Friday, October 8, 2010

Kids, this is the story of How I Met Your Mother...

This one is for my kids to read in the year 2025.

Ok, kids. I promise I won't take several television seasons and throw many curve balls and cliffhangers to tell this story. This is a one-episode deal here. Beginning, middle and end, and we're out. Ryan, please do not read while hover-boarding.

I like to think I met your mother while riding on the wave of the future. The year was 1995. We were 17 years old. The place was a little known spot called ... the internet. This was before AOL took off, before Facebook, Twitter and MySpace (oh that's right, you don't know what MySpace is. Well, never mind, it was before your time.) We met on an online portal called The Sierra Network, a nifty little place where chatting with complete strangers was not scary, but actually cool and innovative. I don't remember who initiated the chat, but I do remember being a little smitten. Your mom was a red-haired avatar from Howell! We chatted for months, exchanged snail mail letters (yes, actual letters! Written on paper!), as well as emails and photos and the occasional phone call. After a few months of friendly courtship and building anticipation, it was finally time to meet in person.

Mom only lived in the next town over, so it was convenient to meet at the Golden Bell diner on Route 9. I pulled in and drove right past her. Your mother stood there, waving at me, and I was completely oblivious. I just kept driving around in the parking lot.

Way to be cool, dude, way to be cool.

I finally snapped out of it, recognized her and parked the car. We exchanged hugs and little gifts. Nerves were abundant. Short, hesitant sentences. After we went inside and sat in a booth, we looked over the menu. Then we just started talking. About everything. Life, school, the future. In fact, we talked so much that we never ordered any food. Thinking she probably wasn't getting a tip, the waitress was not happy and eventually kicked us out. For once in our lives, food took a back seat, so we knew this had to be something special.

So then we stood outside the diner, our stomachs surprisingly at ease. Relief. A connection was made. A friendship was born.

Now, this is where some of you may be wondering, "A friendship? That's it, a friendship?" Yes, and let me explain. Remember, I'm the guy that kept driving around the parking lot looking for Mom while she was in plain sight. Literally and figuratively, I was blind. I was feeling things, but I didn't understand them. I loved your mother from the moment we met, but I didn't know what to make of it.

So there we were, elevating our online courtship into actual friendship. And to your mother's undying patience, nothing more. I was so comfortable with her. I wanted to see her every day. We had a mutual best friend, Pete, and the three of us were inseparable. It was like Sophie's Choice, but, you know, without the Holocaust. We played games, enjoyed long walks, watched TV, went to the movies, the mall, browsed endlessly in bookstores, ate nonstop (yes, Mom and I went to the next level and actually ate food was bliss!).

She more than hinted at me that she wanted elevate the friendship into something deeper. But I wasn't having it. At this point, I didn't want anything to change. Everything was so perfect. Why mess with it?

The patience of a saint, your mother.

Soon, it was time for senior prom. She asked me to go with her, and you know what I said? I said, "No."

Blind, I'm telling you. I was blind.

This was also a time of uncertainty for me. I was withdrawn from social situations (I did not like parties, and especially dances). I did not want to attend a prom, even though it meant more to her than just a social function. It was the capper to high school, the end of an era. It was a significant time in her life, in all of our lives. "Well, sorry honey, you're on your own. I ain't goin'."

<slaps forehead> D'oh!

I even got pressure from Pete during a break from our video class. "What the hell are you thinking? Just go!"

"I don't want to. I hate these things. What's the big deal? You guys go and have fun without me."

Soon, the entire class was looking at me like I was nuts. They were swarming around me. I realized I was sitting under the studio lights and I started sweating. This was peer pressure at its worst.

Everyone in the class, even Mr. Langana, the video teacher, was chiming in. "Don't be silly, Dave, just go, be with your best friend. Why the trouble??"

My reaction. "I don't want her to get the wrong impression."



"If I go, she might think I'm doing it because I like-like her, and I don't think I like-like her and I don't want to give her the wrong impression."


<slaps forehead> D'oh!

So I never went. Mom went with Pete and another friend and had the time of their lives. I stayed home, rented movies and sulked in my pajamas all night. It was a strange, strange time for me.

I know she was disappointed. I know she so desperately wanted me there. The girl just wanted to dance with the boy she loved. And this boy turned her down. But Mom forgave me, eventually.

On the day I married her.

But wait, I'm going too fast.

That summer, we all remained close, and eventually got ready for college. I was going to Boston, Mom was heading to William Paterson in north Jersey. Pete moved on to Ithaca.

Then one day, during Christmas break of freshman year, it happened. It was like a curtain that opened before my eyes. A fog lifted. The lights turned on. It became so clear. We were hanging out at my house, like old times. Romancing the Stone was on the TV. And this time, things were different. There was electricity in the air. I looked at your mother at one point, and an overwhelming feeling came over me. I wanted so badly to kiss her. Of course, I didn't right away, I had to process this. What's going on with me?

It was the distance that snapped me out of my foolishness. I couldn't stand being apart from her. My life was empty without her in it. I fully realized what I was missing. I came crashing to reality that night, and I fell for your mother, hard. And you know what she said?

"It's about bleeping* time."

*And no, she didn't say "bleeping."

The rest, as they say, is history. We had a long-distance relationship during the rest of our college years. We dated for a year after graduation, until we moved in together. I asked her to marry me with a surprise proposal in Atlantic City. As our careers were taking off, we married a few years later.

I finally gave her that dance at our wedding. And I've been dancing with her since.

After we bought a condo near a lake, we had Parker, our first "kid." We created so many memories in that place. You've heard the stories. After seeing how well we did with Parker, we decided it was time for a house and actual two-legged kids.

And that, my children, is where you came in. What did we learn from this story?

Well, I was deeply in love with your mother well before you were born, and when you came along, that love got stronger. And when you are gone, out of the house, with your own families, I will continue to love her til the very sweet end.

I got lucky. I married my best friend, and I hope some day you get to marry yours.


acmomma said...

Got the tissues :) Nice, David, what a beautiful tribute to Mara.

Anonymous said...

I told you that it's not fair-ever since Emma was born I cry at everything!! I read this last night and cried!!! I love you and I love our life! I am so incredibly lucky!

Denise said...

Wow, this was beautful!

Anonymous said...

Beautifully written Dave...what a great story to tell the kids when they get older... :)