I met my husband on August 7th, 1994. It was a pretty weird day. I had recently graduated from high school, and I had made the decision to join a touring group. It was the day I left home and embarked on one of the strangest and most important journeys of my life. I don’t often talk about this part of my life; I have no idea where I would start. There was a lot of crazy packed into that journey.
My friends Josh and Mike drove me to the place I would be staying. It was a Sunday night, and they had come with me to my Grandma Hill’s house that day to say my goodbyes to my family. We arrived at my destination after dark, and were met by a kid my age named Todd. The others had all gone to the airport to pick up some other new group members, and Todd had been left the task of greeting the new girl coming by car. Josh and Todd immediately hit it off when Todd saw that Josh was wearing a t-shirt with a camp logo on it from a camp he had also gone to.
Todd showed me to my room. I hugged Josh and Mike, and spent the next hour unpacking.
Eventually the rest of the group arrived home, and the “dorm” was suddenly alive with activity. After meeting several others, I had some time in my room with my new roommate, Jen. I liked her immediately. After a time of filling me in on who was who and how things worked, she said we needed to go downstairs. Specifically she told me, “You have to meet Dave.”
Later, and while I was still very young, I suppose I romanticized that moment when I met my future husband. I certainly had no clue at the time that the moment was significant. I kind of suspected that the whole day might be significant, but not that moment. We walked into the kitchen, and there stood a very tall kid dressed in a flannel shirt and a cardigan sweater– spreading his seizure meds across the counter.
It was clear that Dave’s seizures and the number of pills he took to not control them was part of his identity around the dorm. Our very first conversation was about his medication, followed by group stories of seizures he had already had. My first impression of Dave was that I felt intimidated. I mentioned this before in one of my other blog posts here; I kind of mention him a lot. He hates it.
Dave was definitely cooler than me. He also reminded me of a boy I went to school with named Bryan. I sat next to Bryan in Creative Writing class, and I could never get over how much better he was at writing than the rest of us. Bryan played in bands and wrote things that made me want to quit both writing and music. In fact, he is still a writer– check him out here if you are interested. I mention Bryan because the resemblance between him and Dave was the initial reason I think I admired Dave. I never had a crush on Bryan or anything like that, but I did feel nervous around him. I envied his creativity. Bryan was also way cooler than me.
That first night away from home I stayed up until the early hours of the morning talking to Jen, Dave, and another guy named Mark. We stayed downstairs talking long after everyone else had gone to bed.
It would later be revealed that Dave and I were the true night owls of the group. The fact that we were often the only ones still awake after midnight is probably the only reason we became friends. Those late night hangouts made Dave my closest ally in the group, even if it took us a little while to figure out that we were more than friends.
I have nothing insightful or witty to say. It’s just that I was thinking about what day it is, and sometimes there are dates that stick with us. We might not celebrate the date we met, but I still know when it was. Not because the eighteen year old girl in me tattooed it on my brain forever in some act of relationship bliss, but because that was the day I was going to leave home and embark on a new life adventure, and it had kind of been on my calendar for a while.
It seems like it was just a dream I once had, or a story I made up. Is nineteen years like a million years? Sometimes. I can’t imagine being eighteen years old. I can’t imagine what it was like to leave home for the first time. I can’t imagine falling in love and having our entire future ahead of us. Well, I can imagine it, but it seems like something that only ever existed in my imagination. Except…. I still have this Dave guy hanging around. And he is still getting me through the best of times– and the worst of times.
Sometimes I watch him taking his medication in the kitchen and I get a little nostalgic. I remember nightly walks in the woods, hanging out in Motel 6 laundry rooms, and scraping up change for late night coffee dates. I long for road trips to Midwestern farming communities, the smell of old school gymnasiums, and the sounds of polite hate among a group forced to spend too many hours in a van together. I can actually feel the disappointment of year-old frozen Pizza Hut leftovers, sleep deprivation, and cult mentality….(maybe you had to be there).
Anyway, I guess I’m just a romantic like that.