Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Story of Us

I would love to tell you about all the sex my wife and I have. Unfortunately, I can’t get into specifics-- my mother-in-law is a reader of my blog. If you really need to know, I’m sure you could ask our neighbors. Anyway, all that you really need to know is that we have two kids. Wait…they’re adopted. Never mind that. We have sex, okay? But it hasn’t always been like that between us. We were nothing more than friends for the first 5 years of our relationship. We were engaged to be married before we had ever even kissed.

I met Stacy early in my first year at Hamline University. It was her first year there, too- each of us did our time at community college before making the University leap. I lived in an apartment (a precursor to the Bullpen) in Champlin, and she lived with her parents in Hastings.  We had similar schedules that first semester; we both smoked, and really had nowhere to go during breaks. The upshot is this:  we saw a lot of each other for a couple of weeks. Eventually, we began chatting and became friends. We were both psychology majors. We took classes together, worked on projects together. By the end of our junior year, she had convinced me to join her in the psychology department’s Senior Honors Seminar.  We were together a lot senior year, nearly inseparable.  But, as I said, we were simply friends. I was engaged to the woman I would later marry, and Stacy had a serious boyfriend, who lived with her and her parents, and whom she would later marry.  I am not blind now, and I wasn’t then- I knew she was hot. But I am as faithful a person as you’re likely to meet and so is she. We never even came close to flirting. Anyway, we graduated and, that summer, I got married. Stacy and her boyfriend were not only guests; he was our photographer (did a great job, too).  The following summer, Stacy and he got married, and I was the videographer (did a so-so job, to be honest).

Now I am going to tell you the secret to a long and happy marriage. What I am about to tell you is so simple many people don’t even think of it. But it is the only thing you need to know. Here it is:  If you want to have a long and happy marriage, do NOT marry the wrong person. There you go, you may thank me later.  How do I know this? Because I married the wrong person first, and so did Stacy, and we met with predictable results.  By the time I shot that so-so video of Stacy’s wedding, my marriage was in trouble. You can read about that here, if you want. I moved back to my mother’s basement about a month after Stacy’s wedding. I was mostly drunk for a year or so, but in my sober moments I did some clear thinking about what had gone wrong. That is when I realized that simple truth I told you about earlier. I had married the wrong person; I knew it when I married her, simply didn’t have the guts to acknowledge it, nor to do anything about it- to walk away. And it occurred to me that I knew the right person.

While I was oscillating between drinking myself silly and sober realizations, Stacy was slogging through law school. She knew, before long, that she was married to a clown. But she was too busy with school to deal with it.  We didn’t talk much in those years. For one, she was busy, and I was, too- working, sleeping or drinking. But also, I was more and more certain that she and I should be married, and I didn’t want to talk to her, lest I would blurt that out, while she was still married to the clown.  We talked only when one of us moved and changed phone numbers. One day she called me at work.

“Blah, blah, blah…I’m leaving the clown. If you need to call me, call my mom’s house. I’ll be there a while.”

“Whoa. What? Really! I mean, really? That’s too bad.”  Wink. “Well, I’ve been there. If you ever need to talk about it.”  Please, please need to talk about it.

Well she did need to talk about it. We drove to the North Shore of Lake Superior, my favorite peaceful place. I was as content as I had ever been.  To get to my favorite boulder, we had to step across some smaller rocks. As Stacy prepared to hop from one rock to another, I offered my hand. I am not kidding when I tell you that the second she took it, I felt like I was home. God that felt good! But we weren’t even really on a date, and I was careful not to say anything that would scare her away. After a couple weeks of that- seeing each other 3 or 4 nights a week, but not really dating, certainly not touching, we decided to go to the state fair. I hatched a plan.

“We’re going to want to get there early,” I explained, “and we live so far apart. Maybe you should stay at the Bullpen the night before. Then we can all ride together.” (We were going with Sug and his girlfriend, Local H).

She walked right into the trap. “Okay.”

 My plan was as simple has my mind:  I would go to my room while she brushed her teeth. And when she came out of the bathroom, she would either go to the couch, as a friend would, or come in my room. That way I wouldn’t have to ask what the hell it was we were doing, and risk saying I wanted more than friendship if she didn’t; she'd have to make the first move! Bedtime came. She showed me her bravery- she used the Bullpen bathroom. I climbed into bed. She finished in the bathroom, walked out, stood in the bedroom doorway…and came in. (I was recently bragging about the genius of my plan while Stacy and I were relating this story to friends. She jumped in and said, “I thought you were going to be a gentleman and offer me the bed while you slept on the couch." Oops. Never thought of that.) I had a king size bed, and I stayed far to one side. We chatted a bit.

And then I finally said, “I have to tell you something. I love you. I have loved you for a long time. And, what’s more, I would marry you tomorrow, if you would say ‘yes’”.

“I love you, too. I think we could have a good marriage.”

And so we were engaged, and had never so much as hugged.  

Poets and writers superior to me have put into words how I felt in the months following that night. I won’t even try. But there was something not quite right- we lived 50 miles apart, and I worked long, odd hours. I wanted to see her every second of every day, but had to settle for a night a week. I was able to spend every other weekend with her, at her mom’s. That was nice, but far too short. One night, a cold, Minnesota winter night, we talked about warm places. I said that I loved San Antonio, that it was a reasonable drive.  One thing led to another, I got out of work for a couple days (she still hadn’t found a job), and we set off south. It was a whirlwind 5 days, the better part of 4 of which we spent in the car. But it was fantastic to spend that time together. We arrived back at Stacy’s mom’s house late in the evening. I stayed a while, hating the thought of leaving. Eventually, though, I had to. I said goodbye, and headed towards the Bullpen. We had talked about me moving in with Stacy and her mom in two months, when the Bullpen lease was up. Each block I drove that night I got more miserable.  I’ve been miserable long enough. I don’t want to be anymore.”  I was on the edge of Hastings, a few miles from Stacy, when I turned around.

I could see Stacy sitting on the couch, watching T.V. with her mom when I pulled into the driveway. She saw the lights, and jerked her head to look outside. She was already smiling when she saw it was me. Her smile broadened and she ran for the door.

“What’s going on?” She asked nervously. She knew.

“I can’t leave. I’ll figure out something with work. Maybe work fewer days, longer hours. But the Bullpen isn’t home anymore. Wherever you are is. I don’t want to spend another night away from you.”

 And I haven’t.


  1. Tenderness and love lies all throughout this piece -- you don't even have to say those particular words -- you, I, could feel that from you towards Stacy the whole way through. Sweet. Sweet. Writing. I think this is one of those pieces -- you know -- the one that is spot on, flow is perfect with no awkward phrasing or sentences to trip over. You nailed this one Tom, that's for sure.

  2. And just to be clear, by "nailed this one," I meant the piece of writing -- well, and I guess your choice of r'ship. (Wasn't trying to take away from it by talking like a 14 y/o boy.)

  3. This is a beautiful story done with phenomenal writing...

  4. Yay love!!! Thanks for sharing again. True love and mature love is worth the wait. Xo

  5. I am so glad you posted this link! After having just reread Katy's, it's a delight to wonder how many different, unique configurations brought us all to where we are.

    I never thought I'd say it as a fairly unromantic person by nature, but I wish I had dozens more "stories of us" to read this morning. I'm considering writing one, honestly, just to make one more for me to reread before the boys rise this morning. :p