2002 - One of our first Wing Nights
Ah, high school. When I started at Alter High School, on the opposite end of town from the high school all my friends attended, I expected to meet new people. I didn't, however, expect to meet the man I would marry 8 years later.
I spent my summers growing up at my dad and stepmom's house in California. One summer, a friend of mine who used to date Art was visiting me. Back in the old days of the early 2000s, teenagers like us communicated via Internet on this outdated, obsolete software called AIM. My friend talked to Art on my screen name, and once she left, we kept talking. I was developing a Web site for my favorite band, The Calling, at the time (is this getting nerdier by the minute or what?!), and since Art was also a computer geek, I peppered him with questions about HTML, CSS, and Flash. Little did he know that I already knew the answers to the questions I was asking, but just wanted an excuse to talk to him. He suggested we go to lunch when I got back to Ohio, and in early August 2002, we went on our first date to Doubledays in Centerville.
I was 16 years old, and really just starting to be allowed to ride in cars with boys. Art was a year ahead of me in school, and I was intimidated by how good-looking he was, how many of my friends he had dated, and mostly, how at ease I felt with him. That was a Thursday. On Monday, we went on our second date, $.25 wing night at Damon's. I couldn't believe how easy it was to talk to him, and about halfway through our date I suggested we do this every Monday, with the wing special and all. I thought I was pretty brilliant to secure weekly dates with this guy, but 5 weeks later, he still hadn't made a move. He was so good-looking, athletic, confident, and friendly, and I saw myself as aloof, awkward, and plain... maybe he just wasn't that into me? Meanwhile, I had met someone else I liked, and who clearly liked me, so I went for it. Big mistake! Art, apparently, just wasn't in a hurry, and the look on his face when I told him I was dating someone else was enough to make me realize I made the wrong choice. Eventually, I saw the error of my ways, and Art and I officially began dating that November after an unrehearsed, spontaneous kiss in Alter's parking lot.
Alter Christmas Dance, 2002
Art's tendency to take his time, along with my need to assert my independence, takes the credit for the five years of dating and three years of long-distance that followed that night. We happily dated all through the rest of high school and college. Through two graduations, family emergencies, deaths, triumphs, and personal bests, we stayed best friends throughout. When Art made the decision to dedicate his career and his life to the Air Force, I stood proudly next to him. The day he commissioned and received his Second Lieutenant rank is still one of the most emotional days I can remember. Shortly after, he made the move to Texas and left me behind.
Art's Commissioning, May 2007
I can't say I didn't have fun while he was away. I had a fabulous senior year with my best friends in a place I loved, but had a lot of trouble finding gainful employment. I took a prestigious internship at the Dayton Daily News the summer after graduation, which taught me one thing: I did not want to be a journalist. While I've always been a good writer, my passion and talent paled in comparison to my fellow interns. The internship ended, and I freelanced and waited tables. And missed Art. Art finished pilot training, and I stood their proudly again, proud of his (and our) accomplishments. But I couldn't shake the nagging feeling that I would much rather be a proud wife than a proud long-distance girlfriend. Unfortunately, that translated into pressure on Art and strain on our relationship.
UPT Graduation, November 2008
After Art's graduation, we started talking seriously about getting married. We recognized that year 1 of long-distance hadn't gone so well, but were we really ready? When you date your high school sweetheart for years on years, people expect you to get married. Is that why we were doing it? I thought I was ready, but I could sense Art's hesitation. Refusing to be THAT girlfriend with the marry-me-or-lose-me ultimatum, I made a decision based on what I can only describe as a calling. The month after Art's graduation, I enrolled in a two-year program at our old college to get my teaching license. Art's reaction brought memories of our beginning back. Sure, he wanted to wait to get married, but he didn't want to wait THAT long. However, I was determined to be a teacher, even if that meant delaying our marriage for another year and a half. I was sure Art was going to propose that summer, but in typical Art fashion, he took his time. Then, that October, we got what we both wanted. Art proposed in the most "us" way possible, and he got to surprise me, which was a difficult feat since we'd been talking about rings for over a year.
Our engagement photo, December 2009
Almost 6 months later, we had our dream wedding and started our life together. I made the happy move to Del Rio, which brings us to today. We are proud to be "survivors" of long-distance and growing up, staying best friends since the start. We are blessed beyond words and are truly lucky to have this wonderful life.
The happy family - Art, me, and Peanut, 2010