I met you at 17. I was a small-town kid, in a big city, going to college in your home town of Chicago. We were student athletes, running into each other in the Fieldhouse. My freshman year, we both lived in Woodward Court--you were a friendly face when we moved in after living in the sports dorms. We were both work study kids--and we had jobs at the Fieldhouse/gym. You were a supervisor, and I checked IDs when people came in. It was 1991. I worked until midnight, and would walk home alone after work, because there were streetlights and sidewalks, so I was safe, right? At some point my first year, a woman was taken (kidnapped seems like too dramatic a term) in the evening, in the proximity of my walk home. My next night at work following that event, you showed up to walk me home. I insisted that I didn't need help and could do it alone. You showed up at the Fieldhouse at the end of all my shifts to walk me home.
At some point, you kissed me.
We dated. We loved with all the fervor of young adults, squeezing into my dorm room's twin bed for the night, playing songs, madly in love. You were my date to my sorority formal. I always felt like I never quite good enough in those sorority days....my sorority sisters all had more money, nicer clothes, were thinner/prettier than me, etc., and you knew how I felt. Like me, you were a kid with parents who worked for living--who were sacrificing to send us to college. I remember at that formal, our Rose Ball, at the Hotel Intercontinental downtown, we stood on a balcony and you told me...something along the lines of me often comparing myself to my sisters....and that on that night, I had them all beat. You made me feel like the prettiest girl at the ball.
And, we dated. At some point that year, we stopped dating. That was all me. I remember agonizing over my decision to my best friend Gina, telling her that you were the kind of guy I wanted to marry, but that at 18, I needed to see what was out there. So we broke up. And you were wonderful. And so began a epic friendship that would span hundreds of miles and committed relationships.
I eventually moved back to New York. You would visit every year, on your way to see family in Connecticut. We would write letters, talk on the phone, and stay in touch, never mentioning whether or when we had significant others of our own.
And then there was the visit in 2002. You and a few friends from college were supposed to come...only they didn't, and you did. It was just you and me for a weekend, all alone as adults, spending time together. And you kissed me.
We decided that weekend, that despite the fact that you were in Michigan and I in New York, that we would date exclusively. I planned flights and you planned road trips. We talked every day. During one trip you gave me a ring, and announced you would move to New York. You didn't tell me how much you were sacrificing career-wise to come. But you came. When you proposed, I questioned you...were you sure...I declared that I never wanted to have children, and that you needed to be a dad. You chose me over fatherhood.
You came to New York, and we married in Las Vegas.
When you moved, you brought lots of things. Among those things were all the letters and cards I sent you since we parted ways. I read them--and it was an awakening--my letters to you were so affectionate, so caring, that I realized that you had always held such a special place in my heart, even when I didn't know it.
And then, one day, I wanted to start a family. I was the woman who professed I would never want to, and you loved me anyway. I've always described that awakening in me as once the pieces of your life fit together so well, and you love someone so much, you want to expand that love. And so we did.
Dani, Tori, and Tommy. I can't imagine life without them, or you.
I know that when we said our vows, we pledged for better or for worse.
I recognize, sometimes, perhaps even often, I test that vow.
There is no me, without you.
You are the rock that holds our family together. I'm the silly string that makes it a fun mess.
You have encouraged and supported me to achieve my goals, at the sacrifice of our time together. You are the best father I could have envisioned for my children.
You are the most patient and loving husband I could ask for.
You are my best friend, my confidant, my love.
It's been nine years on paper, but two decades in my heart.
Happy Anniversary, my love.