Actually, I think I started it somewhere back in the archives of this blog as part of a link-up or blog carnival or something, but for some reason never finished it. Just like the birth stories. (Seriously, what is my deal with that?!)
Settle in, friends, I'll tell you now. And I'll try something new and finish it. Always pushing the envelope over here.
It was the second semester of my freshman year (April 8th to be exact), and that winter had been long and awful. I am not joking when I say that it snowed at least 8 inches every Wednesday during that January. We all felt like we were attending college in the Arctic, and my friend from Florida almost had a stroke when she asked us (in December) when the snow would stop and we told her March or April.
|Rockin' the '90s hair, baby.|
I wasn't dating anyone, because I was never dating anyone. No one ever wanted to date me; I was always, always the nice friend or the tag along roommate. I had had a serious, unreciprocated crush on a person who didn't attend my school, which was perpetuated for a while through letters and phone calls, but eventually I woke up and realized that he was never going to be as into me as I was into him.
So I listened to Bonnie Raitt's "I Can't Make You Love Me" about twenty times a day for a week, and then I let it all go. I went back to being the pal, the buddy, the sidekick.
Add to all of that the general stress of acclimating to college and homesickness. There have been few times in my life that I've been happier to see the spring.
April 8th was a Friday, and I had finished classes for the day and was feeling restless and edgy. We called my college a "suitcase school" because many of the resident students had cars and were from the surrounding towns. On Friday afternoons, they packed up their laundry and headed for home, emptying the parking lot and leaving a little ghost town.
I was looking for something to do that afternoon. I just really wanted to have some plans, something fun on the horizon to excite me. Instead, it looked like my evening would be filled with an early trip to the cafeteria. Not the excitement I was hoping to find.
In an effort to find some company, I headed to my friend Marguerite's room. She was a dance major and if she wasn't busy at the theater, we could usually figure out something to do with our time. I was hoping to at least find some company for dinner.
|Marguerite and me at college graduation|
When I got to her room, Marguerite was flitting from one side of the room to the other, straightening up and putting somethings in a bag. The thing about Marguerite is that she is always, always moving. She's usually doing about 5 things at the same time, but in control of all of them. I do well when I concentrate on one thing at a time, so I would just sit back and watch her go.
She was waiting for her older brother to drive down from New York. They had plans to go out to dinner, then he was going with her to a baby-sitting job that night. On Saturday they were going out to visit the battlefields at Gettysburg because her brother was a huge history buff.
As I chatted with her for a few more minutes, I remember feeling a little sorry for myself. Everyone else seemed to have something fun going on and I was heading to the depressing cafeteria. (Oh, it was depressing to go there alone.) I planned to leave before her brother got there, but as I was getting ready to go, we heard a knock on the door. Her brother had arrived.
Have you ever had a moment in time when you can actually feel something shift in your life and you think, "what just happened here?" Not every important moment happens like that, but sometimes they do and God gives you the grace to realize it.
Rob walked in the dorm room, and he filled it up. With his height, with his deep voice, with his presence. I watched him greet his sister and give her a bag of all kinds of goodies from home, and I just wanted to stare at him. To this day, I remember everything about that moment. His wavy brown hair, his enormous glasses, his blue hooded sweat jacket, the late spring sunshine slanting in the windows.
Marguerite introduced us and although we didn't say more than 10 words directly to each other, I was drawn to him. I wanted to hear everything he had to say, and I was desperate to sound funny and cool and relaxed, but all I could manage was to sound like I was barely above the village idiot.
Since I was still standing there like the third wheel I was, Marguerite invited me to go to dinner with them. I protested (weakly) out of good manners, but I wanted to go so badly and I was happy to have my arm lightly twisted.
We went to a favorite pizza restaurant off campus, where I ate nothing and laughed at everything. I was content to sit and listen to his jokes and watch him interact with his sister. My next closest sibling is almost 7 years younger than me, so I had no experience with an adult sibling relationship. I loved being included.
I could tell that Rob was smart. I mean really sharp and witty and wry. He was confident but not overbearing, and he wore his intelligence lightly, letting it show itself gently instead of making people uncomfortable.
On the ride back to campus, they invited me to go with them to Gettysburg. I don't think I even did any fake good-manners protesting. I wanted to go on that trip and I had a sudden sense that this was the time for me to take what was being offered to me with no reservations.
The next day was so much fun that Rob, Marguerite, and I still laugh about it. On the ride home from the battlefields, Marguerite fell asleep and Rob and I had two hours to talk. It felt like we had two minutes. We covered everything: movies we liked, songs we loved, books we'd read, places we'd visited, plans for the future, our families, what we believed in . . . . it all just poured out of us into the dark interior of the car.
|One of my college formals|
When he left us at the dorm that night and went home to New York, I was crestfallen. I wanted him to stay, I wanted to go with him, I didn't know how to let him know that I thought he was the best person I'd met in forever. I let him go without saying anything and I figured I might never see him again.
A few weeks later, Marguerite came down to my room to ask my roommate and me if we wanted to go to a concert in Albany with her brother. She said Rob could get us the tickets and he'd drive us to Albany. It was the perfect chance. I could see Rob again, under the convenient guise of a group outing to a concert. I couldn't accept any faster than I did.
Since the concert ended so late, we slept over at Rob's apartment. Marguerite, my roommate, and I all slept in the tiny living room and at one point, I remember waking up early to see Rob stepping over us and slipping out the front door. I thought he was leaving for work and I was sad that we didn't get to say goodbye.
He was not going to work. He went to the crummy neighborhood donut place to get coffee and donuts for us in the pouring rain. Once he brought everything back, I could see that Marguerite and his housemates claimed all the coffees except one. I knew he didn't drink coffee, so I looked at him and he said quietly, "I got that for you, Aimee. You like it with cream and two sugars, right? Did I get it right?"
He remembered one casual coffee order he'd overheard a month previously and brought me a coffee. That was it for me. That was the moment when I knew I was going to do whatever I had to do to be with this man. That might sound silly and rash, but it's true.
There have been very few moments in my life where God has granted me an almost perfect clarity, and this was one of them. It was completely clear to me that if I wanted to make something work with Rob, I was going to have to take this moment, this chance and grab it with both hands.
I was 18 and I decided to take the chance. Three years after he bought me coffee, I married him.
Our wedding was 16 years ago, today.
In those years, there has never been one regret, one second thought, one doubt, or one fear that I had made the wrong choice. Rob has always, always been the one for me.
Marrying him is the best choice I've ever made.
Happy Sweet 16th, Robert. The years with you have been sweet indeed. Sweeter days I've never known. I always say I couldn't love you more, and I'm always wrong.