I was always a very practical dater. I thought love at first sight was a naive fantasy. I didn’t believe in trying to groom a partner. What you meet is what you get; there is no point trying to change a man. I didn’t believe in living together, intertwining finances and lives without some sort of commitment. I wasn’t keen on long distance romances. Bottom line, I wasn’t one for taking chances. In love, like most other things, I was boringly responsible. (I think it’s the eldest child in me.) I tell you all this, partly, in my defense. Because here’s the real: On July 4, 2000, in Chitown, this cute guy offered to help carry my bags at the University of Chicago/59th St. train platform. On September 16, we were engaged. If you’re keeping track, that’s about two months later. It was a whirlwind romance.
Now, we weren’t dumb kids, my sweetie and I. We were both in our 30s when we met. We’d been around and knew what we wanted and needed in a lifelong relationship. By the time my then-boyfriend proposed, with roses and a ring before a boat ride on the Chicago River, we had discussed the big stuff: religion, goals, finances, gender roles, politics, and family. I had met his family and he had met mine. To my surprise, I had found a man who understood my diverse (and sometimes weird) interests. He had me ensnared on our second date, a movie night when he brought over the black film classic, A Cabin In The Sky, and Monty Python’s Holy Grail. He digs black history and British comedy. And knows all the words to that cheesy, ’70s song, “Please Come To Boston.” Guuuurrrrllll … I was hooked.
Who am I kidding, though? Despite all the things I felt I knew about my intended, getting engaged so quickly, and married exactly a year later, was a big gamble. I took a long shot and I won, though. (Remind me to play the Blackjack tables more often.) My husband and I will celebrate our 11th anniversary this week and, more than ever, I know he is a good man, a great husband and dad, and the best partner for me.
As much as my logical, responsible self hates to admit it, there may be something to that old adage about marriage: You’ll just know. In talking to my dad after my engagement, I learned that my parents were engaged about six months after meeting. And they’re coming up on their 45th wedding anniversary. Not too shabby.
I’m not about to tell any woman she should do things the way I did. It’s never not going to be a good idea to know a potential partner as well as possible before you form lifelong bonds. But like that old song says, love is strange. And sometimes, yeah, you just know.
(Happy anniversary, Sweetie. Love you.)