Last month, after over a decade of dating, I married my high school sweetheart.
The idea of a high school sweetheart sounds so idyllic, and for a while, it was! There’s something special about growing up with the same person there by your side through it all. I’ve watched Dave transform from a goofy teenager with braces into a confident, smart (and in my opinion, gorgeous) man. But I’ll be the first to say our story is far from perfect. A series of multiple mini relationships with the same person, played out over and over again over the course of the last decade. Today, Dave and I are not the same people we met in high school, and we’ve been through A LOT together. More happy milestones and tearful goodbyes than I could ever count, including years and years of a cross-country relationship, followed by a 2-year hiatus where we barely spoke to each other at all.
So today I want to share the first half of our relationship saga, and the many moving parts that eventually lead us to take the next step together, and commit to each other as husband and wife.
Part One: High School
Our relationship started the way so many great high school romances do: we made out at a party, and proceeded to ignore each other for several weeks thereafter. During which time I rearranged my entire class schedule to avoid running into him in the halls or enduring a devastating 43-minute class period of silence. It was really looking like he’d be the one!
As the weeks went on there were more parties, and Dave and I would always somehow find each other. With a little liquid courage we’d stay up the entire night talking and flirting, And then every Monday we’d be back at school ignoring each other again. I’ve read He’s Just Not That Into You, and I’m pretty sure I was supposed to run away fast at this point.
Then one day, completely out of the blue, I got a text message. It sounds crazy, but the minute my phone chirped that night, I knew it was Dave reaching out, and knew it would be the beginning of something more between us.
We started dating, which by our high school standards meant secretly sneaking off campus in the middle of the day to pick up hoagie haven, and by December, we even worked up the courage to acknowledge each other in public 🙂 Soon we were hanging out every day after school. Spring of our senior year flew by, and the typical milestones of prom and graduation were made even better with Dave by my side. We said I love you for the first time.
Summer was spent at the beach together each weekend, and I’d never been happier. Then as Labor Day approached, reality sank in. Dave was headed to Duke in North Carolina, while I had chosen Tufts in Massachusetts. Approximately 772 miles away from each other. While this posed an obvious conundrum, we were naive enough to believe we could make it work. Long distance would be no big deal! We were young, we were in love, and nothing else really mattered.
The day we left for college, we sat in Dave’s driveway with his car fully packed, and I cried for hours on end. Though we had promised each other things would be fine, I was certain I’d never see him again. He was heading to a school with thousands of new people, and I was positive he’d very quickly forget me. When I left, I had to pull over my car on the highway because I was crying too hard to drive. It was the first time I ever really felt heartbreak.
Part two: College
College was the best of times, and it was the worst of times. I played on the field hockey team and had a great circle of girlfriends, who are still close to this day. Though I was determined to meet new people and ~live it up~ I frequently found myself back in my dorm room at night, calling Dave over and over again. He was usually less than amused by my interruptions, unless I was offering to do his Spanish homework 🙂
The hardest part of college was that we each had completely new circles of friends that the other had never met. We became outsiders to each others’ lives, and it felt so bizarre that the person I loved had an entire life and routine at school without me.
Dave played baseball at Duke, which essentially meant he’d signed his life away for four years. He practiced 6 days a week, so he had practically zero free time, and I would be the one flying back and forth to visit him.
Looking back, it’s crazy to think I couldn’t comprehend how hard he was working, and how overwhelmed he was with juggling baseball, school, new friends, and me. I was jealous that he spent all of his time on baseball, and began doing absolutely anything I could to get his attention. Including signing up to run a marathon, partially just to see if he would come to watch me run.
Dave was always good about reassuring me, telling me he loved me and that we’d be OK, but for some reason it was never enough to make me feel secure with him being miles away.
Even with all of that, any time I flew down to visit Dave or we came home for vacation, we picked back up as if we’d never left, and we were happy and inseparable again. I felt certain that I wanted to be with Dave, and thought the struggles we faced each year at school were worth it once we came home for summer.
College wasn’t perfect, but we somehow made it work. Eventually we were seniors again, and started planning for life after college, when we would finally be together in the same place and move to NYC!!
And then fate stepped in.
After graduation, we made plans to travel around Europe for a few weeks together. Dave was heading there a couple of days earlier to be with his family, and I offered to drive him to the airport.
As we were driving, Dave’s phone rang, with a call that would change both of our lives. It was the Chicago White Sox. They were offering him a spot on their farm team… In Montana…. And he had an hour to decide if he’d accept the offer.
We turned the car around. In an instant, Dave’s lifelong dream came true. I’ve never felt so happy and so devastated at the same time.
To be continued……
Photo by: JSP Studio