Sunday, February 12, 2012

Love Story

My husband, Greg, returns from a business trip in Orlando tonight.  He's been gone for four days.  I have missed him so much and there have been times over the last 4 days that my chest has actually ached.

I'm really not a sappy emotional person.  Sarcasm comes easier to me than sap.  Though I tell my husband, kids and even friends that I love them all the time.  Including my best friend, Shereen, who is highly embarrassed by my girl love for her.  Yelling "I LOVE YOU" across parking lots gets me a great reaction from her - usually a look of complete disgust and mortification.  I do love her, but now I usually tell her to see what reaction I'll get.  It's fun.  I have to find joy in my life where I can.

Anyway, in our household, "I love you" is said easily and often.  I want our children to grow up surrounded by hugs, kisses and I love yous.

Greg has traveled for work before.  It's not frequent but it does happen once or twice a year.  The last time he left was a week in June of 2011.  It was less than a month after I found out that I had breast cancer.  It was very hard to see him go and very hard to be alone with my thoughts during that time for a whole week.

This time, even though he was only gone for four days, was harder.

We've been married for 13 years now.  Yes, I've always loved him.  Yes, I've always thought he was hot.  And yes, I want to strangle him sometimes.  Like how he can't manage to figure out where some of the dishes go in the kitchen despite living here for 8 years.  Or how he makes a mess of the toothpaste (solved by buying each of us our own tubes - I don't care what he does with his toothpaste now).  And when he throws his socks in the hamper all rolled up in little balls!  Oh My!  It you want to see what me having a conniption looks like, try that.

Greg and his boat.
But, ours is an epic love story (in my opinion) that started on January 14, 1998.  I remember it so clearly.  I had come home from yet another disastrous date and sworn off men...again.  I was on my computer and came across the Yahoo ads for singles.  I thought I'd browse a little, maybe find someone nice to be friends with.  I found Greg.  There he was with a profile set up, a picture of him sitting on his boat, saying he wanted a pen pal.  He was from Washington State but was in the Coast Guard and stationed in the Bahamas (poor thing - rough life).

I thought, "Hey!  A pen pal!  Just like back when I was in elementary school!  How cool!  I want a pen pal!"  I wrote to him.  I wrote to him because he said he just wanted a pen pal.  I wrote to him because he said he wasn't looking to get married.  I wrote to him because there was no pressure for it to be anything more.

He wrote back the next day and that began our relationship.  Fun emails and messages back and forth.  We were getting to know each other. He had found out that he was being transferred back to the west coast (originally to Seattle but it was later changed to San Francisco).

Greg and the infamous car.
On Valentines Day 1998, he called me on the telephone for the first time.  It was awkward.  We talked for 30 minutes and he spent about 28 of it telling me about his car.  He emailed me right after we hung up and said, "I can't believe I talked about my CAR the whole time!"  He had been so nervous.  It was cute and I liked him...but I was determined to not get too serious about some weirdo I hadn't even met! (I made it a rule to only get serious about weirdos I HAD met!)

Over the next few months, we talked on the phone several times and he sent me cards and gifts.  In May, he was on leave for a month during his transition from Nassau, Bahamas to San Francisco.  He was staying the month with his parents in Eastern Washington.  After he arrived, I made the trip over for the day to meet him.

Chipper - we were fast friends
It was the first time we would ever meet in person.  My Mother was a nervous wreck, sure that I would be murdered.  I was on my guard, but I trusted him already.  As I walked up the pathway to his mother's house, I saw him standing on his boat and he invited me up.  He showed me all around his boat and then I met their dogs.  He took me for a tour around the town he grew up in and then to dinner at Red Lobster.  At dinner, he ordered the "All You Can Eat" crab legs and was instantly mortified when the waitress brought him a bib to wear.  He tentatively asked, "Is wearing a bib on a first date a deal breaker?"  I laughed and said that I didn't think so.  I thought he was cute and nervous and charming.  He admitted later that he only ate one bucket of crabs, but he could have eaten two.  He also later told me that the first question his mother asked about me is,  "Did the dogs like her?"

He was the perfect gentleman the whole time (darn it) and, after meeting his mother, we parted ways.  He asked me to call after I'd made the 3 hour drive home.  I was sure that he would ask me out again.  When I did call him, he told me he had a great time and that he was glad I was home safe.  And that was all.  I was disappointed.  He obviously didn't like me.

I soon received a message from him that said, "I can't believe I didn't ask you out again!"

And that's all I needed.  We spent every moment we could together over the next month, traveling back and forth to be with each other on my days off.  He first kissed me after a day of shopping.  He met my friends and I remember my friend Tanya asking if he had hair underneath his hat.  He had always worn a hat.  I told her, "Gee, I don't know!"  (He didn't) My Mother asked if he owned pants, since he only wore shorts. (He did)  He met my father, who was in a nursing home at the time, and after we left, my Mother later told me that she turned to my father and said, "She's going to marry him..."

I was devastated when, in June of 1998, he had to move to San Francisco.  We said goodbye with plans to visit each other.  He spent a long first day driving before calling me from somewhere in Oregon to check in and let me know he was okay. That was the first time he told me he loved me.  And I said it back.  And I meant it.

We took turns flying back and forth every weekend to see each other.  He asked me to move in with him and I told him No.  Two months later, on my 29th birthday, he proposed.  He was so nervous all night and kept grabbing his pocket.  I knew he was up to something.  We had already talked about marriage and looked at rings.  It didn't really come as a big surprise.

He took me to a beautiful restaurant on the waterfront and then we walked out on the pier after dinner.  I had joked with him that if he brought me a Carl's Jr. burger, I'd do anything.  There being no Carl's Jr. restaurants in Seattle at the time, I missed those yummy burgers.  When he knelt down on the pier and pulled out a Carl's Jr. bag, I laughed.  I was a little worried that there was only a burger in there - but instead, there was an engagement ring in the bag.  A much better surprise.  (He ate the burger, he admitted)

Newlyweds in San Francisco
We married on January 14, 1999; a year to the day of our first email.  At the end of January, I quit my job and left all of my family and friends and my adopted home of Seattle, to move to San Francisco with him.  It was a very hard move on me and on my Mother.  My father had just died 5 months earlier.  I left everything behind.  I cried as we left Washington.  I cried when we entered California.  I cried when we got to San Francisco.

How well did I REALLY know this strange man?  I had left everything behind for him!  What if he really was an axe murderer?  I felt doomed. Due to my ridiculous sobbing, he was sure he'd married a lunatic.

He promised to bring me back to Seattle when he retired from the Coast Guard in three years and he did.  In February of 2002, we came back.  This time with our new 6 month old daughter.

Here we are.  This many years later.  Two kids.  Three dogs.  One cat.  A new job for him, a new business for me.  A house payment.

And we are in this together.  Oh sure, he drives me crazy.  Oh sure, we've fought.  We've both threatened to leave.  We've both gotten as far as the garage before turning back and fighting for us, fighting for what we have built and, ultimately, forgiving.  I have always loved him, even when I haven't liked him much.

He has always taken care of me in so many ways.  But when I got breast cancer, he became my savior.  Not only did he take care of me (as he had so many other times when I'd been sick) but he reassured me.  He helped convince me that a double mastectomy was the right choice.  He wanted ME.  He wanted me to be alive.  Breasts don't matter.  Not really.  He held my hand.  He wiped my tears.  He held me.  He packed my wounds.  He took care of  me, yet again.  He took care of me in a way that neither of us ever imagined.

And he's still here.  I'm a 42 year old woman with braces (which has nothing to do with cancer, but they are ridiculous nonetheless). I have nothing where I should have breasts.  I have stubble where there should be hair. I have no ability to have more children.  I've lost so much that makes me a woman.

But, as he's reminded me, he fell in love with me.  Me!  Not my breasts (though, let's face it, those were nice). Not my hair.  ME!

Ours is an epic love story.  One that we keep adding to every day.

Now if he leaves me for some young chippy with perfect teeth, long hair and boobs; I'm going to run him over with my car.

Boob Count: 135

1 comment:

  1. Awwwww I LOVE love stories and this is a very sweet one , I love it !!! Thanks for sharing it with us . Love is amazing and you two are amazing too :D ........... My favorite part :  I'm a 42 year old woman with braces (which has nothing to do with cancer, but they are ridiculous nonetheless). ....... Hahaha oh Laura you are so funny .