Really where I’ll be today is at work, but that’s not as exciting as the fact that I’m guest posting over at KludgyMom today. A few weeks ago I read a post from Gigi’s Around the Bonfire series, “I Wish I Had Married My High School Sweetheart,” that really stuck with me because I did marry my high school sweetheart. So I contacted Gigi about writing a response to that initial post, and she agreed. Today it’s posted on her site, so go read it here!
And if you’re here visiting me from KludgyMom, thanks! If you’d like to read the story of how my husband and I met and started dating, it’s right here.
Even though I just started this blog this year, I thought it would be fun to participate in this link-up and share my first couple posts about how Lee and I met because I love reminiscing.
How the Coolest Kids Met (A Love Story, Part 1)
As promised (and I’m sure I’ll return to my regular procrastinating ways and not blog for several days after this), here’s the story of how we met.
Once upon a time, this girl met this boy.
It was 1993 when we first met. We were both cool enough to be going to a Governor’s School for Math and Science. All the new Governor’s School students went on a trip to Wallop’s Island before school started to do science-y stuff and meet each other. I remember noticing that guy, who clearly didn’t like anyone there and didn’t really hide it (something he still does very well). I don’t remember us actually speaking on this trip, but it was when I became aware of his existence.
Fast forward a few months and again, because we were so cool in high school, we both advanced to the state science fair with our science projects. He was clearly more into it than I was because he had fancy cheese shaped science fair display boards for his project that was something about mice and circadian rhythms. But what we both did at the science fair was spend the whole day in the bleachers really talking to each other for the first time, and perhaps missing some of the judges who would have liked to talk to us about our projects. Neither of us won the science fair. But I don’t believe we cared.
As a side note, Lee was for some reason allowed by his mother to go on this trip outside of the chaperoned group that I was in. Don’t worry though – his 13-year-old brother Marcus was his chaperone. I’m not sure what Marcus did at a hotel alone all day, but I bet he was well-behaved. He was certainly interesting when I met him for the first time at Fuddruckers.
We returned from this trip and returned to not really talking to each other at school.
We had a couple other exciting experiences that school year. We were invited to the Virginia Junior Academy of Science (I think that’s what VJAS stood for) to present our projects. I have a few fun memories from this trip.
- Watching MTV in some dorm common room with Lee. I distinctly remember some Aerosmith videos. I may have been jealous that he seemed to be hanging out with another girl there, so I stuck around. Or maybe I wasn’t.
- Going to a dance for a few minutes where Bump ‘n Grind came on, and Lee made some sort of dance move because he was so excited when the song came on.
- On the bus ride back, we sat in a seat together and read Stephen King’s The Stand. Or as much of it as we could read on that bus ride. I never finished the book.
We also both attended the prom at his home high school, which he has already documented here.
The way I remember it, we both definitely recognized there were some feelings at that point, but Lee already knew he was going to graduate and move at the end of the school year. So we resigned ourselves to never seeing each other again.
But that’s obviously not what happened, is it?
Lee responded with a post on his blog:
Love Story, Part 1.5
I want to say first of all that Love Story makes me think of the Taylor Swift song (pop remix, duh), and it makes Katie think of that movie from the ‘70s that she hasn’t even seen. So I win.
It’s really cute how Katie says that there were some feelings between us after the VJAS trip, which was April or March of 1994. I humbly suggest that this might have been an understatement. Of course, she was, at the time, still pretending like she didn’t have any feelings about anything except Disney movies. I was doing no such thing. I got home after that trip, after Katie and I sat together not really reading—or breathing, or moving—for the entire bus ride from JMU to Pulaski, and I broke down in my kitchen. My mother said something dismissive that she may have intended to be fortifying—maternal strike 70 or so, at that point—but it took me a while to pull myself together enough to talk to anyone. It was ridiculous, and I was very aware of that, but I couldn’t stop crying anyway. This wasn’t fair. This was too much, finally, somehow, too much cut short and too much lost. My Dad was gone, dead less than six months. My Mom was gone, too, twisted by grief and desperation into a lost little girl trying to hide or, failing that, run. When she ran, she took me, my brothers and my sister with her, because she was technically the head of our family—nice one, Dad. A month after he died, Mom promised us that we would never lose our home, that she wouldn’t take that from us after what we’d already lost, no matter what. A month after she said that she decided to move to Virginia Beach to be closer to her family. She told me I could go to a new high school for my senior year, or I could stay with a friend’s family and finish high school in Pulaski. I said hell no to option #1, and I didn’t believe Mom would follow through on option #2, so I came up with a third option: finish my junior year in the fall, get all my remaining senior year credits in the spring, and graduate from high school in three years. It was a plan that I could execute myself and it wouldn’t stop Mom from running away from grief and responsibility, so it won her enthusiastic approval. But I had to move quickly, to line up the credits I needed to graduate, to apply to colleges, to decide where to enroll in the fall; no time to hesitate, to think, to regret. So goodbye Pulaski, goodbye 620 Prospect Ave., goodbye senior year, all in the name of speed and fear. It sucked, but I was handling it. By the time I met Katie the plan was in motion and it was working: I would graduate in June, we would move to Virginia Beach two weeks later, and I would be a freshman at Chapel Hill in August. So why was I sitting on the floor of my kitchen sobbing over some girl I barely knew? I’d lost both my parents, the house I grew up in, my childhood and all my opportunities for self-contained senior-year stupidity, not to mention all my goddamn Star Wars toys—why did thishurt so much? I didn’t understand. I don’t really know this girl, I thought. Why is it killing me that I never will?
Katie was not unappreciated amongst the gentlemen of the magnet school we both attended for math and science. My friend Brian was talking to me one day after the VJAS trip about how Katie was the hottest girl there but she wouldn’t go out with anyone, that no one could have her, and he didn’t know what it would take to get her. I didn’t think of her that way. I couldn’t deal with what I did think, but it wasn’t that. I understood Championship, of course, and that’s what Brian was talking about. I’m not sure why I said something, but I did. “She would go out with me,” I said. “How do you know?” he asked. I didn’t say anything else immediately, and I didn’t want to have said what I said already, but that’s not a boast you just leave alone when your buddy makes it. It wasn’t a boast at all, but Brian didn’t know that. “So why don’t you ask her out?” he pressed. “Because I can’t,” I said. I didn’t go for some inflection in my voice to shut down that conversation, to make it clear he and I weren’t talking about the same thing. But I wasn’t boasting, that would’ve been obvious. I was hurting. We didn’t talk about that again, although to be fair, the conversation had been an aberration from the beginning. Usually we stuck to Beavis and Butt-head impressions and Doggystyle lyrics.
I was a coward. I thought I was being noble, denying myself the chance to fall in love because I had to hold my family together, but that was garbage. It was a false choice, framed the way my mother taught me to frame decisions. If I couldn’t have unambiguous happiness handed to me on a plate, I wouldn’t have it at all. I would run. I might have regretted that cowardice forever, but it turned out to be just a few weeks after we moved that I got a letter from two of my friends and this other girl I still didn’t really know. It was a slim chance, but Katie and I never needed any more than that, and this time I didn’t let it pass. The longer-term twist was that not only did Katie help me to be stronger for my younger siblings and my mother than I could’ve been without her, but she almost certainly did more for them herself over the years than I did. No one among her four children did more to help my mother, especially near the end of her life, than Katie did.
Our own children will have this to use against us one day. “But I love Braydon!” Jenny will announce. “I have to be with him! It’s just like you and Mom!” A little teenage moral leverage is a small price to pay, though. Besides, I still have “You won’t do that because I’m your father I said you won’t.” And don’t think for a moment I won’t use it.
And I wrapped up the story (at least the beginning of our story) on my blog:
Love Story, Part 2
At the end of my junior year of high school/Lee’s senior year, he moved away to Virginia Beach with his family. We never expected to see each other again.
That July, I went to the summer Governor’s School for Humanities on the campus of University of Richmond. My two best friends when I was there were from Lee’s hometown and they were longtime friends of his. One day the three of us decided to write him a letter, full of lots of silly stuff, I’m sure. Much to my surprise, we each got letters back individually.
I loved my letter so much. I won’t write it all out here, but I can tell you the first line that will be in my memory forever. “You are the person to whom I have the most to say but know the least how to say it.” I kept this letter with me all the time, in my pocket, under my pillow. It looks a little rough these days, but I still have it, stored in a box with hundreds of other letters. (Incidentally, I still enjoy remembering another letter that came to all three of us, where he mentioned a new musician he liked – Cool 10. At least we thought it said Cool 10. It was Coolio.)
After that first letter, we wrote each other regularly. And once I was back home, we started having weekly phone calls, too. I loved our long weekly phone calls because I loved talking to him, and because they usually came during our Sunday after-church weekly cleaning time (sorry, Mom). We made plans to finally see each other again over the Christmas break. During the last couple weeks leading up to Christmas, I received daily postcards from Lee, and wondered if there was any significance to the LOVE stamps he used (I think there may have been).
He came to my house for a visit shortly after Christmas, and that was that. He went from staying with one of his friends to staying at our house so he could spend more time with me. I met his mom and Justin (mini-Lee) for the first time. I remember my mom telling me after he left that she assumed we’d be together forever unless I told her otherwise. That was 16 ½ years ago.Read More
This week’s Monday Listicles is supposed to be related to high school. I’ve already discussed my high school days on here before when I told the story of how Lee and I met, but it’s always fun to talk about it again. I’m going to go with a pretty random list about high school.
Let’s start with ways that I was cool:
1. I was a cheerleader. I feel like that’s generally considered cool. And I liked it.I still have so many vivid memories of cheerleading bus rides and cheerleading camp.
Um…that may be the only thing that was cool about me. So let’s move on to other things about high school.
2. My high school started in 8th grade, so I had five years of high school instead of the usual four. And since I’d skipped a grade (just 1st grade), I was only 12 years old when I started high school.
3. I think we were the only school in the world with a Maroon Man as a mascot. I’m still not sure what that is.
4. I went to four high school proms: one in 9th grade, two my junior year, and one my senior year. That one was the best because it was with my now-husband.
5. I won the spelling bee in 8th grade and then went on to fail to win the regional spelling bee. I’m still a little bitter. Reagan won the spelling bee at her school for 1st grade last year, so I have high hopes for her.
6. I went to a Governor’s School for Math and Science my last two years of high school. It was half an hour away from my regular school and involved a very early morning bus ride that I would spend napping if I could. And I packed lunches in a Lion King lunch box for the ride back to school. And I met my husband there.
7. One of my other favorite things about high school: yearbook. I always loved the yearbook, and editing the yearbook was so much fun for me. I love editing. My yearbooks are all marked up with red ink because I edited the final product, too. Cool, huh?
8. My family hosted several exchange students during my school years. Two were during my high school years: Jonatan during my freshman year and Luci during my senior year. These were such cool, memorable experiences for me, and I’m so glad my parents decided we would be a good host family. We really felt like we gained new family members. And even better, we’ve reconnected on Facebook now so we can keep in touch more easily.
9. My class had two valedictorians and two salutatorians. I was one of the salutatorians. And Lee gave me a watch as a graduation gift that I still wear now. Even though the battery died some time when I was on maternity leave and I still haven’t replaced it. I still wear it every day because it feels weird if I wear my rings without my watch.
10. Sometimes it amazes me how little I can remember about high school. Everything seemed so important then, and now it’s clear that a lot of it wasn’t actually important. I wish my kids would have that perspective when they’re in high school, but I think it’s something you have to learn on your own.Read More
Lee immediately followed up his Katy Perry-loving post with this sweet one. I do feel like he misses me and the kids while we’re off at Great Wolf Lodge without him. But we’ll be home tomorrow, and I’ll get to do a fun post about our experience here. If I’m not too exhausted.Read More
I was reading my Entertainment Weekly at lunch today, which is one of my favorite things to do every week. In the music section, there’s a 1994 Chart Flashback. And my immediate thought was, “I’m going to blog about that tonight.” As mentioned in an earlier post, the summer of 1994 is when I was at summer Governor’s School, and Lee and I started writing each other, so a lot of the songs on this chart from 1994 can easily be related to our relationship at that time.
So let’s run through the songs and my thoughts on each because that’s fun, right?
1. All-4-One, “I Swear” – I hated this song then, and I still don’t like it now. I swear. And the worst thing about it is that it will be stuck in your head forever if you even think about it. Or if you think about the moon and the stars in the sky. And I think Lee feels the same way about this song.
2. Lisa Loeb & Nine Stories, “Stay (I Missed You)” – Opposite of number one on this list, I loved this song and still think it’s awesome now. and I remember our friend Ellen telling me that Lee’s friend Robyn listened to this song and cried after he moved away at the beginning of that summer, so I often think of that if I hear this song. And of Lisa Loeb in her cool glasses.
3. Coolio, “Fantastic Voyage” – Ahhhh, Coolio. One of Lee’s first letters to us at Governor’s School mentioned a new CD he’d just gotten, Coolio. Which we read as Cool 10 because we had no idea who Coolio was. So Coolio will forever be Cool 10 to me.
4. Janet Jackson, “Any Time, Any Place/And On and On” – I don’t have any particular memories of this Janet song, but I did like some Janet and so did Lee. But I am easily offended by Janet from this time period because I know that Lee relates “If” to a previous girlfriend from high school.
5. Elton John, “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” – So I really loved The Lion King. And because I loved The Lion King, Lee went to see it with me. Several times. And he bought the soundtrack for himself and saw the movie once at Carolina by himself. And his little sister Charlotte sent me a collection of Lion King cards. And I had a Lion King poster in my room. And especially awesome, the picture of the GWHS cheerleaders in the newspaper includes Timon, attached to the side of my skirt. Because I was just that cool.
6. Warren G & Nate Dogg, “Regulate” – My wonderful husband has been known to swear a bit, but early on in our relationship, he tried not to swear in front of me or listen to any songs with explicit lyrics. So one of the songs that was allowed on our many car rides together was “Regulate.” Did you know Nate Dogg is dead?
7. Ace of Base, “Don’t Turn Around” – No particularly strong memories of this one, but I do think it’s funny that the song that arrived in my head when I tried to remember this one was Der Komissar because of it’s “don’t turn around” lyrics. But now I can’t get the actual Ace of Base song out of my head.
8. Da Brat, “Funkdafied” – I don’t have any memories of this one either, but I think Marcus is the only fan of the Da Brat.
9. Aaliyah, “Back & Forth” – Lee liked some Aaliyah, and some R. Kelly. Aaliyah died shortly after Jenny was born, and I remember that because I was up in the middle of the night feeding her and watching MTV when the news popped up, so I woke Lee to tell him. I think “Try Again” is definitely Aaliyah’s best song, and the only one of hers on my iPod. And “Rock the Boat.”
10. John Mellencamp & Me’Shell Ndegeocello, “Wild Night” – I forgot this song existed. But I love what Entertainment Weekly says about it: “Ooh-wee! What could be wilder than Me’Shell and the Cougs tearin’ up some circa-’71 Van Morrison?” The Cougs cracks me up.
Well, that was fun for me. Now we’re going to have some fun listening to the top songs on iTunes to see if we’re still cool.Read More