Sunday, February 13, 2005

My Happily Ever After

It began 15 1/2 years ago on bracelet night at the Friendship Festival. My best friend and I were in front of the Tilt-a-Whirl, and this guy in a trench coat walked up. We chatted for a couple of minutes, but I didn't pay too close of attention to him. He was relatively nondescript - thin with longish brown hair and brown eyes. I didn't realize until the next day that he was in my art class.

We didn't have a seating chart in that class, and he sat down next to me. That's when the flirting began, and that's when I fell in love. I had long blond hair, which he delighted in using as a paint brush. He would dip it in blue or green paint and proceed to paint my nose with it. (Sweet, huh?) He wasn't like the other guys. He seemed to exude confidence, but not in a snotty way. He was graceful, too...unlike the other high school boys who still didn't seem to know where they started and ended. I used to joke that he could fall off his stool with grace. He was funny, too. We talked through class constantly. In fact, we talked through several different art classes over the next three years.

We dated a little bit now and again, but for the most part, he had two girls that he went back and forth between. I wasn't one of them - I was too innocent for him, he told me later. It didn't get serious until I graduated in 1992. I was 17. I had just split up with someone else, and we hooked up at a mutual friend's graduation party. We were pretty inseperable after that.

A year later, he joined the Marine Corps. I thought the seperation would kill me. We stayed in constant contact, and he came home to visit when he could. Nine or ten months after he joined, a friend and I drove out to Virginia to see him. Despite using three forms of birth control, we got pregnant. We were married a couple of months later, at the age of 19.

I moved to Virginia - 850 miles away from home. I had never left home before, and I was completely lost. Neither of us knew what to expect out of a marriage. Though both of our sets of parents were still married (and still are), they approached domestic life completely differently. The family dynamics couldn't have been more different between households. Add to that the fact we were both terribly immature, and then add the stress of a new baby. It wasn't pretty. I loved him with all of my heart and soul, but for the life of me, I couldn't figure out how to live with him.

Not quite two years into our marriage, I took Alex and left. We moved back to Illinois. I took the pieces of my shattered heart and glued them together as best as I could. We stayed in contact as far as talking about the baby was concerned, for a couple of years. Then he got out of the Corps, moved back to Illinois, and married a woman I'd known since kindergarten. Meanwhile, I remarried as well. We got together as couples to play role playing games or just hang out until he moved out of state and rejoined the Corps.

I have to admit, I was always jealous of his second wife. I still loved seemed like I always had. But we'd had our time together, and it was long over. My poor second husband never stood a chance, really. He couldn't live up to the ideal of my ex-husband.

Long story short, our second marriages didn't work out, either. A couple of years ago, we started really talking online. We commiserated about our screwed-up marriages. We became close friends again. He and his second wife ultimately split up, and about a year later, I asked my husband to leave as well.

In the fall of 2003, 7 years after we'd split up, we got back together. In my WILDEST dreams, I never thought it would happen. He had grown into the man I had expected him to be at 19...even better, really. Everything I'd ever dreamed of and more. We were married Friday, August 13th.

Happy 6 month anniversary, Sweetheart. And Happy Valentine's Day.