Twenty Years Ago Today...

Every love story starts somewhere, some particular moment in time when a decision is made or an event occurs that determines the course of life. For my husband and I, that moment happened twenty years ago today.

I almost wouldn't have marked the day. I had been sitting in my high school computer lab and sent an email, and he replied. It all started with my sister, who had been teasing me with pen pal ads of guys all over Texas that were a total mismatch for me but then she sent my husband's and said, "no, seriously, this guy is perfect for you."

And a series of email exchanges turned into friendship, and then infatuation and then in love, and now, twenty years later, thirteen years of marriage under our belts.

Some weeks after our first email exchange I noted his name into my diary and that is when I mentioned the date, that "on March 6, 2000" I had started emailing this really nice guy. That is the only reason I know the date.

Over the upcoming months, it truly was just friendship, as we were both interested in different people and sort of bonded over our shared woes. We would joke that "wouldn't it be funny" if we had met under different circumstances because we "seemed like a good match." Eventually, this sort of sideways flirtation led to a long distance romance where I was certain I had fallen in love for real for the first time.

But things were hard. We were very young and in different countries. As we neared graduation, we met the demands of adulthood and the different paths our lives were taking. In different ways I think we were insecure about one another. He was (at least to me) this cool guy with a huge social life, and I was the nerdy girl about to go off to college. In his eyes, I was the college girl leaving him behind while he began working full time, and I was on a new adventure, without him.

So, during that first week of my college experience, he broke up with me. I would like to say "we broke up" but it was absolutely not mutual, I was devastated. And the two of us spent the following two and a half years getting into our own individual messes, dating the wrong people and making all the mistakes that people tend to make between the years of eighteen and twenty. I moved to Texas and having thought maybe it would bring us closer, we became very detached friends.

However, the stars aligned for us once again in the fall of 2003. I was a college student once again, and he had just a few months earlier broken up with someone. Having organized his life in a way that I would find appealing, he came to see me in person for the first time and see if I might change my mind and give our relationship and potential a second chance.

By the time we married three years later, we had known each other for almost seven years, part of which included a fairly long engagement. And despite the lack of potential I was displaying (an illegal immigrant by that point, no longer permitted in college, not permitted to get a real job), he continued to see potential in me. That is one thing I can say for him from the moment I met him: he always believed I would make something of myself, no matter how grim it looked.

As newlyweds we moved to west Texas to a town where we lived in total isolation together, learning how to be married without any family or friends nearby. We learned how to get by and build a life together. A few years later, we relocated to north Texas and bought our first home - what we kept calling our first home, anyway, but here we are 11 years later and still living in it.

Over the thirteen years of our marriage we have struggled with infertility, economic hardships including job losses, and death. We have also celebrated the many milestones we have each achieved individually in our lives and also in our marriage. We have held each other through life's storms but we have always been extremely brave for one another.

I always say every person has "their story" and they are as proud of it as if it were the best story that could ever be told. And in this, my story is just one of many, many others that has been told to varying degrees, that is full of humor and sadness, strength and weakness, perseverance and heartache. And while perhaps our love story is not the most wild or extraordinary, these past twenty years have brought us surprises that I never would have guessed. Our life at this milestone is absolutely nothing like I imagined it would be at this stage.

Because twenty years ago today a nerdy little Canadian girl sent an email to a high school athlete in the state of Texas, and there they began a little spark that is still burning today.

To my husband - thank you for taking me on this roller coaster ride with you!


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