Every Couple has a story.
This is ours.
How long have you been together? It's one of those questions people ask all the time, but for DH and I there isn't really a straightforward simple answer. So I'm going to put as much of it down here as I can, and I'll have a place to refer people who feel the need to know the details.
How We Met
Neither of us really remembers when we first laid eyes on each other. There was no sickeningly sweet love at first sight moment, which is fine with me because I think love at first sight is a crock (lust at first sight, sure, but there's a lot more to love than sight).
I worked at Applebee's the whole time I was going to Purdue, but I had spent the summer between my second and third years in Michigan cocktail waitressing and hanging out with my family. Sometime while I was gone, DH started working there. As it turns out, we both found each other attractive from the very beginning, but we each thought the other was in a relationship, and, as we both hold very deep seated disdain for cheating, there wasn't much flirting, or really even conversation. [Also, I had spent part of my first and second years of undergrad with my "high school sweetheart" who literally and admittedly wanted to kill me, so I was a little withdrawn at work. I spent the better part of a year rebuilding myself after that - but that recovery is its own story.]
So we both spent time admiring each other, but didn't really talk, until one day I was chatting with another co-worker about relationships and how, after having intentionally spent a year single and free of guys, I was thinking it had been long enough. DH, who was ringing in an order right behind/next to me, turned and said, "I thought you were engaged?" He and I got to talking about how we had both been single for about a year; both coming out of very unpleasant relationships, and how we had each thought the other was still in a relationship. Unfortunately, I had to excuse myself because I needed to take my car (my dead sexy 1976 Mustang II Cobra 302) in to have the oil changed. DH then pointed out that he loved working on cars and offered to change the oil for me. He changed the oil on a Saturday when I was working a double, and came in to tell me that it was done, and gave me a note with four things the car needed on it. The fourth thing was "Date - Dinner and a Movie." Which was very cruel because I then had to work about 8 more hours with that flying around in my head, so in retaliation, I waited until Monday evening to call him. Let the games begin!
We agreed to meet at Starbucks in the Levee and pick a movie from there. We chatted over coffee for quite a while. I don't really remember much of what we talked about except that he, like so many other guys, questioned my decision to join the Marine Corps (and at that point I had a rule against guys who raised objection to my military status, but, as it turns out, DH had the power to get me to break a lot of my rules - I also had a rule against dating guys with kids, and I knew he had a daughter; and I had a rule against ever dating my exes - that comes into play later). At least he questioned it based on his own experience in the Navy and not out of some sexist mindset. Overall, it was a really pleasant time. None of the movies showing really struck either of us, so we decided to go for a walk and chat some more. On our walk, we checked in with his mom, who was watching our daughter, DD (yes, I say our daughter because now, 7 years later, that is what she is). Yep, I met his mom, and his daughter on our first date. I had seen K before, but this was the first time I had really met the 18 month old. She was amazingly well behaved and happy.
After that, we decided to rent a movie since there was nothing we wanted to see in the theatre, and we went back to my apartment, which was just over the bridge. Yes, this was our first date, and yes, we ended up back in my apartment, but, trust me nothing happened. I believe I mentioned we had each spent most of the year before single, recovering from really bad relationships, and, while I can't speak for him, I can say that I was more than a little bit nervous. My last "first date" had been in the middle of high school. We sat about two feet apart on my couch and watched almost the whole Mr. Bean movie before we so much as held hands. After the movie it was pretty late. We talked a little more, and I walked him to the door where we passed a few very tense seconds. He didn't kiss me. I didn't kiss him. He asked me which way the stairwell was, so I walked him to the stairs. Then, finally, he kissed me. And it was amazing. He looked at me and said, "I've been wanting to do that all night." And he left. Remembering it still gives me butterflies in my stomach.
A Few Months
Obviously, there were more dates after that - and more kissing. I was faced with another situation I hadn't been in quite a while. In my previous relationship, I had waited almost a year before having sex. And while I obviously wasn't 18 anymore, and was no longer inclined to wait quite that long, I did fret about the whole sex step a fair bit. But, Gd, when we got around to it - well, lets just say I was really, really glad I didn't wait a year, and really, really glad I didn't stay with my ex, ;-).
And that coincided with when we became an exclusive couple, though we decided from the beginning to keep it a secret at work, which was also fun. I spent a lot of time with him and DD, outings to the park and quite a few movies. He wanted to take me roller skating, and I am oh so glad that never managed to happen until after we were married because, while I can give him a run for his money on ice, his roller skating abilities put me to shame.
It wasn't long at all before he gave me a key to his apartment, and started talking about us a little more seriously. This would be about the point that I freaked. While our chemistry and friendship was amazing the whole time, I started to take issue with more and more things he said. I didn't realize until a year or two later that at that point I was still fairly screwed up in the head from the insanity of my earlier relationship, and nowhere near ready to be vulnerable to another person. That summer he was supposed to come to a wedding in MI with me and had to back out at the last minute because DD's sitter fell through. I used that and a comment he made about ladybugs as my way out. It wasn't dramatic or heartwrenching. It was pretty straightforward. It had only been a few months.
A Year in Limbo
I came back from MI a month or so later, we had both gone on a couple dates with other people, and we didn't talk much for a couple weeks. It was weird, though. I would still flush around him. I still wanted to talk to him. I had always been able to just write people off in the past and completely ignore them, but for some reason that didn't work around him. So after a couple strange weeks at work, we found ourselves both out at a bar to see another friend and co-worker's band, Danger Car. After that, a bunch of us went to another bar, Jakes, where DH and I somehow ended up sitting next to each other. And then we somehow ended up talking. And somehow his hand ended up on my knee. And somehow we ended up back at my apartment . . .
And from that point on, while we were not a couple, we had a cyclical relationship. It usually went like this: We would go out to a bar or club, and have an amazing time together. Then we wouldn't speak to each other for a week or so. Then we'd start talking again. Then we'd go out again, and it was always an amazing time. But we never "got back together," so to speak. There were short periods of time where we saw other people (I think more on my part than on his), but we always ended up out together again. There was some sort of draw there that I just couldn't fight (and trust me, I tried to fight it - I was a huge game player during this period of my life - hell I've always been a big game player).
This cycle continued on for a year. At the end of my Sr. year at Purdue, he said something to me that was so insignificant that I don't even remember what it was or what it was about. But at the time it pissed me off. Then he wasn't able to go out one night that we had planned. This hurt me, I now realize, a lot more than I care to admit. At the time I translated the hurt into indignity.
At the end of the school year, I drove my U-Haul to Applebee's to turn in my uniform and pick up my paycheck. When he said hi I asked him if he was going to miss me. When he asked why, I told him I was moving to New York for Law School.
"When?" "Right now," I pointed to the U-Haul in the parking lot.
We hugged, and that was it. That was the summer of 2005, and we didn't speak for almost a year after that. He tells me now that he was really, really angry with me for doing that, and rightfully so. He claims that I drove him into a bad relationship he never would have otherwise considered. I still dispute that particular claim ;-) At the time, I had convinced myself that he didn't care about me at all and that I cared very little about him. Both of these things were completely untrue.
In the period of months after that, we both went on with our lives. I went to OCS and was commissioned by the US Marine Corps, then picked up with my class at New York Law School two days later. He moved back to Wisconsin. We both had some adventures in seeing other people, but were each, ultimately, left wondering what the other was up to. Neither of us remembers who contacted who first, nor when exactly it was. It was sometime during the summer of '06, or possibly a little earlier. We found each other on MySpace (as I said, we still don't know who found who - we both looked each other up), and by the end of the summer were messaging each other a couple times a week.
The connection came back immediately, and I found myself realizing that I hadn't exactly been fair to him the first time around. Soon we were talking every day, and working daily to try to figure out how we could see each other in person. He wanted to come to NY, but had been financially crippled, being stolen from in a relationship while we were apart. I was a poor student. We finally pulled it together for November. Then, as always happens in my life, an automobile thwarted my plans. (Seriously, I swear I must have killed someone with a car in a past life and karma is playing with me, the comical chain of mishaps involving automobiles, 99% through pure chance, is unbelievable and fairly comical).
Finally, in January, he made it to The City. First Visit
I was excited, and very, very nervous about this visit. It had been more than a year since we'd seen each other. I had no idea at all how the visit was going to go down, or, really, what he expected. I had, as always been cagey and vague about our status.
His flight got in a little early, and he was already at the baggage claim when I walked in. He saw me first, and snuck up on me. We hugged, and he kissed me - just a peck, but it made it clear that this visit was neither purely physical nor purely friendly. We chatted more on the nearly hour long bus/subway ride back to Brooklyn. It only took a few minutes for my nervousness to dissipate, and I realized I was completely comfortable with him. We stopped at La Traviata, a nice little Italian place in Brooklyn Heights, and had a long pasta dinner and bottle of wine.
From that point forward, the visit was amazing. We were completely comfortable together (he is, to date, the only man I've been completely comfortable around). I took him to do the tourist sightseeing thing: We went to the Top of the Rock (Rockefeller Center, WAY better that the Empire State Building), to Times Square, and around Brooklyn (in many ways, Brooklyn is the best part of NYC), and we spent a good deal of time just being together at my place.
I was very, very sad to see him go in the end. After seeing him off, the first song out of more than 900 that played on my iPod, one it had never played before, was One More Night by Phil Collins. It is still a significant song in our relationship. 1000 Miles
That was the beginning of our whirlwind long distance relationship. We lived just over 1000 miles apart (think I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles) by the Proclaimers, lol), but we talked every day, and we actually managed to see each other fairly often.
We stayed at the Hilton in Chicago in February, which is when we "officially" got back together. He told me, "I don't care what you say, you're my girl now." Did I mention my fear of commitment?
I went to Wisconsin and spent a ton of time getting re-acquainted with DD and re-establishing our bond. On these trips we played, went camping, went to fairs, went swimming, and just hung out at home watching movies - and I introduced her to tater-tot casserole - the beginning of a long and continuing campaign to integrate as many veggies as possible into her diet.
We met up in Michigan and (after we had been dancing around it for a few weeks), he told me he was in love with me. He had insisted he was going to make me say it first, but we were out dancing at a bar I used to work at, one of my exes was crying in the corner, and he said, "You win. I love you." Doves Cry by Prince was playing.
When we couldn't be together, we talked every night. We took turns reading each other to sleep (thank heavens for free nights and weekends!), and we started passing a journal back and forth to write to each other. It was in this book that I (yes, it was me this time) eventually wrote "Screw it. Move to New York." And He Did
He moved to Brooklyn in August 2007. Three months later, we moved to Jersey City, where I became, in the truest sense of the word, DD's mother.
In March of 2008, he proposed to me on stage at the very same bar in Michigan where he had first told me he loved me. My dad and best friend were both there. We got married in my mom's back yard during a torential downpour on the 23rd of August, 2008. The wedding was soaking wet, a little redneck, and absolutely amazing. The rest, as they say is history.