Started Dating When We Were 14 And We're Better Than Ever 30 Years Later.
The Beginning-Just Friends
I first met my wife, Laurie, in 1977 in Spanish class at our Jr. high. Sounds cliche to say it but "I remember it like it was yesterday". She was hiding behind these cute, thick lens glasses that made her kind of look like a cat or something. I remember someone saying something mean to her once and I told them to back off. All the kids oohed and awed and I got embarrassed but I did what I thought was right so it was okay. We both had a lot of friends and we all knew each other but neither of us was interested in the other at the time. Little did we know how different our lives would be in just a few years.
Fast forward to 1979. We are now in the 9th grade and each of us is kind of popular in our own way. Laurie was this tall, skinny, smokin hot blond that hung around all of the popular girls and loved to have a good time. Not in a bad way she just liked to have fun. (get your mind out of the gutter) By then she had ditched the glasses and boy what a difference it made to get that beautiful face out from behind those glasses. I, on the other hand, was more of the jock type. So all of my friends were on the side of being popular for being on the sports teams. I wasn't a big guy by any means but I loved to play baseball and football and did so for our Jr. High teams. Our paths crossed occasionally through friends usually but there were never any sparks between us.
That First Night We Got Together-Hey, Watch Your Elbow!
About half way through the school year we were having a grand opening for the new gymnasium that had been built at our school. That night was crazy! There were people all over the place trying to shoot baskets and running around. Not the most fun any of us had ever had to say the least. After the crowd started to leave I decided to work my way into one of the areas where people were just kind of shooting around and there was Laurie. We shot baskets and talked a little. We knew each other from earlier classes and through one of her best friends who I knew so we were comfortable with each other. Suddenly, without warning, a ball flies off of the basketball hoop and heads toward her. Being the nice guy I am, I ran over to protect her and stopped the ball before it hit her and then gently handed it to her so she could shoot it. This the moment that we both can honestly say was the beginning of our life together so pay close attention. Just after I handed her the ball, she raised it up to shoot. I didn't know it at the time but she had an...um...unusual way of shooting a basketball. She basically took both hands on each side of the ball, lifted the ball all the way behind her head and heaved it. (Kind of like a soccer throw in if you know what that looks like.) Hey who am I to say it's right or wrong? I didn't play basketball, I'm a baseball guy. But here's the thing...on the way down, her elbow comes down like a sledge hammer smashing cement, hits me square in the nose and drops me right to my knees. She hit me so hard I almost passed out! I Was screaming like a little girl who just got her candy taken away. Actually I made that last part up, I never screamed like a little girl but it would have been funny right? No, honestly I didn't scream! Anyway, she came running over to me saying how sorry she was and making sure I was okay. After a few moments I stood up and assured her I was okay and told her we should keep playing. I teased her for the rest of the night by handing her the ball and ducking out of the way making it obvious that I was avoiding her you know cute little flirty things young people do. Thinking back, I guess I was lucky I didn't have to look too hard or too long for my true love. She came right to me, smacked me right in the face and said here I am!
When it was finally time to go home, we walked out together with some friends and said our good-byes. I asked if she would like a ride home on my bike so she didn't have to walk and she said okay so off we went. When we arrived at her house, which by the way was only about two blocks from the school, I noticed a familiar car in the driveway. It was my brothers' car. I asked her what my brother was doing there and she answered "he's dating my sister, didn't you know?" Well obviously I didn't so she asked if I wanted to come in and say hi, so I did. Thanks Bro, for getting me in the door.
Together At Last-Feel The Heat!
Once we finally realized we liked being together, things progressed nicely for a young couple in Love. We spent all of our free time together, mostly at her house because her mom was a single parent who worked a lot and we could do what we wanted, if you know what I mean? As with any new couple I'm sure, things in the beginning are hot and steamy just from the newness of being together. Then it cools off a bit and you become just a couple together and perhaps the heat changes and goes to the dark side, anger, and you have your first fight. It sucks, yeah, but you kind of have to go through it and learn from it. As a man you quickly learn you're never going to win and as a woman you quickly learn how easy it is to win so you want to fight more.(Just kidding-Honey-I love you)
Over the next few years we were together all the time. We were in high school now and just that pressure alone took its toll on our relationship. Something would happen and we would get in a fight, then we would make up and then fight some more. It was a vicious cycle but it always seemed to make us stronger. The one bad thing about being together so young though is that you start to wonder if you are missing out on something by being with just one person. You're really not missing out on anything of course but you get that whole "grass is greener on the other side" mentality. We each had our moments where we thought maybe we would test the waters and see what was out there and thankfully neither one of us liked it out there so back together we came. It was safe, it was nice, it wasn't new but it was still kinda hot. We graduated high school together in 1982, full of hope and looking forward to our future together. We planned on going to Cal State Fullerton together and having a life full of everything we could possibly dream of. We had surely survived the worse that could happen right? Well Maybe not. Somebody just turned up the heat!
Life Doesn't Always Go As Planned-Surviving Tough Times
After graduation, Laurie learned that her mom was selling her house and moving out with her boyfriend and that she and her sister were going to have to find a new place to live. This threw a big wrench into all of the plans we had made because now she was going to have to work and go to school full time. She only had a little time to decide what to do so off she went to find work. In the meantime, I was enjoying my life without too much responsibility. My parents had given me an old Ford van that we had fixed up and used for camping so I would drive Laurie back and forth to work and she would pay for my gas. I found early on that school wasn't going to be my thing so I kind of stopped going. Okay, I stopped going. And like good any dropout, I sat at home and waited for my girl to get home. But all good things must come to an end and my parents, tired of watching me do nothing all day, made me get a job.
I guess it wasn't too bad, I was 18 years old and trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I lived at home and was making enough money to go out and have some fun. But one day a friend of mine came up to me and said his dad was looking for guys to work at their families business. It was full time with benefits. Figuring it was time to start making more money so I could maybe buy a new car or something, I went to work with them. Laurie was still living at home and working and going to school so I didn't see her much anyway. It was all good...I thought.
The time had finally come for Laurie and her sister to move out. We were only 18 years old, we're not supposed to be out on our own, are we? But she had no choice. She and her sister started looking at apartments in our area and found a nice newer one that they really liked. The problem was it was a little too expensive. The next thing I know I'm thinking about moving out of my safe, comfortable, no rent house and moving in with them. It was one of those moments in life that you feel like you're not really in control of your actions. She asked and not wanting to disappoint her I said yes. I didn't think beyond that. What had I done?
Well we did move out together, all three of us and to be honest, it was great. The money was tight, as was expected, but we survived. What was harder than taking care of the finances was going through the changes you go through as young people and not being able to explain to each other why you are changing. She would say, "you used to like that" or "it never bothered you before" or something like that and I would just get angry and punch a hole in the wall. I didn't know why I was changing, I just was. We had some tough times in those early years living together. A few times I didn't think we were going to make it. But something kept pulling us back together. No matter how bad things seemed, it always got better somehow. We lived with her sister for about four years. Laurie was still going to school and working and I was still at my friends company and doing pretty well. It was time for another change. This one was my idea.
The Rest, As They Say, Is History-30 Years And Counting
Laurie and I have had many conversations about our future together. Getting married and having children were always the plan. So it was really no surprise to anyone when I finally asked her to marry me. We had talked about maybe not getting married for a while, we felt we didn't need a piece of paper to prove our love to anyone, but there were too many plans that would get messed up if we didn't go through with it so we did it. We had a very nice wedding with around 150 people and we actually paid for it by ourselves. Two young adults who started with very little and actually made it on their own. Something we are both very proud to say even today.
I remember seeing her for the first time when the doors opened in the chapel. She took my breath away and I almost started to cry. Just like when she elbowed me in the nose. (Sorry I just had to get one more in) In that moment, that first time I saw her coming out behind those doors, I knew deep in my soul that she was the one for me and we were doing exactly the right thing. What an incredible day that was. It set the tone for the incredible journey we were just starting on. And what a journey it's been.
I'm going to stop here and save the rest of the story for another hub. Don't worry, our first few years of marriage were so eventful I could probably write a book. I will try to make the sequel to this soon. Before I end this story though, I want to say something to everyone reading this. If you truly love the person you are with, you have to decide that nothing is going to keep you apart. That's right, I said decide. It is a decision to stay together or part ways. If you don't give yourself the option of leaving you'll realize you have to work it out or be miserable all the time. Fights happen in a relationship. You will never agree on everything and that's okay. It's what you do after the fight that determines what path your relationship goes on from there. With every challenge you get two choices, the right one and the wrong one. Once I made my promise to God that I would love, honor and cherish her for the rest of my life, that was how it was going to be. Divorce isn't an option, it never has been, it never will be. End of story!