Stop me if you’ve heard this one: A sophomore college student and a junior were pretty much living in the physical science building at Harding University in the fall of 1997, and yet they never actually met until…
You’re actually stopping me? I didn’t mean it; it’s a classic joke construct. How rude.
Anyway, they never actually met until one day when the sophomore, a skinny but dashing young man with coal black hair and an ever-present 20 ounce Dr. Pepper in his hand, was sitting, cross-legged on a table at the head of the Analytical Science classroom. There were a few underclasswomen sitting in student desks and exclaiming in high-pitched voices, “Jeremiah, please come to the Physical Science cookout tonight!” The junior, an intelligent young woman with no time for nonsense, stood in the doorway in slack-jawed disgust at her feminine comrades. Silly, weak, stereotypical flirting – en masse! Without thinking the young woman in the doorway blurted out, in her most farcically girlie tone, “Yes, Jeremiah! PLEASE come to the Physical Science cookout tonight!” He turned, surprised but unflappable. The young woman felt his surprise and also the hot stares of every other woman in the room and immediately regretted her exclamation. So, she added, much subdued, “Seems like you are… pretty popular with the ladies.” With no pause, the young man replied, “I’d be pretty popular with you, too, if I got the chance.”
Over the next few weeks, Jeremiah and I kept bumping into each other. I was a little hard to convince, but he just kept popping up, and he kept being funny, and he kept being good-looking. Within a month of meeting him, and after hanging out more than a few times, it was I who had to push for a formal date. That’s how smooth he was – or maybe that’s how intimidated he was. Who knows? Either way, it worked.
This is what we looked like about three weeks after we started dating.
Notice the periodic chart in the background. Science brought us together. *Sigh*
It was all flowers and sausages* from there. I think we both knew we would be marrying each other after about three months. But, we didn’t really talk about it until we’d been dating about a year.
This is what we looked like after a year of dating. Well, what we looked like with the top of Jeremiah’s head cut off.
By then, I was just waiting for a ring. During that period of time, Jeremiah, always the joke-maker, would suddenly stop our conversation and tell me he had something important to ask me. Then, he would ask me something like, “Do you like chicken-fried steak?” Once he even suddenly stopped walking next to me and got down on one knee. He looked up at me and said, “Sorry. I have to tie my shoe.”
Finally, though, on October 29th, 1998, we hiked to a rocky stream in front of a short waterfall at Blanchard Springs Caverns, and he asked me to marry him. I was so happy, I cried projectile tears. (Ask my family and friends – anytime I cry suddenly the tears actually squirt out).
I also threw up. Not right away but out the door of the car on our way back to school. (Ask my family and friends – I almost always vomit on really important occasions.)
This is what we looked like right after that fateful hike (and, I’m pretty sure, right after I threw up):
About nine months later, we were married. We were pretty crazy in love. A lot has happened since then. We’ve had a Jacob:
And, we’ve had a Jackson:
And, we’ve had an all-around good time. But, it’s different from those first few years of meeting, dating, and marrying – different from first falling in love. You won’t think me very romantic when I say that those feelings don’t last. Those crazy, wanting-to-spend-every-waking-minute-with-each-other, dramatically unstable feelings. I don’t know any long-term relationship in which those feelings stick around for more than a few years. In a way, it’s sad. Falling in love with a person for the first time feels good. And, when you’re dating, you have the chance to feel that way over and over again with many different people. But, when you’re married, well, that first time to fall in love with your spouse has come and gone.
I’m not saying there is no passion anymore. Of course there is. But, because of the stresses of everyday life (money, kids, television, office parties…) the passion comes mostly in fits and starts. A marriage can have this kind of passion for decades and decades. And, those who have that are very blessed. But, I have even more. Though it’s not constant, and it’s not for long periods of time, I can still close my eyes and feel it wash over me – that crazy love feeling. And, I know it’s not just a memory, because the crazy love I have for him now is different. It’s more grateful, more relaxing, more… knowledgeable. It’s a realization that I love him a little more in that moment than I did the moment before – and a lot more than I did all those years ago.
Today is our twelfth wedding anniversary. When I look over at him now, I can see him again as if I were seeing him the first time: this not-so-skinny, yet dashing man with salted black hair and an ever-present cup of coffee in his hand. And, it feels a lot like falling in love.
Happy Anniversary, Love.
* “It’s not all flowers and sausages” is something an angry little fat kid said on a television show one time. It cracked Jeremiah and me up, so we’ve been saying it ever since.