Sunday, October 9, 2011

Seven years.

Whenever Big Man and I celebrate a wedding anniversary, the number always seems too low. I know, I know, everyone says that. But I really mean it.

He and I met my first year of college. I was just a kid, from a small town, dropped off in the big city of Chicago. I went out early because I was on the soccer team--and he was on the football team. When pre-season ended, we were in the same house of the same dorm. And we were both work study, and had jobs at the gym--he was my boss.

Now, the year was 1991. Our campus seemed pretty safe, but it was like a little college oasis in the midst of a much harder 'hood. (**Big Man if you are reading this, I'm not trying to embellish, really, perhaps the years have romanticized this story in my mind...just in case you think my story is a bit off.) Big Man and I were friendly. We had a lot in common with sports and dorms and all. I used to work at the gym until 11pm or midnight, and walk home alone after work, without ever thinking that it was risky. For Pete's sake, there were sidewalks and streetlights, so it had to be safe, thought the little girl from upstate New York.

The early 90s were somewhat of a rough time for racial relations--and we were just in somewhat of a rough 'hood. The Rodney King incident happened, and there were isolated incidents of violence on or near campus that referenced a response to that. And one night there was a police report that a college-age woman was kidnapped walking alone at night, at around 11pm, on the general route I traveled home from the gym after work. And as soon as it happened, the next time I worked, a handsome young man showed up at the end of my shift at the gym to walk me back to our dorm, to make sure I was safe. There may have been a thank you kiss or two. And then we were together, an item, and so in love.

Fast forward a bit, and silly B, a tender young lass, decided the wanted her freedom--she was young, and cute (and as the old poem goes, gather ye rosebuds while ye may) and in love all the same, but mercurial as most college girls are. After days of crying on my best friend Gina's shoulder, telling her, "Big Man is the kind of guy I want to marry, but I'm only 18 and I'm not ready yet!" I know, it sounds crazy, but it's true. Gina remembers the conversation.

So when we stopped dating, he moved into the role of one of my closest friends. Through college and beyond, we were always in touch--and saw each other when we could. There's a really funny memory I have about a trip to Cleveland after college--and a barely-safe motel, because that's all we could find. Someone (not me) stayed awake all night, or close to it, to be sure nothing crazy happened.

Lots of years in between; he did his thing in Michigan, I did my thing in NY. But we always stayed in touch, and he would always visit NY on his way to CT to visit his brothers and family.

And then there was the visit.
THE visit.
It wasn't planned as a romantic visit. In fact, he was supposed to visit for President's weekend with two other college friends (Jessie and Chang). At the last minute, Jessie and Chang didn't come. Big Man did.
It was just him and me.
And I was 18 again.
And he kissed me.
He started driving from Michigan to New York regularly.
He proposed. Of course, I said yes. I also told him that I didn't want kids, and told him he should be sure he wanted to marry me as he was meant to be a dad.
He gave up his career and moved here.
He started over, job-wise. The US doesn't have uniform police training standards, so when he decided to go back into law enforcement here, he had to go to the academy again, in his mid-30s.
And he's excelled. He's done very well in his career.

His hard work has permitted me to follow my own career dreams. (ie earn no money)

And, somewhere along the way, all the pieces of my life fit together so well, and I knew it was time. Time to have kids. The girl who never wanted to be a mom, loved so much she wanted to see the man she loves be a dad.

Fast forward seven years-- we have three wonderful babies after a heckuva hard time as we lost the first.
But that which doesn't kill you, makes you stronger, they say.
Minimally it makes you appreciate what you have.

And I have a life partner. A best friend. A husband who has exceeded my every expectation.

Who can still put butterflies in my tummy, and who still can me me feel like the prettiest girl in the room....despite my age, and my weight, and everything.

Who I fall in love with all over again every time I look at her:
or her:
or him:
Happy Anniversary, Big Man.

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