I will never forget the first time I saw Chris. I had just finished my master’s, and was eager to make new friends to fill the void that remained in the wake of school. I had been given an address of a place to meet with a new friend, and I pulled into the driveway. I remember seeing two men talking in the driveway, and thought that one would be too old for me and that the other probably had a girlfriend (such was my usual luck). I became friends with this new group of people, and this young man and I grew to like each other quickly. I started doing some sewing for him, and in return he cooked lobster and ribeye steak in my own kitchen. He had a traveling job, and we were able to see each other about every six weeks or so. I met his family at Christmastime, and remember how nervous I was to go to his mom’s house.
The following January brought a pair of ice storms. We had our first date and I was suddenly stuck at his mom’s place as the second storm struck. We had been talking for a while, and he went out to check my car so I could get home. He noticed that the ice was starting to build up on the driveway (which was very steep and curved), and that driving home would likely be very dangerous. I stayed the night in the guest room at his mom’s, as we were both stranded temporarily. I remember having a dream about him and woke up with the certainty that I had met my husband. Strangely enough, he had a similar experience, and so we informally decided that we would be married. We didn’t tell anyone originally, preferring to rest with our decision for a bit longer. We were in a band together at that time, and I remember that he formally proposed during a performance in April of that year. We were married on October 7, 2000, and he wore his kilt with a renaissance-style doublet that I had made for him (my dress was of the same fabric and style).
Three months later, he was given the option to travel to India with his company, which would have taken him away from home for long periods. He decided that our marriage was more important than that company, and was offered a different opening — only to find that the other opening was nothing more than a come-on. We moved to a less-expensive, but far more beautiful part of Georgia and lived in a tiny town. Our first daughter was born shortly after our second anniversary, and life changed. I was offered the chance to tele-commute, which made it easier to have a newborn around. We had the opportunity to build a house, which we did. We had less than a year in that house before we both lost our jobs due to post-9/11 economic shifts. At 7-1/2 months pregnant with our second child, we had to move into his parents’ home while we decided our next move. We chose to join my family in California, and left Georgia shortly after our second daughter was born.
Nine years in California brought a lot of living. The girls grew like weeds, and we weathered many challenges along the way. I shifted my career focus from business to teaching, and earned my doctorate, which required countless hours of arduous work and time away from the family. He worked as a real-estate appraiser until the housing market imploded. Through it all, we managed to keep focused on what mattered most: love. We knew that our days were numbered in that part of California, as there were no growth opportunities where we both worked, and only two other college/university-level schools were in the local area. After more than two years of searching, we found the opportunity of a lifetime in a tiny town in southeastern Vermont.
As I look around, I see the core ingredient that has resonated throughout the last 13 years in the mingling of our library books, the home-cooked food that dominates the refrigerator, and the happiness of the children and our newest furry friend, a black kitty named Janet. Yes, the furniture is comfortably broken in. Yes the plates, bowls, and other wedding gifts that we have used throughout most of the last 13 years show some wear. I am not as healthy as I once was, and grapple with overwhelming pain from time to time.
Through all of it, you have loved me. Through the most stressful events that break apart many other marriages, we have stood as one. We have seen fantastic triumphs and terrible defeats. We have started over in a new area three times, and have endured upheavals of every sort imaginable. I don’t know what our future holds, but as long as you are a part of it I welcome it.
Through all the good and bad times, all the healthy and sick times, all the rich and poor times, and every change imaginable, I can’t imagine having anyone else by my side. Even if I had known about all the challenges, I would still have chosen you, because you make the darkness bearable and the good times more enjoyable. As I did 13 years ago, I would still marry you again. I choose you above all others.
I love you, Chris.