Thursday, April 21, 2011

Diary Days: meeting my husband

The older I get, the more often I forget the little benchmarks I used to celebrate, specifically with relationships. "It's the anniversary of our first date!" Those dating achievements used to mean something, like making it to the epic SIX MONTH mark. Once married, your celebratory anniversary is your wedding anniversary. The other things fall to the wayside and get brought up occasionally in conversation or when looking back at photo albums.

I found the entry from when I first met my husband. That was ten years ago last month. Clearly, I met him when I was 15 (lie). We didn't start dating for another year, and our first meeting would have been unremarkable if not for a little mishap; one of those romantic-after-the-fact type of events.
I went to Chicago

Spring break, my roommate Amanda and I took what we figured would be a day trip. It was her legit college spring break, but I graduated two months earlier, so for me it was just a long weekend off from my random post-grad jobs. We drove an hour to Michigan City, IN, the nearest commuter train station into the city. A cheap way to travel. I planned to meet with some of my fantastic internet friends (ten years later it doesn't sound so weird does it? you might be reading this and have never met me!). I'm still a little surprised Amanda agreed to go along with the plan involving people I knew peripherally from a message forum that branched off from a music festival, but she's the type who will go along with a lot of things at least once (the foundation of a great friend).

We met up with a friend at the Sears Tower, did the whole shopping thing, making sure to go to Belmont Street north of downtown, where it was a little less commercial than Michigan Ave. Later, we showed up to the party to meet Internet Friends, inadvertently creating a live-action chatroom. Amanda mostly sat in the corner, terrified I'm sure. But everyone acted nice, although a little weird, because if you've ever done a meet-up with friends who are lively, sarcastic and witty online, chances are they are shy, withdrawn and downright awkward in person. Except for me, of course.

Our gracious hosts (who at a later time welcomed me to stay on their couch for 3 weeks when I moved to Chicago, and accommodated scads of other couch guests over the years), invited us to stay overnight as everyone crashed on blankets across the apartment. "No, no," I insisted. "We'll take the train out as we planned." My friend returned us by car to the commuter station where we waited inside away from the cold.
We decided to leave on the last train out and well. Yeah. We missed it. I don't know how. This guy who totally looked like Vince Neil was shouting at it as it drove away. Like 3 other people missed it. They made an announcement it was coming, but no one got up and then it left.

To see the red taillights of the last train out of the city that night, moving away from us, felt heartbreaking and panic inducing. Amanda started whimpering and I knew I needed to keep it together. Worst case, I had a credit card and we could book a room on Michigan Ave. By chance I had the phone number for the apartment of the party since my friend stayed there the night before and left it as reference number (remember when not everyone had a cell phone?). Most of the other party guests left when we did to see a midnight improv comedy show, which I have since seen and is awesome (Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind). It was likely no one would answer.
So we called and these guys said they'd come and get us. Jason and Jeff. They said wait and tell us where on Lakeshore you are. It was freezing and I tried to keep it together.We saw homeless guys and a hooker - it was nuts. I know Amanda was freaking out. They found us and said they'd been praying. We stopped for donuts - Jeff was very much on a mission to get Dunkin' D. I kept apologizing. I felt so dumb for leaving when they said we could stay. So we watched SNL reruns and Sifl and Olly. And I slept in my clothes on the floor. The morning was rough, I barely slept. They were so nice though. I def. had an adventure. Amanda and I almost killed e/o on the way home.Now we're closer I guess :)

Knowing what I do about Jason now, it is no surprise to me that he stayed behind with his friend while everyone else left to go out. They played Tetris on an old Nintendo and worked on their plan to take over the world. That summer, when I ran into Jason at the music festival that connected all of us at the Chicago party, I said something like, "Hey, remember me? I'm the one you rescued from the mean streets of Chicago at 2 am," and we had a laugh. We saw each other randomly a couple of times after that within a similar revolving group of music fest/internet friends, and finally the following Valentine's Day, we had our first date.

It's easy to forget the smaller anniversaries when life fills up with so many more memorable events. The value of the written diary is that it gives a piece of time back to us. It's more than a photo of everyone at the party, it is my words and how I saw that experience at that time.


  1. Love this piece! I'm a long-time diary keeper myself. If my husband says, "What was the name of the hotel we stayed in, in Yorkshire in 1986?" we both know that, sad to say, I will be able to look it up and tell him!

    Found you on She Writes.

  2. This weekend is my 19th wedding anniversary, 21 years since we started 'dating'. We've stopped celebrating a lot of the minor milestones, so much happens in two decades: house, job, school, children (who are now teens)...lightening fast. We do, however, celebrate our engagement over chili dogs each year, because that is what we were eating when he proposed. I do love a good chili dog!

  3. Hi Deborah! I've been finding quite a few other blogs from people on She Writes, too. It's a great resource having a diary; I should probably keep up with one.


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