Jake and I met the first day of 7th grade English class. We were 12 years old and it was 1991. He remembers that I wore a floral silk shirt and I remember that during a movie he leaned forward and whispered, “You take very neat notes.
These are very unfortunate looks for us. Just a preview of what you, as our sons, have to look forward to in your formative years. Middle school is hell.
It took 10 years of friendship before we started dating. You may wonder if we were simply waiting out our buck teeth, acne and over-styled hair, but I like to think fate gave us time to mature.
We spent most of high school laughing or fighting, so naturally people thought we were dating. In fact, we were more like brother and sister. He’d say something mean, I wouldn’t talk to him for a week; he’d stick pens in my massive bird nest of hair during Spanish class; I complained about him but probably liked the attention.
We spent gobs of time together, but not much alone time since we were always with our best buddies or in a group of people. Our senior Spring Break was spent with a school group touring Mexico. Jake and I ran to the top of the Temple of the Sun together.
Yup, that’s some red hair. And yep, I wore scrub pants as a fashion statement.
Even though we graduated, went to separate universities and dated other people, we continued to stay in touch and always made an effort to see one another during breaks. I dated someone else for years, but we broke up when I was studying in England. It was devastating on many levels, and I didn’t love or trust for a sad period of time.
My mom was planning a visit to see me, and then Jake decided to come with her. I honestly don’t know what would’ve happened if my mom hadn’t been there. Jake’s a stand-up guy, but I was depressed, the beer ran freely and there wouldn’t have been a chaperone…but as it were, we were on the up-and-up and stayed politely platonic through their visit. Everyone around me commented on how much cheerier I was with my good guy friend around.
Taking in the sights of London: Big Ben & Parliament.
I came home from England and was hanging out with Jake one night–just doing dumb stuff like playing with Nerf toys at Wal-Mart and hitting golf balls at the driving range. I drove him home, stopped in his driveway, and he said, “I can’t go in yet.” I was THISCLOSE to saying, “I know! Your golf clubs are still in my trunk,” but thankfully I didn’t say anything. Jake continued with a little soliloquy about his feelings for me and said a bunch of things that were incredibly honest and loving.
The only thing was, my heart was still not ready to love again and I knew it. So rather than having a Ross-and-Rachael kissing-in-Central-Park moment, we had more of a Ross-and-Rachael let’s-string-this-out-and-see-what-happens moment. I cried and said, “I’m not saying no, I’m just saying not yet.”
And he loved me enough to wait.
Then I had a rough summer of finding myself again, went back to school in the fall and it hit me like a ton of bricks. I would look around campus at all these guys and see that they weren’t Jake. We met up at home again, started dating (ok, we went to Red Lobster and the horse track and then kissed and said yeah we’re dating, if you must know). But it was sort of more than that. After 10 years of friendship we weren’t entering this lightly. It was all or nothing, and we were in it all the way.
When we started dating we were 6 hours apart. Then I graduated and moved to Chicago, which was 2.5 hours from Jake at Purdue University. He surprised me at The Signature Room at the top of the Hancock Building in December 2001 and proposed during a walk through the city’s Christmas lights.
Chicago was a short stop since we decided to move to Connecticut after Jake graduated. That summer Jake rode his bicycle across the country (San Francisco to Washington, D.C.) for PUSH America while I found us an apartment in Connecticut, sold our cars and bought a new car, moved our stuff to the East Coast and finished planning our wedding. Then he came home and we said, “I do!”
The rest is history–which is to say we honeymooned in the Boundary Waters, lived in Connecticut, moved to Utah and now reside in Kentucky. Somewhere in there we picked up a dog and two precious little boys (Monkey & Kicking Bird).
Life is good and I love being married to my best friend. Given our long history of practically growing up together, it’s no wonder that our humor, our beliefs, our politics and how we approach life is totally in synch. I have no doubt that God planned for us to be together and our complicated beginning led to perfect timing. As our wedding rings say, it is a “love divine.”