our small town just listening to music and talking.  We exchanged cds and made each other mixed tapes.  I spent a weekend helping her move from a house to an apartment.  She introduced me to Nutella before Nutella was cool.  We started singing together, and to this day our voices blend better with each other than they do with anyone else.

     Although it was a matter of years before Danielle and I realized and acknowledged what was really happening in our relationship, we still look back fondly on those early days.  I remember so clearly how delighted I felt to be around her, how I never tired of her company, and how no one else's company compared.  I wanted desperately to impress her, yet I felt totally comfortable just being myself.  She and I also marvel at how the universe conspired to bring us together.  We'd never have met if her advisor had given her a correct class schedule.  (We are still paying off the student loans accrued that extra semester, but we concur that the debt was worth it.)  We also would have lost touch if Danielle hadn't been invited to judge the talent show or if I hadn't been performing.  How different and empty our lives would be if the universe hadn't knocked us into one another with such persistence!

     I think we also owe a great debt to our many years of being single.  In our efforts to attract an interesting, engaging partner, we had amassed some wonderful life experiences that made us interesting, engaging people.  Because I had played guitar and written songs since high school, I was the type of person who felt comfortable entering a college talent show.  Likewise, Danielle's love of music and the arts made her an ideal talent show judge.  And when our paths!  Our voices, conversations, jokes, and, well, lives blended together in such a joyful, meant-to-be way.

     While we weren't looking, we found exactly what we sought.