Friday, February 20, 2015

Happy 11/18 Anniversary

18 years ago I said "I love you" to the man who would become my husband. I was sixteen and exploring the new world of America Online (AOL). My best friend had moved to North Carolina and, being the naive and unworldly child that I was, I didn't think North Carolina was that big and I'd find someone who might end up knowing my best friend. I entered in the profile search terms of writer and North Carolina and looked for people online. Then I looked for ages that were appropriate. There was only one person online and of an age that was appropriate with writer as a hobby: rayd0gg36.

I immediately sent an instant message to him and waited for a response. Nothing. So I sent an e-mail telling him how I read his profile and thought he sounded interesting. I asked him if he wanted to talk. When I logged on the next day, I had a missed instant message from him and a reply e-mail. For the next day or so we played tag and then finally started talking.

We shared the basics about ourselves and where we lived and our ages and what grade we were in. We talked about writing and family and book interests. We talked about television and things like that. Turns out he was playing this game called Neverwinter Nights and he couldn't get messages from me when he was in there. I couldn't get the game to run on the computer I had (still don't understand why).

I remember first messaging him around the end of January in 1997. But I always remembered that we picked February 20th as our anniversary because for some reason it stuck in our heads that we had first said "I love you" on that day.

We've been through so much in our time together. We broke up once when we thought it wasn't going to work out when I went off to college. We spent 5 years doing the LD thing and then I moved down to North Carolina after I graduated college in 2002. I started the Masters Program at UNC and we rented a house together. I later switched over to NCState. We had been "engaged" since at least 1999, even though we kept it a secret for a little while, because my parents weren't huge fans of him. Every year I'd ask him "so do you want to get married this year?"

The week before our anniversary in 2004, I asked again. This time he said, "let's talk about it when I get home." Sure enough, our 7th year together was the lucky year and by that Friday, we were married at the court house in a small ceremony with family. We had an informal wedding/party that June with family in Wisconsin. I still laugh that at both ceremonies we all wore black.

Shortly after that we encountered our first big married-life issue. In 2005, my husband was immediately put into urgent care for some intestinal issues. We literally spent over 2 weeks in the hospital. It was so hard, but I needed to be there for him, taking care of him. There was a long road to recovery ahead of him, including dealing with stitches on the stomach (which do burst open when you bend to pet your dog). But I proved to him that I could be there and help him be strong.

Things were going well. We had pets and a house and I was finishing school. I applied for a PhD program in Edinburgh, Scotland and we moved overseas in 2007. I left first that August and he came late that October. It was so hard to be apart from each other for almost four months (we technically left each other in July). But once we were together again, it was wonderful! We traveled together and talked and walked and explored where we lived.

Then, in 2009, my father passed away, followed by my grandfather. My husband was my rock. We had just decided to try to have a child at the time, so things were even more difficult to deal with. Even when he had to leave me in July, because he had to return to work in Edinburgh, we talked endlessly. It was during that time that we learned my grandmother was dying. When I had to return to Edinburgh for school, my grandmother passed away shortly after my return and I found out that my first pregnancy had ended. A month later we were preparing to return to the United States.

Later that November, we learned that we were going to have our first child. I had chosen a new career path in education. My husband also was going to try to help with the family business. We moved in with my mom. Partially to help with our precarious state moving back from overseas, but also to give her company and support while she dealt with the loss of some very major people in our family.

In 2010, our daughter was born and my husband became Super Dad. We were a tiny family and so happy spending all of our time together and sharing responsibilities with our daughter. It was the best decision we'd made and even five years later, she is still keeping us on our toes and challenging us to be awesome.

I can't even begin to imagine at the young age of 16 that this man would have been the person who kept me afloat through all the crazy hardships and challenges we've encountered. Sure I was young and idealistic and I felt we'd be together forever, I was a kid. At the same time, it takes two to make this work and he has always been just as committed as I have been. I also can't believe it's been 18 years already. I couldn't imagine a life without him. Even when things get hard, we push through them. We just try to make little adjustments, but it never means we don't love each other. Life happens and we work together to try to solve it. I need him more than anyone to help with just the daily minutia of existence. His random joke, his hug, his smile, his little quick message. . . it just makes everything wonderful. If ever I had a term, I truly feel that we were souls destine to meet over the miles, because we are soulmates.  The ying to my yang, the peanut butter to my jelly, the abbott to my costello, the han to my leia, the ben to my leslie, the ring to my gollum, the Carl to my Ellie. You get the point.

If I hadn't done that profile search and seen his name at the top of the list with that little green dot next to his name. . .we might never have ended up together. Or what other kind of weird circumstances would have brought us together.

And, seriously people. . . this guy has got to be the most amazing find for putting up with someone as crazy as me. He is so understanding and supportive. He is always there for me when I need him and I wouldn't feel more blessed than to have someone who takes care of me. His very presence by my side can change the whole feel of my day.

So Happy Anniversary to the person who has made my life the blessing it is today. I think we're at a point where you and I together have a continued bright future for the love that blossomed all those years ago. I love you with all of my heart.

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