On this day, FIVE years ago, I married my high school sweetheart. It’s hard to believe we’re already 5 years into this adventure! And what a fun adventure it has been. That’s not to say it’s all been sunshine and roses (I am not sure anything ever is), but it has on the whole been a wonderful 5 years. This is a long (and maybe rambling at times) post, so if you just want to stop here, I understand. All this below is just my way of marveling at how life turns out and reflecting on how lucky I am to have this wonderful man in my life. Happy anniversary, honey!
For those of you sticking with me, I think it’s appropriate to look back at how this union all began…
Jon and I actually knew each other in elementary school, though we didn’t share any teachers and really weren’t friends. Truth be told, I actually hung out with his sister more (she was a grade below us). Then we went to different middle schools and “re-met” at the end of 10th grade. We were friends, but not particularly close ones. Again, we didn’t share any classes and our circle of friends didn’t really overlap. So I hardly saw him much. In 11th grade, we had one elective together, and that’s when I really got to know him better. He was a nice guy, smart, pretty personable (though I thought a little shy)…but his hair! Oh my gosh did his hair bother me! It was down to his shoulders and just- bleh! It was well taken care of and everything, but my high school self couldn’t deal with that long hair (and to this day, I can’t stand long hair on men). So we were friends and we hung out over the summer a bit (he only lived a few blocks away), but we didn’t go out on any dates.
Until 12th grade.
I was chatting with friends before school, waiting for the bell to ring, when this guy walks over and says hi to me. I’m a polite person, so I said hi back. And as he was walking away I thought, “holy cow…was that Jon?? He looks so different!” And he did. He had gotten his hair cut at the end of the summer and you could actually see his face. And he was pretty cute!! Without all that hair hanging out to distract from his other features, he looked like a totally different person. I wish I could get my hands on a picture, but I can’t, so you’ll just have to take my word for it!
Anyway, he finally decided to ask me out on a date (we went to see Pirates of the Carribean), and we started hanging out more and more… and then in November we were officially dating.
When the school year ended, we were a little concerned because we had chosen different colleges. He was off to Virginia Tech. I was off to Mary Washington. We tried not to talk about it. But then the summer was drawing to a close and we decided we would stay together and make it work.
I have to admit…that first semester of college was pretty pathetic. We both actually had our own cell phones (yay!) but since we didn’t have a ton of minutes, we had to wait until after 7pm for our free nights and weekends to kick in (remember that??) before calling each other to commiserate about how much we missed each other (totally lame, I get that now. But when you’re 18 this is like end of the world stuff). We actually missed out on a lot of stuff that semester because of this (oh, I can’t go do something- we have to talk tonight!) but it taught us a valuable lesson about how important space and trust is in a relationship. We finally got to the point where we didn’t need to talk on the phone each night, and we gave each other “permission” (I don’t like this word because it has an implied meaning I don’t want associated here) to go out and have fun and enjoy ourselves a bit. We didn’t need to be tethered to our rooms and our nightly calls.
A few months into the semester, I started toying with the idea of transferring to Virginia Tech. I really didn’t know much about the academics or programs (I didn’t even apply there), so I started doing some research. And I really liked what I found. Really good business school with a whole finance department AND major (Mary Washington was too small to have majors within the business school, so I was just Business there with a finance concentration). This amazing sense of community and school pride. Fabulous career center and placement. I’d been to Tech once visiting Jon and fell in love with the campus. Before long, I had pretty much made up my mind.
But, I knew my parents would be concerned. I knew they would fight my transfer. I knew they’d be worried that I was just transferring for a boy. So I had to do some homework. I had to make my case.
The most logical next step in my mind was to actually sit in on a class. Tech is a huge school, which I think was very foreign to my parents (we have a history of small schools in my family). I thought sitting in on a class might help dispell fears that large classes meant a less effective learning environment. (To be fair, I did have this concern, too- class size being this oft cited statistic).
So I emailed one of the heads of the Business School at Virginia Tech and explained I was thinking of transferring and asked if I could sit in on one of the business classes. I would be there in October for my fall break (but Tech had classes still in session), so this would be an ideal chance. To my delight, I received a reply that I could sit in on one of the management classes that EVERY SINGLE BUSINESS STUDENT and some non-business students had to attend. I was told it was a “very large class, 700+ students, held in the auditorium” but that this was abnormal and really the only class like this…and besides, the professor was fabulous and it didn’t feel that large at all.
I’m not going to lie, I was skeptical. But you know what? They were right. The class WAS fantastic, and it didn’t really feel huge, and the professor was so open and accessible to the students that I realized something- class size is only as important as you make it. If you want a relationship with your professor, you can have it. Between office hours, study sessions, and other ways my professors reached out to their students, I never once felt like I was just one of hundreds. But I digress…
I came back from my visit pumped and ready to break the news to my parents. I had already researched the application requirements and deadlines and felt armed and ready with information. I called. And they reacted exactly how I expected. They did not want me to transfer. They thought it was a bad decision- “what if you break up?”
“Well there is a great business program there, so I’d still be getting a terrific education. And it’s a big school, I won’t have to see him.”
They still had their doubts. I told them about the research I’d done and the class I attended. I told them about why I wanted to transfer (and emphasized points that were not related to Jon). And so they said they would think about it all.
And they did. I have no idea what that conversation was like between my parents (if there was one…maybe they weren’t concerned and I just made it all up in my head). But they told me that I should do it if I really wanted. So I put in my application to transfer the following fall semester and waited anxiously for the response. When my acceptance came in I jumped for joy! As did Jon and my other friends that went to Virginia Tech.
And the next 3 years were absolutely the best of my life. I’m sure I would have had enjoyable experiences at Mary Washington, too, but I wouldn’t change that decision to transfer for anything in the world. Virginia Tech felt like home, and I still keep in touch with many of my college pals. I could spend paragraphs gushing about Tech, but I won’t (maybe I should consider that for another post)…I think I’ve derailed this enough already.
Obviously we stayed together though college. And then came jobs. Oh the hurdles never end! Fall semester of our senior year, I was offered and accepted a job in D.C. Jon hadn’t gotten his offers yet, and I couldn’t wait for him- I had to just decide. A month or so later, he got and accepted an offer in Ohio. Ugh. Well we’d make it work somehow until we could land in the same place. After all, we weren’t married (or even engaged), so no point messing with our careers until that changed- because what if it didn’t?
Well, after graduation, we went on a trip to Europe with 20-ish other graduates (also an awesome experience). And while we were in Venice, Jon proposed. Of course I said yes, and we were over the moon (as were all 20 other kids on the trip, as I’m sure you can imagine)!
But now this changed things. We had to start planning how we could collocate. Call me a prude or weird or whatever, but I didn’t really want to live together until we were married. But it seemed silly for us to both head to the same place (and somewhere we’ve never been) and live apart. As luck would have it (or not, depending on your perspective), it was a non-issue. My company wasn’t looking to fill positions in Ohio just then (though there was work there that could be a future option), and Jon’s company had nothing in D.C. And we didn’t want to give up our jobs, especially before we even started. So we agreed to do long distance again until the wedding, at which point we’d figure something out again.
Fast forward about a year. I was in D.C., Jon was in Ohio, and the wedding was coming up in a few months. I had been asking around for potential moves opportunities within my company and also revamping my resume, but so far hadn’t really gotten any bites from my company. At the end of July, I told my boss I was moving in September, and that I hoped to stay with the company, but I was moving regardless. Finally, at the beginning of August, the stars aligned and something came available in Ohio at my company. I could move and keep my job! I was thrilled! I went into the wedding un-stressed and excited.
We got married in a lovely Catholic ceremony (wedding ceremony only, not a full mass), and had a wonderful (if not whirlwind) reception. We honeymooned in the Poconos and then made our way to Ohio.
And that’s where we’ve been ever since. We’ve added a cat to the mix, and a son. I’ve changed jobs (a few times). We bought a house (and remodeled some). It has been a memorable 5 years, and I hope the next 50+ are just as crazy, fun, humorous, and exciting. But you know, I’m pretty sure they will! So- happy anniversary, honey! I love you!