I’m a day late in making this week’s post, and also a day late in celebrating a cheery little anniversary. Yesterday was the 12th anniversary of my first date with my wife of nearly eight years. Happy Anniversary Honey!
I didn’t forget. I just got caught up in the things of life, like doing my current job, looking for another jobs wondering whether an agent will be bold enough to represent me and Boy At The Window. Paying bills, scanning pictures of my son, wondering if I’ve made any mistakes quite as stupid as any Michael Vick has in the past six years. All kept coming up over the course of the day. I did at least say the words “Happy Anniversary” while getting my son ready for school yesterday morning. Even as introspective as I normally am, the cares of our lives and this world can trip us up. So it was yesterday.
But you know, since I now have the time to write about this anniversary, let me tell you all (especially my son) about how I met my wife. It started in the spring of ’90 with a mutual friend named Bryan. I knew him because he was part of my inner circle of friends and acquaintances from my sophomore and junior years at the University of Pittsburgh. My wife knew him because she supervised him and other staff at a market research firm in downtown Pittsburgh.
Bryan decided to throw himself an apartment-warming party that April. He invited us, telling each of us that the other would be there, that the other was attractive or intelligent or quirky. My wife has always assumed that Bryan tried to set us up because we were the two tallest Blacks that he knew. Probably so, seeing that in our circle, I towered over just about everyone by at least seven or eight inches. But I’d like to think that Bryan saw our weirdnesses complementing each other well.
It was just that his timing was off by about five years. I can’t completely speak for my wife, but I’d seen her on campus enough times to know that she was dating a Pitt football player (an automatic strike as far as I was concerned). Plus, my main focus that semester had been to find balance in my life as a student, between my assumed role as an excelling nerd, my 15-hour a week work-study job and hanging out with friends. Still, even with that balance and several all-nighters hangin‘ out in hole-in-the-wall clubs with my circle, I found myself on the verge of a 4.0 semester with a week and a half of the semester to go.
So I had plenty of reasons to be excited about myself by the time I’d had my second margarita of the evening, one that was sweet, strong and too much for my liver to process. It was at this point that Bryan formally introduced me to my future wife, almost a decade before we actually got married. In my wife’s version of this story, I said, “Hi, I’m Donald and I have a 4.0,” which given all of my immediate history of ridicule, scorn and suffering, doesn’t make any sense. I was too impressed by her height and her soft brown skin to have said anything about my grades right off the bat. She was wearing a pink and white blouse with a dark denim skirt that fanned out a bit, not to mention high heels.
I settled in for a conversation about our mutual lives as Pitt students, knowing somehow that I wasn’t interested in dating her. She asked me about how school was going. I’m sure at that point I mentioned the 4.0 thing. I know that she took my excitement about my semester as arrogance, but she did ask the question. I thought that her response and her ‘Burgh-like accent was weird, as well as the fact that she was dating a football player. I guess that we didn’t hit it off.
It all would’ve ended that night after Bryan’s margaritas had given me the runs if I hadn’t taken an interviewer job at my wife’s former company a couple of weeks later. She was my supervisor for a couple of weeks. I guess during that time she’d seen and heard enough from me to realize that I cared about a lot of other things besides grades. We kept in touch as friends by mail that summer, would occasionally bump into each other and go out to eat or see a movie in the year or two after that, and then lost touch for a few years.
When we bumped into each other on the bus in May ’95, we made sure to stay in touch at that point. After a few months of hanging out as friends — and one loony three-month relationship with another woman (small “r” relationship) — she invited me to her company’s Xmas party. The rest, as they say, is history.
Except that relationships and marriages are complicated unions. They take unexpected twists and turns, leave you head over heels or in an emotional hell and involve an enormous investment of your entire being if you care about the union’s success and growth and love your partner. It hasn’t been easy being married. But given how my first two crushes from so long ago ended, I know that I have enjoyed and cherished so much of this ride with my wife over the past dozen years.