A couple of you asked how the Better Half and I met, so without further ado…
We met over 10 years ago (we’ve been married a little over 7) at a luncheon that my law school put on for admitted students. Sort of a “please come here” sales pitch. The BH had also gotten in, and sat at my table along with some other folks, including one fellow who ended up being in my first year section. (Think homeroom…) The BH and I chatted a lot. He remembers our introducing ourselves, and the way I was dressed and my firm handshake. I can’t say I remember it in that detail, but I do remember thinking he was a fun guy to talk to.
I next met the BH on the first day of school– I remembered him, and he remembered me. We chatted, and bumped into each other later that day. I ran into him several times during orientation, in fact– we walked over to get our photo IDs together, and he went over to Cambridge with me to pick up a book at the Harvard Coop that our bookstore had run out of. At some point, early in our meeting, I was going to buy shoes, and ran into him on the train platform. He volunteered to come along. We went to the store, I tried on my shoes, and he said what I should have recognized, even then, as magic. “They’re both nice– buy them both,” he said.
We stayed friends all through my first semester of law school, meeting up for drinks (usually wearing the same clothes, another sign I ignored), or he coming to the bashes I would throw at my apartments. (Not intentionally… but in law school, word of parties tends to spread.) The BH had a girlfriend at home, and while I was interested, I wasn’t into the other woman thing. I met the girlfriend once, when she came up to visit, and did she ever give me the eye. I became aware toward the end of the first semester that the BH was interested in me, but he didn’t come out and say so, and I wasn’t going to do anything so long as he was with the girlfriend. His friends did say something, though, and I told them I was not interested in being the Other Woman. So things stayed friendly, and we still hung out, even though I knew he was really interested. He kept it in line.
In the meantime, there was K., a guy in my section with whom I’d also become good friends. The friendship became real interest on both sides, and I went so far as to say “If you didn’t have a girlfriend…” one night when we were out drinking. He said “I know, me too.” Still, we stayed friends. And in the meantime, his relationship with her was falling apart. By the time of the law school prom at the beginning of the second semester, they were on the rocks, but she was coming to visit for Valentine’s Day. That didn’t stop K. and I from both drinking too much at the prom and dancing a few slow dances, no kissing involved. We shared a cab home, since he was on my way, and held hands. A few weeks later, while the girlfriend was visiting, they had a huge fight, and he threw her out. Then he called me. “I just put some gingerbread in the oven. Come over for some tea,” I said, and he did. And that was that, we were together, and our section considered it the love story of the century.
What about the BH? Well, he was still with the girlfriend. Not long after K. and I got together, I went over to his place for supper and he gave me vols. 1 and 2 of Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. (Another sign, and yet did dawn break over marble head? Not yet…) He told me about his feelings for me, I told him that I was attracted too, but that I wasn’t getting involved in a triangle, and anyway, now I was dating K. and wanted to give that a try. We talked a bit about the girlfriend. “Does she want to marry you?” “Yes.” “Do you want to marry her?” “No.” “Then you have to break up with her, even if you and I don’t get together.” I didn’t make any promises about what I would do if he did break up with her, either– I was pretty in love with K., and wanted to try to make it work.
Long story short, the BH and I stayed friends, he broke up with his girlfriend, and K. and I didn’t work out. By July, it was all over but the inevitable “friends with benefits.” I was sad, but not devastated after the first few weeks. The BH and I had always chatted on the phone, but we started chatting more. We had also always hung out or gone on car trips, so we started going on more. We took a car ride up to Ogunquit and Portland, Maine, and the tension was thick in the air conditioning. After I broke up with K., and before the BH and I officially got together, and while K. and I were still thrashing through the “friends” part, the BH, K., my Dad, and my brother helped me move out of my apartment. (You think that was weird for me, my Dad and brother had no idea what was going on…)
By the time school started up again, the BH and I had spent every Friday night together for two months, and yet, still, hadn’t taken it to the next step. On September 19, I had another of my now-notorious law school bashes, and the apartment was full of friends and random strangers, including K., the BH, and several other male friends with whom I’d always had mildly flirtatious friendships, and about whom I (and in some cases they) were speculating as to the, ahem, possibilities, now that I was single. I think everyone knew the BH was and had been very interested, but I also think they all considered it an open field.
At long last, 2 a.m. drew nigh, and only a handful of friends were left– the BH, my constant companion the last few months, K., who’d expressed regret for so hasty a decision upon returning to school, and two other male friends with whom there may have been, um, possibilities. Two of my other male friends left together, and I saw them to the door. One of them told me his money was on K. The other one? “The BH, all the way.” I told them both I wanted a cut of their winnings, and I’d call them in the morning.
The boys were singing Frank Sinatra tunes. It had been that kind of night. I put empty beer bottles in the sink and tidied a little. We all yakked a bit more, and then I was tired and couldn’t drink another drink.
I remember saying “I’m going in to the bathroom to brush my teeth. When I come out, only one of you had better be left.” The BH says I only said the first sentence. But in any event, it was clear– they could figure it out their own selves, I just simply couldn’t choose. When I came out, the BH was left and everyone else was gone. He or I may have made some jokes about where he hid the bodies, but there he was.
Hook-up stories about people who’ve had to much to drink are predictable, so you can fill in the details. I will say that I expressed some doubt about the long-termness of it all, and not making any promises, but the next morning when I woke, all my doubts were erased. I did get a call from K. the next day, as well as a call from the winner of the bet my other two friends had laid.
And that was pretty much that. We spent a lot of time together. I introduced him to my best friend A., who approved of him. The whole thing moved very fast. On October 19, the day after dinner with A., we went on a day trip to Newport, RI. We were walking on the cliff walk outside Salve Regina college as he expressed concern at how he’d gone off with A. I assured him that she’d liked him very much, and then related a conversation she and I had in the kitchen. “If he asked you to marry him, what would you say?” she asked. “And what did you say,” he asked. “Yes,” I told him. The picture I took of the two of us right afterward, grinning like idiots, sits in a frame on my bedside bookshelf.
There’s more, of course. We had a long engagement, and didn’t get married until after I’d taken the bar exam. My parents wanted to know where the hell this guy came from. The BH decided law school wasn’t for him. I had a couple of crazy depressive episodes that led to fights. But it all worked out, and seven years of marriage plus, there’s plenty of time for the rest of those stories, and the stories to come.