|Hubs and me on the Gettysburg College campus|
If you know me or have followed my blog you may have gleaned that I was not the most confident of people in my childhood, teen, and young adult years. (Can you read between the lines to see the gross understatement?) I blame this lack of confidence on my being overweight, but of course my reaction to my size is symptomatic of my lack of self-confidence and low self-esteem. After all, one of my good friends from high school was as large as me and she started on the basketball team and had a ton of friends, if not boyfriends.
But this is not a story about weight, though all of my stories seem to come back to it. Probably, it's a crutch, but I'll figure that out later. Suffice it to say that by the time I turned 21, I had not had a boyfriend, not one. I had not casually dated, not once. I went to my junior prom on a blind date and never saw him again (he turned out to be a little cray-cray, so no harm done). I was, as they say, inexperienced in the love department.
Hubs, on the other hand, 500 miles away and in ignorance of his future wife's existence, had an active social life. Whilst he didn't date like crazy, he was beloved by many girls in high school. He was the "guy friend" that always had gals calling on the phone, I'm told. Gaggles of them, in my mind. He was a sweet guy, genuine, steady, the same as he is now. He had a serious girlfriend I believe when he was 16, took the breakup hard, but eventually got over it and later introduced me to the girl over dinner at The Olive Garden.
Hubs and I went to the same college, but we didn't get together until the second semester of our senior year. We crossed paths during our first 3 years, both working at the library and even being in the same World Music small group during sophomore year. I still have our final paper, and there are our names sitting next to one another.
But, you could say, Hubs had a distraction those first years in the form of a long-term, long-distance relationship with a girl in Upstate New York. While I spent my college years watching friends hook up and break up and eventually go long-term, Hubs worked hard on a relationship that ended badly right before senior year, devastating him. He started senior year in the middle of an ending.
By the time I started my senior year, I was in the middle of a beginning. By second semester, I had lost 100 pounds and gained some form of self-confidence. I'd dated one guy who seemed quite into me, though sadly for him, the feeling was not mutual. It felt weird to reject someone after years of being rejected--something in me said to be grateful for what I got. But, off he went, and off I went.
The last week of January, a mutual friend of ours (who also was in that World Music small group) threw a party. A gala, we called it. It was held in her dorm room. I showed up in size 6 (6! from Aeropostale!) jeans and a purple-striped shirt I still have. I wasn't a big drinker, but that night, I drank. I danced, a bit.
And across the room, I saw Hubs. He was wearing a backwards baseball cap, as was his custom. And shorts. In January. I would learn that such quirks also were his custom.
|One of our engagement pics, taken in front of the dorms|
where the gala took place.
Around 11pm (seriously, what a rager, eh?), there was a knock at the dorm room door. In walked a Campus Security officer. He said we needed to break it up because of the noise (music), so I guess it may have been a bit of a rager. I was of age, but hadn't brought my license.
I sat down on the couch and huddled behind the guy sitting there--Hubs. I laid my hand on his arm. And he patted my hand with his.
Looking back, this is the moment that we both "knew something" was happening.
My friend came to collect me for the walk back to our dorm room. I later learned Hubs was going to offer to walk me back. We had made no plans to see one another again, not for Hubs' lack of trying. He and some friends were going to see Black Hawk Down the next night, but I said I didn't want to go because I didn't want to see that movie. (What. An. Idiot.)
Over the next week, I found myself thinking about Hubs at odd times. I'd look for him as I walked across campus. I stopped by the circulation desk where he worked. He gave me a ride to the gym when he saw me walking.
I remember realizing that Hubs was just "in my mind" when I watched TV--and that I thought I liked him. The thought panicked me. I didn't WANT to like him. I didn't want to feel how I felt when the other guy liked me and I didn't like him. I was feeling the tremors of vulnerability that love brings, I know now. I didn't want to be vulnerable.
The timing wasn't ideal, for me or for Hubs. We were both graduating in 3 months and who knows what life would bring. For Hubs' part, he kept the similar thoughts he was having about me a secret from most of his friends and family because he didn't want to hear what they would surely say--his 2.5-year relationship had just ended and was this really the best time to get involved with someone new?
But, we both pushed those fears away, thankfully, and Hubs came over to my dorm for biscuits (yes, biscuits) 6 days after the gala and the next night we went on our first date to see A Beautiful Mind. We had Wendy's for dinner. We talked into the night afterwards, about everything, and he kissed me when he left--and it was the kiss that told me I was on the right track. It EMBODIED Hubs. Genuine. Steady.
Three months later, we graduated college. Three months after that we both started grad school in Washington, DC. We moved in together at our mothers' mutual suggestion--to save money, they said.
Five years later, we got married.
And 4 years later, our lives changed forever, with the birth of our firstborn son.