Monday, October 17, 2011

Peas and Carrots

While feeding Raegan tonight, I seem to get Forrest Gump's quote about peas and carrots out of my head. 

Randy and I met 9 years ago.  We were randomly assigned to the only dorm on PSU's campus that boasted co-ed floors.  At the beginning of the semester, he and his best friend (and roommate) were making their rounds on the floor, introducing themselves to everyone on the floor (and, as it turned out, scoping out who was old enough to become their own personal beer supplier).  A few weeks passed by, several encounters in the hallway, and a few smart-alec comments (made by...guess who?), and before I knew it, we were chatting it up. 

 It's around this time of year that I remember back to the first few weeks when we had just met.  We were both involved in different relationships, but the physical distance, coupled with a plethora of other factors lead to their ultimate downfall. 

Out of the ashes of our long-term/long-distance relationships emerged a fast-moving and *adorable* friendship that morphed along the way into yet another long-distance relationship.  The attraction between us was obvious, however we were still not ready to fully admit our feelings toward one another.  Fear of commitment, unwillingness to give a name to what was transpiring, or just plain 'smitten and slightly shy'...our friends all saw what we were too hesitant to declare.

I remember getting ready to leave for fall break.  I was driving home for the weekend, with a friend of my brother in tow.  Sneaking away from the roving eyes of a curious 'spy', I found a moment to steal a hug and smooch before spending three hours in the car cautiously skirting around the obvious connection my brother's friend witnessed between myself and the tall mystery man.

Over the course of the semester, our connection was deepening, the time we spent together became greater and greater.  In the late hours of the night, I'd lay my head on his chest and say, "tell me a story".  In these hours, we traversed through the uncertain land of 'new relationship', even if we didn't want to admit it at the time. 

Getting to know someone, learning all about them, takes a huge commitment.  It's a scary and uncomfortable place to be.  You feel vulnerable, uncertain of what the other person is thinking about you as you share the pieces of you that define your being.  Randy and I spent many hours learning about each others' pasts; tales from our childhood and high school years that were cautiously selected so as to not give the other reason to reconsider moving the relationship further along.

As the time approached for Randy's 21st birthday at the end of the semester, I realized we were getting ready to cross the bridge into a whole new territory.  We'd be a part of a large group of friends hanging out at our favorite bars; dancing, laughing, and enjoying the ambiance of a college bar scene.  The comfort of others in our group took some of the pressure off our 'yet-to-be-defined' relationship, but the need to give some sort of identity to our feelings became prevalent early on.  Even before he donned the 'black x's' of a brand-new-21-year-old, the social scenes we participated in gave opportunities for us to test the waters of our "relationship status".  When we walked in to a party (and later, bar), hand in hand, we thought the message was pretty clear.  However, there were those ocassional times when curious members of the opposite gender would sidle up next to one of us in an attempt to see what could possibly transpire.  Despite their best efforts, Randy and I would inevitably leave hand in hand--still avoiding the blaring truth that was staring us in the face.  We were obviously 'together'.  What took us so long to define it, I'll never quite figure out--but in the scheme of things, it doesn't really matter. 

9 years ago, I met a boy.  He was tall and cute, and had a great sense of humor.  I loved the indentation of his hip bones, the way he looked in his favorite hoodie from his high school basketball team, the way he'd let me borrow that same favorite hoodie.  I loved the countless hours we spent getting to know each other in the dim light from the glow of the computer screen or the solo string of white Christmas lights that lit the tiny dorm room.  I loved the night we were heading out with a group of friends, and he reached out to hold my hand for the walk there, despite the snickering comments made by our friends who were following behind.  I loved those beginning weeks and months, when we had no idea what the next decade would bring, but we were drunk on the smitten feelings we had for one another.  We had no idea that in 9 years, we'd have 6 years of marriage under our belt and 3 kids running around.  We were just in the moment.  Together.  Like peas and carrots.

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