While my husband and I are well suited to each other, we are the living proof that opposites attract. We met, instantly hated each other and four days later he was sure I was “the one”. It took me a week. He was someone with a steady girlfriend through high school and various relationships beyond and I was the girl who never brought a suitor home until I had a wedding planned. We married seven months after we met. After all, I had caught the bouquet at the wedding I was a bridesmaid in, our first encounter being in the back of a Catholic church before the rehearsal.
We lived in neighboring states at the time we met. As an Army Reservist he had an obligation one weekend a month. As a Hall Director at a university I had one weekend a month that obligated me to be on campus and accessible by phone. This was pre-cell, no call waiting, an era where only doctors, hookers and drug dealers had pagers. We tried to coordinate our weekends so our schedules matched. When they did not match, I would head down to his place on drill weekends and hang out during the Saturday night card parties, empty the ash trays and clear the beer bottles. The rest of our courtship consisted of him meeting me at prearranged destinations; attending Homecoming at my alma mater and meeting for a weekend in the college town I had previously worked in. By the time Thanksgiving arrived we were engaged, had the wedding booked and were just waiting on the ring being made.
We are not terribly traditional in the romantic sense. It has become more of an amusement to us over the years that we simply got married because we sucked at dating. His first visit to see me was the weekend after we had met. It was the Homecoming weekend on my campus and I told him I would likely be busy but he insisted. He brought me roses and we walked a few blocks to a bar to have a drink. While we waited to order, an intoxicated young man approached, took a look at my date and stated “So, you think you’re tough! Eh?”. He had warned me that his stature and general physique somehow brought out the desire for strangers to want to pick a fight with him. We just looked at the guy and sort of chuckled and waited for our beers. The first weekend I went to visit him he decided we should go to a movie. We ended up at the wrong theater for the movie we had chosen (no recollection of what that might have been) but had time to get to the correct one, only to find out they only accepted cash. We, of course, had only checks and cards. We may have actually been married before we ever saw a movie in a theater together.
While our “hate at first sight” followed by nuptials within months may seem terribly romantic, I can assure you that our engagement was not. While on one of our phone conversations (less than a month after we had met) he simply inquired “when should we do this thing?” and I reached for my planner that was filled with the work obligations of a person that lives on-site and is in their first year at a new job. We kicked around the possibility of doing it over Christmas break but didn’t want to screw up holiday plans or budgets for others. We picked a window of time in April that would work.
We went from meeting to wedding planning. For financial reasons after our marriage, he remained on in his town for six weeks and then I went to live with him for the summer where he continued to work and then we both returned in the fall to the campus where I had been living and working. Practical, that is how I would describe much of the logistics of our relationship.
Once we were married we did little in the way of dating either, our greatest expense and date-like outings during those early years was when we attended friends weddings. For our five-year anniversary we decided that it might be fun to go to Las Vegas and renew our vows. We had friends (one of my bridesmaids) who were celebrating their one year anniversary who decided to join us for the long weekend. The ceremony was a brief affair at the Little Chapel of the West (where Elvis married Anne Margaret at the end of Viva Las Vegas) and as we strolled back to our hotel, a pedestrian was struck by a car and off like a shot my husband went to assist until police and EMT’s arrived. Memorable but not particularly romantic.
When those same friends were celebrating their ten-year anniversary, the four of us decided to take a week-long Caribbean cruise. We scheduled well in advance, arranged for care of our children and in the days before our departure it became evident that we were going to war. We hesitated about going but did anyway. While the trip was enjoyable there was not that carefree sense that one might expect.
We have had successful trips with our children; many Wisconsin Dells water park adventures, a car trip to Mount Rushmore, Door County Wisconsin, a fabulous trip with another family to Disney World, an all-inclusive resort in Mexico with my childhood best friend and her family and another cruise. None of them terribly romantic trips but memorable family adventures.
With kids in college and me being underemployed for a couple of years, we have stayed close to home. This year for my husband’s birthday we (our two adult children and I) decided it would be nice to send him to Lynchburg Tennessee, home of Jack Daniels and where he is recognized as a Tennessee Squire. A quick trip for the two of us, with a Thursday departure and Sunday return. We will arrive in Nashville, take a scheduled bus tour, meet up with a longtime friend for the evening and depart in our rental vehicle for Lynchburg in the morning. On Friday we will spend the day at the distillery and spend the night at the Mulberry Guest House Cottage. We will return to Nashville on Saturday, return our rental car and depart on Sunday morning. It’s short and fun and fit the budget. What could possibly go wrong?
Try to imagine my reaction this morning when I see that the state of Tennessee has declared a state of emergency and called out the National Guard because their road conditions have deteriorated badly as the result of an ice storm. It is times like this I am relieved that we have no unrealistic standard of romance, no Pinterest story board of our romantic getaway being ruined. Instead we have over a quarter century of funny anecdotes, hilarious one-liners and tales of the unpredictable happening whenever we make the effort to try to “date”.
We would like to apologize to the people of Tennessee, as we are pretty confident this never would have happened had we not planned a visit. I guess that makes us a power couple!