I was nominated on Facebook by one of my beautiful friends to take part in the “Love Your Spouse” challenge. On day 2 I posted this:
That one time we got married and didn’t tell anybody. 😂 omg What were we thinking?!? We barely knew each other!! 😳😂😂😂😂😉
That post prompted so many questions and made me realize how many people we’ve met in the last decade that haven’t heard Our Story. It’s true what they say; every love story is a good one but ours is my favorite. It’s not all G rated but I’ll do my best to be honest without TMI. Here goes.
It was the end of October in Washington, D.C.. I was out with my roommate for her office Halloween party. I was dressed as a bunny. Not the fluffy, fuzzy kind. I was young and carefree. That feels like three lifetimes ago. I think someone knew the bartender so the Crown and Cokes were plentiful. I had planned to meet another (guy) friend at a house party in South Capital Hill later. I got on the Metro in an early haze and my bunny costume. After a brief interaction with some strange people looking for cocaine on the train, Hubs is lucky I wasn’t murdered or worse on my way to destiny. I looked back often and walked quickly to this house I’d never been to before where I only knew one person. Yikes.
I arrived safely, played beer pong in the back yard, and won. My friend excused himself inside. When he didn’t return for a while I went in search of him. As I was walking through the house, a guy turned his head and did one of those down-up once over looks. I’m sure it was the bunny ears that impressed him so. I said something to the effect of “If you’re going to look at me like that you might as well talk to me.” So we did. For five or twenty minutes depending on which one of us is telling the story. He was dressed as a Hill Staffer. He WAS a Hill staffer. SO creative. He and his friends were getting ready to leave the party to head to a bar and they invited me to join. At first I declined. I’d only known him 20 (or 5) minutes after all. But his roommate’s girlfriend was very sweet and convincing and when I found my friend out front on the phone with another girl, the choice was easy.
We went to the bar and played quarters with strangers and ordered beer by the pitchers. That’ll make the night go by fast. At bar close we took a cab back across the river and discovered we lived only about 4 blocks apart. I got out at his place.
When I was finally able to stand upright the next morning – after I begged him to make me toast that I ate in bed which is apparently against some kind of guy code – he said “Alright, I can take you home now, or in three hours. The Minnesota – Ohio State game starts at noon and I’m not leaving in the middle of it.” Football was important to him. Dually noted. After the game we exchanged numbers, he growled at me for inputting his nickname and not his formal name, and then he took me home. He has been and always will be a bit of a curmudgeon.
We exchanged a few texts later again that evening. We were both hungry – what twenty-something isn’t? – he was ordering pizza and it only made sense that we dine together at his place. That was the beginning of our relationship. The first 24 hours. We spent nearly every day together after that.
He was different than any other guy I’d ever dated. He wasn’t an artist, chef, or musician. He was no-drama. One night, while we were getting ready to go out, I was mad at him about something dumb and tried to pick a fight by saying I was going to wear a ridiculous mini-skirt (emphasis on MINI). He responded, “Good. Wear it. Are you ready yet?” He didn’t bite. He was smart, grounded and patient, but loved to have a good time. Sarcasm was his love language and I understood it clearly. He ironed his shirts and wore a suit every day to work. He drove a ten year old pick up. He was frugal. He was close to his MN family and friends and the traditions he was raised with. I learned about hunting and the Vikings. The first NFL game we watched together was Panthers vs. Vikes. Panthers won. He invited me to play poker with a group of friends he’d met at a bar next door to my apartment. I wore knee high boots the first night so “Boots” was my nickname at first. When asked about me he responded to one friend “You gotta know when to hold ’em.” I became a regular and they learned my real name.
At Thanksgiving he went home to MN and I went home to NC. We told each of our families about the other. I was still hung up on my ex in California at the time, so my family was happy to hear about this new guy. By Christmas I invited him home with me to NC since he wasn’t going to fly back to MN so soon after the last trip. My family adored him. Other than having to translate my dad’s southern accent for him, he fit right in.
In late January a couple of his MN friends came out to D.C. to visit which prompted a five day drinking stint. Decisions made in those five days may or may not soon prove life altering.
At the end of their stay I went home for my sister’s baby shower. While cleaning up afterward, my mom and I were washing dishes when she said “So you’re pretty serious about this guy, huh? Where do you see this relationship going?” I said “Well, there are only two things against him: we don’t share the same faith, and he doesn’t want kids.”
To be honest, the latter is what bothered me most. By that point in our relationship we (I) had asked the more serious questions about what we each wanted in life. When I asked if he wanted kids he responded with an emphatic NO. Surprised by this I told him I thought he’d make a good dad. He said, “I don’t like when people say that. You have no idea what kind of dad I would be.” Maybe I didn’t then, but I’m rarely wrong about those things.
February 10th was a Friday afternoon. I had had this weird pain on my lower left side for a week or so. My boobs hurt. And when was my last period?? I stopped by a pharmacy on the way home from work. Between then and the time he got to my apartment from his work I’d taken two tests. My roommate was witness and confirmation to the results on the pee stick. I was still in full denial mode. I took a third the next morning. The results were clear.
I spent the next three days in an emotional fog and made a specific plan to buy broccoli and salmon and eat healthfully. Instead we chose to have dinner at the Olive Garden the night before Valentine’s Day because he doesn’t like crowds and spending a lot on dinner seemed senseless at that point. Honest to Goodness, I literally cried in my ravioli in the middle of the surprisingly still crowded O.G. I was going to have this baby, I said, but if he didn’t want to stick around, that was okay with me. He was calm and solid as always. He wasn’t going anywhere. We would figure this all out, he reassured me. As much as I liked him before, that was the moment I fell in love with him.
We waited until the first ultrasound before telling our families. My parents were first. We went home on a Friday afternoon in March and shared the fuzzy black and white print out with them after dinner that night. Mom was shocked but positive. Daddy was content and happy and hugged us both. The next day we told the rest of my family by announcing at lunch that we were “adding another member to the family.” We could have maybe chosen more direct words. They looked at mom and dad for clues. My sister-in-law thought we were getting a dog. Finally my brother looked at my then boyfriend and said directly “So when are you making an honest woman out of her?” God bless my big fat my Southern family.
“We’re not getting married right away.” I said. We had planned to move in together and raise the baby together and “see how things go” as they say. Brother was skeptical but relented.
Next we flew to MN to tell his family. Nothing like a meeting that goes something like “Hi. Nice to meet you. I’m preggo with your grandchild.” His grandpa said the blessing before Easter lunch and awkwardly included the new addition. His aunt offered me champagne. Just a little.
We returned and moved him into my apartment and I bought What to Expect When You’re Expecting and a handful of baby names books. My roommate earned her sainthood for allowing all of this. We stuck to the not-getting-married plan.
Until my pregnancy hormones took over.
Pregnancy hormones are NO JOKE when you are young and terrified and, in the grand scheme of things, barely know the father of your unborn child…
We had planned a trip to the outer banks of Virginia for my birthday. I hinted that I’d always wanted to get married on the beach. He said we could maybe think about talking about getting married.
My boss had given me a gift card to Bloomingdale’s for Christmas so I jumped the gun a bit and bought a wedding dress. When I showed it to my understanding and empathetic boyfriend he said “Hold the phone! I said we would THINK about TALKING about getting married.” “Fine! I’ll take it back!” I said. I was exasperating to deal with. “Well, not just yet,” he conceded. I almost feel sorry for him now. 😉
On the Thursday night before our planned trip to the beach the next morning, we finally did talk about it. We knew we had something special before a baby was a part of the equation. So we decided that baby or not, that wouldn’t change the connection we felt from the start and we would put that wedding dress to use.
Sidenote: Babies. change. EVERYTHING.
I immediately emailed an officiant I had looked up weeks before in my wedding craze to see if he was available for that Saturday. (Yeah, two-day notice!) Friday morning we went to the courthouse and got our papers bright an early before our half day at work. After lunch we packed our bags and headed off to get hitched. We hadn’t told anyone, except my boss and my roommate because I’m not very good at keeping these sorts of things to myself. We met Captain Spider, the officiant, (yes, REALLY) on the beach that evening to pick out the spot for the ceremony the next day. We showed him our papers and gave him a check. The next morning we went to the only jewelry shop on the island to pick out our rings. Mine had another stone that would be replaced with a small diamond and his was to be engraved. We spent several hours mid-day on the beach. I was three days shy of 24 and four months pregnant. In a bikini. We picked up the rings on our way back to the hotel to get ready for our wedding. The entire day future Hubs had been sick to his stomach with anxiety. After we were dressed and taking our own pictures in the courtyard, he sat down on a bench, I thought because he wasn’t feeling well. I sat in his lap and brushed his hair with my hand and that’s when he proposed to me. Fifteen minutes before our wedding. He began with “I know this isn’t how either of us imagined it would be…” I don’t remember the exact words that followed, but I know how it made me feel and I knew that marrying him was the best choice I’d ever make.
Captain Spider married us at 5:00 p.m. on the beach of Assateague Island that Saturday in May. His wife took pictures as we said our I-do’s in bare feet. We took a long walk on the beach afterwards. A few strangers noticed our attire and offered to take pictures as well. We ate at the fanciest restaurant on the island for dinner. There were fresh clams in the shell involved. Pregnancy rules be damned. I had to keep hiking up my dress to make room for my growing belly. We took desert to go and ate it on the boardwalk of the hotel while we watched the sunset. It was the most peaceful wedding I’ve ever attended. And the least expensive. Less than two grand for the whole shebang. My only regret is not having my Daddy give me away or dance with.
When we returned to our apartment I emailed the picture of us kissing on the beach to my mom and then called her cell phone so she could use the land line to check her email. The time it took for the picture to load and her to figure out what was happening was the longest 90 seconds of my life. Ugh. Dial up. Thank God for Wi-Fi. “YOU GOT MARRIED?!?!” She shrieked. I think she was equal parts relieved, excited, and terrified all at the same time. Slowly we told our other friends. His best friend and mine were both a bit upset with us for not telling them before. They would’ve made the trip to be witnesses, they said. Despite their doubts about our quick nuptials, those are good friends.
We’d known each other for just over six months when we tied the knot. The week after we returned Hubs mentioned maybe we should buy a place of our own. In the following months we purchased, gutted, and reno-ed a dump of a place, I changed jobs and my last name, we agreed on a name for our unborn son, moved into our tiny condo, and then our boy came into this world a little early via emergency C-section. I fell in love with my husband all over again as a father. When our son was just two weeks old, right around the time we spent four terrifying days at the D.C. Children’s hospital for a staph infection, we celebrated knowing each other for one whole year. Then we dressed our recovering peanut in a Halloween shirt and handed out candy at our happy little corner of the world.
It was a whirlwind of a year and it took a while for life to slow down. But that was the beginning of us. That’s our love story. My favorite.