Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The story of us.

It was the first day of our sophomore year at a brand new school. We had geometry together, first period. This is where it all began.

I sat in the front of the class in my hunter green plaid shorts and matching v-neck sweater, clutching my new pencil and nervously looking around, trying to gauge what the coming year would bring. Would this school be different?

Sitting in groups of four around the room were the usual suspects: the jocks in their GHS football jerseys, the nerds at the front of the class with their new pencils, the hicks with their wrangler butts that did not drive me nuts, the stoners who were in class but technically still asleep. Some kids I had known all my life, others were strangers to me. A few people looked interesting but there was no one who could make math class at seven in the morning seem like a good idea. I sighed and thought, Well, I suppose I could just learn geometry.

Then I saw you.

You were wearing jeans, red Doc Marten boots and a black leather jacket with spikes, spikes!, on the shoulders. Your hair was dyed black and cut in an a-line that hung in your eyes. Eyes that, if I wasn't mistaken, were rimmed with eyeliner. You were slumped over the desk in a stoner-like fashion but when the teacher entered the room, you sat up, slung your arm over the back of your chair and took up the space around you like a CEO. While the other guys in class eyed the cheerleaders from across the room, you sat with them. And they doted on you. You were unlike anyone I had ever seen before. I was beyond intrigued.

Of course, that didn’t mean I would ever talk to you or anything. I mean, what would we say to one another? You were all leathery and cool and I was socially awkward and shy. It was obvious we had nothing in common.

At the end of the year, we signed each others’ year books. I wrote, “You’re so unique, don’t ever change!” I even said “call me!” but was too shy to mean it. You wrote, “I hope you had a rockin’ good year. I’ll make your junior year even better!” You meant because you’d be class president but it still made me blush.

The first day of our junior year, you sat behind me in World History. A lot had changed over the summer. I was a cheerleader now. I had been wooed all summer by a very cute skater boy and now had an actual boyfriend sitting next to me in class. I had lost weight since the last day of sophomore year but didn’t realize how much until people pointed it out. I was getting a lot of attention for the first time in my life and had no idea what to do with myself. I wanted to climb under a rock and go back to being invisible.

I was uncomfortable being close to anyone and broke up with the cute skater boy almost immediately after the school year began (talking to someone on the phone was one thing, seeing him in person 5 days a week was quite another). Now in first period World History, you both sat behind me while I died a slow and painful death at the front of the class.

One day, he convinced you to help him write a note to get me back. Soon you were writing me notes on your own. You made me so nervous. Anytime I unfolded a note, I prayed it wouldn’t say something over my head or challenge me to open up. It felt like in 2nd grade when two kids are talking about something naughty and a third kid pretends she knows what they’re talking about and then one of the first two kids says, “Oh yeah, then whisper it in my ear!” and the third kid turns red and dies of embarrassment. I was always that third kid.

I loved the attention though. And it wasn’t just the notes. There was physical attention, too. You know what I’m talking about. Remember? You used to grab me from behind when I was at my locker and…

CARRY ME DOWN THE HALL AND DROP ME INTO THE GARBAGE CAN.

Ooh, baby.

It sounds silly now but was actually quite exciting at the time. I had never done the whole splashy-splashy, flirty-flirty thing and it made my heart race. Plus, it was good to know that although you were very skinny you were strong enough to carry me around. And I liked the way you smelled up close. (Even though now I know patchouli smells like hippies, to me it will always smell like you.)

All fall we went on like this, passing notes and rough-housing inappropriately. Then came the Christmas Ball. We went with other dates, of course, but at the end of the night I went home with you. How did that happen again? I think I must have been scared. Scared that my date might like me like me and want to get to know me or something. Scared that I might like him, too. I was such a mess at the time and couldn’t imagine letting anyone in. But yet, here I was, at your house.

When I left that night, it was snowing. You asked me to call when I got home so you would know I was safe. I remember shivering with cold as I sat at my parents’ kitchen phone in my little black dress twirling the cord around and around and around my bare feet. You hang up first. No, you hang up first...

We spent New Year’s Eve together and I convinced you to take me to the Junior Achievement Dance. We looked so good together. Remember the drunk people in the elevator who thought we were getting married? Not tonight, you said. You always knew. We danced to a couple slow songs and then snuck out early to go to an underground concert. We changed our clothes in the car and I felt like that 2nd grader again. Please don’t make me whisper in your ear…

After the show, you drove me home and walked me to the door. I thought, This is it; he’s going to kiss me and everything is going to change and we might fall in love or I might get scared. I thought I was ready. But you knew that I wasn’t. I think you even patted my back when we hugged, so I’d know for sure where we stood.

You knew I didn’t want to be chased; that I needed to feel in control. You set the scene and let me make the first move. Do you want to watch Dances with Wolves for extra credit in history? You had to know that movie would be boring (I mean, Kevin Costner is the lead role). Did you know it would be that boring? I don’t know why we decided your Sioux name should be Dumb Bear; that was a pretty smart move. My name, Kisses without Appendix, suited me just fine.

We may have been watching the movie for history class but all I remember is the chemistry.

Wow.

The next day at school, you high-fived me. Not like how cool kids sometimes do when they walk past each other in the hall and want to flirt but need to get to Spanish class before the bell rings. No. It was more like a what’s up dude who is obviously just my friend kind of high-five. Like we were playing basketball or something. I had no idea what to think. Was I relieved? Disappointed? Confused? I wondered if we should make out some more to see if that would clarify things.

Then something happened but I still can’t pin-point exactly what. Was it that student council conference when we got in a fight? Your new girlfriend? My going to parties every weekend? You were so disappointed in me. The notes stopped. There was no more rough-housing in the halls. We didn’t even speak to each other in class anymore. Was it the eating disorder? You were really the only one who knew about that. Was that why you were so disappointed in me? I still don’t know.

By the end of the year, we were speaking again but things had changed. Our handwriting in each others’ yearbooks scrolls across entire pages. In yours I wrote things like, “You’re one of the few people who knows the real me. Sorry.” And, “I look up to you because you know what’s important in life and don’t mess around with other things; even though some of those other things can make life more fun.” You wrote, “Maybe if I drank and was into being fake we could be good friends again.” And, “We have had fun and we have fought and we have loved and we have hated. It was all worth it.”

“I still think we’ll end up together someday,” I wrote. “It’s fate.”

“No matter what happens, I still want to sleep with you. Come on, Maggie, let’s get dirty! Let’s do things you have only fantasized about.”

(Dude, I hadn’t even fantasized about them yet!)

Senior year we were still friends but we weren’t as close as before. I was into drinking and being fake and you were into your girlfriend. Then we both got holiday jobs at the mall and something about complimentary gift wrap and Mariah Carey wailing All I want for Christmas is you brought us closer together. I was getting burned out on the choices I was making. Perhaps you were, too? You came over to my house after the mall closed one night. You sent me flowers. You asked me out on a date.

No wonder your girlfriend punched you in the face.

After our fancy Christmas dinner date, you came over. Want to see the stars on my ceiling? How long did we lie there together in the dark, talking and not talking and spanning time? I had never felt so comfortable in my life. If you hadn’t had a girlfriend, I might have rocked your world that night.

On the last day of school, our government teacher made everyone in class say what they were going to do after graduation. You were at the front of the class and didn’t hesitate to raise your hand. “I’m going to marry Maggie.” Oohs and aahs erupted all around me as I turned eight shades of red and died of embarrassment.

How did you always know?

As soon as we graduated, I felt free to crawl back under that rock and didn’t hesitate to do so. Fortunately, I had the good sense not to shut you out. Want to come over and watch True Romance? It wasn’t boring but it didn’t matter. We had waited long enough. It was finally our time.

You made true on your yearbook promises and we connected in a way I had never known. We watched movies all summer and connected and connected and connected. You knew me so well. It was like an out of body experience. I hovered eight feet off the ground with my mouth hanging open in awe like, wow

But you were my first real relationship and I was in way over my head. We went from being really great to being really bad really fast. After just a couple of months together, I started to shut you out. We stopped being friends. I felt like the chase was over and the novelty had worn off. Like you caught me and now, well, maybe you didn’t really want me after all. It didn’t help that I was crazy. It was all too much. You left my house one night without kissing me. I called you back. I think you forgot to break up with me…

I missed you but was so angry. Was it just teen angst and hormones or did I really have something to be angry about? It’s hard to say. We barely spoke anymore. We tried to be friends but didn’t exactly know how. The few times we tried, we slipped right back into our old ways. Want to watch a movie…? I felt like that’s all you wanted from me. I was still so hurt.

We weren’t on the same page. You thought we were going to get back together; I started spending time with one of your friends. I had never seen you so hurt or so angry. I told myself I didn’t care. I think I wanted you to feel how I had felt all those months. Hurt, rejected, angry. I wouldn’t admit it to myself. I said I wanted to move on.

Years went by. We had the same friends. We were in each other’s lives. I was committed to making it work with your friend, committed to prove I was serious girlfriend material. Who was I trying to convince? Probably you. When you played a show, I was always the first one on stage hugging you when it ended. I couldn't let go. I despised all the girls you dated. I was so jealous. No matter how hard I tried to convince myself it was over, in my heart I knew it wasn't.

I chose to go to school in England because of you. It was between England and France. You’re an anglophile; of course I chose England. I wondered what it would be like if you came to visit me. We sent each other e-mails that danced along the edge between just friends and something else. There’s a big closet you can sleep in if you visit. Or you can always share my bed… I still can’t believe you didn’t come.

When I got home and saw you, we both knew something had changed. We went to San Francisco together and drank ourselves silly. We put our faces together and slept side-by-side. We didn’t cross the line. We tried to be respectful. We drove home together, hung-over and tired and wondering What is happening? I couldn’t look at you. Were we really ready?

Not quite. And yet, we were inseparable. My roommates said we drank like frat boys. We were in a gray area and didn’t know what we were doing. We didn’t want to feel responsible for our actions. I don’t care, I said, I’m sitting next to you. You always let me make the first move. I kissed you and thought, I can blame the two bottles of wine if he doesn’t feel the same. But you kissed me back. We connected. I looked in your eyes and finally saw everything that had been in front of me all along. You loved me. You had always loved me. I loved you, too. I cried and said, I didn’t know, I didn’t know

The timing was bad. We both hurt people we loved. That wasn’t the way our life together should have started but there was nothing we could do. We could have done things differently but there was more at work than you and me. We were in the hands of fate now. It was just like I predicted when I signed your year book, back when we were kids.

We did everything and nothing together. We took breaks in the middle of the day just so we could go back to bed for a while. We walked around the mall a lot. We should go in one of these jewelry stores and look at rings, we said. Yeah, just for fun. You slipped the ring on my finger and the sales lady asked us if we wanted to buy it. Just because you buy the ring doesn’t mean you have to get married right away, she said. We were giggling like you do in quiet places when it’s inappropriate to laugh. What do you think? We gasped and giggled and shook and shrugged. Then you looked me in the eyes and there was nothing left to say. It was the only ring I ever tried on.

We giggled when you asked my dad for his daughter's hand in marriage, too. Were we immature or just excited? Probably both. It’s kind of a kick in the pants to fall in love and marry your best friend. I sometimes still giggle when I think about it.

Our wedding was beyond touching. You cried, I cried, I think everyone who was there cried. It was the vows. The vows and our love. I don’t think there was a person there who couldn’t feel our love that night. It was palpable. I hope it always is.

As you hold each others’ hands, see the gift that they are. These are the hands of your best friend, young and strong and vibrant with love, as he promises to love you all the days of your life. These are the hands that will tenderly lift your chin and brush your cheek as they raise your face to look into his eyes: eyes that are filled completely with overwhelming love and desire for you...

And the rest is history. Isn’t that what everyone says? We got married and the rest is history. We know better than that. Getting married was just the beginning. The beginning of you being a husband and me being a wife. The beginning of our family. It wasn’t an easy transition. We fought and we cried and we wondered if we had made a mistake. But we remembered those vows. We made a promise to love each other forever. You made the promise; I made the promise. We were in this together.

We’ve come so far since then. I can hardly remember what those days were like. Maybe the rest really is history? I’ve never been more in love with you than I am right now. You have lived up to those vows in a way I never thought possible.

Thank you for knowing me and loving me and growing up with me and promising to grow old with me. Thank you for our family. Thank you for slow dancing with me in the kitchen and singing songs to Liam before bed. Thank you for working hard for our family and still coming home to make dinner. Thank you for really laughing when I say something funny. Thanks for always telling me I’m hot, even when I was pregnant (everyone knows there’s nothing hot about that). Thank you for giving Liam exactly what you give to me: pure, unconditional, overflowing love.

Thank you for the last eight years of marriage. Here’s to 80 more! (Wait, do people live that long?) Happy Anniversary, B. I love you.

9 comments:

Sandra Winfrey said...

Alright Maggie. I read that entire thing ... AND ... cried my eyes out! Congrats to you on your 8th year of marriage. Brad and I just celebrated our 5th!

God Bless! :)

Neil Edwards said...

Happy Anniversary you guys!

Halie said...

Happy Anniversary. Isn't it nice to be where we are today...John and I just celebrated our 9 year anniversary. I think it's the greatest gift we're given, to share our lives with someone else so completely.

bill said...

weird, that exact same thing happened to me. best thing that ever happened to me too.

Courtney said...

Wow! Amazing! Happy Anniversary!

Katie said...

Happy Anniversary guys! I still regret missing your wedding, but Shannon would never had forgiven me if her Maid of Honor did not show up! I cried when I read the words you wrote, it has been a pleasure knowing you since we were 8 and I am truly happy for the 2 of you! Love is a wonderful thing!

Chrissy said...

Maggie, what an awesome piece of writing! You are one very talented Lady! I am BLUBBIN LIKE A BABY! Your story touched a similar story in my heart....dunno what else to say! Just, Awesome!

Oh, & congratulations!! :)

Chrissy said...

Loved it so much Maggie, I have made a reference to you & your blog on mine, pointing my readers in your direction! :)

LClaire said...

wow wow wow, so proud and happy to have you and Bill in our lives, Happy Anniversary! - Love- Linnet and Pete