In today’s new The Real Marrying Types of Change the Word, Celia Kennedy shares the story of how she met her husband.
In thinking about sharing our story for some reason it feels comparable to new mothers sharing their birthing stories … so here goes, I will birth the story of our relationship.
I was asked to make this short, and in some ways that is easy, because our “courtship” was quick. But, it was six years in the making. We’ll flash quickly through the actual meeting. I had been remodeling a kitchen on my own over the course of a week and once the work was complete (the day before out of town guests were due to arrive), I needed help moving the fridge back into the kitchen. My boyfriend wrangled a bunch of guys over to help. I was covered in floor adhesive, had greasy hair tucked under a baseball cap, and smelled to high heaven (between chemicals and perspiration). I opened the door and laid eyes on the love of my life. (This is a really hysterical story and ought to be longer.)
Now, I freely admit to having read a romance novel or two (and having written my own), so what I’m about to relate may seem a little over the top, but I swear every last word is true. I looked at MacGyver (my husband) and thought, “Oh Shit! Here’s my future.” I was completely and immediately smitten and I was living with someone else whose parents were about to come for a visit. Fortunately the rest of the help arrived to move the fridge and I was saved from myself and ‘his’ close scrutiny.
A week or so later my boyfriend invited a friend over for dinner. I knew who it was. Shamelessly I fluffed, spritzed, polished, and groomed every inch of me, knowing that my commitment to the current boyfriend was at an end. I was flustered, giddy, and euphoric and then I was crushed. MacGyver announced, after a spoonful of pumpkin soup, that he’d been married for a few months. My hand to God, one minute I was sitting at the table trying to figure out how to break up with what’s-his-name and the next I was watching my Cinderella story blow up inside my head. I spent the rest of the night feeling sad, resigned, and envious.
MacGyver’s wife was finishing her degree in another city, so when she was in town on a short visit my jealousy reared its ugly head over every last thing he said or did for her. He was in love and I was in hell.
When she wasn’t in town I would do the laundry at Mac’s place (we didn’t have a washer/dryer) and he and I spent hours chatting. It was a bit masochistic. The more I came to know him the more I loved him. When ‘she’ finally moved to town on a permanent basis, I made myself scarce.
Perhaps I’m not painting a very good picture of myself, so I need to interject here. I had been very committed to making my relationship with my boyfriend work. We had a house, traveled, and lived together for seven years. In none of that time did anything other than my eye stray. I convinced myself that what I felt for Mac was just a passing crush, a physical attraction, and that it would go away with time. So for almost one year I deliberately avoided seeing MacGyver.
Alas, I ran into ‘them’ at the grocery store. I had seen them from a distance and had deliberately pushed my cart in the opposite direction. Unfortunately we both needed cheese. So there I was, alone with my groceries, when I came face to face with the happy couple. They matched so well in looks, intelligence, and temperament. AND they were together, AND they had just purchased a house, AND he was willing to grocery shop just to be with her. A lot of salt was rubbed into a very big wound.
Another year or so passed, during which time I became loosely engaged to my boyfriend. I use the word loosely because it was more of a, “either you ask me or I’m leaving,” type of situation. No grand gestures of love, or any desire to share our engagement with family and friends, and we were in couple’s therapy. Does that sound like happily ever after? No, it doesn’t.
Moments after the sham proposal came the most amazing news, Mac was getting divorced. I kid you not. Another romance novel moment. What to do? By then I was so committed to making my relationship work that I stayed put and watched MacGyver date all kinds of women.
It was a painful and torturous year or two, but I supported his endeavors to find love. At this point my boyfriend/fiancé and I began what would become known as ‘the longest break-up of all time.’ It was messy and complicated. I didn’t tell MacGyver because that would have just complicated things.
Fleeing MacGyver’s love life and to drive the final nail into the death of my relationship I decided to participate in a Study Abroad program. A few days before leaving the country I invited a bunch of friends to have dinner. Mac was one of the invitees. I fluffed, spruced, shaved, and used my last few dollars to buy something girly and fun. After everyone was settled in at the tables at the restaurant I asked a friend where Mac was. He said, “Oh, he isn’t coming. He’s busy falling in love with someone.” Well, I was crushed. Again, another romance novel moment; our timing was impeccably off, and only I knew it.
So off I fled to Europe more confused than ever. I decided to do what any sane thirty year old would do who is participating in a student exchange program would do. I immersed myself in the experience; I traveled, studied, pub crawled, and had a fling with a twenty-two year old. In all the time I was gone I suppressed all urges to email or call Mac. I just couldn’t leave my euphoric world to be grounded in the agony of his love story.
Upon returning home I lasted all of two days before calling his office. He had quit! Where was he? Had he moved? Was he married? After some serious stalking, I learned he was single and on vacation. A few days later, out of the blue, Mac called me, inviting me to dinner.
“I thought you were out of town.”
“I was, but I got Tom’s message that you were back. I am driving home from the airport.”
“When do you want to have dinner?”
My brain overloaded … I wasn’t fluffed, spritzed, shaved, or mentally prepared. “Yes!”
To my delight I found out that Mac and what’s-her-name had split up (it turns out this happened just after I left for England, when he found out through my ex-boyfriend that we’d ended our relationship). After a few dinners, strictly as friends, I worked up the nerve to kiss him. He didn’t respond, didn’t say anything, just smiled and waved good-bye. My thoughts were all over the place. I berated myself for crossing that line! I had revealed myself and he wasn’t interested. Where are twenty-two year old boys when you need them?
The next few times we were together I tried to regain some dignity by saying things like, “I’m not interested in having a relationship yet.” My other brilliant idea was to tell him about my fling with the twenty-two year old (if you don’t want me, someone else does). All a bit confusing and juvenile, but critical to my self-esteem!
One night, Mac came over to hang out while I studied for a mid-term and fell asleep while I pondered the mysteries of soil science. I couldn’t focus and kept peeking at him. Finally I woke him up so he could sleep at home and I could study. He was standing outside the front door, and I was inside the house with the door open. In what had to be a moment of pure nerve, I grabbed his hand, pulled him towards me and kissed him. I deliberately left my eyes open to see what he would do. He left his open! Yikes. Pulling away from me, he said, “You’re taller than I thought you’d be.” Then he left. I walked around berating myself and wondered what that was supposed to mean.
Brace yourself, it gets goofier. Not long after, we were sitting in a very nice Italian restaurant having dinner discussing how you know whether you are ready to move on and fall in love again. (Has anyone besides me realized that he and I were spending a lot of time together?) I pushed back my empty plate while he and I discussed sharing a dessert. Just after the waiter took our order for Tiramisu, I looked him square in the eye and said, “I know whether or not I am ready. I love you.” He didn’t tell me he loved me, he just looked at me as if he didn’t hear me. I wanted to die. I honestly don’t know what happened at the restaurant. I’m assuming he paid the bill while I died the death of total embarrassment and berated myself for yet again putting myself out there and getting zero results. I was certain I had just lost a very important friendship.
Much to my surprise we ended up at his house. Knowing his seduction scene well from our many conversations, I gradually noted a fire was blazing in the hearth and music was playing in the background. The knots in my stomach unfurled just a touch. At last he spilled the beans. When he found out I was single, he had ended his relationship and waited many months for me to return. He hadn’t wanted to rush through any stage of the relationship because he understood all moments were to be savored. I then learned that while he wasn’t prepared to divorce his wife for me, he too had struggled with his feelings for me. Then the most wonderful thing happened, he told me he loved me!
Within a month we were engaged (I waited for him to ask me this time) and were married exactly one month later (at my insistence). Our story, unlike a romance novel, doesn’t end with the declaration of love and proposal. From the day I met him until the day I married him (almost six years) I saw aspects of him that still prove to me over and over that he is what I want and need. We had seen how each other handled relationships, watched each other struggle through the end of love, talked through what we needed and how to make changes, we talked politics and religion, we shared our dreams and hopes for the future, all without the misty cloud of a new romance enveloping us. We had been friends for a long, long time.
One of my favorite memories of our relationship is one day I was shopping at Costco, had a full cart, and was waiting in line to pay. I looked up and saw Mac walking towards me with a big smile on his face and in my giddiness I thought, “Wow! Mac’s here.” For the briefest moment I’d forgotten he was there with me. We had been married for about a year at that point.
Our story began twenty-five ago, and he still makes me feel giddy.
We'll be back with more "The Real Marrying Types of CTW" tomorrow with a new story from Glynis Astie.
Celia Kennedy was born in Wurzburg, Germany on a military base. Her parent's penchant for traveling has stuck with her, she's lived in and traveled through several countries.
The imagined world has always fascinated Celia. She has studied Art History, Interior Design, Landscape Architecture, and Architecture. Her thirteen year career at UW in Seattle ended in 1996. Not wanting to be homeless, she left the academic world and worked as a Landscape Architect, married the love of her life, became a mom, has been PTA President, and both Boy and Girl Scout Leader.
The unimaginable wealth in her life is the most fascinating thing to her.
Her love of travel, the designed and natural world, friendship, self-discovery, wine, chocolate, AND love are the foundation of her life and books.
Celia is the author of Charlotte's Restrained, The Accidental Stalker; Kathleen's Undressed, The Accidental Enigma; Venus Rising; Cupid on the Loose Anthology (Sugar, It's Cold Outside), Fools Rush In Anthology (April's Fool), May The Fourth Anthology (Tears In The Rain). She is currently writing book three in The Accidental Series - Marian's Misdirected, The Accidental Roadie and Moonbow.
Currently she lives in Washington State with the loves of her life.
Amazon Author Page
Buy the Books
Charlotte’s Restrained, The Accidental Stalker
Kathleen’s Undressed, The Accidental Enigma
Cupid On The Loose
Fools Rush In
May The Fourth
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